A Case of Eczema

It is a bit of a long story but I hope you'll take the time to read it  :)

As a baby I had sensitive skin, so my mum tells me. Then it was ok for a number of years until I was a teenager when certain products or soaps would cause small red, itchy, dry rashes behind my knees or in the crooks of my elbows. And then this weird thing happened to one, yes just one of my fingers. All of a sudden there were little water filled bubbles on the palm side of my finger. It wasn't red, it didn't itch, nor hurt, it was just there.

Jump ahead a few more years;

The setting:

A deserted island in the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu. On a property that went straight onto the beach, white sand lined by coconut trees, crystal clear water leading to other islands. Serenity. We had no running water nor electricity. It was paradise.
We went to town once a week for supplies. Going to town meant catching a small boat to the big island just next door, then waiting for some form of land transport. By 'some form' I mean anything ranging from a bus (which in Vanuatu is a mini-van) to sitting on top of bags of copra on the back of a truck.

I have no idea how it even started. I think the small water filled bubbles on my finger spread onto most of my fingers and onto my palms as well. Now I don't have a lot of self control when it comes to things like this and I started squeezing the bubbles till they popped. From that, ever so small infections started popping up over my palms. Again with the self control, I thought if I just get the infection out it will get better and all will be ok.... Not so!

The infections continued to get worse to the point that both my palms from finger tips almost to my wrists were full of big infections. It was painful, swollen and tight. I was just able to shower and dress and eat- holding soap or a fork between two fingers. Luckily I was surrounded by amazing friends who helped me out so much for which I will be forever thankful. They would fetch water from the well for my showers and wash my clothes (remember no running water-this meant showers from a bucket and hand washing clothes in a big basin), one would wash my hair then another would braid it. I stopped eating breakfast because I couldn't carry a coffee mug or spread peanut butter onto the biscuits. Then one morning a friend brought me some biscuits to my room and not far behind her was my now husband with a cup of coffee.

This continued for what seemed like an eternity. I believe it was probably 6-8 weeks or more. I really cannot remember as it was such a painful period for me. Each week I went to town and straight to the hospital for more medication. Penicillin, amoxycillin, some-other-cillin. I smothered my hands in coconut oil, which brought amazing relief but constantly dripped of my hands and left oil spots on anything I touched and the reality was that a few days after finishing a round of antibiotics it would all come back again.

Finally it was time to leave and head home. On arrival in Australia my mother was horrified. I laughed and cried at the same time and told her how just a few days earlier it had been a lot worse. I went to see a GP who was OH so helpful (please hear the sarcasm in that!). He told me I had a "special type of eczema" and I just had to go home and figure out what caused it. Thanks Doc! I walked out almost in tears.

Then my Mum took over and came to the rescue! Multiple natural products showed up in my bathroom for weeks with directions to try this one for a few days and if you don't like it or it doesn't help try another or so and so's son has eczema and uses this one, try it. Slowly my hands started to look normal again. Then one day I put some commercial branded mousse into my hair and up popped a bunch of bubbles. There it was, as clear as anything right before me. STAY AWAY FROM CHEMICALS!!!

It has been a continuous learning curve since then. Testing products, making some myself, trying to find natural products in a new country when it's all in another language. It has changed my life and after discovering about all the harmful chemicals that surround us every day, I couldn't be happier!

Katie xo


  1. My daughter has horrible eczema, too. It's mostly on her arms & legs, though often also on her stomach, chest & back. We've tried nearly everything, but she just can't stop scratching. She is 5 years old. I wash our clothes with soap nuts (to avoid chemicals), use a special soap in the bath, and make most things from scratch (also because she has a tree nut/peanut allergy). Which "products" / treatments worked for you? My husband & I are at our witt's end.

    1. Hi,
      I'm sorry to hear about your daughters irritating eczema. As I said in my post I have a "special" kind of eczema, I don't have itchy red spots or anything like that, I do however get random itchy skin irritations. I found a product called Grahams ( http://www.itchy.net.au/ ) to be very helpful and I still use the soap and bath oil. I also always have a tube of the eczema cream on hand. This is an Australian product but they do have a page for USA customers and have a list of stores in the US where the products are available. Like you I make a bunch of my products myself. I love to use some bicarb soda either as a scrub or dissolved in bath water when my skin is a bit itchy and irritated or oatmeal in an old sock/stocking in the bath is supposed to be great as well. I also use a lot of coconut oil which is supposed to be great for eczema as well and is a great base that can be added to with essential oils like Lavender, Chamomile, Tea Tree. Calendula and emu oil are great too or creams with these in it.
      I hope you find something soon that helps to calm it down. I know it's not fun at all!