NEA Ambassador Abby Cramond shares her story of becoming a beauty & fashion influencer who embraces her eczema as part of her image.
Published On: Jul 4, 2019
Last Updated On: Oct 23, 2020
Many Americans nationwide suffer from this rollercoaster ride of a skin disease. Onset of eczema can start anywhere from birth to adulthood. For all age ranges, it is one of the most challenging skin conditions to not only have, but to treat as well.
I would like to start from the beginning. My daughter, Kya, was about 15 months old when the battle between her and her skin began. The constant up and down with her skin flare-ups was not only frustrating to treat, it was heartbreaking to witness.
Watching my baby girl in constant agony and the nonstop scratching at her skin was the hardest part for me. At this age, she was not able to communicate to me what she was feeling or how bad it bothered her.
She was miserable during the times when her skin was most red and irritated. She couldn’t have understood why her skin was always feeling so itchy and dry.
Most babies have the softest skin—hence the term “soft as a baby’s bottom.” This was never the case for my little one. She had rough dry patches all over her body.
As soon as she was 18 months old, we had an allergy test done to determine what could be making her skin flare up. There were times when her skin became so dry and cracked that nothing was helping to keep her skin moisturized.
Once the test came back it was determined that Kya has an allergy to cow’s milk protein. This led to visits to the dermatologist and many other doctors to try to find a solution.
Cream after cream, topical after topical, nothing seemed to work. This was starting to become an issue as far as her missing school all the time and me having to take time off of work to attend all of her doctor appointments.
Collectively, between 2015 to mid-2018, we had over a dozen different doctors’ appointments, with about six or seven differing opinions on what the best treatment was for her skin. It was so exhausting that, ultimately, I began to feel defeated.
My daughter is my whole world. She is my reason for everything. Defeated or not, I was more determined than ever to win this battle for her.
I spent countless hours researching online and reading articles about other people suffering from the same skin disease.
I thought changing her diet would be the best way to keep her symptoms from flaring up. I changed the foods she was consuming and made sure she drank a lot of water. Slowly but surely, we started watching her symptoms subside.
“GREAT!” I thought to myself. “We finally have it under control.” But then we had another severe skin flare-up. This time, it was extremely intense—the worst I have ever seen. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand what caused it.
Kya’s teacher informed me that she had been scratching at herself nonstop. My daughter will dig at her skin until it is cracked and bleeding. Since her skin was open and susceptible to infection, she ended up with cellulitis on top of the eczema.
“What a nightmare!” I thought to myself, “My baby girl just can’t catch a break!” I’m sure you can guess what happens next. That’s right—more missed time from school as well as more missed time from work.
Before we took her in to yet another doctor’s appointment, I took some pictures, as her skin looked as if she had third-degree burns on her legs. I was concerned knowing that cellulitis can be so dangerous if left untreated.
Her legs were so swollen and sore that it was difficult for her to walk. Simple things like going to the bathroom, or getting up and down out of bed—even her daily chore to feed her cat—was too much for her to do because she was in so much pain. Talk about your heart hurting.
All I wanted to do was take her pain away. After keeping her home for about 10 days, making sure she kept her hands away from her sores and keeping her on strict skincare routine, combined with the strong antibiotics as well as very potent medicated topical treatments and creams, her skin finally began to clear up.
Since the cellulitis incident, we try to stay away from junk food. I have also changed my lifestyle in order to help my daughter manage her skin and better understand her body. Kya is now almost 5 years old. We’ve been able to pinpoint the things that I believe are triggering her skin to break out.
The most challenging thing about this disease is that it’s truly an unpredictable rollercoaster.
There will be times that ocean water helps her skin heal and we have no issues. There will be other times that we take trips to the beach, and the moment the salt water touches her, she screams bloody murder!
Eczema is a skin disease with a mind of its own. Every person is different, and each of those people have different triggers. Environmental stress also will cause break outs.
Some children will grow out of their eczema. Others will continue to ride this rollercoaster until they reach adulthood, or possibly for their entire lives.
My daughter’s half-brother Liam has severe eczema and is allergic to just about everything. Kasey (Liam’s mother) is a close friend of mine and has been riding this rollercoaster with me for at least four years now.
Having a good support system and staying positive for my daughter is what helps her the most.
Deneen Carter is a licensed cosmetologist, healthcare writer and a mother of a young child who has a chronic skin disease.