NEA Ambassador Jeremy Paredes shares his story of emergency hospitalization because of his eczema, the outpouring of community support and his inspiring perseverance.
Published On: Dec 17, 2020
Last Updated On: Dec 28, 2020
Hi, I’d like to start out by saying my name is Mallory, and I am 16 years old. I’ve had eczema since I was born, and it’s definitely been a rough time. I just wanted to share my experience with other teens who are living with eczema, so you’ll know that you’re not alone.
I really didn’t care about other people’s opinions about my eczema when I was younger. I was more worried about the pain. I would scratch all night leaving blood stains on my sheets and covers. I would even wrap my covers around my leg to make it hurt less and soak up the blood.
A few years later, in 4th grade, popularity became a thing. I was too scared to even wear shorts in 100-degree weather, which only made my eczema worse from the sweat.
Taking off my pants would hurt because the blood would dry and stick to my pants. One day, a friend of mine convinced me to wear shorts, so I did, and nothing was said of it until something was. People would say things like “ew” and “gross,” which hurt my feelings. But, at the same time, I agreed with them.
Then came 8th grade, and I had eczema on my face, neck and body. People thought I had hickeys, and a teacher pulled me out of class because I kept lifting my hoodie up to hide my neck. I felt so ashamed. An immature kid even said to me, “No one would want to lick your neck” and laughed.
I was super sad. I couldn’t even cry without my eczema stinging and just overall getting worse. I had a recovery and another kid came up to me and said, “Wow you actually look pretty without that stuff around your eyes.” So, whenever I did break out, I felt the worst.
I honestly just wanted to give up. I wore hoodies and pants every day. I would look at girls’ skin and just think, Wow! I wish I had her skin. Other times I would think, I wish I could just cut my skin off and regrow perfect new skin.
Growing up, I would have to go to four-hour doctor appointments and get my blood drawn every three months. I was scared to take my pills when I was little because I thought I would choke, so I chose to give myself shots every two weeks in my stomach.
The doctor appointments were not fun, especially during puberty when you feel uncomfortable about anyone looking at or touching your body, so I stopped going to my dermatologist.
All of this has built up so much anxiety in me that it was hard to order food at a fast food place because I was scared of how they would think of me if I stuttered or accidentally said something dumb.
Beyond the appearance of eczema is the pain that goes along with it.
A few months back, I went to go camping with my family. They had at least six dogs down there, which I’m allergic to – along with other stuff outside. I went to go sit by the campfire, and I couldn’t resist petting the dog. I immediately washed my hands after. But despite my best efforts, my eye itched and swelled up.
When I went back into my cabin and heard the laughs and joy of my family sitting by the fire, roasting hotdogs and marshmallows, I tried so hard not to cry. I came out of my cabin to find my mom.
My uncle asked me if I was OK, and I immediately broke down into tears and ran back into the cabin. I just wanted to spend time with my family and have fun camping, but instead I was stuck inside feeling in pain and worrying about my eczema.
Eczema is a real thing, and it can HURT!! Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you for being aware of people like me because sometimes I really need to know that there are other people out there living with eczema.
Mallory Collet is a 16-year-old living with eczema.