Living with Eczema: Spreading Awareness, Finding Relief
From a parent’s perspective ---
October is Eczema Awareness Month, which means an opportunity to help spread the word about a very serious skin condition that affects 10 to 20 percent of the population. The medical definition of eczema is “a chronic skin disorder that involves a scaly and itchy rash, as well as blistering or peeling of the skin.” As a parent of a child with severe eczema, this translates to days of constant scratching followed by sleepless nights.
On appearance, my son Matthew usually has red rings around his eyes, dry, cracked lips, a red rash around his neck, and deep cuts on his hands and fingers. People often ask him if he has poison ivy or if an animal scratched him. Complete strangers have handed us tubes of “miracle” moisturizing cream.
You will not see Matthew wearing shorts and sandals in the summertime because if he has access to his skin, he will scratch. Trips to the beach are not enjoyable because salt water burns his skin. He has been hospitalized twice for infections. Getting Matthew to comply with his daily skincare regimen of a bleach bath, which reduces skin infections, or shower, moisturizing cream, and wet wraps, is often a struggle. What child wants to sleep in wet pajamas?
Over the past seven years, we have tried different types of treatments to help Matthew’s eczema. A chiropractor would realign his spine to calm down his nervous system, which is supposed to calm down his allergic response to allergens. We have tried various supplements including ---evening primrose oil, fish oil, and magnesium. None of these treatments did much to help his situation. We are currently using light therapy and topical steroids to keep his skin under control. We also use a gentle, daily moisturizer -- Theraplex Emollient -- which provides a protective barrier, is non-greasy, and does not irritate his skin.
Matthew is in second grade and has to have special arrangements for his skin condition. The school allows him to leave the classroom if he is itchy and needs to go to the nurse for cream. He also has the option to stay inside for recess on hot days. In art class, he wears cotton gloves when using irritants such as glue and paint.
It’s important for people to understand that eczema it not contagious -- you cannot “catch” it from another person. Building awareness is essential to continued understanding and work toward a cure. There are many resources dedicated to this cause. One is an organization that I have become very involved with --- the National Eczema Association (NEA). NEA improves the quality of life for individuals with eczema through research, support, and education, and they have been a great source of information and support for my family.
Although eczema is a part of Matthew’s daily life, it does not define him. Matthew is an amazing athlete and we are working to build his confidence through soccer and hockey.
Theraplex is a proud sponsor of the National Eczema Association (NEA) . We offer a line of products which feature the NEA Seal of Accpetance --- like NEW Theraplex Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Skin Protectant .