Skip to content

Katie’s Eczema
Skin Story

“If you can’t control it, don’t let it control your mindset”

This is Skin Stories, where we get under the skin of what it’s like to live with certain skin conditions – from eczema to psoriasis. It’s a safe space where real people share the relationship that they have with their skin, along with their management tips and solutions. Here, Katie, 26, shares what it’s like to live with ongoing bouts of eczema.

Meet Katie

Embedded YouTube video player thumbnail

Katie has had eczema since she was three years old when what originally appeared to be nappy rash, turned out not to be nappy rash. Ever since, Katie has had eczema in varying degrees, from full-body flare-ups, including all over her face, to ongoing breakouts of contact dermatitis on her hands.

Her skin can change a lot throughout the year, for example when pollen counts are high and the seasons change, she experiences more severe flare-ups. Whereas in the summer months, her skin tends to be calmer, and her eczema only appears in more localised areas.

Have you ever felt held back by having eczema?

Embedded YouTube video player thumbnail

Katie has noticed that her anxiety levels peak when her eczema flare-ups are at their worst. In the past, she would avoid wearing certain colours, especially bright colours, as she would worry that these would draw attention to her skin. But as she’s grown up, she’s developed a go-to mantra that has really helped with managing her anxiety: “If you can’t control it, don’t let it control your mindset”.

Nowadays, she actually finds wearing bright colours empowering: “Wearing those colours has really helped as I would tell myself, people aren’t staring at my skin, they’re staring at the bright colours I’m wearing or the cool slogan on my t-shirt.” Katie is all about normalising normal skin and championing the message that you don’t choose your skin condition, but you can choose how you react to it and that’s where she finds she has a lot of power.

Tips for soothing your skin

Embedded YouTube video player thumbnail

Over the years, Katie has learned how important it is to prioritise her mental health over her physical health – and this has helped a lot. She’s also found it really useful to know what creams she can reach for when she’s experiencing different types of flare ups, knowing when to flex between emollients and thicker creams to lighter moisturisers.

“I think the hard thing about having eczema is that you always have to consider it – and that’s where the discomfort comes in. You’re always having to think ‘can I try that’ or ‘can I do that’, but over time I’ve learned what I can and can’t use and my triggers.” Katie has created what she calls ‘a mini skin first aid kit’, which she takes with her wherever she goes. It contains everything she might need in case she experiences a flare-up so she doesn’t have to stop what she’s doing and can keep having fun.

How to feel comfortable in your skin

Embedded YouTube video player thumbnail

“The one thing you hide is often the one thing that connects you to hundreds, if not thousands, of others” – by sharing her skin stories online, Katie has discovered deep friendships with people who can understand the struggles, and the ups and downs, of living with eczema.

Katie says that without showing her skin journey online, she wouldn’t have such a big group of, what she lovingly calls, ‘itchy friends’ – people that she feels deeply connected to and who she feels she can be her true self with.

She has also found it helpful to dehumanise her eczema by giving her flare-up patches names –like ‘Flare-y Mary’ on her wrist. “Once I named it and talked about it online, it helped me come to terms and deal with it. My skin doesn’t define me, it’s a part of me”.

Want to discover more Skin Stories? From eczema to psoriasis, check out our page Skin Stories to get under the skin of different skin conditions.