BEATRICE Gaucahas has suffered from eczema since birth.
The 22-year-old often struggled with rashes between her joints and noticed the condition was spreading to her face.
But it was only on a trip to Brussels in Belgium that the children’s physical education teacher from Carlow in the Republic of Ireland suffered the “worst attack” of her life, which led to a hospital stay.
Beatrice started sharing her skin journey on TikTok (@beatrice_gauca) and gained over 41,200 followers.
She told how she went to bed on March 15 after arriving in Belgium and woke up in the middle of the night to find that her eye was swollen.
Thinking it would go away, she noticed with concern that spots resembling chickenpox appeared on her face.
Things escalated further when Beatrice returned to Ireland.
“My face swelled up, crusts started to form around my eyes and I lost my sight for two days because my eye was closed,” she said.
“I had no more skin on my face because it had peeled off and I felt a strong burning sensation.
“It was one of the most painful and traumatic experiences of my life.”
Beatrice’s flare-up got so bad that she had to go to the hospital, where she stayed for two weeks.
Doctors did about five biopsies to find out what was wrong with her.
She said doctors attributed her symptoms to an outbreak of eczema.
On top of the unbelievable pain, Beatrice recalled being afraid her skin would stay like this for life.
She said: “I was very emotional during this time. I thought I would never have normal skin on my face again.”
“I thought I would have lifelong scars from it.”
Beatrice also recalled feeling incredibly alone during her ordeal.
“I felt like I had no one to turn to for comfort or support,” she added.
“Most of my family was abroad to visit my grandfather as he was seriously ill at the time, which made me even more depressed as I couldn’t see him as I was also in the hospital myself.
“Of course, I was on the phone with my family every day and they were very helpful in helping me stay strong and have confidence in my recovery, but virtual support and comfort is very different than an in-person interaction.”
Since her hospitalization, Beatrice has made a full recovery and has learned to accept her skin condition.
She now follows a strict diet to mitigate the effects of the disease and does not let the flare-ups affect her mentally.
She said, “Before I learned to accept my skin condition, eczema had taken a huge toll on my mental health and social life.”
“I stopped going out to visit friends and wouldn’t even go anywhere if I had the slightest seizure because I was so embarrassed at the time and didn’t want anyone to see what I was going through.”
“But I am much better now, mentally and physically.
“I’ve made a big change in what I eat and my diet now consists of healthy veggies, fruits and veggies, fish oil and drinking a small glass of collagen fluid daily.
“I have completely eliminated wheat, gluten and dairy from my diet and since changing my routine I have not had flare-ups.”
The gymnastics teacher is now on a mission to raise awareness of eczema and help other sufferers.
Sharing her skin journey on TikTok, she has received over 2.4 million views and 256,000 likes.
In a video titled “My skin will never recover from this, I’ll be scarred for life,” Beatrice shares a collection of clips of herself during and after her flare-up.
The footage begins with numerous images of Beatrice when her skin was at its worst.
Photos are then shown of her after she has recovered, with the new caption: “Not only is our face healed with scars, it looks better than ever!”
People took to the comments online to share their reactions.
One user said, “You are so amazing for sticking through this and taking the time to recover.”
Another wrote: “Oh my god! This is such a redeeming ending. I know eczema brings a lot of insecurities, but your glow is phenomenal!!”
“Wow you look so amazing it must have been hard for you but you did it and the result is beautiful,” commented another user.
Beatrice added, “I accept my condition and no longer see it as a flaw, but as a reason to go out and help others who have the same condition as me.”
“It’s important to me to share my story to show others who are going through the same situation that they are not alone and that it will actually get better and you will heal your skin.”
“My main purpose is to educate people around the world about eczema.”
When should I seek medical advice for eczema?
See a GP if you have symptoms of atopic eczema.
They can usually diagnose atopic eczema by examining your skin and asking questions such as:
- if the rash itch and where it appears
- when the symptoms first appeared
- whether it comes and goes with time
- whether there is a family history of atopic eczema
- whether you suffer from other medical conditions such as allergies or asthma
- whether anything in your diet or lifestyle might be contributing to your symptoms
Eczema can cause certain areas of skin to become itchy, dry, cracked, and sore.
There are usually periods of improvement in symptoms followed by periods of worsening, called flare-ups.
The severity can vary greatly from person to person. People with mild eczema may only have small areas of dry skin that occasionally itch. In more severe cases, atopic eczema can cause widespread, inflamed patches of skin all over the body and persistent itching.