One Sunday morning, about 20 years ago or so, I woke up and my fingers were stuck together. At first, I was scared. I thought that somehow, in the middle of the night, my fingers had become webbed, and wondered if I was going to have to go to the doctor to get them cut apart. Going to school on Monday with webbed fingers, was not on my to-do list.
As it turned out, they weren't webbed. It was eczema, and a darn good case of it.
For the next ten years or so, I battled with the oozy blisters, and the hard, peeling skin on my hands. I learned to loathe my hands, and their ugliness. If I was having a break-out, which was often, I kept my hands tucked into my sleeves, and when those lovely teenage years hit, I was always weary of boys who wanted to hold my hand at the movies. I just didn't want them to be grossed out.
Occasionally, it got so bad, that I would have to wear mittens all day, or pretend that I had sprained my wrist, and wear a tensor bandage for a week, just to hide the blisters. I became very good at hiding it.
I tried everything. My doctor prescribed tons of creams, that never worked, or only worked once. My mom was very good at making sure I always had my own special soaps, lotions, make-up, that was hypo-allergenic, and fragrance-free....and back then, those things were hard to come by. I didn't wear cheap-o jewellery, and tried to stay away from all the things that caused me to break-out, which was everything from oranges, to the grass on the lawn. The aloe vera plant would help take away the itch, and dry out the blisters, but in the end, left me with peeling, dry fingers.
And then one day....it went away. For the past few years, I haven't had a break out of eczema. I get the occasional dry patch somewhere on my body, and I know that if I wear eyeshadow for more than 2 days in a row, my eyelids will dry out and peel, but that's it. My doctor had told me right from the start that I would probably "grow out of it", and one day it wouldn't be a problem. I thought he was right.
This past October however, it came back for a visit. My hands started to look wrinkly and red again. A couple small blisters showed up. It was itchy beyond belief. A friend gave me some aloe vera leaves, and it cleared up right away. I was ever so grateful.
Then last night, as I watched Law and Order and ate pizza, I noticed that my hands felt as if they were swelling. They weren't swelling, I knew what it was. I took a look, and low and behold....blisters. Little tiny oozy blisters between the fingers of my left hand. I washed it and dried it well, and spent the rest of the night popping the little bastards. This morning, they are dried out a wee bit...but they're still there.
I'm out of ideas, and I don't want to end up one of those folks who are hospitalized for full-body eczema.