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Our son Matthew’s eczema began at the age of 1, and he is now 8. He also has asthma and a peanut allergy. Matthew has a 10-year-old sister who has no allergies or eczema. There is no history of eczema in our family.
We attended our first NEA Patient Conference in Chicago (in 2010), and we went into that conference with high aspirations—with the hope of finding the silver bullet, the “cure,” for our son’s eczema. While we didn’t find the definitive answer, we did feel empowered to manage our son’s eczema. We were comforted to know that there are many doctors fighting with passion to improve the lives of families dealing with the constant scratching, the sleepless nights, and all the pain and stress that comes along with this disease. The information presented by the medical professionals gave us a better understanding of eczema. The workshops allowed us to ask the tough questions in a confidential environment. We came to the realization that there is not a cure as of yet. Rather, eczema needs to be managed.
Our second NEA Patient Conference was in Atlanta (2012). It was comforting to reconnect with friends that we had stayed in contact with through email and Facebook and to learn about current eczema research and treatments. We attended different workshops, made new friends, and heard about a new eczema treatment facility opening in Chicago under Dr. Peter Lio called the Chicago Integrative Eczema Center.
By attending the NEA conference, my son was given an opportunity to experience a place where no one stared at him, treated him differently or asked if he had poison ivy. For two days, he was just another kid at camp, and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Another highlight of the conference is that our daughter was able to meet other siblings who have a brother or sister whose skin care regimen takes priority over their routine every night.
To anyone who is contemplating attending a NEA Patient Conference, I would encourage you to make every attempt to go. I have made lifelong friends that I can contact via phone, email or Facebook. We talk about recent successes with treatments and share the bad times too. Bottom line: we made connections with others who understand what a rough eczema day truly entails. It is also nice to place a face with the name of someone in our amazing support network at NEA. Julie and Diane have been a source of strength and information to our family during this eczema journey. For that we are thankful!