Patient Blogs | Atopic Dermatitis
What I Wish People Knew About Eczema
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It’s not easy dealing with a long-term condition like eczema. Part of what makes it difficult is also dealing  with people who have a limited understanding of eczema. Here’s what I wish people knew about eczema, so that my journey could be a little easier.

Eczema Usually Comes With Baggage

My eczema comes with a side of asthma and skin allergies, and I’m not alone. Many people who have eczema also have other conditions like skin allergies, food allergies, hay fever, asthma, and topical steroid withdrawal (TSW). So, when someone is dealing with eczema, it is very likely they’re also dealing with other related health conditions.

Your Suggested Product Probably Won’t Help

Unless I’m asking for help, just be supportive and don’t try to solve my eczema. My eczema isn’t a puzzle for you to crack. It’s a long-term condition. Nobody has more incentive to fix their eczema more than the person dealing with it, so trust that I’ve tried extensively and am already doing the best I can to treat my condition, even on my bad skin days.

Eczema Is Difficult Emotionally, Not Just Physically

Dealing with eczema is an emotional roller coaster. If my skin is doing well, I worry about when it’ll flare-up. And when my skin is not doing well, then I obsess about it -- it’s itchiness, if I’m scratching too hard and further damaging my skin, if I look OK enough to be in public, how much sleep I can get, how I can get it under control, how long it’ll be in bad shape, etc. Empathy and hugs are welcomed.

Eczema Is More Than Itchy Skin

Eczema is more than itchy skin. It can lead to infections and topical steroid withdrawals that are debilitating. It can make your body feel like a statue (with skin so tight that you can’t move), or it can cause you to swell up so much you can’t open your eyes or cause you to look and feel like a snake, with scales and skin that sheds. Did I mention the oozing and weeping?

Most people don’t realize the level of severity possible with eczema and this ignorance makes it harder for eczema fighters. People don’t realize you have eczema and they act like children with their reactions to our faces and bodies when we are in public.

No, I didn’t get into a bar fight; my face has eczema, but thanks for asking. No, I didn’t get a face peel and yes, it hurts. (Both true stories from my being in public when my eczema was severe!)

Time and Gratitude Help Deal With Flare-Ups

To my fellow itchy people: Know that during your bad days, it’ll eventually get better. Throwing every product imaginable at your skin probably won’t help it, but time will pass and so will the flare-up.

Gratitude keeps me positive on my good skin days and hopeful on bad skin days. On good days, I am grateful and soak up the feeling of having good skin. On bad days, I’m grateful that my skin is not worse than it is already. Do you have a terrible flare-up on your hard-to-reach back? Get a back scratcher (for soft scratching!) and be glad that it’s not on your face. It could always be worse!

Looking for more eczema info? Join our Eczema Resources Group on Facebook.



Photo Credit: Ezaka RAKOTONDRAMANANA / iStock / Getty Images Plus

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Helen Piña

Helen Piña

Diagnosed since 1999

Helen Piña has lived with chronic atopic dermatitis (eczema) and skin allergies for most of her life. She’s committed to offering support, advice, and compassion to fellow eczema fighters through her Itchy Pineapple blog. Piña is married with two young children and is a marketing leader in the B2B tech industry. She lives in Houston, TX.

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