My body is in revolt. As well as voicing its hormonal displeasure there is a bit of an epidermal protest going on too. My eczema has flared up badly.

I have had eczema since childhood. It comes and it goes just like the promises of a politician. Usually it is a mild eruption, but for the past month is has been bad. It has been the Vesuvius of skin eruptions.

For anyone who suffers from eczema you would know that the worst thing about it is not the rash, it is the itch. That god forsaken itch. Kingdoms could rise and fall on that itch. I am sure that if research were carried out it would be found that Nero suffered from eczema and that the itch drove him mad and that was why he burnt Rome. And that the reason Napoleon’s hand was always in his pocket was because he had eczema on his unmentionables and couldn’t help but give it a scratch.

Usually a bit of cortisone cream for a week or so sorts things out for me, but I think the eczema that is plaguing me now is actually alive and has delusions of grandeur. I am sure it is plotting my downfall. It is like the dinner guest who has drunk all your good wine, eaten all the chocolate you keep for emergencies and is settling in to watch the box set of Pride and Prejudice in the good chair because he has no intention of ever leaving your house.

This eczema just won’t move on. I have tried oatmeal baths, vitamin E cream applied lavishly every two hours. I am taking evening primrose oil, eating salmon, sardines, linseeds and sunflower seeds. I am drinking two litres of water a day and eating copious amounts of raw carrots. I even tried a home remedy a friend recommended which was a paste made from 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder and bitter neem leaves which had to be wiped off with a lightly damp cloth. It didn’t stop the itching, but it did make everyone who came in contact with me that day

say : You know what? I feel like a curry tonight.

I know it sounds like something the prostitute said to the bishop but what I wouldn’t give for a night without itching. Just one night.

At the moment I am trying to induce an out of body experience. While awake. Just to be free of this cursed itch.

My doctor says it could be a result of the looming menopause. It can often exacerbate chronic illnesses such as eczema and asthma. At this rate she’ll be blaming the budget deficit on the menopause and the fact that I can’t say anaesthetist.

All I know is that I can’t wait for it to move on. I am tired of people looking at the rash on my arms and saying That’s not contagious, is it? (yes, mate, that’s why I’m out in public). I’m also tired of actually contemplating soaking some old bedsheets in Vitamin E lotion and wrapping myself in them at night like a big bandage. I have worked out that if I place them in the hallway and then roll down it at around 20 miles per hour I should end up completely cocooned. I will be so cocooned I won’t be able to scratch.

The workings of an itch-infested mind are not particularly pleasant, let me tell you.

But I won’t give up. I will beat this foul beast if it kills me.

Or turns me, mutated and shuddering, into one giant scab.

22 thoughts on “SCRATCH

  1. I hope you get better soon , Selma. I’m scratching just from reading your post. I hope this is of some help -

    “I am sure that if research were carried out it would be found that Nero suffered from eczema and that the itch drove him mad”

    Yep. maladies like the itch you describe have a tendency to become Zahirs. (an object that has the power to create an obsession … so that the affected person perceives less and less of reality and more and more of the Zahir


  2. I find first thing in the morning worst. When you’ve been scratching in your sleep all night so your skin’s beyond sore but it still itches. Hope it clears up soon


  3. I am very sorry to hear you are suffering like this. I hope you find some relief soon. The closest I have come to experiencing what you are going through is when I had chicken pox at 16, and it was unbearable.


  4. I really feel for you; my brother used to suffer from it, & all there was in those days was calamine lotion, which was really as much use as windscreen washers on a submarine.

    Part of me wanted to grow up to become a doctor or a chemist, and discover a ‘wonder cure’ for this foul disease.


  5. OH gosh, that is awful. Poor you, Selma. I am afraid I don’t have any bright ideas.

    My little one suffers from occasional eczema but like you said at the outset, usually a couple of days cortisone cream sorts it out. I do moisturise his skin each night with horrible petroleum jelly – it’s the only thing that works for him, none of the aqueous creams work. But it is so foul and greasy that I can’t put it on him in the morning or he wouldn’t be able to sit on the sofa or anything.

    Flipping menopause.


  6. Oh I meant to say that his eczema completely disappeared in Australia so it is clearly something about the environment or weather here in the UK.


  7. Ugh! That must be truly AWFUL for you. I can only compare that kind of itchiness to hives from allergies. So Very Uncomfortable. I sincerely wish you find COMFORT soon! xoxoxo


  8. Oh, you poor thing. Ugh!! I hate having an itch that won’t go away! I’m sure you’ve tried Calamine (sp?) lotion..? I always see people w/mosquito bites or chicken pocs with that slathered everywhere. Do you have Benedryl there? That’s another possibility, I would imagine.

    Hang in there, Sel. 😦


  9. Oh no Selma! When are you going to catch a break, you poor thing! I think the universe owes you a really good one very soon.

    Have you tried a lukewarm bath with about half a cup of sodium bicarbonate? Or a bit of honey directly on the itchies? Or calendula lotion?


  10. Hi DAVID:
    I really like the idea of the Zahir. Wouldn’t that be a great characteristic for a character in a book to have? I don’t know if you realise, but you often give me very good ideas. Thank you so much!

    Hi VIC:
    The morning is the killer. I slept well last night but was wakened early by the itch. At some stage during the weekend I am going to go and jump in the sea – sea water is amazing for eczema. It’s supposed to be raining all weekend but I don’t care. I’m going for a dip.

    Hi INGRID:
    Chickenpox is a similar kind of itch although I would say the chickenpox itch is much more maddening. I feel I am turning the corner a little as the rash is clearing a little. Here’s hoping.

    I want to drive that beast to the city gates and set fire to it. Truth be told, one of the major reasons my eczema is so bad is the carpet in this house. It is very old and attracts a lot of dust. The landlord won’t let us rip it up. I long for cool, clean floorboards…..

    I wish you had become a doctor and found a cure. I would be forever in your debt. Calamine lotion does remove the itch temporarily but it makes the skin very dry which, of course, brings back the itch. It is quite effective watered down, however.

    Hi RELUCS:
    I think it’s living in old houses that does this to me. Whenever I stay at my friend Mel’s house I have no problems. She has a newly built house and it is very open and fresh. I don’t think I’ve scratched once there. I understand about the petroleum jelly. The dryness of the skin is a real problem with eczema. Glad it helps.

    Hi MELEAH:
    It is a bit like hives although not as hot and stinging. I am hoping to find comfort soon too. Thanks, hon.

    Hi MAMA ZEN:
    The dip in the sea will fix me up. I’ll try and get there today!

    Hi STEPH:
    We don’t have Benedryl (is that an antihistamine ?) but some of the other meds do help from time to time. Believe it or not, yoga has been helping a little. Anything that relaxes me seems to ease the discomfort. Eczema does seem to be a bit of a stress thing.

    Hi DAOINE:
    My Mum bought me some Manuka honey yesterday which is supposed to be very good. I’ll try it later. I haven’t tried calendula but I’ll give it a go. The sodium bicarbonate baths do work. Thanks for all the great tips!


  11. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh. So sorry about this. I have o ideas for you. I got rid of milk & the only tidbit of my eczema left is on my elbows, and they don’t bother me. I have no tips for you, but lots of love and well wishes for you to get relief soon! XX!!


  12. Brings back bad memories! Fortunately, I found a way to whip my chronic eczema. It was a face cream called Regen. Took out my itch and cleared me right up. Give it a try, it is guaranteed! Here are some pics: Good luck, Suz


  13. You are certainly in the wars aren’t you Selma (unless of course this blog is completely fictional – ha,ha). But you know what, your suffering has produced a very funny blog post. Man, that unwanted guest that you described – spot on, I had one of those not long ago. Michael had excema but it cleared up when he went dairy free (maybe it was a coincidence) and hasn’t come back. I used to give him baths with Alpha Keri oil – it’s great for moisturising all the skin (easier than slathering on moisturiser). Have you got asthma as well?


  14. That sounds terrible, Selma. I hope the blasted thing goes away sooner rather than later so you can be relieved of this maddening scourge. Sorry I cannot offer any helpful remedy.


  15. Hi TEX:
    I am also dairy free but think I may have to go gluten free too. That is going to be hard for me because I love bread and the gluten free bread I have tried is not so great. However, I will do whatever I can to stop the itch.

    Hi SUZANA:
    Thanks so much for the tip. I will certainly look into it. I really appreciate you stopping by!

    Maybe this blog is completely fictional. Maybe I don’t really exist. Maybe my computer has become self aware and is writing blog posts to practice being human. How would anyone really know? *insert theme from Twilight Zone or Terminator 2 here*

    I think you have to laugh in the face of suffering because not only does it make it more bearable, it brings home the fact that many people suffer much more than I do. If I can make a joke about things I usually feel better.

    The Alpha Keri Oil is excellent. I have used it for many years. I have asthma too but weirdly, don’t get it when I have eczema.

    Hi ROWE:
    It really is a scourge. I feel the tide is turning, though. I think the relentless Vitamin E cream regime is kicking in. Hallelujah!!!


  16. Sorry to hear that you are suffering Selma, and I do hope that it clears up soon. The only thing that I have had that would even come close is the itch that I had when I had surgery on my ankle many moons ago, and really wanted to scratch under that cast. I do believe that I even lost a pencil down there!
    Anyway, feel better soon!!


  17. Hi RACHEL:
    I think I should look at submitting some of my work. You’re right. You really are a great support to me. Thank you.

    Hi MANOJ:
    The itch under a cast is maddening. So many people I know have lost things down there – pencils, pens, rulers, even knitting needles!


  18. Despite the unpleasantness of this horrible affliction for you, I’m glad to see your wonderful sense of humour is still in tact. I chuckled all the way through this post. I wish I could suggest something to relieve your suffering.

    I had some kind of hives or something once and it nearly drove me over the edge….and that was only for a few days.

    I hope you get some relief soon.


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