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Impact on Daily Life

Why Packing for a Day Out Is Tougher With Atopic Dermatitis

Serena G. | Office Manager

Actual Eczema Sufferer

I’m at home, watching a movie. The woman on the screen calls out to her partner, “Just a minute! I’m coming!” and then breezily grabs a tiny, wallet-sized purse and waltzes out the door.

Just like that—she was ready.

“That will never be me,” I think. I require more preparation, it seems, just to go somewhere, anywhere. My husband doesn’t seem to understand that I can’t simply gather myself and leave.

There are several things I need to have with me always, so I’ve become accustomed to toting around a large bag.

  • I’m never without my cell phone (and charger!), of course.
  • Hand sanitizer is a necessity.
  • I like to have an umbrella on hand because the weather consults no one.
  • I’ll often bring a jacket if the season calls for it, and I carry a book with me in case I’m stuck somewhere.
  • A flashlight is usually riding around in my bag—just in case!
  • Gum, too. I like gum.

A formidable list like this is plausible, perhaps, for an over-preparer. But there’s something else I try never to forget: It is imperative that I have my lotion.

I have atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema, and I experience flare-ups constantly. If I don’t remember to bring lotion, I will assuredly face trouble. Life with atopic dermatitis is a very public thing. People can see it on me, can see me scratching it—or deciding not to scratch it. It’s anxiety inducing, which generally makes my already visible flare-ups worse.

In the workplace, I’m hesitant to speak about personal issues, especially those pertaining to my health. I have this feeling that I ought to “leave it at home,” so to speak. But how do I leave something at home when I’m constantly lugging around the personal effects associated with my condition? Oh, it's just one more thing in my bag, I know, just an extra bottle, but why does it feel so heavy?

A few weeks ago, I noticed a bottle of lotion on my coworker’s desk, and we struck up a conversation about how dry we both get in the winter months. She may not lug around a large bottle like I do all the time, but talking about my skin with her helped a little. Speaking with others will often result in new ideas and strategies to help manage my condition—a win-win!

That actress in the movie is pretty and may be able to grab her bag and go, but her reality is not mine. I have atopic dermatitis and require a little more planning before I can "grab and go."

I'm deciding now, today, to do what I always do: choose confidence and strength instead of shame the next time I leave the house with my bag.

If you’re toting extra accoutrements with you, own them! Don’t be ashamed that you’re taking care of yourself. I’m right here with you. We can do this.

Caregiver and patient stories reflect personal stories. Individual experiences may vary.