Saturday, December 18, 2010

The teenage girls guide to looking beautiful

Ok, so I was about 14 when my eczema got really bad. Mother was in a frenzy. Nobody knew what to do and everyone was stressed out because I was stressed out. My poor family. GCSE’s were approaching so that added extra stress. In all those moments I just wanted someone to hold me and give me a tight hug and say you are beautiful. Don’t worry. Don’t stress. Relax and stay beautiful.

So as a sufferer and survivor I’m going to share with you some tips to look great even though you might not feel like getting out of bed. I guarantee you will feel wonderful and you will leave that house with a smile on your face, a swagger in your walk and looking a million dollars!

Imagine it is a lovely sunny Saturday morning, no school = no stress. Yes so you have woken up scratching and itching. It’s hard to ignore, I know, I have been through the worst of the worse but believe me but it does get better. Let’s imagine it’s not there though.

First thing I want you to do is go to a window open it and take a deep breath inwards. Close your eyes and imagine you are far, far away. On a warm beach, the breeze in your hair and palm trees surrounding you. Sometimes things are easier said than done but just for a few minutes imagine that you don’t have eczema, that your skin is soft and beautiful. Now open your eyes. Everyone who knows you see’s beyond the eczema and don’t know you as Priya the girl with eczema’ they know you as ‘Priya the funny, smart, gorgeous, free willed girl’.

So I am 28 now and when I was growing up, mainly around the ages of 14 and 16, I suffered from really bad eczema in the worst place possible. On my face. Now, we know the drill. Itchy, flaky and sore skin. If I can get over it so can you. And you will honey. But I know how hard it is. Therefore what I am going to do is share a few of my favourite stress and eczema busting tips. For parents and carers these are great to introduce into the sufferers lives. You’re doing a great job!

First and most important is do not stress. Stress always made my skin flare up really badly. When you are a teenager I know it’s hard. Gcse’s, wondering whether that boy likes you or not, wondering what to do for your career, whether you want to do A levels or get a job, go travelling, parents or siblings giving you trouble. You just want to crawl into bed and scratch until you fall asleep. But you know as well as I do that you don’t want to wake up with those flakes of skin in your bed and tiny blood stains on your duvet do you?

So what you need to do is take a few steps to make sure you aren’t too stressed.

Firstly, speak to teachers and explain your situation. Your parents are probably aware of what you are going through but still do sit down with them and explain to them what you are feeling inside. Chances are your mum will just give you a big hug and tell you everything will be ok.

Now once the chats have been sorted out here are a few de stressing techniques. One is taking a nice, long bath (obviously , if it suits your skin, add some oil in the bath so that you are moisturised and then you’ll also smell lush!). Get regular exercise. For some people the sweat can aggravate the eczema but I think it varies for everyone. I find this exercising a great stress busting techniques. So go for a walk or run, take the dog for a walk or dance around your house to your favourite song. Anything that gets your heart rate up is fabulous! Make sure you wear loose clothing when exercising. What I would really recommend is yoga or Pilates. It doesn’t make you sweat a lot. It relaxes you, plus you will be building your core strength so why not give it a go?

Massaging also helped me so why not ask someone you trust to use your moisturiser and give you a massage in the affected areas or go and see a masseuse who uses only natural products. It will de-stress you completely and leave you feeling rejuvenated.

Along with exercise eat well. Many people say dairy or wheat products are not good for eczema and I am no expert but I would say staying off those two did help. So make sure you eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, drink a lot of water to wash away all of those toxins.(although please do indulge in the occasional cupcake as they are oh so yummy)

Doctors and experts alike will tell you to keep away from makeup. But when you are 16 it is probably easier said than done so what I’d say is keep it light.

If you have eczema of your face it is probably not advised but I’d say is a coat of mascara will not hurt on a daily basis. For a party a light foundation dabbed on where it’s needed most, a mousse based blusher, a coat of eye liner, a dash of eye shadow and a coat of mascara will do wonder. But I stress do not use this everyday as this will clog up your pores and will not be good for eczema. I consulted some professional makeup artists all they all unanimously concurred that don’t use perfumed products. Keep it all natural and organic, sleep lots and no stress

The main thing is enjoy yourself. You are young, you are free, beautiful and this is the time to enjoy yourself. Don’t worry about what people see or think. People will always do that no matter who you are. So go out have fun, dance, sing...be you.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

You are amazing and you are beautiful …

I have always suffered from mild Eczema on my arms. When I was about 14 it became uncontrollable. It was really distressing experience, very painful and traumatic. There were days I would not want to just hide, not get out of bed and bury myself from the world. 3 showers a day to stop the dryness were normal for the worst part of it. I still can’t leave the house without showering in the morning even if it’s just to go to the gym and I am now 28.

Those years are probably to blame for the confidence issues I still face today. The tough and rough exterior you see today is just a mask at times, however happy and smiley you may feel.

Hormones kick in and you are starting to fancy boys. Imagine when you are aged between14-17 and have no boys taking any interest in you, no one asks you out to the school or disco and your hormones are running around like crazy psychopaths. The last thing you want to think about is the itching, irritating, atrocious ugliness that covers your face, arms, neck, scalp and backs of your legs. Everything that was visible. I automatically became ‘one of the lads’ – the agony aunt, best friend type, who you could go to if you had a problem.

Being an ugly duckling and being pretty quirky it was a major knock to your self confidence at times being ignored by boys and not having a first kiss in your teens. Imagine you’re 15, there’s this boy or girl you like, you get so nervous around him or her and imagine your skin is so dry and tight that you have to lather yourself in cream; 3, 4 maybe even 5 times a day. The itchy, flaky, sore skin that is a constant fret. It doesn’t make you feel young and vivacious but more dehydrated and thirsty. Moreover the friends you have are beautiful. This knock may set you up for how you will be in your later life. The stress from Gcse revision made it even more unbearable. I wasn’t ever pressured to do well but I was afraid of disappointing by parents so I tried my best and that anxiety made the eczema worse. I just wanted to lie in a steaming bath and soak away my skin. Imagine the temper tantrums teenagers throw combined with the distress of Eczema and Gcse pressure. If you are reading this I imagine you know how I felt at the time, especially having it on your face.

The condition comes and goes in phases today but not as badly as it used to be, I have been left with scars on my arms, legs, forehead. I guess due to Teenage hormones it spurred out of control at that point. My poor mother tried everything. Homeopathic medications, strong steroids. We discovered an African cream called Wa Wa cream and whatever was in it kept it in control up until about age 21-22. After that time it became a lot better and I am now able to keep it in control with Aveeno.

It was hard for me to talk about it at the time as I didn’t think anyone understood. 15 years ago I didn’t have the support that is available today. The scars are still physically there maybe even emotionally in a small way that have held me back. I think the older I become the better it gets and it just pushes to the back of my mind and I sometimes even forget it is there.

About a year ago I read a book called ‘The way things look to me’ by Roopa Farooki where the main character is autistic but her sister Lila suffers just like we have. Lila’s character in ‘The way things look to me’ just perfectly described the feelings and issues I have faced with my image in all those years up until now and the jealousy I feel towards some people with perfect skin. Even though now it is not so bad I still can’t have a shower and not have to lather and immerse my whole body with moisturiser afterwards – it’s not just a vanity thing, it’s a way of life. I do it for sanity and comfort! (Aveeno for extra dry, irritated skin is my fave)

We are just simply beautiful. If you read this and think you are alone in the scrubbing, peeling, flaking, weeping skin, not wanting to face the world and just staying in bed all day I don’t blame you. But you’re not alone. I was the same but you can’t let it affect you and you won’t. When I was recently sent the article about the 13 year old from Manchester who hung himself because he was being bullied about his eczema my heart just broke. The more you try and hide it the more damage it will cause to your insides and in turn the itching and scratching and weeping will just spiral until you just cant take it anymore and think about ending it as this little boy did. Just believe it will get better and it will get better. You are amazing and you are beautiful …not just on the inside but outside too.