Why I Contribute


By National Eczema Association

Published On: May 12, 2016

Last Updated On: Jul 15, 2021

We asked Nathan, a member of NEA’s Board of Directors, Co-Leader of the Chicago Support Group, and longtime NEA supporter why he joined the National Eczema Association. Here was his response:

Nathan lives in Chicago where he is a medical student. He was diagnosed with eczema at two months old and suffered from severe eczema in grade school and high school. Through treatment, great doctors and avoidance of triggers he has been under control since graduating college.

How did you first learn about NEA?

Nathan JetterI first learned about NEA from my dermatologist, Dr. Peter Lio, who is a member of the NEA’s Scientific Advisory Committee. Several years ago, Peter mentioned that the mother of one of his patients wanted to start a NEA support group. Dr. Lio asked if I wanted to help and I jumped on board. We launched the Chicago-area NEA support group in early 2013.

What inspired you to raise funds to support our mission to improve the quality of life for individuals with eczema?

I am excited about the next chapter in the care of eczema patients. Over the next several years biologic medications will expand and improve the treatment tool-belt exponentially. At the same time, sophisticated treatment modalities will be disseminated to care providers across the medical landscape.

NEA’s work is critical to ensure these things happen. Two focus areas from the NEA’s Roadmap to Advocacy speak to my personal interests and passions:

  • Establish cross-specialty leadership to educate and equip medical practitioners so that they are better able to efectively manage eczema care
  • Advocate on behalf of patients so that new and emerging eczema treatments are accessible and affordable

We can come together as a community through NEA so that the next chapter of atopic dermatitis is about thriving, not just surviving.

What do you think the greatest challenges are for people with eczema and their loved ones?

Finding a doctor with expertise and passion for treating eczema has been a major challenge in the eczema community. Fortunately, more dermatologists and allergist seem to be taking an interest in atopic dermatitis. I also think it is easier to find an eczema expert than it used to be thanks to the NEA’s patient conferences and social media.

Expense is another problem. Many insurance plans cover Elidel but not Protopic. Both are good medications, but personally Protopic helps me more, and I imagine there are other people out there who feel the same. Co-pays for phototherapy can also add up quickly. The problem of expense will increase as new biologics come to market.

How has NEA’s work personally touched your life?

First and foremost has been the Chicago-area support group. The walks have been important to me too. We did a virtual walk here in Chicago at the same time as the Los Angeles walk in 2014. Moreover, we had the Itching for a Cure walk in Chicago last year. It was also great meeting people from around the country at the Boston conference two years ago and listening to such a dedicated group of researchers and physicians.

If you could share any information or advice with other individuals who cope with eczema, what would it be?

I enjoy watching the survival expert Bear Grylls on TV. One of things he said during his show really resonated with me and I think is good advice for living with eczema: “Survival can be summed up in three words — never give up. That’s the heart of it really. Just keep trying.”

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