A couple of years ago, I had a horrible eczema flare-up. I had childhood eczema which went away when I was in my early 20s. My freedom was short-lived when in my mid-20s I had the worst flare-up ever. I had blisters all over my body - sole of my feet, ankles, legs, back, neck, face, scalp and hand/fingers. Besides the itchiness, discomfort and pain, it had a big impact on my mental health.
In my desperate attempt to manage my condition, I went to a private dermatologist in Malaysia who prescribed me 3 months’ worth of oral steroids, in addition to giving me a steroid jab during each monthly visit. At the height of my flare-up, desperate to get better, I of course consumed every pill given to me. A few months later, random people started commenting on my sudden “weight gain”. I was very sure I haven’t as I was at the peak of my 20s fitness phase. Then one day, I looked at a photo and realized that my face had abnormally expanded, and my cheeks were huge (Alvin and the Chipmunks huge). This took another stab at my already low self-esteem.
I then did some research online and went to consult a new dermatologist. My suspicion was verified; I had moon face* - my face had gradually swollen into a rounded shape due to long-term use of steroids such as prednisone. My eczema blisters haven't gone away but instead, I ended up with massive cheeks, with visible stretch marks. I was ignorant then and was not aware of the side effects of oral steroids. Unfortunately, the dermatologist who prescribed them didn't warn or educate me. I should have asked more questions. I should have read the product instruction in the package.
My new dermatologist immediately put me on a different treatment path which didn’t include steroids and I tried other doctor-approved self-management activities. It took about 6 months for the swelling to subside and my cheeks to get back to close to normal. I’m fortunate that my moon face saga was short and that I managed to take control of my skin again. I’m very aware that others might not have had the same luck. I believe what helped me the most was the overwhelming support from family and friends; those who kept cheering me on, made me believe that I can overcome this ordeal and helped me feel comfortable in my own skin again.
I hope my eczema story will help you overcome yours; at least give you hope that it is possible to “get better”. This experience taught me to invest time into understanding my skin, skin conditions and what I choose to do to get better. When in doubt, ask more questions and when in desperation, still act cautiously.
* Not to be mistaken for the more serious condition, Moon Facies, which occurs when extra fat builds up on the sides of the face. It is often related to obesity but can be from Cushing's syndrome.
** This article does not contain any medical advice and shouldn’t be treated as such. It is the personal story of an eczema sufferer. If you want to share yours, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
I have had eczema my whole life - atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema. It is frustrating most of the time but I have been able to manage my flare ups thanks to recommendations from my friends with eczema. I'm here to help others like me get better too!