Growing up in a small midwestern town, I was a happy only child who loved school and enjoyed playing with train sets versus dolls. Looking back at some pictures of me as a child, I wondered why my hair looked really short in some but thick and curly in others. My parents told me that my hair fell out due to eczema when I was around six years of age.
Emotional Experience as a Child
Eczema or atopic dermatitis is a condition that causes the skin to be inflamed or irritated due to certain foods, allergies or air pollution. It can start in early childhood, is more common among African Americans, and can also be hereditary. As a child, I had major flare-ups when my skin was dry or when it was hot and humid.
My parents would try their best to keep my skin moist and made sure that I ate healthy. My parents would put boxing gloves on my hands at night so that I would not scratch myself in my sleep. There were times that the flare-ups would be so bad that I would pull the gloves off to scratch my legs, resulting in minor bleeding. When I developed chickenpox as a child, it felt like it was 100 times worse.
Emotional Experience as An Adolescent & Adult
As an adolescent, I still suffered from some flare-ups, especially on my legs, and I did not wear shorts during the summer because I was self-conscious about the scarring on my legs.
Over the years, I have pretty much outgrown eczema-sometimes having occasional flare-ups when I am stressed or frustrated. Going through this condition has made me a stronger person, and I have been able to help others who have gone through this as well.