NEA Ambassador Abby Cramond shares her story of becoming a beauty & fashion influencer who embraces her eczema as part of her image.
Published On: Sep 30, 2022
Last Updated On: Sep 30, 2022
Atopic dermatitis is a skin condition that isn’t really “known” to the world. Sure, maybe people have heard of it, but not many people understand how bad it can get.
I’m a 14-year-old with eczema, and all the time people say to me: Stop scratching!! Tip of the century right? Simply just stop. It’s probably the most irritating comment people can make for me. I want to say right back at them: believe me, I would stop scratching if I could!
Personally, when I feel particularly irritated by my eczema, reading about what others going through similar things makes me feel a lot better. This helps me realize I’m not alone in this experience. Your mindset is a key component to controlling your eczema. If you keep a positive outlook, you’ll feel a little less like there’s a weight hanging over you everywhere you go. Your mental health is important – not only will you feel good, but your skin could improve from your lowered stress level.
For me, my eczema gets so bad I have to explain to my friends why I can’t hang out at the pool (the chlorine dries out my skin), or that I can’t even go outside because of the heat where I live. Additionally, I had to switch one of my electives from Track to Debate because running and sweating in the heat would irritate my skin too much.
It is beyond frustrating to me when I have to give up time with my friends because of my itchy skin. Even now, after dealing with my eczema for so many years, I want to throw a fit for not being able to do all the simplest things in my life. If this happens to you, just remember that you’re far from alone. Just in the United States alone, millions of people live with eczema.
Eczema triggers are different for everyone. Some are easier to spot than others, and trying to isolate and identify your triggers will help in conquering your eczema. There will always be an element of mystery to my eczema; sometimes I get flare ups for no reason, but eliminating triggers from your life is one of the best things you can do for yourself. For example, my two most common eczema triggers are from stress and temperature, so I always try to plan my weeks ahead of time to limit stress. I also try to take breaks in order to prevent feeling overwhelmed. Of course, temperature isn’t something I can control, but keeping in mind how hot it will be outside and moisturizing accordingly helps.
Sometimes the triggers are simple things like the hand soap or laundry detergent; sometimes it’s food or environmental allergies. For each instance of a trigger you can find, knowing it’s out there puts you two steps ahead of your eczema.
For example, if you know your environment causes irregularities in your skin, then when you go on vacation, you should be prepared with your strongest/favorite products and ways to make that environment as close to your usual one. Of course, it’s not going to completely eliminate possibilities of a flare up, but at least you’ll know and be prepared.
Trying to consciously stop your scratching can make it easier. Mind over matter. Distracting yourself when you feel the itch can help sometimes. Doing things with your hands is the best option for me. Try playing a piano, writing, drawing, or try distracting your brain with a book or a TV show until the urge to scratch wears off.
I don’t expect any of these tips to help your eczema drastically, of course, because it’s not that simple, but trying lots of different things can really help, especially because once you avoid the itch in the first place you’ll feel very accomplished.
Take it from me, as a 14-year-old suffering from atopy. These are my tips: stay positive/happy; try restraining yourself from that itch; and prepare yourself for any flare ups that might occur.
Remember there are all sorts of things you can try out there! Maybe you’ll find your “holy grail” for eczema treatment somewhere. Don’t expect your eczema journey to be painless – no matter what there will be ups and downs.
When those happen, just keep going and learn from your mistakes.