How Eczema Impacted My Fitness & Overall Well Being

eczema skin

fit.healthy.foodieCan eczema skin impact your fitness goals? You bet it can!

I’ve written about nutrition and it’s importance in obtaining your fitness goals and overall health. It’s key for energy, growth, recovery and maintaining good metabolism. In this post, I talk about my journey with an acute skin condition which I’ve dealt with and still dealing with for over a year and how it has impacted my nutrition and my general health. With so much to tell, I will be splitting the post into several parts.

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My Year of Enlightenment…With Acute Eczema Skin

The past year has been a difficult year for me in terms of my nutrition and general health. I’ve mentioned how I’ve been dealing with skin issues in my social media feed (IG: fit.healthy.foodie). And I’m ready to talk more about this journey and how it impacted my fitness goals.

Years ago (and I’m talking about several years), I had dry, itchy patches on my shins and the back of my hand. They were relatively small patches. My family doctor recommended I see a dermatologist. In Canada, in order to see a dermatologist, I need to get a referral from my family doctor. (Note: health care is free here.) After seeing the dermatologist (several months later – these appointments are never instant) and being told I had eczema, she prescribed me with hydrocortisone cream and off I went.

The cortisone cream cured the small patches of eczema and it wasn’t until 2-3 years later it all came back…and it came back with a vengeance, to say the least. For most of 2017, I had what doctor’s called acute eczema. I had it all down the front of my shins – starting from my left leg and then eventually on both legs. I also had acute eczema on the backs of my hand. It became so severe on my shins that it became an open wound with liquid seeping out (sorry for being so explicit). These areas were also swollen.

Getting The Same Results With No Improvement

I was fed up of using hydrocortisone creams, knowing the side effects of them. Hydrocortisone is a steroid that is used topically. Would you take steroids? I didn’t think so. Knowing that your skin is your biggest organ, I feared taking it for long periods of time.

Therefore, I decided to get a 2nd opinion….and then a 3rd. In seeing a different doctor as well as a different dermatologist, I was told the same thing…it’s acute eczema and here’s a prescription for a hydrocortisone cream. Here’s what WebMD says about how hydrocortisone creams work: “it weakens the skin’s defense (immune) system, thereby decreasing the allergic reaction and relieving the eczema.” It also thins the skin. From my research and also input from yet another family doctor that I went to see about this issue, hydrocortisone creams should NOT be used for long periods of time. Well, I’ve been dealing with this acute eczema for over ONE year and each time, these doctors would prescribe me with a hydrocortisone cream even though I’ve told them the history of my issue.

Changing My Diet

After about 7 months of dealing with the skin issue, I decided to change my diet. Maybe I was allergic to something I was eating which was causing the inflammation in my skin? I noticed that after meals, the areas with eczema would be very itchy. I first cut out gluten from my diet. This did not ease the flare ups, so I decided to try a plant based diet. I was plant based for about 3 months. The change in diet, did not help my skin condition and to make matters even more frustrating, I saw a change in my physique as well as my performance in the gym. I decided that my health was more important, therefore my fitness goals and my powerlifting had to take a back seat.

“Abs Are Made In The Kitchen”

This saying is true for ALL aspects of fitness. And as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, nutrition is key. Eating right in terms of macronutrients is key to your performance in the gym and your body composition. I was so frustrated at this time because I couldn’t eat for performance since going plant based was totally new for me. And I was still trying to figure out how to hit my macros on a plant based diet.

There was no change with my eczema. At the gym, at work and on the weekends (it was summer time now), I would not wear anything that showed my legs. My life revolved around this skin condition. It controlled my food intake, my clothing choices, and my fitness goals. It affected my overall well being.

Non-Medicated Products That Have Helped

From the extended period dealing with this issue, I’ve tried many, many different creams that have been recommended to me. Some worked by easing the itchiness or even the inflammation, while others did nothing. One that I have repurchased and use daily is the Gardener’s Dream Cream. This cream is amazing! It’s all natural and made of essential oils. It cools your skin which significantly reduces and, in some instances, eliminates the itching.

I also recommend shea butter. I’ve used numerous pure, all natural shea butters and by far, the best one I’ve come upon is the Pure Shea Butter. It’s great for cracked, dry skin. And with eczema, you get very dry, cracked, flaky skin when the skin is drying out and on it’s path to healing.

Instead of using hydrocortisone cream, I turn to these two items. Unfortunately, my eczema has never fully healed. It tends to almost heal and will eventually flare up again.

In my next post, I’ll get into how I’m finally on the road to recovery and what the “magic cure” is.

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