Patient Blogs | Atopic Dermatitis
Color Me Beautiful: My Bittersweet Diagnosis Journey of Eczema
photo of woman touching skin

I’ve never known a life without eczema. When I was around a year old, my mother noticed dry patches on my skin. It wasn’t a surprise that I had eczema because my paternal grandmother also lived with the condition. My pediatrician at the time prescribed an over-the-counter cortisone cream and sent me on my way. Growing up, I remember my eczema being concentrated on the folds of my arms and legs. I remember being so itchy and my mother telling me to “Go get your cream.” Every morning and night I was lathered up with the magical cream that would help the itch go away. 

With no knowledge of my triggers, my skin gradually got worse as I got older. The over-the-counter cream wasn’t working as it used to. I went back to my pediatrician, and she prescribed a stronger steroid cream. This is where the addiction began. My condition continuously worsened, and I was on a never-ending cycle of steroid creams. At that time, I truly felt that my doctor was exhausting all of her resources with the care that she was providing for me. 

I can remember being in middle school and my eczema began to spread to my hands, neck, and face. I could no longer hide my condition with a long sleeve shirt or jeans. Although I got very creative to minimize any attention to my condition, I was extremely self-conscious. I vividly remember looking at myself in the mirror and hating my own reflection. What made it worse for me was the fact that I was the only one out of my family, aside from my grandmother, who was living with such a severe condition.

It seemed like the older I got, my skin just kept getting progressively worse. My pediatrician eventually referred me to a dermatologist to seek further treatment. This was my first time hearing the formal term “atopic dermatitis,” which sounded much more serious at that time. I can remember just repeating the cycle of starting a new medication, it works for a month, and needing a stronger prescription. It got to a point where my doctors ran out of solutions. I had to accept my fate of my skin being completely out of control. 

This vicious cycle continued throughout my entire life. The internet wasn’t as extensive as it is now, but I remember trying every single natural remedy that I could find on Google. My mom bought a bunch of organic oregano oil because she read somewhere about the benefits that it has on the skin, not realizing that the oil needs to be diluted before application. It’s been a painful journey to get to the point that I’m at today, to say the least.

I believe the delayed treatment for my condition was due to there not being enough resources in my community. The research over the past 5 years has transformed the treatment that I have known my entire life. I also learned that for me to get a better grip on my flares, I needed to first understand what my triggers are. Although not perfect, I have been managing my skin condition much better these days. I found an amazing team of doctors who have helped tremendously, and I’ve learned to accept a new standard of beauty for myself. 

 

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Photo Credit: LumiNola / E+ via Getty Images

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Mercedes Matz

Mercedes Matz

Diagnosed since 1995

Model Mercedes Matz uses her platform to educate audiences on her skin condition. By taking pride in her 28-year journey with atopic dermatitis, she’s been able to inspire others to do the same. From speaking at national conferences to producing content, she’s dedicated to encouraging everyone to embrace their true beauty. You can reach her on Instagram.

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