Elizabeth Acuna: I was diagnosed with atopic dermatitis at a very young age, as far back as I can remember from my own memory. My parents said a couple weeks after I was born, it was recognized by the doctors. In terms of difficulties, it’s been a complete lifelong challenge for me, good times and bad times, and [it’s been a challenge] maintaining the disease state. There are challenges from choices I’ve made in my life, limitations that it put on me. It was definitely the biggest impact I’ve had in my life.
The most significant challenges and difficulties with having atopic dermatitis in my life have been the kind of limitations it has put on me and, most importantly, my self-confidence. Growing up with atopic dermatitis, I grew into the disease state and then it continued to get worse. That’s when my self-confidence continued to go down. I had this disease state of atopic dermatitis that was apparent on my skin. So, I could see it and, obviously, I was most impacted by it. And I was always worried about what other people saw when they saw me with a rash. Often times, it was on my face, it would be on my legs. Ninety percent of my body was covered with atopic dermatitis, so that mostly [impacted my] self-confidence. From there, it changed my life. It impacted the decisions I would make moving forward.
My journey with atopic dermatitis started when I was very young, and it just continued. It almost continued to get worse and worse. So, I almost felt very trapped and enclosed by having atopic dermatitis, because of the changes, the decisions I would make. I hated summers, for example, because I would be too embarrassed to wear shorts, short-sleeves, or bathing suits because that’s when I would be totally exposed. And to someone else, you’d be able to see it. For me, that [made me] extremely self-conscious. I love winters because I could have an excuse to bundle up, cover everything, put a big hood on, and cover my neck. I felt a little bit normal to the outside eye.
So, starting a couple of weeks ago, I now feel like I’m free. I’m free from this disease state. I’m free to make my own choices for what I want to wear, how I want to wear things, and not worry about what other people see. I no longer have a big red rash on my face, where people are looking at me strange or trying to figure out what’s wrong with me. I’m finally free. I think it’s completely life-changing. I’m no longer trapped to this old regime of [having to use] creams and dealing with all this management care. Once a week, I take a shot, and I have my life now.