Share your story: Life’s an Itch

Allie is an Eczema Ambassador and a passionate advocate for better care and improved support for eczema sufferers and their families. She recently volunteered to share her story as a way to help others who may be suffering with the itch and pain associated with this challenging chronic condition.

The itch that comes with eczema is more than a symptom. Itch is a constant tap on the shoulder, a nagging reminder, an insatiable sensation that comes from the skin. Sometimes it’s expected as I navigate my triggers and other times the itch appears suddenly. The painful urge to scratch can be difficult to endure, especially when an eczema flare persists for weeks or months. During a flare I feel frustrated, scared, unhappy, and tired. I don’t want to go to work and I often cancel plans with friends. Itch is more than a symptom of an eczema flare, it’s a consistent part of my life.

I’ve had eczema on and off for almost 20 years. I’ve seen a dozen doctors in that time with a range of specialties, including chiropractors and naturopaths. Each doctor in some way asked if I was itchy or commented that I must be itchy. No primary care physician nor dermatologist has ever asked about my mental health. That’s a problem. Eczema comes with stress and depression. It’s stressful wearing my chronic illness on my face, neck, and hands. Going into public is challenging and uncomfortable during a flare. It’s stressful trying to ignore an itch. I find acknowledging the mental health challenges I experience means exploring ways to help those challenges.

In my experience, health care professionals could benefit more people with eczema by treating the entire person and not just “one issue per visit”. We don’t feel one issue at a time. Another step is offering mental health services to people suffering from eczema. Support is important, especially from people who understand. I wish doctors used more resources from Eczema Society Canada and similar organizations, to provide patients with a place for further reading and to connect with eczema care advocates and people with eczema.

While there’s still work to be done, I want people suffering with eczema to know you are not alone. Take things slow, pay attention to how you feel, and reach out to organizations like ESC if you are looking for help.

On behalf of ESC, we thank each and every person who shares their stories as a way to build community, give support, and make others feel better and more confident in their skin. Want to share your story? Email us at info@eczemahelp.ca today.