Using My Eczema Experience to Help Others

Psyche Terry shares her story

This article is part of Health Divide: Skin Conditions and Darker Skin, a destination in our Health Divide series.

psyche terry

Photo courtesy of Psyche Terry / Designed by Julie Bang / Verywell

Meet the Author

Psyche Terry is a patient advocate for skin health, an education advocate, and the CEO and founder of UI Global Brands.

Growing up, I didn’t go to the doctor. If the bone is broken, you go to the doctor; if you’re bleeding profusely, you go to the doctor; otherwise—castor oil, water, bandages, and Vaseline. If something was wrong, you dealt with it silently. 

I wasn’t diagnosed with eczema until I was about 25 years old, after years of home remedies and trial-and-error treatments that came from my kitchen pantry.

Ostracized Due to My Skin

I grew up in a small town in Michigan. My skin was always something that separated me from others. I didn’t mind being the darkest skin tone in the classroom. But the itchy, flaky, red—and did I mention itchy—sores that covered my neck, elbows, arm creases, and behind my knees were hard to deal with. 

Psyche Terry

They would itch, and I would scratch until my skin bled.

— Psyche Terry

And it was hard to hide from people. Sticks and stones may break my bones—that was a lie. I used to say that because I was teased a lot. Most kids didn’t even ask what was wrong with my skin, they just didn’t play with me. I heard, “She’s nasty” and “She doesn’t know how to take care of herself.”

It was hard to make friends. I was literally uncomfortable in my skin, so it was hard to be fully comfortable with anyone else.

I just thought I got bad rashes. They would itch, and I would scratch until my skin bled. I would take hot baths, lather my skin with whatever affordable body washes and lotions we had at home. I didn’t recognize the paraffin, paraben, and silicone in the ingredients list, and I didn’t know what they were doing to my skin. 

I was desperate and unknowingly doing everything that you’re not supposed to do when you have eczema

Unpredictable Flares

As time went by, I didn’t realize that I had any allergies or that my environment was affecting my skin. Now, I can count on both hands the things that I’m allergic to. Spring would come, and I’d flare. I’m allergic to grass and pollen. It was a constant battle of preparing my body for the next season.

What I put into my body also affects my flares—food is something that I now pay attention to. 

The eczema would trick me. I’d get it to go away for a week, or two, maybe even a month, but it would leave an even darker patch on my body just to remind me that we used to date. It always came running back to me.

When I was finally diagnosed, the dermatologist gave me some lotion and over-the-counter allergy medication. I was newly married and embarrassed of these very clinical-looking topical cream bottles. I didn’t want to bring attention to my already annoying and embarrassing skin situation. I wanted to deal with it silently. 

A Realization and New Beginning

Then, one day I was in the shower, and I started looking at the ingredients. They were all chemical based. I thought there must be more natural ingredients that are just as responsive as these, ingredients that I can read and understand. 

I thought back to my childhood—all the tests I did on myself with the food and products around my house.

Psyche Terry

There is always a rainbow after the tragedy of not knowing what to do to help yourself.

— Psyche Terry

That’s what inspired me to start my business, Urban Hydration. It’s a clean beauty brand with a story that started with me creating a safe space for myself. I wanted to create products that made me feel protected, and I wanted to give that to others.

Started as a small store in 2010, today millions of Urban Hydration products are sold in more than 30,000 retail stores across the nation including Target, ULTA Beauty, CVS, Bed Bath & Beyond, H-E-B, and more. I set out to build a brand that used effective and recognizable ingredients people could understand and love—and that’s exactly what I accomplished.

There is always a rainbow after the tragedy of not knowing what to do to help yourself. If I could give any advice, it would be to be conscious of what you put in your body and how much you put in your body. Be conscious of how your body responds. We are all so different, no matter what our skin type or skin tone is. Understand your triggers—maybe it’s stress, maybe it’s your environment. And of course, read your labels.