With rates of skin cancer on the rise, people with eczema need to be prepared to self-screen for any trouble spots that flaring skin may make it hard to identify
Published On: Jun 2, 2022
Last Updated On: Jun 6, 2022
Finishing high school means dealing with all kinds of major life transitions, including taking charge of your own skincare routine for good.
We spoke with Dr. Anna Fishbein, associate professor of pediatrics (allergy and immunology) at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and NEA Ambassador Jeremy Paredes, who just completed his freshman year at the Georgia Institute of Technology, to identify a few key eczema care tips so you won’t overlook a thing when moving out of the house and into your own space for the first time.
The first step to owning your skincare is internalizing your routine and sticking to it consistently. Mom and Dad can’t remind you forever.
Start an eczema journal (yes, you can do this on your phone) and write your routine down. Parades explained it’s also important to know what steps to take if you have a flare up. If you’re unsure, ask the adults in your life.
The next step is managing your products and keeping them stocked. Parades recommended, “Always have extra lotion on hand in case you run out.” Make a list of skin care must-haves in your journal, and think about how often you will need to refill them. Check if they are sold in your new hometown. If not, it might be necessary to source them online.
Expenses for specialized lotions can add up. Find out how much they cost, then add them to your budget. When you are packing your lotions, consider how to keep them organized. Parades suggested keeping lotions and medications together in one box for easy access.
Schedule your first check-up before you leave home. Dr. Fishbein explained, “Frequently my college kids flare with all the change, and we usually schedule a visit via telemed or in person shortly after they start, to touch base.” Once the appointment is set, put it in your calendar and set a reminder.
If you are moving to a new town, you may need to find a new care provider. However, many clinicians now offer online appointments, so staying with your hometown doctor, who knows you and your history, may be easier than you think. If you do need to switch providers, ask your current physician for a referral.
And remember this is a learning process, you don’t have to do it alone. “Learn from an adult how to manage your health and appointments, whether that’s your parents or an older sibling. College will teach you how to be independent and self-sufficient, and this is part of it,” said Parades.
Make sure you know your medications – and their schedules – as well as you know your best friend’s social media feeds.
In your eczema journal, write down how much to take or apply and when. Find out what to do if you miss a day, or have a bad flare. If you take medications daily, set reminders on your phone so you don’t forget them – no matter how late you stay up studying.
Getting refills for prescriptions isn’t always easy. Work with the adults in your life to figure out how to access refills when you need them, and don’t forget to include them in your budget.
Expanding your social circle can be thrilling, but if you have eczema making new acquaintances can also be challenging.
Paredes faced a potentially awkward situation when faced with a new roommate.
“It was important for me to tell my roommate,” Paredes said. “I told him I had a specific skincare routine after waking up, after showering and before sleeping.” Ultimately, this first conversation helped Parades in ways he hadn’t considered. “Since we shared the same room, he would sometimes hear me scratch, and even tell me to stop scratching – for my own benefit.”
Having an open conversation up-front, like Paredes did, helped build strong communication between the two roommates. Leaving things unsaid for too long can lead to misunderstandings.
If your eczema is severe, find out if your school has a disability services office. These offices can help you inform professors of your condition and keep up with assignments if you are absent due to serious flares or infections.
Living in a new environment will expose you to triggers such as foods, dust, or harsh cleaning chemicals. If you do have flares, use your eczema journal to track your triggers, or download NEA’s EczemaWise app.
Dr. Fishbein recommends bringing dust-mite covers for your bed to reduce exposure. Packing your own laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, soaps, shampoos and conditioners can also make a difference. Not sure if something is eczema-friendly? Check our NEA Product Directory.
In the laundry room, using fragrance-free detergent is a must, but if you share facilities, you may be exposed to chemicals from other people’s loads. Look for designated “fragrance-free” washers and dryers. If there aren’t any, plan to do an extra rinse cycle before adding your own clothes and detergent to the washer.
Stay connected to your family. Just because you’re moving away doesn’t mean you won’t need them anymore. On the contrary! Take some time to chat with your folks about how to keep in touch once you move. Will you schedule a weekly video call, or text every day? And remember you’re never too grown-up to ask for help. Everyone needs it sometimes.