Stephen's Story: Living with Eczema

Allergy Awareness Week 2024

Living with severe eczema and the impacts it has:

I had infantile eczema up to the age of around 7 or 8. My parents told me they used to smother me in ointment and wrapped me up in bandages. Fortunately, I grew out of that and remained eczema-free until around 40 when it returned. It came back with a vengeance, getting to the stage where it was seriously impacting my life.  A particularly bad flare has resulted in me being admitted to hospital for treatment.

The more intimate relationships can be very difficult when you’ve got severe eczema. Even sharing a bed with your partner can be very difficult because it can be uncomfortable at night when you are wriggling and scratching in your sleep. Even sleeping in different beds when you are flaring badly.   My last relationship was greatly affected by my skin condition.

It’s widely known that keeping fit and healthy is beneficial for your mental health. But I know longer have gym memberships as I often wasn’t able to go to any of the classes because of my condition, and even swimming is a big no. The chlorine is not very good for my skin as I would come out very hot and tender So limited physical activity options has impacted my mental health.

Simple daily tasks such as car journeys or sitting down on the sofa to watch TV take a toll. I get eczema pretty badly on my back so if I am in a car or watching TV for a while it can feel like my clothes are sticking to me. This makes me feel hot and uncomfortable and then I start to itch.

When I’m flaring badly on my neck, face; around my eyes and mouth it can make you feel quite low about yourself. During the pandemic, however, my medication was forcing me to shield and affecting my stress levels; I requested to temporarily stop taking the medication which was agreed by my specialist.  Within two weeks of ceasing the immunosuppressant drug, I had lost my entire body hair. Losing your entire body hair within a matter of weeks is very difficult to come to terms with.

I’ve spent a lot of money over the years trying different lotions, and just because I find something it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to work forever. Your skin has a habit of saying, well, that’s no good for me anymore and you have to go back to the drawing board to find something new. Prescriptions are also expensive, sometimes with four items on a prescription, costing up to £40 each time.

It’s a costly condition to live with.

Living with eczema, an Allergy UK podcast

For World Atopic Eczema Day, we recorded a podcast to raise awareness and understanding of what it is really like to live with this condition.

Holly Shaw, a Nurse Advisor at Allergy UK, discusses the challenges of life with eczema from a patient’s perspective with our Stephen who has lived with eczema for many years.

Stephen shares insights into how eczema has impacted his life psychologically, physically, and financially.

This podcast was made possible by Global Skin

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