How to party when you have eczema or TSW
Eczema and topical steroid withdrawal steals many things from us: our looks, our sleep, our money, our time, our sanity, and our need for social connection and fun through the medium of partying.
It’s no surprise this issue is a regular topic of discontent. People are frustrated with the control eczema has over their lives and also, this last bastion of normality.
Partying, for many, encapsulates the perfect contradiction of what the eczema sufferer needs.
Dancing, socialising, and letting go of the seriousness of life for a moment equals stress relief, exercise and much needed psychological connection. On the other hand, the late nights, alcohol consumption and fear over how the skin will behave can lead to less (precious) sleep, anxiety and potentially overall worsening of the skin.
As with everything, there must be balance. If partying contributes more to this harmony, your overall sanity and ability to handle this life, then please read on as I have put together a few rules which might help make this journey a little easier.
Some people feel drawn into having the sneaky ciggie on the weekend with their friends. As easy as this trap is to fall into once the wine is flowing, it is a big no-no for skin conditions like eczema.
Not only does the smoke from cigarettes externally irritate the skin, even leading to contact dermatitis in certain individuals, but it also restricts blood flow and oxygen supply to the skin - meaning slower healing time and a skin with lowered infection fighting performance.
Does the heat of summer make your skin itch like crazy? Does a stuffy room full of bodies make you want to kill every last person in the room? Then stick to partying in the cooler months when nature’s air conditioner is on your side!
What if the harshness of winter is your nemesis, leaving you crusty and dry to the point of splitting and flaking skin? Easy - spend the winter months hibernating like a bear while you save up your new dance repertoire for spring and all its glorious warmth.
The moral of this story is that if you find a certain season does not agree with your skin, be that hot, cold, dry, or humid; then look after yourself and take a break while the season is working against you.
Partying isn’t going anywhere, but your sanity will!
Recon the room
Spend some time doing preliminary reconnaissance, scouting for the area of the room that offers the best ventilation, least amount of cigarette smoke, and least likely to attract lots of bodies for you to have to avoid.
If you’re with a big group of friends at a club, then you can use the ‘just going to the loo’ excuse to survey the room for its sweet spot.
If your friends don’t really care about catering to your needs, then your first move in this case might be to start looking for better friends! Otherwise if subterfuge is your only option, tell them you found the perfect spot for people watching, for group seating, or for dancing without worrying about your flailing arms upsetting the patrons.
House parties are pretty easy. With the limited areas to choose from, it’s not difficult to herd people to your preferred location after you have ‘wowed’ at something people enjoy talking about - like their garden, their sound system, or my personal favourite; their awesome air conditioner.
I know I sound like a broken record, but that’s ok by me.
You need to keep up your water intake regardless of whether you are drinking alcohol or not as you will be losing more fluids than you realise.
The skin of the eczema sufferer is already at a moisture deficit, so add to that a night of exerting yourself through dance-offs and socialising like you’ve been at sea for a year, and you have yourself a recipe for even dryer skin.
If you aren’t drinking alcohol, then still maintain your usual water consumption, sipping regularly.
If you are drinking alcohol, try to alternate between a glass of alcohol and a glass of water each time. This will lessen the overall burden of alcohol on your organs, keep you fuller for longer so you’re not tempted to eat inflammatory foods, keep your wallet healthier, and help balance the dehydration of your skin.
Try adding a little bit of salt to the water at the end of the night to rebalance your electrolytes.
Eat before you go out
Because the temptation of those adorable canapés, the hand-made gyoza’s or that 1am pizza can be hard to resist - even for the sober!
You want to load up on as much of the ‘safe food’ as you can before going out so you not only have beneficial energy to burn once you hit the dance floor, but to also to keep your attentions away from having to refuel on inflammatory foods later in the night.
Try a green, nutrient, energy packed smoothie or a big protein filled salad to keep your body at its peak.
Ok, so if you’re at that age where the clubs are starting to fill up with people you swear are far too young to be out drinking, it might be time to start finding alternatives to the heavily sweaty and superficially-overdone public partying scene.
There is a time and a place for every type of lifestyle, and making the shift to more intimate gatherings centred on communal dinner parties with games, drinking and activities can be far more rewarding when you want to make life a little easier.
Think outside the box. You can still be young at heart and party with the big kids. Think fancy dress or themed nights with a different culture food, pool parties and nights dedicated to epic battles of charades or singing to your favourite 90’s bands while you attempt to play your friend’s guitar.
If your friends are light hearted and don’t take themselves seriously, then gravitating away from clubs occasionally will be easy and welcome for all.
This way you don’t have to stress so much about what you look like, you won’t spend as much money on overpriced food and drinks, you can bring along food which won’t make your skin worse, and you are in a more controlled environment with less warm bodies to exacerbate your itch.
There’s reason we all have a stash of board games at home, and this my friends is the catalyst for their resurgence. My friends and I have a warped sense of humor so we enjoy a good old game of Cards Against Humanity.
What to drink!
Alcohol is toxic for the liver, it is an addictive drug which can cause nutritional deficiencies and of course it can also make your skin worse.
If you understand the risks and know that you should probably avoid it, but have decided to drink anyway, then here are some tips on how to drink smarter!
What to avoid
Here is a list of drinks likely to contain one or more of the following eczema triggering culprits: histamine, pesticides, sulphites, yeast, preservatives, heavy sugars, salicylates, amines, gluten and dairy.
The list is unfairly culpable due to the fact that most alcoholic drinks are created for their flavour, and not with the concept of inflammation on their minds. However limiting this may appear, in reality it can make your life much easier!
The better options
Now you know what to avoid, what does this leave you with? To be honest, not a huge amount. But when you know that your options are limited, you don’t have to be burdened with indecision and complication and everyone knows what to buy you at the bar!
If you’re lucky, you might be able to find yourself organic, low-sulphite and pesticide free wines which might provide you will less or even no negative side effects. Though due to its expense, you might want to guard it with your life!
For some ideas of how to spruce up your drink list, look for sites which stick to paleo and low-allergen cocktails, such as this website.
Always remember to drink responsibly and with caution.
Thanks to Joel from the Ultimate Paleo Guide, he has provided the world with these suggested supplements to help counteract some of the negative effects from alcohol.
And Activated Charcoal after each drink to also bind with the by-products of alcohol.
Make sure your last drink is not just before you fall asleep
As I’ve mentioned in my article on 11 Amazing things that happen to eczema when you quit alcohol, alcohol acts a sedative until it wears off. After this time, you will experience the ‘rebound awakening’ where your glutamine kicks back in and your quality of sleep, thus your best ‘healing’ hours, degrades.
After a night of letting your hair down, you need this sleep more than ever, so don’t fall into the trap of drinking right up until it’s time to leave because this will only mean a night of almost wasted sleep and your body will suffer.
If you have a curfew allocated, then attempt to make your last drink at least a few hours before then. Switch to water for the remaining time to improve your hydration levels and allow the glutamine to begin its rebalancing process.
Watching the sunrise is not a challenge!
The longer you stay out means more spending on the offenders: alcohol, bad foods and precious sleeping hours.
Don’t be afraid to leave before others do. Your time with your friends is about quality, and if you have not found a decent level of satisfaction by 11pm, then your source of pleasure here could do with some reassessing.
Understand the consequences
Just to cover the ground rules, if you are out all night being subjected to all of the environmental allergens and stimulation as well as drinking like a pirate, then don’t presume you will get away with it Scott-free.
Assume the worst and let this be your understanding. If it turns out that your body does better than you’d predicted, take that as pure luck and not a challenge to push it further next time.
If on the other hand you find yourself having to pick up the pieces over the next week or two, then it will neither come as a surprise nor a reason to avoid partying. Just take it a bit easier next time and let this experience be your frame of reference for what NOT to do next time.
Partying can be as beneficial as you make it. Your choices and ability to adapt will dictate whether your night is a source of much needed respite, or something you may be paying for, weeks later.
Your health is everything, and the way you treat your body is all about self-respect. If you can find it within yourself to modify the way you party, then your quality of life can be very rich indeed.
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