I’ve had atopic dermatitis (AD), or eczema, for decades and, in that time, my feelings toward the condition have ranged from curiosity and hope to avoidance and despair. In my most negative moments, I have a “why bother?” attitude about eczema.
Thankfully, the eczema industry continues progressing regardless of my feelings about the condition. In fact, the last few years have been great for eczema research and treatment advancements, and it’s not slowing down any time soon. Staying educated on eczema can help itchy fighters understand their condition and treatment, as well as research discoveries.
Know Your Condition
It’s not enough to know you have eczema. There are different triggers and treatments for different eczema conditions, so it’s helpful to know your type of eczema. Doctors like dermatologists and allergists can explain the scientific details -- my allergist sent me home once with a medical research magazine, so I could read it and learn more about my eczema.
On rare occasions, your condition can evolve past AD altogether. I didn’t know I went through topical steroid withdrawal (TSW) until 2 years later after engaging with the eczema community on social media. At the time, I asked my doctor for a diagnosis because it was so extreme. My doctor told me it “[was] eczema and could be worse.”
Now, I follow TSW groups on Facebook and have a much better understanding of the condition. I felt so alone at the time and didn’t understand why my eczema had gotten so severe. Just knowing about TSW would’ve helped me cope.
Understand Your Treatment
Eczema treatments range from oral steroids to topical steroids, ointments, vitamin supplements, acupuncture, biologic injections, and more. Often, treatments are immunosuppressants. Once your treatment includes medication, it’s important to know at a high level what the medication is doing to your body and potential side effects.
I took an eczema medication 4 years ago that caused intense face flushing (heat and redness) when I drank even one sip of alcohol. Even though I stopped that medication 3 years ago, face flushing still happens sometimes when I drink alcohol, though not as intensely. That’s quite a side effect!
Stay Informed on Eczema Research
Did you know that there are scientists studying itch? Not atopic dermatitis in general, but specifically the itch condition and the itch/scratch cycle. Itch scientists!
Support for eczema researchers is currently strong, and many studies are under way to better understand the condition. For example, scientists are figuring out the gene responsible for eczema. Staying informed on eczema medical advancements and research gives me hope. I know I’m not alone and there are scientists working every day to help me. I am so grateful to have eczema in 2021 and not 1921!
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Photo Credit: Cavan Images/Cavan