Remember when we said Eczema Expo ’18 was the best expo ever? Somehow, we managed to top ourselves again and couldn’t have done it without you! For those who couldn’t make it this year, here’s what you missed.
The National Eczema Association hosted its annual Eczema Expo in Scottsdale, Arizona, from July 18 through July 21, 2019. As one attendee put it, this was no ordinary expo – it was more like an eczperience that resulted in dozens of new friendships and a renewed sense of hope.
Expo has evolved over the years to feel more like a wellness retreat than the traditional patient conference.
The event took place at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch, a four-star hotel and 27-acre destination resort adorned with flowering cacti, exotic palm trees and dazzling views of the McDowell Mountains.
NEA wanted to alleviate the usual stress that eczema families face whenever they travel. This meant ensuring the hotel rooms were free of potential allergens. It meant washing the towels and linens with detergents safe for sensitive skin. It meant wet wraps and bleach kits were a part of the room service. And, of course, there had to be delicious, allergy-friendly snacks and food options on the menu.
NEA believes that all eczema warriors should feel pampered, especially when attending expo. That’s why we collaborated with contact dermatitis specialist Dr. Jeff Yu and Spa Avania to create a custom spa menu with flare-friendly treatments at a discounted rate.
Equal parts informative and invigorating
Of course, Eczema Expo ’19 still had the educational seminars hosted by industry-leading medical professionals to walk us through the latest eczema therapies. It still had the informative breakout sessions covering topics from skincare to sleep deprivation. It still had the compassionate support groups for patients and their loved ones. But those were only a portion of the expo eczperience.
There were also early-morning yoga, meditation and aquatic fitness classes; mid-day acupuncture sessions, moisturization stations and eczema-friendly product sample buffet; and night-time pool parties, which included a “dive-in movie” where warriors could float on rafts and watch “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.”
The resort’s 10 massive swimming pools, 20 fountains, 45 waterfalls, sandy beach area and three-story, high-speed waterslide served as an aquatic playground for kids of all ages and were the perfect oasis for eczema families seeking to escape the hot desert sun.
But what made it extra special to expo attendees was the fact that this was a no-judgement zone where people with eczema could feel safe wearing their swimsuits and showing off their beautiful skin without feeling embarrassed or self-conscious.
One of the highlights of the event was the #unhideECZEMA panel and body positivity beach party where eczema warriors had the chance to step up to the microphone, share what it meant for them to #unhideECZEMA and explain how it changed their lives.
Another highlight was the Ecz-travaganza, which gave warriors a chance to dress up, grab a cocktail, line up for the build-your-own taco buffet, get their photos taken with silly props at the photo booth and boogie down with NEA staff members.
But, wait! Where were the kids, you ask?
‘You wouldn’t understand — it’s a camp thing’
- When you grow up attending Expo Camp and can’t wait to return as a counselor …
- When you used to be embarrassed to wear shorts in public until you saw the other kids at Expo Camp wearing shorts and realized, “Who cares what people think?” …
- When your squad creates a secret handshake and cheer that only Expo Campers know about …
- When you were too shy to attend school dances until Expo Camp made you feel brave enough to bust out your best moves on the Ecz-travaganza dancefloor …
- When your mom asks why you want to wear your eczema swag to school, and all you can say is, “You wouldn’t understand – it’s a camp thing” …
… that’s when you know Expo Camp is the place to be for kids and teens with eczema.
Photos courtesy of Tori Soper
And for the first time this year, NEA welcomed its mini warriors (ages 0-4) to Expo Camp, who were in the caring and capable hands of Corporate Kids Events while their parents and older siblings attended seminars, workshops and breakout sessions.
Many of the breakout sessions were catered specifically to teens, including vision boarding, makeup and skincare tutorials, “how to teen with eczema,” and the highly-anticipated #awkward session where warriors were encouraged to ask medical experts the questions that they would ordinarily be too shy or embarrassed to ask.
There was even an “eczema sucks” session that gave junior and senior warriors the chance to lament to Eczema Expo ’19 Medical Director Peter Lio, MD, PhD, about the realities of eczema and how it affects them physically, mentally, emotionally and socially.
After all, eczema isn’t the easiest disease to live with. In a perfect world, we’d all be able to wave a magic wand over our skin to get rid of this painful, itchy rash for good. The National Eczema Association will continue to be a mecca of resources and support for eczema warriors until the day a cure is found.
One of the ways we support the eczema community is by investing in research that will lead to better treatments, better care and a better quality of life for eczema warriors of all ages. But we can’t do it without your support.
From all of us at NEA, thanks for making Eczema Expo ’19 such a magical eczperience!
Mark your calendars for Eczema Expo ’20!
Next year, we’re bringing the magic of expo to the home of the Magic Kingdom. Eczema Expo ’20 will take place June 25-28, 2020, in sunny Orlando, Florida!
Do you wish you could attend expo but can’t afford to go?
NEA wants to help make your wishes come true.
We offer two ways to help defray the costs associated with attending Eczema Expo. This year, we gave away nearly $60,000 in scholarships for individuals and families to attend Eczema Expo ’19 through the Carolyn and Tom Reese Expo Scholarship fund. Another option is setting up a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.
A family reunion where everybody has eczema