A WOMAN has been teased for having “grandma hands” despite being 28 years old.
But there is a reason why Lauren Bell’s skin looks aged – and many others have ended up with the same issue.
The business owner, from Swansea, West Glamorgan, Wales, said: “When I was in school, I was called ‘grandma hands’.
“I’ve always been a feisty person, I’ve never been bullied, it was water off a duck’s back, it didn’t make me feel too bad.
“But you do get the comments from people – ‘why do your hands look so old?’
“I’m a designer and I work a lot with my hands. I would be in workshops or doing group projects, and people would always comment ‘Why do your hands look like that?’”
Lauren’s skin has become wethered due to eczema and years of using steroid creams to ease its symptoms.
One of the side effects of topical steroid creams listed by the NHS is thinning of the skin.
Lauren said: “I had eczema as a child so I used steroid creams for a very long time. I would use it on my hands and my arms.
“I used the steroid creams mildly as a child, but then over the last three to four years I was using them every few weeks or so.
“If I stopped using them, my hands would flare up and I’d be prescribed a stronger cream, which is the cycle most people get trapped in.
“Over the past few years, I noticed my skin changing.
“Steroid creams had caused a whole host of things – aged skin, sensitivity to sun and worsening eczema symptoms.”
Lauren decided to stop using topical steroid creams which she said she was “addicted to”.
Some eczema sufferers turn their back on their steroid creams after years of use, finding that they do not work as well anymore.
Topical steroid withdrawal (TSW) may set in – when a person’s skin worsens significantly after ditching the creams they have relied on for so long.
It is only slowly being recognized by public health bodies including the MHRA and NHS, and is more common in people who have used the products for a long time.
Lauren said she has noticed a “huge difference” since cutting out the steroid creams and using a more natural approach to her eczema.
She even set up a company, Cosi Care, to help others with her chronic condition and TSW.
It sells scratching tools that are designed to relieve itching without breaking the skin – like fingernails do – therefore preventing bleeding and infections.
There’s been a lot of movement with people accepting what their real skin looks like whether it’s eczema or acne
Lauren said: “I stopped using steroid cream about sixteen months ago and I’ve noticed a huge difference.
“Sixteen months without using it, my skin is pretty much back to normal other than my hands that have been affected by the thinning nature of the steroid creams.
“You see the effect of premature aging but that should reverse in time now that I’m not using the creams anymore.”
Lauren used to cover her hands with long sleeved tops in a bid to hide them from.
But she has now embraced her “aged skin” and no longer feels like a “freak” for openly talking about it on TikTok.
Lauren said: “I did the video on TikTok, I didn’t realize how many people suffer with the exact same insecurity.
“I’ve had so many comments from people, especially young women, saying ‘I never realized that’s why my hands look old’.
“It was really empowering to do that and it was great that there were other people who shared the same insecurity because I always felt very alone in that.
“After starting Cosi Care, I’ve spoken to so many people who have gone through topical steroid withdrawal and it made me realize that thousands of people experience the same thing.
“I’m definitely embracing my hands now as I feel more accepted online.
“It’s like everybody has been hiding this really specific insecurity.
“Nobody really talks about aged hands.
“Putting it out there and having people respond the way they have has been really encouraging. It made me feel like I’m not a freak.
“There’s been a lot of movement with people accepting what their real skin looks like whether it’s eczema or acne.
“Three years ago, you would have never caught me doing a video about my hands, that’d be my idea of a nightmare, but I just felt so much more comfortable and ready to do it.”
Now, Lauren tries to help others manage their eczema with the Cosi Care Scratch Star and Scratch Attack Roller, which can be stored in the freezer.
Lauren said: “My dad would use ice and cool flannels to cool my eczema down as a kid.
“So through Cosi Care, I put all this into one product which looks like a toy so children can use it for itch relief.
“It has a cooling texture and doesn’t have the damaging effects that scratching would have.”