I had ‘red crab claw hands’ because of painful condition – my body’s had enough | The Sun

I had ‘red crab claw hands’ because of painful condition – my body’s had enough | The Sun

September 1, 2022

A YOUNG woman says her eczema got so bad she had red "crab claw" hands as her body struggled with the painful condition.

Katie Mackie, 25, from Teddington, south-west London, used to be ashamed of how red and sore her arms, face and hands looked – but now she's inspiring others to embrace their skin no matter what.




The digital communications coordinator has suffered since birth with eczema – which causes dry, irritated skin.

Katie said: “From birth, my eczema first presented as nappy rash then turned into full-blown eczema across my arm bends, leg bends, tummy, places that like.

"When I hit puberty though it changed and began spreading to my hands and face.

“I used to call my hands my crab claws as they were so red and sore. They would just be stuck in a curled-up position.

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"My hands would crack and bleed if I tried to straighten my fingers, it was awful."

She's been using steroids from around the age of three to 20 but still tried to cover the redness with foundation or long sleeves.

While dealing with eczema, Katie also developed alopecia in 2017, a condition that causes hair loss.

She explained: “I was at Edinburgh Napier University studying marketing and digital media and I don’t know if it was because I was drinking more, not eating as healthily.

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“My immune system just went downhill. I was on topical steroids on my scalp for my hair loss, more on my skin for my eczema and my body just felt like it had had enough.

“My skin was only getting worse – more red, more sore, more inflamed. I’d put these creams on and it would just burn.

“That’s when I realised something wasn’t right. I re-evaluated everything.”

Katie came off her steroid treatments, began using natural creams, eating more healthily, took supplements, cut out dairy and exercised more.

She feels this combination of changes has helped her hair regrow, meaning she has not experienced any hair loss since 2019.

'I WAS HIDING IT'

While engaging with the alopecia community on social media, she discovered people were also sharing content related to eczema.

She recalled: “From sharing posts about alopecia, I realised people were talking about eczema too.

“As it was something I had dealt with my whole life, I always felt like I had to hide it. But I suddenly realised I could share my own experiences and advice.”

What is eczema?

Also known as dermatitis, eczema is a common dry skin condition.

Though common it is rare for two sufferers to experience the same symptoms and discomfort.

It can cause unbearable itching, but is not contagious, so cannot be caught from someone suffering a flare-up.

In mild cases, a sufferer's skin is dry, scaly, red and itchy, but, in more severe cases there can be weeping, crusting and bleeding sores as a result.

The constant compulsion to itch can leave the skin split and bleeding and also leaves it open to infection.

So, in late 2020, Katie set up "itch N bitch", an online community on Instagram and podcast on Spotify and Apple, initially with a fellow skin condition sufferer.

She said: “I thought that by opening myself up online I’d get all these mean comments. I reckon I would have deleted the whole thing if I’d got even one. But it never happened.

"Everyone has been so kind and understanding. I even got messages from people I knew in real life saying they had never realised I had eczema. That’s how much I was hiding it.”

She wants to continue to build an online community where suffers of any kind of itchy skin complaint could find people who understood their experiences.

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“I want to change the narrative on skin conditions. The more we show the realities, then the less people will stare, the fewer questions and greater understanding and awareness there will be.

“I am definitely done hiding. I’m just trying to make a place where I’m speaking to my younger self and telling her it’s OK to accept yourself as you are. There really is nothing to hide.”

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