Hello to all of our faithful Smiling Panda customers. My name is Chris, I am the more handsome brother of the Smiling Panda CEO Joe, and I have been asked to be a part of his Public Relations team since I too have been diagnosed with eczema. There are many things to write about, many things to discuss, and many things to think about in regards to eczema and irritated skin. There are many perspectives out there with many solutions and treatments to go along with them, but in this post, and for my first post ever here at Smiling Panda, I’m going to keep it simple and talk about lifestyle choices.
Like my brother Joe, I was diagnosed with eczema later then many others, when I was 27, having no real idea of what it was, how it started, or what its effects were on my life. It started around my waist, then my hands because I work in the medical field, and then on my chest and armpits. Due to the fact the most affected area was below my waist, in a very sensitive area, my primary physician thought it was a yeast infection. For five months I took different medications to kill the possible fungal infection. It was even to the point I was prescribed medication with a woman’s face on it, a strong medication for serious yeast infections. Needless to say none of them helped.
Eventually I had enough, and I knew that although she had good intentions, my primary physician was not correct in her diagnosis. With my next doctor’s visit, I asked for a referral to a dermatologist. Within two minutes of the dermatologist hearing my story and seeing my skin, she diagnosed me with eczema and prescribed steroids to help reverse the process of any current patches already on my skin. Then she educated me on what can cause eczema to show in the first place, and that was the first time I really thought about what comes into contact with my skin.
When I got home, I explained to my fiancé Krysta, who will be a part of the Smiling Panda Public Relations team as well, all that I had learned from the dermatologist. Being the detail orientated person she is, this was more than enough inspiration for her to completely overhaul all of our household products. Using the website EWG.com, Krysta went through every product in our home, from detergent, to dish soap, to cleaning supplies, all the way down to my deodorant, shaving cream and body wash, basically anything that came into contact with my skin. Once she determined what products were considered irritants and which products were considered appropriate, we changed everything.
We special order my shaving cream, I now use Jack’s shaving cream, we special order my body wash, I now use Burt’s Bees, along with our detergent, dish soap, and cleaning supplies. Not only that, these items can be more expensive than their more available and well known counterparts. At first I naturally resisted this. I come from a big family with six kids where we were just happy to be fed and clothed, always grateful to never have to want for the basics.
However, there was very little thought in terms of the effects of the products. When trying to supply a family of 8, it is understandable if my parents were mainly focused on giving us the basics, it’s understandable if the focus was quantity, not quality. It would be nearly impossible to individually tailor products for each child, not to mention impractical. But this is the whole point of this initial post.
While I understand the reality of the situation, being that sometimes someone doesn’t have the time, money, or knowledge to change the way they buy products, I hope to get our customers thinking about long term effects, I hope to get our customers thinking about what materials, chemicals, and substances are coming into contact with their skin. In addition to that, I hope to get you thinking about what would be preferred, spending less money and buying products that may be causing irritation, or paying out more for quality products that will be less likely to irritate.
Since my fiancé started managing what products I use, I have been eczema free for over a year. Yeah, we spend more money on our products, but my skin doesn’t irritate me anymore. I firmly believe that the first step in relieving eczema is an evaluation and possible change in lifestyle choices, not a linear focus of prescription medications or a one size fits all cure. Following that thought process, this means it requires effort, and maybe a little more money, on the part of the consumer to make sure they are picking the appropriate product for their ailment. Because isn’t that worth it if you get to live eczema free? While I understand this disease is a spectrum, and what worked for me may not work for others with more severe symptoms, I would also encourage those suffering from eczema to think bigger.
I firmly stand by my brother’s product. The shirts are amazing and having eczema problems myself, I can vouch for the comfort level the shirts provide over other more readily available products. However, Smiling Panda is only part of the solution, what you wear is only a fraction of the substances that interact with your skin. Your skin is the largest organ of your body and it is the first line of defense for your body in relation to the outside world. Like I said prior, this is a not a one solution problem. I hope this blog will get all of our customers here at Smiling Panda thinking about how their skin interacts with the world around them.