For me, there are few sensations that compare to the uncomfortable stress of being cold. In school, I learned that any temperature under 59 degrees F can be perceived as physically painful, and I completely agree that being cold can be just like being in pain sometimes!
Maybe I’m simply a big baby, but I really, really, REALLY hate being cold. This is just super, living in the Midwest and having eczema, as cold makes me feel stressed out, which makes me itch, and makes me want to get warm, and we all know that hot water and hot dry air is not very good for skin. (It’s my goal to move to a more temperate climate someday soon!)
I also feel like, in recent years (probably around the same time my eczema and rashes started getting worse) that I was MORE sensitive to cold than ever before. Could it be something to do with my thyroid? Wikipedia notes that symptoms of low thyroid are abnormal weight gain, tiredness, baldness, cold intolerance, and bradycardia.
Abnormal weight gain? Nope. If anything, I’ve probably lost a bit of weight in recent years when I started eating cleaner, and I’m definitely at a normal weight as I eat well and exercise.
Tiredness? Well, yes. I hate to admit it, but I’m tired a lot of the time. Not conk out and fall asleep at your desk tired, but just hard to get out of bed in the morning, wanting to sleep a lot, etc.
Baldness? Thank God, no. My hair looks reasonably full and healthy as ever.
Cold intolerance? YES and YES some more.
Bradycardia? (abnormally low heart rate)? Mine is probably on the lower range of normal since I do a lot of endurance exercise, but not abnormal.
Just like the itch-scratch cycle, I feel that there is a cold-warm cycle for me in winter weather, and it goes like this. After being at work all day in a warmed office building, I go outside into the car and get cold. The heat in the car kicks in on the way home, but then it’s time to enter a cold house. I immediately turn the heat up and huddle by the heating vent for the comfort of being warm. This then makes me itchy as it heats and dries out my skin, so I itch. Then when it’s time to take a shower or bath, I KNOW that long, hot baths and showers are not good, but in order to warm up, I can’t bear the thought of using lukewarm or even cold water, so there I am, soaking in my steaming tub, knowing full well it is not doing my eczema any favors.
Yesterday, I went for a run in the cold and dark, hoping maybe more time spent in the cold would help me acclimate. Although I’m used to running in all kinds of weather, it was the coldest it’s been this season so far (just around freezing). Running is hard and boring, but I love it as it makes me temporarily forget about my eczema and it gives me a sense of accomplishment! Yeah, I was cold, but my body was generating its own heat as I moved along, and there is a certain invigorating satisfaction that comes from exercising in cold weather and triumphing over the elements. I was hoping this triumph would translate to the evening, where I planned to take a COLD shower and then bask in the great relief from itching. But…
I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I wanted the comfort, the blissful feeling of WARMTH, even if it did continue to ravage my legs and leave them itchy.
Maybe one day I can bring myself to do it, as I’ve read accounts of other eczema sufferers where this has really helped them not itch so much, since hot water and air can strip the moisture out of skin. In the meantime, perhaps I can work toward the more achievable goal of just a short, lukewarm shower instead of lounging in a hot bath!