Have you ever wondered if certain foods, stress, or humidity trigger your eczema? Jordan Younger, also known as The Balanced Blonde, spent years meticulously figuring out the biggest triggers for her eczema. Though she doesn’t shun medication, Younger prefers to take a holistic, personalized approach to managing the condition.

Dr. Morgan Rabach, a board-certified dermatologist, was interested in learning more about Jordan’s day-to-day experiences with eczema and the specific lifestyle techniques she relies on. In this Q&A, Younger describes how eczema affects her daily life, why she’s careful to manage stress, and what she does when her eczema flares up before a big event.

1. Do you use any lifestyle approaches or techniques to help you manage eczema? What have you found works well for you?

Absolutely! Stress management is a huge one for me. When I get stressed out, I find that my rashes tend to get a lot worse. They basically explode all over my body. When I focus on getting good sleep, take time for meditation, practice self-care, and get light exercise, I find that my flare-ups aren’t as severe. I avoid certain foods that trigger flares. For me, following an anti-inflammatory plant-based diet seems to help. I don’t drink alcohol and I avoid prolonged sun exposure when I can. It may not work for everyone, but all of these things combined have helped me a lot!

2. When your eczema flares up, how does it affect your day-to-day life? Do you make any changes to your daily routine?

It affects my life in every way. I find it hard or impossible to exercise, which is a huge passion of mine as well as a major stress-reliever. When my eczema was at its worst, I didn’t exercise for upwards of six months. It also hinders my sleep. The itching causes raging insomnia. For me, eczema makes it hard to focus, so it’s usually tough for me to get much work done when I’m having a bad flare up. It also makes me want to stay indoors and not make plans because I’m in such a severe state of discomfort.

3. What’s the emotional impact of eczema for you? How do you manage the emotional side of the condition?

It’s always disheartening and frustrating to have a flare up. What keeps me in good spirits when I’m going through a bad time with my eczema is remembering that the pain and discomfort is temporary. I remind myself that somehow and some way it will get better. The flare up will pass. Once I had a flare up that lasted for a full six months. That was a true test of my practice of patience and the “this too shall pass” mentality. I also remind myself that my skin condition is not my fault, and that I’m doing everything that is within my control and my power to heal. The Trevor Hall song “You Can’t Rush Your Healing” also helps me a lot.

4. If you have a special occasion or event, and your eczema flares up, what do you do?

In these situations, I’ll use a steroid cream if I have to, or some kind of anti-itch cream. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes it helps. I used to be very opposed to topical steroids because I mostly try to stick with a holistic-minded approach. But when I noticed that these treatments were helping me to live my life again by easing the symptoms a bit, I realized they were worth it in a time of desperation!

5. Does eczema have any impact on your travel plans or your daily routine when you are traveling? Do you have any tips for other people with eczema who have travels coming up?

Absolutely. When I travel I really have to be mindful about activities and situations that cause my eczema to flare up. For me, prolonged sun exposure is an issue. Humidity and extreme heat are also no good for my skin. When I went to Hawaii on a press trip earlier this year, I stayed back at the hotel whenever the group went on a hike or waterfall excursion. I needed to be close to a pool and A/C just in case my skin started to flare up! I focus on planning in advance and setting realistic expectations for myself. That way, I don’t get frustrated in the moment. When I plan ahead, the limitations aren’t as bothersome because I can prepare myself with something like a good book and a nearby pool!

6. When it comes to treating eczema, is there anything you wish doctors paid more attention to?

Everything! I’m sure it depends on the doctor, but unfortunately the dermatologists I saw didn’t seem interested in the type of eczema I had or what might be causing it. They focused on prescribing a topical treatment, and eventually an oral steroid, to make the rash and itching stop – but they didn’t look at the underlying cause. It wasn’t until I saw a tick-borne disease specialist, and found out that I had late stage Lyme disease and mycotoxin illness (a type of mold poisoning), that I finally had an explanation for the underlying causes behind my skin issues. In a nutshell, I would love for doctors to pay more attention to potential root causes of eczema, rather than only treating symptoms.

7. How do you show yourself some extra TLC when your eczema is flaring up?

My favorite TLC activities include meditation, journaling, light yoga, infrared sauna, and cryotherapy. I also make sure to get lots of rest and plenty of self-love. I take the time to remind myself that it’s not my fault, and that things will get better.

Jordan Younger is the blogger behind the #realness-based wellness and lifestyle blog, The Balanced Blonde. She writes about wellness, yoga, life in LA, life with chronic Lyme disease, and so much more. Beyond the blog, she is the creator of the Soul On Firepodcast, where real conversations meet wellness, spirituality, HIGH VIBES and authenticity. Jordan is also the author of eating disorder recovery memoir Breaking Vegan and the Soul On Fire Yoga e-book.

Jordan has emerged as a leading voice in the wellness space due to her authenticity, unique voice, passion for all things wellness, and her relatability. When she isn’t caught up in writer-blogger-land, you can find her on the yoga mat, snuggling with her kitten, making a mean green smoothie in the kitchen, frolicking around Bali or Maui, writing poetry, playing with crystals, podcasting, and training for the occasional half marathon.