Eczema sufferer called 'disgusting' by stranger praises £7.99 wonder cream

A lifelong eczema sufferer who had to quit work due to painful rashes and infections has hailed a £7.99 wonder cream for changing her life.

Emilie Dunn, 24, was left covered in angry rashes after developing topical steroid withdrawal (TSW), or red skin syndrome, when she stopped using prescribed creams to treat her eczema. She also spent nearly a year battling a bacterial or staphylococcus infection, causing further unsightly red areas on her skin

But now, she is finally smiling again thanks to a natural remedy sourced by her mum.

Emilie, of Hull, East Yorkshire, said: “I cannot believe the difference it has made. People don’t realise how much of an impact having something like this has on your confidence.



“I heard someone in Primark say to their partner, ‘What’s wrong with her face? It’s disgusting’, after looking at me in the queue.”

She continued: “Because of that comment, I spent two years hidden away at home while I tried to find something to fix my TSW.

“I’ve finally gained the confidence to start living my life again now and wish I could go back in time and tell myself not to pay attention to what other people think.”

One of Emilie’s earliest memories is of her hands and feet being slathered in steroid cream and bandaged up, because of her eczema.

With flare-ups occurring every few months, for weeks at a time the skin on her hands would become dry, cracked and inflamed.

Luckily, her classmates were “surprisingly understanding”, as throughout primary and secondary school her hands would become so painful they would bleed during lessons.

“I’d be writing in class and my hands would split open and start bleeding all over my work,” she recalled.

She continued: “It wasn’t just painful it was incredibly embarrassing. Most people were kind, but some of the other children would start to point and laugh and make the whole thing worse.”

After leaving school, Emilie, then 18, had enjoyed several months without a flare-up when she noticed her right foot showing signs of inflammation, which she immediately believed to be caused by some kind of infection, as a result of her cracked skin.

Prescribed a course of steroid cream to use over two weeks by her GP, fortunately, the medication worked.

She said: “I hadn’t used topical steroids for years, there hadn’t been any need. But I followed the doctor’s advice and within a few weeks any signs of infection had gone.”

Within weeks of finishing her cream, however, Emilie noticed a light red rash appearing across her forehead.

“One day I looked in the mirror and I looked completely flushed,” she said. “At first I thought nothing of it, but slowly it started to spread.”

By January 2016, the rash had spread across her body and Emilie’s doctor prescribed a course of steroid tablets to treat it. After just five days, the rash had gone down substantially.



Emilie has praised Balmonds Skin Salvation for encouraging her skin to heal

“I was convinced it wasn’t eczema, as I’d never had it on my face before and it looked completely different,” said Emilie.

“It was a dry, pink layer of skin – like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I’d feel quite cold and chilly, but my skin was physically hot.”

She continued: “Still, the steroids worked and I thought that was that.”

Days after finishing the steroids, she noticed the redness coming back, spreading from her forehead to her chin and down her chest.

She said: “When it was all over my body I went back to the doctor, who suggested more steroids, but something told me not to use them. I was convinced the steroids had something to do with it.”

Scouring the web for answers, it was Emilie’s mum, Julie, 53, who found an article about TSW.

“My mum started looking into steroid creams and their adverse effects,” she said. “That’s when she came across an article on TSW. She showed me and right away I thought, ‘This is me’. I started doing more research and joined groups on Facebook. I couldn’t believe how many other people had gone through the same experience as me.”

In October 2016, Emilie developed an infection in her feet, which ballooned to four times their normal size. After testing a sample of skin from the affected area, a doctor confirmed she was suffering with a staph infection, caused by the bacteria staphylococcus.

“My legs and feet were huge,” Emilie said. “I had to spend every hour of every day on the sofa while Mum looked after me.”

She continued: “We had to cover the sofa with towels that were changed every hour, as my legs were weeping that badly. Doctors think the infection – which lasted on and off for a year – lasted this long because my skin had become so weak with TSW. The barrier it provided wasn’t strong enough at first to fight off the infection.”

She continued: “Each time I saw the doctors they suggested more steroids but I knew I didn’t want to take them. I was confident in my self-diagnosis of TSW and knew that any steroids would make it worse.”



Emilie's foot was swollen for nearly a year

Given several courses of antibiotics and forced to leave her job as a retail assistant, Emilie spent the next year on the sofa, while her legs slowly healed.

Fully recovered from the staph infection by September 2017, she was desperate to return to normal and started by going into town with her mum.

Describing the outing – her first in a year – Emilie said: “Children stopped and stared. My skin was bright red, cracked and flaky – there’s no denying I looked horrendous. But it was the adults that shocked me.”

She continued: “I don’t mind being stared at, but they could at least have tried to hide how disgusted they were. ”

Her experience left her self confidence in tatters.

“After that, I basically didn’t leave the house for two years,” she said.

She continued: “It’s hard to explain how much it knocked my confidence. I became completely dependent on my parents and my boyfriend Phil. I didn’t want the world to see me.”



Emilie hopes to raise awareness of topical steroid withdrawal

Determined to find a natural treatment to ease her condition, Emilie spent the next two years trying out “every product under the sun”.

After fearing there was no hope left, everything changed in July 2019 when her mum suggested she tried Balmonds Skin Salvation, costing £7.99 for 30ml.

“My mum bought me some Balmonds after hearing it was 100 per cent natural and I finally got round to using it,” she said.

“It was amazing. I started using it on my face and within a week I noticed I was less red and flaky.”

She continued: “As the weeks passed, my skin became less and less red and, for the first time in years, I didn’t look as flushed. I started using it on my hands and feet during flare-ups and the splits in my skin would be gone in a week.”

As the redness reduced, by September last year, Emilie felt confident enough to start leaving her house again.

“It was a big turning point for me, last summer, when I started going to visit Phil on his lunch breaks,” she said.

“For two years I hadn’t left the house because of my skin and now I felt I could. It might not sound a lot to other people, but it’s been a huge step for me and I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I hadn’t used Balmonds.”

She continued: “It’s so important for people with TSW to find something that soothes their skin.”

At last, Emilie is now ready to start “living her life again”.

She said: “It feels like in those five years I should have building my career or getting my life sorted, but I’ve hidden away behind closed doors. More than ever I realise I want to get out there again. I want to be working and meeting people. Balmonds has helped me get a step closer to that.”

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