Meet Judith. She’s an 18-year-old woman living in Laval, Quebec. She has been living with eczema for as long as she can remember.
Interviewed by Preet Bhogal
How does eczema affect your daily living? Your family? I choose my clothes according to how bad my skin looks in order to hide the eczema. I gave up sleepovers because my skin didn’t take them well. When my skin flares, I don’t sleep well and I get in a bad mood. During these times, I don’t want to move and I just want to stay at home. I also try to stay away from alcohol, but it can be hard sometimes. My condition doesn’t really affect my family but, when I was young, my mother often needed to apply creams for me. Even today, she is the one who cuts my nails to prevent damage.
What do you like to do for fun and relaxation? Does your skin condition affect your choices? I love being at the computer, watching movies and shopping. I never liked sports because sweat makes me want to scratch myself even more. My dermatologist suggested that I try yoga for relaxation, but I haven’t tried it yet.
What triggers flares? As soon as I am stressed, my skin flares. If it’s too dry or too humid, too cold or too hot, my skin is affected a lot. Sometimes I get flares for no apparent reason.
How long did it take you to get a diagnosis? What was the process? I got my diagnosis when I was six months old, after a visit to a dermatologist. Two years ago, we thought my eczema was actually an allergic reaction to soy and sesame, but it turns out I wasn’t allergic to them.
What kind of education have you received on effective management? I’ve been seeing the same dermatologist since my diagnosis, and she is the one who tells me what I need to know about how to live with my eczema.
What steps do you take to manage your condition? Twice a day— when I wake up and after my bath (with some bleach added to it)—I apply a moisturizer and some cortisone ointment. Before going to sleep, I take one ibuprofen pill and one antihistamine pill so I scratch less while asleep. I clean up my room once a week to get rid of dust mites, which make my eczema worse.
What would you like people to know about eczema? Even if it’s far from being the worst disease, eczema still is something that affects every part of our lives. The worst consequence of eczema is, in my opinion, that it can be hard to feel good in our own skin sometimes.
What kinds of support help you the most? My family and friends, even if they can’t always understand what I am going through, are helping me a lot. My dermatologist helps me too because she knows my case very well.
What other kinds of support do you wish you had? I would like to know someone who suffers from eczema too, because this person could really understand my situation. We could support each other and share good tips.
For more information about eczema and to join an online social networking area for those who have eczema or other skin conditions, visit the CSPA website at www.canadianskin.ca
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