By: Johnishala Scarbrough

What is eczema? Well eczema is when a person has dry itchy skin. This isn’t some dry skin where you moisturize your skin one time, and it goes away immediately. With eczema you must keep your skin lubricated. According to “Eczema Stats” the statistics state that “31.6 million people (10.1%) in the U.S. have some form of eczema. One in 10 individuals will develop eczema during their lifetime, with prevalence peaking in early childhood.” Did you know that 11% of whites, 10% of African Americans, 13% of Asian or Pacific Islander, and 13% of Native Americans have eczema?

I am a part of that 10% of African Americans and 13% of Native Americans who have eczema. I had eczema all my life. It’s hard having eczema, with me it’s like I’m in a battle with eczema. I had the privilege of interviewing Niagara County Community College Nurse Mary of the Wellness Center. “Eczema is a skin rash that can be caused by allergy or genetics. A lot of times you need to be treated with steroid medicine. You can find it in your joints, knees, hands, etc. Detergent, lotion, soap, and any other products on your body can trigger your eczema. A person should see a dermatologist to determine if they have eczema and how to help manage their eczema.” said Nurse Mary.  As I am taking to Nurse Mary everything she said about eczema had to face it. For example, for a long time I had to use ointments and creams with steroids in the ointment and creams, more than likely my eczema could have came from both an allergy or genetics, there are times products such as lotion can make me itchy and break out, and I have or had eczema on more than one places of my body.

When I said eczema is a battle for me I mean it. My dad’s side of the family is known for having eczema. My dad has eczema on his neck, the eczema has caused some discoloration on his neck. Eczema can do that because some spots on my skin have discoloration. According to “Expert perspectives: Why is eczema more common among Black people?” the article states

“Black people with eczema are also more likely to have follicular accentuation, or bumps around the hair follicles, popular eczema, or small bumps that often appear on the torso, arms, or legs, lichenification, or thickened or firm skin, dark circles around the eyes, and long-term skin discoloration.”  My eczema was really bad when I was little. My eczema was so bad I had a lot of scabs and open cuts. I had eczema in my hair, on my back, on my legs, my hands, and feet. The only places that have not cleared up are my hands and feet. My eczema was so bad I would hear questions like “what’s wrong with your hands?” “Is it contagious?” and “Does it hurt?” Kids would literally not want to play with me or get near me because of my eczema. Honestly it really hurt me as a kid, kids used to bully me for having a skin disease that I have a hard time controlling. I had a bad experience when I was a kid with eczema. My mom and I went to a local nail salon in Niagara Falls. I wanted a manicure and pedicure. As the nail tech is doing my feet, he kept staring at my feet and lifting my feet up to look at, my mom had to tell the nail techs what I have and that it is not contagious. The whole time I was in the nail salon I felt so uncomfortable. I wanted to cry but I didn’t want to ruin my mom and I girl’s day, so I kept to myself. Since then, I hated when someone would touch or look at my feet. Eczema has lowered my self-esteem. 

I really believe my allergies made me develop eczema. According to “Top Eczema Triggers to Avoid” by WebMD the article states “If you’re allergic to pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and mold, try to avoid them.” “Some studies show that these might make eczema worse — especially for babies and children. Peanuts, milk, soy, wheat, fish, and eggs are the most common culprits.” When I was a baby I couldn’t eat or drink anything with eggs and milk, but I outgrew those allergies. The allergies I have now since I was younger are shellfish, dusts, and the worst of them all peanuts. The biggest trigger for my eczema is heat. Sometimes in the summer on a really hot day I start to itch really bad. My skin would get red and splotchy. Ever since I was little I had to sleep with the fan because my room had to be cool/cold, and the cool air would prevent me from itching. Stress and sweat also triggers my eczema.

To treat my eczema when I am feeling itchy I either drink Benadryl or use my eczema medicine, Triamcinolone. All the eczema medicine I used I recommend Triamcinolone or Vaseline with cocoa butter oil. Here are some ways from WebMD to help take care of eczema: see a dermatologist, lubricate your skin with moisturizer, home remedies, Colloidal oatmeal bath, Wet wraps, relaxation techniques, try to prevent sweating or getting hot, avoid stress, stay away from itch material such as wool, use a humidifier, and medicine. If you or someone you may know have eczema all the tips I have provided can help. But there’s a catch if you do use these tips you must follow them consistently because if you don’t your skin is just going to be dryer and itchier.

The purpose of this article is about sharing my struggles and story about me having eczema and to let everyone know what it is like to have eczema and to show if you or a person you may know that has eczema you are not alone. If this gives you hope my skin over the years has gotten better. My eczema is barely noticeable now. I don’t get those questions anymore about my eczema. Eczema is hard to deal with but it can be cured and manageable.

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