“We have seen so many doctors; we have so many stories.”
Sarah, a young Canadian who lives with severe eczema, graciously shared her experience with ESC. We invite you to read her story.
My journey with eczema began when I was very young – I would get small patches of dry and itchy skin. By the time I was four or five, the eczema was more severe and while we remained hopeful that I would grow out of it by age ten (as suggested by many specialists), we never fully believed that it was possible.
Even though age ten came and went, my eczema didn’t. In fact, it just continued to get worse. We’ve never stopped looking for a solution – and it has been a long journey.
We saw anyone and everyone who might be able to help us: GPs, dermatologists, allergists, and even naturopathic specialists and Chinese medicine practitioners. We tried everything – medications, creams, salves, cutting out gluten, dairy, corn… basically living a life eating lettuce. As well-intentioned as these efforts were, they were clearly not sustainable and had little effect.
As a teenager, I was resigned to living with severe eczema for the rest of my life. It has been incredibly isolating knowing that I would always be ‘different’. Friends wouldn’t hold my hand for fear of catching my eczema. People looked at me differently, asking if I was ok or if something was wrong with me. People always seemed to be worrying about me or judging me.
I don’t remember a time when I haven’t been itchy or in pain. Even showers and the pressure of the water hurts my raw skin. When people tell me to stop scratching, it makes it even harder to do so.
If you don’t have eczema, it’s very hard to understand the mental anguish it can cause. I don’t want to scratch, I HAVE TO. I don’t want to wear long tops and pants in the summer heat but I feel I HAVE TO in order to get the attention off of my skin.
But for all of this, eczema is part of my life and I have some tips for kids and their parents to help make the everyday easier.
- Medication adherence is important. Even I rebel and don’t put on my creams as often as I should; however, I know that I will feel better once I do.
- Your doctor is your partner. If you don’t feel you are being heard or well cared for, find another one who will work alongside you on this eczema journey.
- The Eczema Society of Canada is one of the absolute best resources out there. The information, education, and suggestions given to me by this organization has been invaluable. My parents received so much support from this team – we could not have done it without them.
- Every day, take a step, even if you feel it’s a silly step, to make yourself feel more confident, more like ‘you’. Put on lipstick, wear your favourite shirt or pants, or make yourself an extra tea once or twice a day. Celebrate the little things that make you happy – every single day.
My journey with eczema continues. There are good days and there are not so good days. There are days I want to quit, and others that I see a fresh view of the world.
I was very happy to be asked to share my story with The Eczema Society of Canada and hope that this will help the countless teenagers with eczema – or anyone – who feel they are on this journey alone.
ESC sincerely thanks Sarah for sharing her story. If you are struggling with eczema and need support, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at eczemahelp.ca or on our social media channels.