Blowing the whistle on painful skin condition

Journalist Bernie Commins talks to GAA player, Eamon Flanagan, whose sporting life has been transformed thanks to a new Italian skincare product that has been scoring top points on – and off – the pitch 

Journalist Bernie Commins talks to GAA player, Eamon Flanagan, whose sporting life has been transformed thanks to a new Italian skincare product that has been scoring top points on – and off – the pitch 

Blowing the whistle on painful skin condition

Journalist Bernie Commins talks to GAA player, Eamon Flanagan, whose sporting life has been transformed thanks to a new Italian skincare product that has been scoring top points on – and off – the pitch 


Skin conditions manifest in different ways, with severity levels causing various degrees of debilitation and discomfort. But, anyone who lives with a skin condition will testify that it can make the most basic, daily tasks extremely challenging.

Twenty-nine-year-old Thurles native, Eamon Flanagan, now living in Athlone, has been a dedicated member of the GAA scene since he first swung a hurl and kicked a football at the tender age of four. Now, playing for Roscommon, he describes it as a ‘huge part’ of his life. But, Eamon has been plagued for many years with a skin condition that affects his hands primarily – and feet, to a lesser extent. He experiences what he describes as seasonal ‘flare-ups’ that manifest as ‘small bumps that can progress very fast and turn into blisters’. 

PHYSICAL AND MENTAL IMPACT

“It usually flares up over a three to four-week period, then goes away and then a few months later, my skin would flare-up again,” explains Eamon.

“The bumps are very itchy. The skin gets sensitive and it breaks into little cuts, which makes it awkward to do anything with my hands. The skin gets cracked and broken and red and it is very, very sore for a few weeks. Then, the skin starts peeling off your hands.”

The condition, which is a type of dermatitis, impacts Eamon’s life in a broad sense – just think how often we use our hands everyday! But, for someone whose passion is hurling, this condition makes playing the high-intensity game very difficult at times. Holding the hurl becomes impossible and this means time on the sideline for Eamon.

“It can result in a two-to-three-week period where I can’t really play sports. I miss out on training because my hands would literally be torn assunder if I continued through it without giving it a break. Then I am missing out on games. So, I am losing time on the pitch and it is slowing me down,” he explains. 

“Holding the hurl is very sore – the skin on my hands tend to flake, even when they are healing, and the flaky skin goes very hard. This makes it very irritating and it hinders me doing the simplest of tasks with my hands.”

When asked how these debilitating flare-ups make him feel, Eamon explains: “The mental side is another side to it. It can be very frustrating. You are trying to just keep going through a very high pain barrier.”

On social occasions too, it can lead to feelings of awkwardness: “For example, if you go out to dinner and your hands are flaking, you are trying to cover it up. It is awkward , it is not a nice situation to be in. People start asking you about it and it is just something you don’t want to talk about. It is just an annoying thing you have to deal with.”

Professionally, Eamon, who is a senior engineer, says his skin condition has less of an impact since moving from a site-based to a more office-based role in the last five years. “This makes it a bit easier on my hands,” he says. But, he says, he doesn’t allow it to hold him back: “I wouldn’t say so – I wouldn’t like to say it stops me living my life or progessing on to things. I will always try to battle on through it and forget about it as much as I can.”

Eamon playing for Athleague GAA club against Four Roads GAA club in the Roscommon Senior Hurling Final.

MANAGING THE CONDITION

Despite regular visits over the years to his GP and despite the use of countless creams and lotions, the skin condition has continued to disrupt Eamon’s life. 

“I have been to the GP and consulted with pharmacists but it is very hard to know what brings on this skin condition and to understand it. I have used different types of steroid creams to try and treat it and I have used certain types of moisturising creams once the flare-ups have died down but it always seems to come back. I haven’t had much success with the many creams I have used.” 

Until now, that is. 

At a recent training session, during which Eamon was sidelined yet again due to the painful skin condition on his hands, he was introduced to a new product by a fellow player who was recommended it by a GP. “He told me about RELIFE Relizema cream, and I decided to give it a try. Within a short space of time, I noticed a massive difference in the condition of my hands. There was reduced itchiness and the rawness had improved. I know it sounds kind of funny, but overnight it had really started to clear up. It was amazing. I used it every day for about three weeks and my hands were in great shape.” 

According to the Menarini Group, the Italian skincare experts behind the RELIFE skincare brand, the Relizema cream helps to treat the symptoms of itching and redness, which are associated with eczema and dermatitis. It is non-invasive and can come into contact with injured skin. 

Eamon explains one of the characteristics of the product that impressed him: “When you apply the Relizema cream, it tends to absorb quickly but yet, it still retains the moisture in my skin a lot longer [than other creams].” 

Due to its derma-protective action, RELIFE Relizema cream helps maintain and restore the physiological skin barrier, which seems to be working wonders for Eamon: “I couldn’t be happier! It has made a real impact on me, personally. I would definitely recommend it to others with similar conditions.” With his hands in shipshape condition, Eamon is back training again, getting himself shipshape for the coming season.

A family favourite

Eamon’s father, Eamon Snr, a farmer, who also works in construction, experiences eczema flare-ups occasionally. He recently tried the RELIFE Relizema cream on a patch of eczema on his forearm and it is safe to say that this product is now a family favourite. “I was at home in Tipperary and I had brought the Relizema cream with me,” says Eamon. My father had some eczema on his arm at the time. He applied a bit of the product and he couldn’t believe that the rawness and irritation reduced so quickly. He thought that the Relizema cream was great. He only had the chance to get one or two applications though because I had to return to Roscommon the following day and I took the Relizema cream with me!”

Eamon playing for Athleague GAA club against Four Roads GAA club in the Roscommon Senior Hurling Final.

A family favourite

Eamon’s father, Eamon Snr, a farmer, who also works in construction, experiences eczema flare-ups occasionally. He recently tried the RELIFE Relizema cream on a patch of eczema on his forearm and it is safe to say that this product is now a family favourite. “I was at home in Tipperary and I had brought the Relizema cream with me,” says Eamon. My father had some eczema on his arm at the time. He applied a bit of the product and he couldn’t believe that the rawness and irritation reduced so quickly. He thought that the Relizema cream was great. He only had the chance to get one or two applications though because I had to return to Roscommon the following day and I took the Relizema cream with me!”