Understanding the Challenges of Atopic Dermatitis

April 14, 2020

Erika Czopkiewicz elucidates the challenges that atopic dermatitis presents, from the perspective of a caregiver, and discusses how it has changed day-to-day life for her and her son.

Erika Czopkiewicz elucidates the challenges that atopic dermatitis presents, from the perspective of a caregiver, and discusses how it has changed day-to-day life for her and her son.

Transcript

Erika Czopkiewicz: My son’s symptoms began appearing at about 4 months of age, and they started just with a rash on his trunk and on his chest. We just took him in to his regular pediatrician, and she is the one who diagnosed him.

Our day-to-day routine is very different. It’s always a struggle. It depends on whether his skin is flaring or not, but I would say on a regular day, we do have a consistent routine. That routine does involve bathing every day—in the morning before he goes to school and at night before he goes to bed. Sometimes during a flare, we do some bleach baths, and we do some wet wraps as well. That is our day-to-day routine. In addition, if he has a big flare, we might have to add a few things or add doctor appointments. But that is usually our day-to-day routine.

There have been many difficulties that my son has faced, but I think that since he doesn’t really know any other life, eczema is his norm. It has unfortunately become part of who he is. But I think that he’s had many difficulties. He’s experienced some bullying at school. He’s experienced social impacts with friends. He’s had to forego doing a lot of things, a lot of activities outside and birthday parties. It depends on what they are and what they entail, but those experiences have greatly impacted his life. Eczema is a huge part of our daily life, and it affects our life—his life especially—in every which way.

Eczema affects my son’s social life in many ways. As I said, he is not able to go to some birthday parties. If he’s invited to a pool birthday party, he’s not able to attend. He is not comfortable showing his skin, so he unfortunately does not like being in the pool. Let’s just say that we could get him in the pool, the getting out part is not so fun. He immediately has to take a shower within 3 minutes to rinse off the chlorine and then we have to use his topical applications. That’s a big thing. And those are just birthday parties.

When it comes to doing things outside, he also has struggles because of the grass. He has allergies. One of his main allergies is the outside environment. Pollen, grass, and those kinds of things really bother him. Those are just the outdoor activities, and we have indoor ones, too. He’s not allowed to go to a house with any pets, so cats and dogs are out of the question. That is also a huge trigger for him. Not only that, but he also has asthma and allergies do trigger his asthma as well.

Those are just the birthday parties that he’s not able to go to. People do understand that it’s not contagious. Unfortunately, because of the way his skin looks and how it makes him feel, it’s apparent to other people and they’re afraid because they don’t know exactly what he has, and they’re afraid to ask. But for the people who do know him, they do know it’s not contagious. Once we educate them, which is our main goal—just to tell everybody, “Hey, he’s not contagious. It’s OK, you can play with him. You’re not going to get this”—then they seem to be OK, especially kids. Kids are a little more forgiving than adults, and he really doesn’t have any issues meeting somebody new or playing at the park. There have been some pros to all of that.

This video was supported by Pfizer.