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THE LIFE

The Frustration of Flares

When you have atopic dermatitis, the amount of energy that goes into trying to avoid flare-ups can feel like it takes over your life.

A Day In the Life

The symptoms aren’t just visible.

Flare-ups aren’t just uncomfortable. Often, atopic dermatitis requires daily attention to keep the itching and rash under control. Steroids, lotions and creams can help with management of your disease; however for some people these may not be enough.

Atopic dermatitis can be frustrating and embarrassing and make you feel self-conscious about your appearance. Symptoms of anxiety have been reported among people with atopic dermatitis. But understanding the immunological causes can help you understand your skin better and help you find ways to cope with your disease.

The Reality

Millions of people in the U.S. suffer from a chronic form of eczema

Flare-ups can have a noticeable impact on your daily life. Hear the stories of three people living with chronic eczema, and how flare-ups affect them.

Tia: It was horrible. My skin literally had split.

Tatyanna: People would ask me, did you get burned?

Zsa Zsa: It hurt so much that I’d run it under hot, hot water, because for the moment I forgot the pain.

Millions of people in the U.S. suffer from a chronic form of eczema. Here are three of their stories.

Zsa Zsa: My Name is Zsa Zsa.

Tatyanna: My name is Tatyanna.

Tia: My name is Tia. I have eczema around my mouth, around my eyes, on my ears, and around my neck, on these three fingers and on the side of my hand.

Tatyanna: The rashes cover a good 60% of my body.

Zsa Zsa: I’m burning right now in my legs from scratching last night.

Tia: It’s gonna itch, you gonna scratch, it’s gonna itch again, you gonna scratch. It’s like the itching just does not stop.

Zsa Zsa: Getting eczema anywhere is bad, but I think that one of the worst places is when it attacks my face. You know, that’s what people see about you. There have been times when its blotchy everywhere. I look like a monster!

Tia: I think they always lookin.

Tatyanna: Growing up, I felt kind of like an alien.

Tia: What’s that on your arm? Did you catch something?

Tatyanna: I didn’t want to date. I didn’t want any boyfriends.

Tia: If a camera comes out, I don’t wanna be in the picture.

Zsa Zsa: I would just stay in my cubicle and not go out and see people.

Tatyanna: I never actually wanted to work. I thought if they saw my eczema, it would affect my position for the job.

Zsa Zsa: I’ve tried so many things to treat my eczema. Goat soap, che soap, coconut soap.

Tia: The putting the creams and the lotions and all these different ointments that your doctor gives to you, the minute that you stop it’s coming back again.

Zsa Zsa: I mean, who would think that a skin problem would be debilitating? You know, but it's, it’s more than just a little scratching. It’s really intrusive. It’s almost like a foreign invader that comes into my body and just takes over. It’s like something that just rises up through my skin. I don’t know where it comes from.

The most common type of eczema is actually a chronic disease called atopic dermatitis. The rashes on the surface are caused by an overactive immune system and an abnormal skin barrier.

Tia: Oh, no. I never, I never knew that. No one that has eczema think of under the skin, at least I didn’t.

Tatyanna: I always thought it was an external problem. It makes more sense now that, um, it is an internal problem.

Zsa Zsa: This is kind of a new finding for me, makes me feel like I’m not alone. There’s going to be more work on my part because I’m not just a victim.

Talk to your doctor about atopic dermatitis.

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“I guess I’ve lived with it for so long that really, truly, I just know it’s coming and I go through the pain of scratching, the ugliness of looking at it. There have been times where I have it on my legs and I’ve got scars for a few years. It’s more than just a little scratching. It really does affect everything”

“I never wanted to actually work at a job because I was scared of getting interviewed, wearing certain clothes. I didn’t want them to see my skin. I thought if they saw my eczema it would affect my position for the job. “

“I didn’t want to date. I didn’t want any boyfriends. Just because I always felt as though, you know, some girls, when they do see their crush, you know, they wear good looking outfits. It was hard for me to look pretty when I would always be covered up. I just wore cloths that just covered who I was.”

“Yes, a lot of people, when they see my skin, um, they would ask what is it and when I tell them it’s eczema, you would kind of see them go like, “Is it contagious”? Like, that is always the first thing that they ask, like, no, it’s not contagious, and it’s something you are born with. I was born with it.”

“It’s all year round, if you don’t keep any cream on it it’s going to flare up. If you don’t keep it moist it’s going to flare up. It doesn’t make a difference if it’s summer, winter, I have it all year round.”

“I really didn’t feel like anyone understood. That’s scary. When I would say, “I have eczema, I was up all night scratching,” people usually thought it was just a little patch. You know, most people think of eczema as just something really little when the weather is cold. Mine was like an invasion in my skin, all over the place. “

“Every time I have a flare up, it affects me. Even if I’m not scratching at the moment, I’ve got the pain inside my legs, I’ve got the heat, I’ve got the fear that it’s going to come back. I’m exhausted from scratching all night. Eczema kind of becomes a part of you. When I’ve got a flare, eczema becomes a part of me. “

“When I’m up all night scratching because of the eczema, I’m like almost a non-person the next day. If you don’t get sleep, it’s hard to function. So I’m scratching through the night. That’s not an excuse or a permission slip not to do my work the next day. I still have to do my job. “

“I remember thinking, if I could just make the pain go away with something else. I would run it under the like the hottest water that I could find. I would put the tap to the hottest, just hot, hot water pouring on my hand, because for the moment I forgot the pain of the eczema. “

“With eczema, when you scratch it’s going to itch again, you’re going to scratch, it’s going to itch again, you going to scratch, it’s like the itching just does not stop. It just itches all day. So, you’re constantly scratching, scratching, scratching all day long.”

“The most difficult thing about dealing with it is making it go away. Trying to get rid of it. Putting the creams and the lotions and all these different ointments that your doctor gives you. To make it go away is the hardest.”

Inside the Inflammation

Do these quotes sound like you? Hover over them to find out more information
about ways that you can help manage atopic dermatitis.

Do these quotes sound like you? Tap the quote to find out more
information about ways that you can help manage atopic dermatitis.

“Eventually, my skin will literally split, sometimes with blood. It’s so dry that it feels like there’s a shell on my skin.”*
Rene, 42



Atopic Dermatitis Insider can give you free access to online activities that will teach you ways to scratch less, cope with pain, reduce everyday stress, and possibly improve your sleep.

Keeping an open dialogue with your doctor and connecting with other people who suffer from atopic dermatitis can help you learn about new innovations that may help.

*Individual experiences may vary.