Eczema: the condition and the community

Eczema: the condition and the community

EczemaA community: 

If you search the hashtag “eczema” on Instagram, approximately 1.8 million posts come up. Among the owners of these posts are health and wellness influencers, makeup gurus, skincare enthusiasts, parents, and everyday people who almost all have one thing in common–they are living with eczema. A quick Google search leads to multiple articles sharing things like, “Top 20 Eczema Blogs, Websites and Influencers” and “Personal Stories from Eczema Survivors and Caregivers”. There is a substantial eczema community with an array of knowledge amidst it that stems from personal research, experience, and struggle. 

A little background on what eczema is and what it does to the body:

Eczema is a chronic skin condition that presents as red, dry, itchy patches on the skin. These symptoms arise from the intersection of a dysfunctional skin barrier and an immune response. It looks different between those who have it, and appears in different locations with different severities. There are multiple types of eczema. The most common type is called atopic dermatitis. This usually presents first in early childhood and can progress into adulthood. It is complex in its pathophysiology which makes it difficult to treat. In fact, there is no cure for eczema. However, amongst the eczema bloggers, vloggers, and influencers you can find yourself a myriad of treatment options based on first-hand experience. From natural remedies, to diet changes, there is no shortage of recommendations. Dermatologists are a necessary source of information as well, and there are prescription and over the counter medications available. However, most eczema patients find that a combination of medication and other approaches is what helps the most. 

Hit it with all you got:

Because there is no cure for eczema, there is always a potential for flare ups. And the source of these flare-ups are often specific to the individual. Common culprits include sweat, stress, cosmetic/skincare products (including lotions and bath products), certain foods (including gluten and dairy), soaps and more. As mentioned, triggers are often specific to the individual, and a person with eczema could experience flare-ups as a result of exposure to one or more of the triggers listed above. The first approach to treating eczema is to try and eliminate what triggers it. This can be difficult. Especially since I previously mentioned that everyone’s cause for flare-ups is different. Many in the eczema community attribute trial and error to conquering this feat. Did that meal cause you to itch the rest of the day? Did that face cream cause a rash? Many of those living with eczema attribute a multifaceted treatment approach to their success–change the diet, avoid those skincare/cosmetic lines, know your stress levels, and/or talk to your dermatologist about topical/oral/injectable medications. 

You’re not alone: 

Unfortunately, there is no one-size fits all in the eczema world.  But, there are people out there who are willing to share what helped–and what didn’t– and that could be a great place to start (in addition to talking to your dermatologist, of course). I had eczema as a child and didn’t have a community like the one that exists now. I was fortunate to grow out of most of the severe symptoms, however I have flare-ups to this day. It is frustrating to live with a condition that is so pestering. Personally, I have found that medication helps treat my flare-ups–but only to a certain extent. I encourage anyone who is also living with eczema to find guidance in your doctors, and also in the community that exists online. There are an array of resources available at the click of a button. Look into what others recommend, but I urge you to follow what will work best for you. 

 

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/atopic-dermatitis-eczema/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353279

https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/eczema      

https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/eczema-atopic-dermatitis 

Eczema Blogs: 

https://blog.feedspot.com/eczema_blogs/ 

https://www.healthcentral.com/slideshow/bloggers-who-are-taking-on-eczema-one-post-at-a-time                                                                                                                                                            

Sabine Puglia

Sabine Puglia is a Pharmacy Student Intern at EpiLynx. She is a second year pharmacy student at the UIC College of Pharmacy.

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