I was 8 or 9 when I first became conscious about my skin. It was suddenly no longer cool to scratch games of tic-tac-toe on the length of my legs. I wanted to wear my uniform at a cool above-the-knee length but everyday it got a little harder to hide the bloom of eczema that blossomed on the back of my knees. It was easy to pretend that it wasn't there, but hard to ignore the "what is that on your leg?!" interrogations at every PE lesson. Kids. They are equal parts curious as they are tactless. I was always certain the burn on my cheeks matched the colour of the weeping skin on my legs.
A routine health check in school finally led to an appointment at the dermotologist and I remember the doctor telling my mother that eczema was a very common skin condition that many children grew out of at puberty, so all I had to do was wait. Puberty? What was that? It sounded like a level in school I had to get to? Whatever the case, I grasped and revelled in the fact that my dry, itchy and raw skin would one day not be a problem anymore.
I left with two containers of cream that I had to apply on my "problem areas" until my skin cleared and found myself in a tiresome cycle of having to renew my prescription every month. While using the steroid cream helped to keep the inflammation at bay, itchiness still remained a constant problem for me.
It took me years to learn that many factors contribute to itchy skin and that there is no one sure way of getting rid of it entirely. But there are definitely some things that can be done to help it. One of the common reasons for eczema-prone skin is the lack of Filaggrin, a protein that helps maintain our skin integrity and is essential for the production of the natural moisturising factor to maintain skin hydration. A lack of Filaggrin in the skin makes it easier for moisture to escape as our skin barrier is compromised, making our skin prone to dehydration. It's when we get dry, that our skin itches, and we scratch! It's a cycle that I'm only too familiar with but also one that I've found a way to break out of.
I use both the Body Wash and Moisturiser on a daily basis for best results, and I recommend being diligent with your regime too. During a recent trip to Perth, I got lazy and left the bottles in Singapore only to suffer from a cold rash while I was there.
The kids have unfortunately inherited my skin deficiencies which has only motivated me to make moisturizing as much of a routine for them as possible. In the few months that I've used Cetaphil Restoraderm on Zola and Ari, I've noticed their skin conditions improve tremendously with Zola ceasing to scratch in the middle of the night too!
I guess I never grew out of my eczema but understanding the root cause of my itch-scratch cycle has really helped me to deal with my skin confidence and now short skirts and tactless kids are not so much a problem anymore.
This post is in partnership with Cetaphil. Photos by Cherlynn Lian.