Living With

I only managed to sleep at 3 this morning despite being extremely tired. Once again I am reminded of just how much atopic dermatitis changed my life.

I came by it some time mid-last year. But how I caught it, found it, or came by it, I am yet to learn. Perhaps it was the dust mites, or the change of my duvet, or something I ate, or something which touched my skin and triggered it off, I do not know, and there is no way of finding out because it could be anything. Every article I read states that it is more common in infancy and childhood, but it was only last year that I got it, why?

How atopic dermatitis changed my life:

  • Winter Wonderland: Whenever there is a flare-up, I will have to sleep with both the air-con and fan switched on for the entire night. I need to stay freezing cold, even if it’s uncomfortably so, else the itch and pain will be worse. Itchiness is underrrated, really. This changed my lifestyle significantly. No more plans of going for the YEP [youth expedition project] in other countries to help build houses for the people, no more travelling to hot places, no more tanning sun sea beach, struggles to exercise, even in the air-conditioned gym. In the day I feel like a vampire, avoiding the sun like the plague. During the night, I feel like a slab of meat in the freezer.

    There were incidents that hurt. Like having to cut short social events because the itch was simply unbearable and all I wanted to do was to go home and bathe in icy water to relief the pain. Like having someone ask me why I have became so ‘xiao jie’ when I was desperately shielding my eyes away from the sun and attempting to walk in the shade. Like people chiding me for complaining that it is hot. Like people scoffing me for my halt in exercising. Incidents like that. *shrug*

  • Diet: There are certain food I try to avoid. Food that will make me ‘heaty’ [like fried chicken], and most seafood [which I do not have a problem with anyway]. When I’m ‘heaty’, I’ll start being itchy.

  • Insomnia: Itch. Pain. Unbearable itch. Restraint. Frustration. Willpower. Can.not.sleep.dark.eye.rings.deep.eye.bags.exhausted. like last night.sigh.

  • Attire: This was one of the issues that got me real down early this year, when I realised the extent of restriction atopic dermatitis have on me. Some of the clothes I really like [or want to buy] are made of materials such as nylon, wool, polyester, and other synthetic materials, which will scratch my skin and trigger the itch. No can do.

  • Soaps and solvents: Needless to say, I can’t use any bath oil/ body wash/ soaps which have fragrances in them, or are too harsh on the skin. Some perfumes too. And I’m constantly randomly moisturising my skin like nobody’s business. That is costing hell a lot of money.

  • Drugs: I’m an anti-histamine druggie now. Other medicine will trigger an outbreak, like that damn incident.

  • Stress and emotional state: It’s a vicious cycle. I get itchy, I get frustrated, I get stressed up or unhappy, and then the itchiness becomes worse. Or maybe I’ll be upset or stressed up about something unrelated, and then I’ll get the flareups. It’s a chicken or egg issue. Round and round I go.

There are other issues, I’m sure, but I cannot recall them now. So if you see me carrying an umbrella, or walking in the shade, or if I say I cannot take the heat, or that I cannot drinkdancetanrunexercise, please do not be cruel and joke about it, because living with atopic dermatits is already causing me a lot of grief.


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