Skin Cancer, Eczema and SWEET RELIEF!

Back in July of 2009 I wrote a post about my shins and the itchy bumps. I wrote about how I’ve spoken with many doctors over the years. I’ve asked them what it might be and no one has been able to help me. Two of them were even dermatologists. Yeah. It sucks. And to be completely honest, I have lived this way (which is to say miserably) for far too long. Anyway, yesterday I finally met with another dermatologist because the rash and itch was spreading to my thighs and upper arms. I’m a hot mess—a modern leper. Sexy.

I have a tendency to downplay things while in the company of a doctor. My arm would have to be dangling by a tendon before finally admitting that things are bad. But yesterday I left the house promising myself that I would get an answer, even if the doctor remained unsure, I wanted something, anything. It has gotten unbearable. I have great insurance; I shouldn’t have to live this way. I thought.

Yesterday, she took one look and knew immediately what it was. It was bad enough for her to say, “You must feel pretty miserable.”


Forgive me for supplying you—the Internet—with yet another post boasting way too much information, but I simply have to rejoice in the fact that finally I know what has been tearing me up.

Eczema. I have eczema. I know! It seems rather obvious. If I remember correctly, several of you suggested this as well. It’s worse in the winter, which is why lately it’s gotten just terrible. I was told no hot showers, no smelly soaps, no perfume at all. (Although, I love me some patchouli and am not sure I’ll abide by that for too long). She gave me a prescription for a topical cream that I have used twice already and it’s already helping. Last night was the first time in years I didn’t wake up scratching the crap out of my legs.

Relief. Sweet relief. Sometimes it pays to show one’s desperation.

On top of yesterday’s diagnosis, she only found ONE pre-cancerous spot on my face! This may not sound all that awesome, but it is! I was worried I’d have another MOHs surgery in my future (WARNING: LINK HAS PICTURES.) Nope. She froze the area and I’m done. For now.

Lastly: Wear sunscreen, idiots.


  1. You seem to be doing well with the topical she gave you, but creams with seaweed in them can help as well.

    Enjoy sleeping all itch-free :)


  2. I am WAY open to suggestions. Do you have a type you like, Shauna? I don’t want to use this forever. It’s pricey and has all sorts of stuff in it I know nothing about.


  3. that’s shocking the other drs couldn’t diagnose eczema. glad you finally have a bit of relief though.


  4. Katrina: I completely agree. I wonder if it was partially my fault? I wasn’t as insistent in the past. I was just like yeah, this is happening and it sucks. Know what it is? And I usually said something about it getting worse during certain times of the month. So maybe they thought it was related to hormones too?

    Anyway, yeah. I agree. I have seriously asked about 6 doctors over the years. But like I said up until yesterday I never came off as desperate. :]


  5. My husband has eczema. It sucks. The biggest thing is staying moisturized (esp. in winter). His doc recommended Aveeno Intense Relief Repair Cream. It has the same active ingredient as in some of the prescription creams. They sell it in a large tub size at Duane Reade and it does seem to help. (He also uses a steroid cream, but sparingly.)


  6. So glad you finally got an answer and hopefully some relief. Caesar had eczema too and it use to be pretty bad. I agree with staying moisturized, drink lots of water, I think a steam humidifier helps keep some moisture in the air in the winter as well.


  7. Have you ever tried cutting dairy out of your diet, I’m pretty sure I read previously that you might have once been vegan….My daughter and my niece both had wicked eczema and my sister and I cut out all the dairy in their diets and it disappeared. There is a ton of stuff on eczema and dairy online. Google it:)


  8. Did you go to Dr. Sergay? I have (yet another) appointment with her in a few weeks and I too have a suspicious spot on my nose.

    In any case, she’s been super cool. My rosacea has been stubbornly persistent but getting better and I have her to thank. Plus, I’m always in & out at her office in record time.


  9. Amy: No! But what a fascinating idea! I might give that a shot. Toby said, “Sure, OK, eczema but WHAT’S the cause.” I haven’t even begun to figure out why this is happening to me and getting worse as of late, too.

    Missy: Yup! I loved her. She was super great and really gave me the time I needed. Very much happy to have gone to her. Maybe a good thing the other doc is on maternity leave?


  10. My stepdaughter has eczema and I have just switched to Charlies Soap laundry detergent. I read it on amy’s smackdown a while ago. It makes our clothes feel soft and new but not smelly and chemically.


  11. We were just talking about Eczema at our local Health Unit yesterday. A lady and her husband and kids have really bad Eczema and they use mangoteen fruit to help it. There is a juice (Zambo, Zamba, something like that) that will help immediately, or you can rub the actual fruit on your sores. They’re really into natural and health foods and says you have to find it in a specialty store but apparently it really works. They swear by it…even give it to their 3 year old and 9 month old sons!


  12. Both my girls have eczema. I am happy to hear that you were finally able to figure out what it is but sad to hear that you now have to deal with eczema.
    What has worked for us is: 1. using a non-soap type of soap in the shower. Dove shower gel works well for this.

    2. Using lots of lotion: Eucerin and Aquafor
    are both really great. Slather that stuff on after your shower and before you towel off. You want to trap in the moisture.

    3. If that doesn work we used the Aveeno 1% Hydorcortizone (I can’t spell worth anything anymore!) anti-itch cream. That has worked wonders for our girls.

    4. My Dr. told me yesterday that you can try making a poultice out from licorice tea. She said that there are steroid like qualities in the licorice tea that has helped people. It is worth a try. I am going to try it on Aubrey has soon as I get my hands on some…

    I would check out those hints…..Good luck!


  13. I love when we can walk out of the doctor’s office with an answer. And I’m really glad you’re fine. :-)

    Sunscreen IS a must.


  14. Yippee! This is awesome news. I remember a few years ago, I had a week of hives (allergic reaction to some fancy-ass skin cream my mother gave me) and it was hell. I can’t imagine going through all that itching, all the time, so am very pleased you acted desperate/got a good doctor.

    And the sunscreen – totally. I am kind of lucky (in a perverse way) that one of my teenage rebellions was to keep my skin tan-free (my olive-skinned mom would always tell me that my ‘alabaster’ skin needed a bit of color), so sunscreen was always a must for me. However, my sister-in-law has just been diagnosed with skin cancer from teen years spent in tanning beds – and she is only 22. Scary stuff, indeed.


  15. Well, both your niece and nephew have eczema and it is not food related. It is product driven for them (which is sounds like your doctor thinks yours is). Here are our main rules:
    1. All detergent is dye free and scent free (not even the pretty scented baby detergents work).
    2. No dryer sheets or fabric softeners.
    3. All new clothes must be washed before worn (the sizing in clothing can make them break out).
    4. We use only organic baby washes. Little Twig makes a good one. We are using a hair and body wash right now that is by California Baby. It is their calming wash which is sulfite free. (We avoid sulfite products since both Aunt Michel(l)es have sulfite allergies.)
    5. Lotion with something like Cetaphil before they are completely dried off in the winter months. The Dr. told us that lotion absorbs better if the skin is not completely dry.
    6. We also don’t use any oatmeal-based products. For some reason, oatmeal causes skin issues for them.


  16. Glad to hear you got some relief from your itching.

    As for the patchouli, I would have thought that would be ok if it’s an essential oil since most are quite soothing to stressed out skin (and can be anti-bacterial as well).

    Take care
    Tracey :)


  17. I’ve seen quite a few eczema soaps and creams at walmart in the baby section might give them a try…


  18. I have contact dermatitis. Basically, eczema caused as an allergic reaction to something I’m touching.

    I don’t get it when preggo (or until my hormones normalize after pregnancy -so TOTALLY hormonally related). I find some soaps & shampoos, etc bug me while others don’t (so I don’t know for sure what it is that I’m reacting to). Fortunately, Aveda products are all A-OK. I also react to metals (no playing with nickels or cheap jewelery for me) and latex (most yoga mats, some dish gloves, etc, etc).

    Aveeno lotions are also OK as are the unscented dryer sheets. It might take you a while to figure out what bugs you, though :P

    Is the topical stuff a cortisone? Careful with that stuff, coming off can be hard on your kidneys (though it depends on how much you’re using, etc).

    I get nasty, tiny, itchy blisters on my hands when I react. Unfortunately, most public washrooms have coloured, scented soaps so I just don’t use them. I wash vigorously with water and rely on the fact that not using soap is significantly more hygienic than having open sores on my hands. If I was smart I’d carry my own soap around with me, I guess…?

    Good luck and horray for a step in the right direction!!


  19. Wow, incredible story. I’m shocked that you had so much difficulty getting diagnosed. I’ve never had eczema, but have known so many people with it, I just figured it was a regular thing that many people had and were easily given a prescription creme. At least it’s popular here, likely due to the colder weather too. Your story makes it sound aweful, I’m glad it’s finally going to be over for you.


  20. Mihow:

    My son has eczema and I keep Moisturel in every bathroom for when he comes over. (It’s expensive, so I always buy him a few bottles as gifts.) He recently tried something called CeraVe.

    Good luck and best wishes!


  21. I have had eczema since I was a kid. Certain foods are often to blame. For me it’s the acidic ones like tomatoes or citrus fruit.

    Stress also brings it out too.

    Did you know that c-section babies are are more prone to getting eczema? One more thing for me to worry about with my baby. Great!


  22. If you’re at all interested in treating your eczema naturally I have a link to an amazing product that I’ve been using for a couple of years that works like a charm without the nasty side effects of the prescription crap that derms and mds dole out.

    The soap has the ingredients that are really going to heal the skin and the moisturizer is full of luscious cocoa butter and beeswax! Ordering online is a breeze and the company usually put’s a thank-you note and a gift in the package for you!


  23. Know allllll about eczema over here. We use Aquaphor religiously. It is awesome. I bought practically every “super dry skin” type of cream on the market for the little guy, and other than his hydrocortisone cream, Aquaphor is the only thing that worked for us.

    And always moisturize following a bath/shower. Don’t let that moisture on your skin escape!


  24. Eczema ? I can help!

    A few years ago I got diagnosed with two *completely different* body parts, that had completely different issues, and they were both eczema.

    I bought the cheap mexican version of dishwashing soap, and after about a month of doing dishes, my hands would get drier and drier and drier. I kept using more and more lotions, creams, jellies, and the moisture would never stick. Then my fingers became perpetually wrinkled. And then they turned into a firey rash. It ended up being a case of hand eczema. The doctor gave me a steroid creme, and within a few weeks it all went back to normal.

    I also had a very weird patch of skin on my right leg. It was discolored, puffy, dry/ashey, and just plain weird. It never hurt, but was weird. That was eczema too. It cleared up within a few months of the creme treatment too, except i ended up having to keep the area shaved so that the medicine would stick.

    Anyways, what i later learned – thanks to a chemical wary girlfriend – is that a lot of my household and personal cleaners had things in them which should be avoided .. and they were likely the underlying cause.

    Chemical 1 is “parabens” – which are often used as preservatives, and in… everything. here’s the wikipedia page:

    There are a lot of soaps and detergents available that are paraben free.

    Chemical 2 is Sodium lauryl sulfate : :

    IIRC, It’s a foaming agent for detergents. It’s okay in moderation.. and in everything too (like mouthwash?!?) but can get things ‘too clean’.

    My advice would be to make sure that any soaps or moisturizers you put on your eczema areas are free of both those products.


  25. I used the topical steroids too, and they worked OK . . . but rub some flax oil on the affected area and it goes away, no steroids necessary. The cause is lack of omega3s.


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