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My Eczema Isn't Contagious

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For as long as I can remember my skin has been a real problem. Not one of those rub some E45 on it” problems. I mean devastatingly, bad eczema that encompasses your life. For me, it began one spring day in 1994, when I was born two months premature. I was quite an unwell baby and spent a good deal of time in the hospital. My health problems began from that day and never stopped.

I sit here now, as a 23 year old, with eczema, asthma and multiple allergies. New diagnoses are something my medical team are looking for. The issue with a chronic illness is that it isn’t always visible. Eczema is fairly visible, yet is so misunderstood. People assume I have been burnt or that I am a danger to their health. We fear that which we don’t understand.

Over the years I have waded through the miasma of medical treatment. Immunosuppressants, steroids, quantities of medication large to enough to kill a horse, etc.

My mental and physical health has suffered at times throughout this. After five years of taking steroids, I managed to break my wrist on a small fall. (Yay, lowered bone density at 23-years-old!) The recurrent infections and eczema flares have seen me admitted to hospital six times in two years. Last Christmas, my skin was the worst it has ever been. I spent Christmas day on a dermatology ward, due to being neutropenic and infected from immunosuppressants and chronic conditions.

I have learnt to ignore the stares. I still see them of course, but they no longer bother me as much. This is my condition and I will conquer it. For a condition that is so common, it still surprises me that people do not recognize it. It is not just a childhood condition and it culminates to much more than itchy skin. Skin is the largest organ in your body and so crucial to maintaining homeostasis.

The reality is:

1. No I cannot wear most makeup, clothing, or enjoy a bubble bath.

2. I spend hours moisturizing daily, but still end up like the sahara desert.

3. It will not just disappear one day.

4. There is no such things as packing light. Clutch bags are a big no-no.

5. Cracked skin, infections, hospitalizations.

6. Occasionally not being able to walk because of the pain.

7. Ruining most of my nice clothing through skin flaking and weeping.

8. Having to micro-manage every element of my day.

9. Crying in the bathtub.

10. And, repeating it over and over again.

Whether you also have eczema, you are a spoonie, or just an observer – please understand that I am not contagious.

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Thinkstock Image By: agsandrew

Originally published: November 6, 2017
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