This post is going to be a bit of journey. Let me begin by saying, Hi. I’m Ilana and I have struggled with eczema my whole life. I had it when I was younger and then it came back when I was in my 20s, after college. I would get dry patches on my legs. It always went away and then came back in a new place the following year. One year it was in the crease of my elbows, another year it was on the backs of my thighs and the worst place it ever appeared was underneath my eyes. That has been reccurring and particularly scary to treat since the skin is so thin. Since I’ve had kids, my eczema has been a pretty constant feature on my hands. This is tough because they are always exposed to the air and out in the open to itch.
Whenever I have a bad flare up, I go to my dermatologist who prescribes a steroid cream, but that’s not something you are supposed to use long term. Ten days max. So. It usually works on the flare up but then it’s just a matter of time before another eczema patch rears its ugly head. I’ve never found a non-prescription cream that helps keep my eczema in check between flare-ups. And I’ve noticed that as soon as my skin starts to resolve itself and look normal, that’s when the itching starts, which can make the whole thing flare all over again.
Sometimes it feels like the right thing to dry it out and sometimes it feels like the right thing to moisturize it. But if I over moisturize, that can make the whole thing even worse. It’s like a skin crawling feeling and everything gets bumpy below the surface.
Most recently, I had a really bad flare up on my left hand. It was so bad that the nail on my ring finger got all these weird ridges because of whatever was happening to the skin underneath. I had to stop wearing my wedding rings. The worst part was on the palm of my hand which just wouldn’t go away no matter what I did, even the prescription cream that usually works didn’t help. That’s when a company called Gladskin reached out to me about a new eczema product that had been doing well in Europe and was just entering the US market.
Gladskin says that most people with eczema have an imbalance of good and bad bacteria living on the skin. Gladskin is a mild lotion (even safe for babies over three months old) that contains a unique protein which moisturizes while it restores balance to the skin microbiome. This means, you can use it on your skin before, during and after an eczema flare, as many times a day as you want. If a microbiome imbalance isn’t your issue, the product still works as a safe, effective moisturizer because it is hypoallergenic, and fragrance, alcohol and preservative free.
Of course, I would try anything at that point and told them to send me the cream. The day I got the product, my hand looked like this:
Yes, I know. It’s pretty nasty. I would never show anybody this normally, except you need to see what I’m dealing with so that I can properly explain what happened next.
Gladskin says most eczema sufferers will notice a change in a few days and should experience the full effect after 3 weeks. Right away, when I squeezed the product, it made a fizzling sound as it exited the bottle, indicating to me that there was no contaminated air in the tube. I liked the feeling of the cream on my hands and noticed that while it was a little greasy after application, I did not get the same suffocating feeling that I do with many over the counter moisturizers.
The very next day, my hand looked like this:
Miracle right? I was floored!
But it wasn’t completely cured yet. My biggest issues always occur right at the moment when it’s almost healed. That’s when the itching starts. Once I itch (it’s so hard not to!!!), the eczema comes back with a vengeance.
So, this story is not over.
On the third day, we went away skiing for five days. My eczema always acts up when I go skiing, which I have always attributed to being out in extreme weather conditions. I was hopeful that the Gladskin would keep my eczema at bay, but it started to act up again on my left hand. When I got back from the trip, I told the people at Gladskin that their product had really worked a miracle over night, but then sadly, because I went skiing, I had a flare up again and I wanted to test it out for a bit longer before writing my final review. They agreed and said they wanted to send me their new formula that they were launching in the states which included the addition of .02% colloidal oatmeal. The oatmeal has been proven to relieve the itchiness that I was experiencing when my patches started to heal.
What I didn’t know at the time, but I know now, is that I am part of a very small percentage of eczema sufferers who has an oatmeal sensitivity. More on that in a moment.
The following day, my hand looked like this:
That morning, I went to my dermatologist who put me back on steroid creams for the next ten days to clear up the flare ups. Then I got on the phone with the Gladskin people to ask them about the difference in the two products. Why did the first product works so well and the second product wreak so much havoc? Gladskin told me that the only difference between the two products is the colloidal oatmeal, which has been proven by the FDA to soothe eczema itchiness, but also happens to be an irritant for a very small percentage of the eczema sufferers.
Suddenly, everything made sense. I am part of that small percentage of eczema sufferers who is allergic or sensitive to oatmeal! And almost every over the counter product marketed to eczema sufferers contains oatmeal. This explains why the oatmeal baths my mom gave me never worked on my eczema when I was younger. This explains why giving my kids baths and applying moisturizer on them afterwards always made my eczema flare up— we use body wash and lotions for eczema prone skin on the kids that all contain oatmeal. Come to think of it— this is probably why my hands have been my main area of eczema flare ups since I had children. It also explains why my eczema always acts up when I go skiing. It’s not the weather. It’s the fact that we eat oatmeal every morning and granola bars on the slopes. Also, right after our ski trip, Mike had brought in an oat-based cereal to my office and I had been eating it for lunch everyday. So the day that my eczema went crazy, I had eaten two bowls of oat flakes, a granola bar and a yogurt parfait. And then on top of that, I had applied colloidal oatmeal directly to my hand!
Life mystery solved!
I still had my miracle cream. I just couldn’t use the version with oatmeal. You see, Gladskin knows eczema sufferers so well that they sell both an oatmeal and a non-oatmeal version of their cream on their site. So, after we figured out my problem, they sent me two bottles of their non-oatmeal lotion and I’ve been using it ever since.
I have also removed oats from my diet and removed all oatmeal based eczema lotions and body washes from our house. Gladskin told me that wool and metals are common eczema irritants as well, so I have stopped wearing those for now too.
Look at my hand today!
I could seriously not be happier. I have Gladskin to thank— both for their non-oatmeal over the counter cream and their wealth of knowledge. My skin is still eczema prone and I’m sure I will flare up again (and notice more things that irritate it), but now I am armed with a tool I can use consistently to keep it in check.
If you have eczema prone skin, I highly recommend checking out Gladskin. If you suspect you have an oatmeal sensitivity, I suggest trying their oatmeal free version!