Friday, 28 June 2013

Is Dermatology the poor relation of our health service.

I am deliberately not putting a picture on this post since for  those who wish to peruse gruesome photos of bad cases of eczema there is a huge art gallery available under Google images.

Like so many others who have asthma and allergic rhinitis, I also have eczema.

For the last couple of weeks I have been tearing my arm to pieces, making  it worse each time, yet unable to stop myself.

If this sounds like the sort of behaviour which deserves a "stop scratching, you're your own worst enemy" response, then you are probably not a sufferer.

There is a point at the most extreme stage of an attack when the almost overwhelming desire to scratch until you bleed pushes all other considerations from your head.

So far as I'm aware there is no effective treatment for this condition.

Over a period of more than 40 years I have seen consultants in four different hospitals, at least three GP's and even tried homeopathic and herbal remedies.

Nothing works.

For a number of years I used all the Cortisone based creams recommended with no success, and sometimes with increasing symptoms.  The last time I had a series of allergy tests they found that one of the things to  which I reacted very strongly was....Cortisone!

They insisted for years that I use Aqueous Cream which for me did nothing but seal in the heat, thus increasing the itching and leave a greasy layer very difficult to remove on sinks baths etc.

In desperation when all else fails and the itching is at its worst, I put the hand, foot, arm or wherever it is, under a hot tap, let the water pour over it until it it almost boiling, at which point it equates with the temperature of the itching area and neutralises it.    I then have to run it under cold water to limit the damage to the skin.

Horrendous, I know.  Dangerous, most certainly, I know, but failing any successful remedy from any source whatsoever one must needs shift for oneself.

As I am already taking anti-histamines daily for hay-fever, I simply take extra every evening to help to calm the symptoms down.  This does work to a degree, but it would not be a good idea to keep increasing the dose to deal with day-time as well.

Luckily for me, this extreme level is only likely to appear every four or so years, it just happens that this, as with hay-fever, is a bad one.

Sorry to release such a miserable diatribe, but that's me, wart and all.


  1. I have the asthma and allergic rhinitis but, luckily, not the eczema. It sounds absolutely terrible. I hope it eases soon.

  2. Probably the 'terrible' aspect of this wretched complaint is the way it takes over one's life. When the itch is at its worst, there is simply nothing else to focus on until it has eased.
    Thanks for the good wishes. I hope so too.

  3. I'm so sorry you're having this problem I've never had sounds quite horrible for you! I understand about the hot water though...I've noticed myself that if my hands are itching and I wash them in hot water the itching subsides. Is this a seasonal thing...can you hope for relief sometime in the near future? Oh I do hope so!

  4. Yet another thing we have in common Ray...I do sympathise. Two years ago my itching got so bad that I took it to the very new just out of med school,doctor. He gave me a new cream......and it worked! When I showed him the extant of the problem most of my body had been affected.
    Now I still have eruptions but can get rid of the itching fast! Maybe it wouldn't work for you, we are all different but it did give me considerable relief! How old is your doctor?

    1. My doctor is middle-aged, but she is very good at looking up anything new and is always willing to give it a go if she thinks it might work.
      My right arm is currently hideous, but have not scratched for 24 hours and am doing everything I can to ease the heat.
      Unfortunately, it has coincided with a return to warm weather, so not easy.
      Can you remember what the cream you used is called?

  5. Hi Theanne.

    Yes, mercifully it is mainly late spring/early summer like the hay-fever and asthma.

    It can, once it is under control be quite short-lived, so I am doing everything I can to relieve the symptoms.

  6. Poor Ray, I do feel for and with you as I'm also a life-long eczema sufferer. In my childhood I can remember being smeared with coal tar ointment and going to bed wearing cotton mitts so that I couldn't scratch myself raw. Luckily, when I was in my mid-teens hydrocodone became available and my life changed so much for the better. Now the only eczema I have is on my hands and this can be kept under control with a powerful ointment known as Synalar. I'm so sorry these preparations aren't suitable for you too and really hope this attack eases off soon.

  7. As a fellow sufferer I know you will understand how very powerful the need to scratch can be.
    Sadly for me anything coal-tar, lanolin, or cortisone based makes it even worse, so anything effective has to be totally devoid of potential irritants, and frankly I don't think it exists.
    Nevertheless, my 'extreme' treatment, though damaging, does eventually work.
    Then it is just the long slow climb back to something which looks like skin rather than elephant hide.
    Perhaps, when it came to skin, the Creator had an off day, or as the Rubaiyat has it, The hand of the potter shook".

  8. Ray the name of the ointment is ELOCON. IT'S truly the only thing that cures the itch!

  9. Thanks very much Jean. Will see if my GP can prescribe it, or if by any miracle it is available without prescription.

  10. I know it's not available without prescription. But it's worth asking the doctor....fingers crossed. i had used so many before that it was like magic...

  11. Thanks again Jean. By the way do you know that the esteemed Feedjit has currently placed you in Essex?
    The wonders of travel!! Cyber travel that is.

  12. Did you manage to get the prescription and how are you now?

  13. Oddly enough Jane, it turned out that I had used it before and had not found it useful.
    I've used everything that is available I think, but just couldn't remember the name.
    It seems like tempting providence to say it, but at present it appears to be dying down.
    Thanks for asking.