Divorced mum Rosa Enfield, 46, is a marketing manager from Winchester in Sussex who suffers from severe stress-related hand eczema

Rosa says:

“My job involves a lot of travel to trade shows and when my hand eczema was at its worst a year ago, some people refused to take brochures from me after seeing my hands. I couldn’t even use a pair of secateurs to prune my garden, which is my pride and joy.

If I hadn’t volunteered for a local trial on Hydrosil Turmeric Butter & Hypoallergenic Milk Salve, which was literally the only thing that managed to heal my hands and wrists, I think I probably would have felt compelled to leave my job as it was mortifying to see people’s reactions to my hand eczema.

I’ve always suffered from dry and flaky hands since my 20’s. Whenever I got stressed like while taking exams at university or when I started a new job or when i got run down, my hands would get dry and the fingers tips woudl get sore But my hand eczema never got bad enough to cause me any real distress and it would go away on its own eventually.

However, three years ago I went through a very traumatic divorce. I was sleeping badly, working long hours and dealing with all the emotional turmoil that comes with divorce and that was when my hand eczema went from being just very dry and flaky to becoming red, swollen, cracked and extremely painful and when the dryness and soreness spread to my wrists too.

It started with the usual dryness and sore fingertips. However, they went from dry hands to actually cracked fingertips. These painful cracks then spread and I developed cracked palms. Eventually the whole palm and tips of my fingers were covered in red open wounds. This situation then spread on to my wrists too.

It hurt every time I touched something. I got to the stage where by any creams I wanted to use on the rest of my body or to wash my hair I had to use rubber gloves as any product  I got on my hand eczema was complete agony, it felt like pouring acid on my dry cracked hands.

When it spread to my wrist, which was about two years ago, I went to the doctors and I was given an emollient to use, which did nothing. In fact, I think it made my hand eczema worse. I went back to the doctor and I was then prescribed a steroid cream.

This stung to high heaven when I applied it but it did, eventually start to improve the condition of my hand eczema. After two months when I went back for a repeat prescription, I was told to stop using the steroid cream as it was quite strong and not to be used permanently.

Within a week my hand eczema came back with a vengeance and the skin on my wrists went bright red. I went back to the doctors for more cream, but this time it didn’t work as well. It stung more than before and made my skin red and hot, the cracks did begin to heal but the rest of my hands were really red and swollen.

I went back to the doctors after 2-3 weeks as I was concerned how red and swollen my wrists were and they told me to stop using the steroid cream as I was perhaps having a reaction to it. When I stopped for the second time, my hands dried up and cracked so badly I could barely get myself dressed in the morning without causing them to bleed and open up.

The doctors told me there wasn’t much more they could do for me and to just try and let my hands ‘heal up’ on their own. This seemed highly unlikely so I ran through several creams and salves from the chemists and a few other products I found on-line from advice from blogs but nothing really helped. I also tried going vegetarian, taking flaxseed supplements, using various different essential oils and giving up lactose and alcohol to see if any of this helped. It didn’t.

For about a year my hands would fluctuate from just being very dry and sore to cracked, infected and red raw, depending on what product I was using.

The situation really started to affect my self-confidence as well as cause a lot of problems in my everyday life and my work.

It was hard some days to even cook dinner for the kids as holding pans was so painful.

I work a lot at trade shows where it’s my job to run presentations and hand out brochures. My boss asked me on more than one occasion what was wrong with my hands and couldn’t I do something about it. I was able to explain to him, but to clients and people I didn’t know, it was awful as I could see them looking with horror at my hands when I handed them information. I had a few who clearly didn’t take the stuff off me due to my hands. Even when I was giving free products to people, some would actually turn them down as they were put off by my hands.

My two great loves are gardening and mountain biking. It’s the way I un-wind and they are the things that keep me happy and upbeat. My hands got so bad I had to stop doing both as it was just too painful.

I’d come back from cycling, even though I wore gloves, and it would feel as if I had almost lost the palms of my hands from the friction on the handlebars. My hands would bleed inside the gloves.

When I was gardening, I found it too painful to put enough pressure on the secateurs to even clip the weakest of stems. I have quite a complex garden as it’s a huge hobby of mine and so it needs regular maintenance. I actually ended up employing a gardener to maintain my garden as my hands were too sore to do it myself.

Looking back now, I think at one point I was really quite depressed as I felt I literally couldn’t do anything I loved.

So when I saw an advert in my local paper asking for volunteers for a consumer trial on a new treatment for very dry skin and eczema made by a local skincare company, I immediately enquired.

After a phone call from them and sending them photos of my skin, I was sent Hydrosil Turmeric Butter & Hypoallergenic Milk Salve plus lots of information about the origins of its ingredients along with a detailed questionnaire to log my progress. Apparently donkey milk, which is sourced from lacttating free-ranging donkeys in Greece, has been used for hundreds of years both in Europe and the Middle East as a treatment for eczema and very dry skin, which I never knew.

The first time I used the salve it was like immediate relief. I patch tested in the morning as advised and it didn’t sting or cause any swelling and so before bed that night I slathered it on and instantly felt my hands feeling slightly soothed. Most creams I’ve used overnight are completely gone by the morning and my hands are dry as a crisp again and sore. This salve was still there in the morning, I could feel it on my skin and my hands were less crispy and sore.

Within a week of using the donkey milk and turmeric butter salve three times a day and wearing cotton gloves overnight, my hands and wrists were about 50% improved. The cracks had started to close and the swelling had dramatically reduced.

It took a month of use to see the best results, which was my hands virtually back to normal. The relief I felt is indescribable. Aside from the look of my hands it was just incredible not to be in so much pain every day. My hands were still a bit red after a month and you could see the patches on my wrists where the eczema had been but the cracks, swelling and flaking had all but gone.

That was about three months ago and I’ve continued to use the salve twice daily and my hands feel like ‘new’ hands. I’ve been able to resume gardening and mountain biking and to all intense and purposes I’m back to normal.

I’m still very careful not to get detergents on my hands and I still use rubber gloves when I wash my hair or apply other moisturisers to my body, but other than that my hands feel more or less normal again, which feels frankly miraculous after what I have been through the last few years with them.

What’s even better is that the salve is natural and so I know I can continue to use it daily forever, which I fully intend to do. I also use it on my elbows which I felt had been threatening to go the same way as my wrists earlier this year as they were red and starting to feel sore.  It’s totally cleared these too. This salve is one of those products that literally saves your skin.”