This message is for the patients with Atopic Dermatitis, people going through horrible symptoms during Topical Steroid Withdrawal, and to the patient’s friends and family.
Today, I would like to share my thoughts on ‘itchiness’.
‘Don’t scratch your skin.’
I am sure at some point, someone has said this to you. It might happen frequently in your life and might be from your parents, friends, and your acquaintances. Even the dermatologists will tell you this like,
‘Please try to refrain from scratching.’
‘Scratching will worsen your condition.’
‘Do not itch!’
When you itch, your skin breaks, oozes, and sometimes you may even bleed. When you experience an intense itch and you rip through our skin, the aftermath is often very ugly. (Actually, the itch ONLY subsides when the pain from the itching is greater than the itch. )
The wounds that you are left with take a long time for it to scab over, and heal.
If I didn’t itch, I wouldn’t have this pain.
If I didn’t itch, My skin wouldn’t have been so messed up.
If I didn’t scratch, it wouldn’t take so much time to heal.
I am sure many thoughts run through your mind, and you start to feel like you did something very wrong…
You may think that you are ‘weak’ because you gave in to the itch. You may even feel a sense of defeat. After your scratch fest, you may dwell on the fact that you itched and worsened your skin, and become heavy with regret.
But please realize this…
You have an ‘itchy’ disease!
The people around you may say ‘Don’t itch!’ but the itch you experience is an unbearable one. No human being can tolerate this magnitude of itchiness.
The ‘itch’ makes you want to rip out your organs, scratch away your body parts, and is bone deep. No one can withstand this kind of uncontrollable itch.
There are even some ‘Itchy Attacks’ when it almost feels impossible to breathe because of the intensity of the itch.
You are all enduring through this so well.
It may be worse to have a neverending painful disease, but having an unbearable itch is a horrible experience as well.
I deeply understand what you are going through!
And at times, our friends and family may be concerned and may say things like..
‘Don’t scratch your skin.’
‘You really shouldn’t itch.’
…You probably think to yourself,
(This is an unbearable itch that no one can endure!).
Our family and friends say things out of concern, but it most certainly can be annoying (and unhelpful).
When your loved ones say things like this, please pay no attention to their words.
They have not experienced the type of itch that you deal with.
They do not understand the intense magnitude of the itch.
Maybe their only experience with itchiness is a mosquito bite in the past.
But they are only saying things to you because they want to help you, and prevent your condition from worsening.
…Even if their advice isn’t helpful at all, please just say ‘Thank you.’ and then forget what they said to you.
It’s impossible to resist the ‘itch’, and that’s okay.
Just because someone is sharing their views does not mean that you need to listen or obey to it.
Don’t feel bad that you can’t follow what they say.
You are experiencing something that they have not experienced, and because of this you can have compassion for their lack of not knowing any better.
Even if the ones telling you to stop itching may be your parents, or be your senior, in regards to itchiness, you have more experience, and have more say on the issue.
The biggest issue here is how YOU feel about YOUR injured body.
So many people feel self hatred during this process.
But as I have said many times before…It’s NOT your fault.
Please forgive yourself for scratching yourself.
It’s okay to itch.
It is an ‘itchy’ disease.
As there are ‘painful’ diseases, and many uncomfortable diseases, the biggest problem with this disease is that it causes major itchiness, and there is no way in preventing this.
Place your hands on your heart, imagine your younger, little self (you can talk to “Little <Your name>”) and say outloud:
‘I forgive myself for itching myself.’
Or you can try this…place your hands on your heart and talk as if you are talking to your younger you..
‘<Your name>, I am so sorry for itching. But I totally understand. It really is a intense and uncontrollable itch.’
Please forgive yourself, and encourage yourself.
Do not blame yourself.
If you tend to blame yourself and feel self hatred towards yourself, please please try this little exercise, and help to heal your heart and body.
It is painful to not have forgiveness. If no one can give this to you, YOU can forgive yourself, and surely it will make you feel better.
Next, this is a message to those caregivers around the patient, those who have not experienced the ‘itch’ on a first hand basis.
Even though you do not have the actual symptoms of this disease, it must still be very hard and painful to watch your loved one suffer so much.
I believe that everyone who is reading this blog truly cares for the patient and has a kind heart.
Because you have a kind heart, I want to ask you to not tell your loved one to ‘stop itching/scratching.’
Of course you only say this because you want to prevent his/her condition from getting even worse…An act of love.
Even though the patient may feel thankful that you care so deeply about him/her, the itch that he/she is experiencing is beyond any means of control.
I can say with confidence that the ‘itch’ is so intense, that it is impossible for a human being to withstand it.
If you had the same exact symptoms, surely you would itch the same way.
You would probably itch so intensely, that you may forget to breathe.
Even if someone tried to stop you, you would think, ‘Don’t stop me!!’ and would writhe and itch until the ‘pain’ surmounts the ‘itch’ on your skin.
Because of all of this, trying to encourage the patients and telling them to ‘Stop Scratching’ is a meaningless exchange.
Please understand that they have a ITCHY disease.
One of the main symptoms of this disease is to have a uncontrollable itch.
When you tell someone to stop scratching, it is as if you are telling a patient with a painful disease to ‘stop feeling the pain, stop being in pain’.
It is the same as if telling a patient going through a tough time ‘stop struggling.’
(…No way…I can’t endure this itch. If you had this disease you wouldn’t be able to control it either!!…)
I am 100% sure that the patient thinks this when you tell them to ‘Stop Scratching’….lol
Please understand that nothing can be done about the itching, and accept their condition as is.
If we try to keep changing them for something they have no control over, it will only cause stress for both parties.
There are times when the itch can be endured a little bit, and the patient is usually always enduring to a certain degree. No one wants to scratch until it hurts, to the point where his/her skin is completely raw.
Many people try to resist scratching. I believe that the young people especially must be so conscious not to scratch the day before going on a date. Even during those ‘important times and moments’, there are times where you cannot stop the scratching…lol
Your advices are sincere, but it is impossible to stop. Even for those patients who seem to scratch out of habit, they are scratching because there is an actual itch. It’s not a bad habit, they are itchy. Please don’t think that they have a bad habit of scratching. They have a itchy disease that feels uncomfortable unless you scratch.
For the most part they are already enduring some level of itchiness all the time. If you were to have a small mosquito bite and was told to ‘not scratch’ wouldn’t it bother you a bit?
When I hear about babies hands being tied so that they won’t scratch, it makes my heartbreak thinking how torturous this is.
(Please don’t do such a poor thing!! It is way too painful!!)
Because I know how they feel and how intense the itch is, just imagining having their hands tied is horrendous. On behalf of the baby I want to cry and shout to you… ‘Try being in my situation!! It’s so hard, you wouldn’t be able to bear the itch either!!’
There is a medical hypothesis that claims, ‘The action to itch causes indescribable pleasure, and this is why people itch.’
But I want to clearly state that we are not that stupid…LOL!
It is abnormal to injure your whole body because you want to feel pleasure (unless you are in to that stuff…hehe!)
The fact that we feel better after we scratch is a very normal state for us, I mean, we just can be the same condition with ordinary people’s natural state.
We want to feel normal again, the body just wants to return to its natural state…and thus we itch.
We just want to be free from the irritation and pain that comes from the unending itch.
Even before itching, patients know fully well that their itching will cause pain.
So if whatever you say will not help them, you can just leave them as be.
If your loved one had an itch fest and looks like they are down and regretting what they did…this is when you can come into play!
Say something that will ease their pain…make them laugh a little bit.
When you can share your mutually favorite jokes or a comment that lightens the situation, their depressed feelings start to lift.
For these unavoidable symptoms, these are the only things that you CAN do.
If you are by the patients and if they tend to feel down after scratching, the most powerful thing that you can do is to continue feeling your own happiness. You don’t need to try to make them happy. YOU should keep being happy.
Unfortunately, you cannot switch places with them or can’t take all their pain away. However, by shining our own lights close to them, they will surely feel the warmth of your presence. Be the Sun of your loved one.
Well, we have four seasons in Japan.
In winter, we have the dry, painful, and itchy seaon. And when it comes to an end, spring comes with a different type of itchness….lol Then rainy season brings flares due to the low pressure. After that, a humid and uncomfortable summer begins. The sweat tends to make us itchier. The cycle contiues and the cold season comes again… (;^_^A
It can be difficult to deal with the seasonal changes with a sensitive system. You may feel sick of it all and want to shout, ‘WHEN WILL IT EVER END?!’
But I am certain that for some special reasons, this sickness is happening to us.
This experience has meaning for the patient, and also for the caregiver…
You do not have to feel defeated from this trying experience.
Please learn and grow from this experience. You can take away something that is entirely positive.
If we do not take advantage of the experience, our experience will have no meaning.
Even if initially is a negative experience, we can make into a positive experience.
When we do this, we start to see the meaning of why this has happened to us.
Do you ever say or feel this way?
(Why do I have to experience such horrible things!?)
If we just complain and do not find reason in this experience, our suffering will lose its meaning.
(I’m going to take advantage of this experience!!!)
When we start to think like this, the meaning of the experience starts to become visible little by little…You may even possibly find out one of the reasons you were born to this world.
For example, through your illness you may now be able to relate to those with chronic illnesses…
Your experience has become alive!
And now if you can start to encourage those on similar paths…
You are making your experience come alive.
You have enriched your life through this experience, and can make a difference in others lives as well!
When we turn the negative to a positive, in that instance, this whole experience will start to have a new meaning to you alltogether.
Even if you are struggling right now, you will surely heal with time.
Please overcome this challenge with a smile on your face.
Have a wonderful day!!
Translated by Hikari M.
Edited by Tokuko Abfab
👇 オリジナルポストはこちら 👇The Original Post in Japanese
No Moisturizing Treatment (NMT) allows you to scratch. If you are interested in it, please read and learn about it below.
And more….Go to [POSTS IN ENGLISH] in this blog! Feel better!