Elizabeth Acuna: My daily routine having atopic dermatitis has changed over the years, and that would depend on different treatments. Certain times, I would spend a lot of time wrapping myself in a Saran wrap and having ointments on me for nights. Sometimes that could take 15 to 20 minutes, and I needed some additional help to wrap certain body parts with the discomfort. In terms of the showering and bathing, it would be normally as quick as possible with colder water, just so I wouldn’t get out a lot of the oils on my skin. And then, in terms of some other things, obviously being a woman and wearing makeup to try to cover some of the rash on certain days, depending on how bad it would be, would also take some extra time. So, it all ranged depending on breakouts or the management routine. With that, if I’m having ointments all over my body, then I’m going to have them all over my sheets. Obviously, it would impact a lot of other things, like household chores.
I’ve missed school from having atopic dermatitis. I’ve missed a lot of school, from grade school all the way through law school, and there are definitely times that I’ve missed [classes] either because I took too much Benadryl and I wouldn’t be able to stay awake, I would maybe oversleep class, or I would just be so uncomfortable within my own skin. I was sick in a different way than normal kids were sick, but I was sick. I couldn’t sit in class; I wouldn’t want to be there. My skin was crawling [to the point] where I just needed to get out, go home, and hide or hibernate. Now, I’m a grown adult trying to have a working career. And there are days where I wake up and I have to call out sick because my skin is totally in a breakout, and it’s inappropriate for me to show up in front of clients.
It was embarrassing for me to try to go to work with such an obvious rash on my face. I felt like it wasn’t too professional for me to walk into some situations and meet clients that way. So, it definitely impacted me in those ways. In terms of treatment, obviously there were some days where I would have to take a lot of Benadryl just to help, on top of some other steroids or other topical creams to try to manage the breakout. At those times, I would be drowsy and be very tired. And so, it would impact my schedule and my daily life, whether I was in school or if I’m working or driving; just normal kind of duties for life.
Before dupilumab, I would say that it might be once a month that I would miss work. And there were often other times where I would just find some confidence, suck it up, get out there, and say, “This is me, and I have to continue my life.” So, there are definitely those struggle days. Even though I took maybe one day off a month, there were other days where I just felt awful and embarrassed, but I still had to make my way through the day.