Watching My Sister Cope with Eczema

Before I was a caregiver for my daughter and an advocate for her atopic dermatitis. I was a teenager with siblings who have atopic dermatitis. I have atopic dermatitis flare-ups as well. I have little on my face which will not go away and sometimes, in the winter, more flare-ups will show up on my face. My arms will experience flare-ups at times as well. But, my AD flare-ups are nothing compared to my sisters' flare-ups. Some of my sisters' AD lessened and became much less problematic with time as they got older but one of my siblings always has caught the worst of it.

Not dressed for the heat

I remember those days, just like it was yesterday. I have vivid memories of my sister wearing long sleeve shirts in April, no matter what the weather was like. I remember the scorching heat of a North Carolina hot spring hitting me like a ton of bricks. I remember feeling the sweat drip down my back. I remember my shirt was drenched with sweat.

Other kids wore shorts

I remember my sister's sleeves covering her arms and her pants covering her legs. It was the kind of long sleeve shirt and pants that would be perfect for a winter blizzard.  The kind of shirt and pants that were anything but perfect for such a hot spring day. I remember all the other kids and I wearing shorts and hoping they met the fingertip rule because it was far too hot. We wore the shortest, rule-abiding shorts possible.

Embarrassed by covering up eczema

I remember my sister's outfit making me hot at the thought of it. I remember telling her that they looked hot and asking why she wore them. I remember being very confused and not understanding her reasoning. I can still remember how quickly her face turned bright red with embarrassment and instantly regretting ever having asked questions.

Irritating eczema

Then I remember her being uncomfortable. Not uncomfortable from the heat, but uncomfortable from her atopic dermatitis which was currently flaring up rather badly. I remember her trying to scratch her skin without pulling up her shirt. I remember her rubbing because scratching would serve to further irritate her already very irritated skin.

Not understanding

I remember wondering if the heat and the long sleeves were making her atopic dermatitis worse and more irritated. I remember wondering if she knew, but being afraid to ask, not wanting to offend her again. I remember her trying her best to find a way to soothe her itch and aggravation without pulling up her sleeves and realizing that she was embarrassed. She did not want anyone to see her skin, not even for a moment. She did not want to feel or look different than our peers.

Trying to hide eczema

I remember realizing she was hiding her atopic dermatitis. I remember realizing that the reason she wore long sleeve shirts and long pants, even on the hottest of days, because she did not want the world to see her scars and sores. Scars she bore from years of losing battles with atopic dermatitis. Every scratch and every scar told a story of an embarrassing and uncomfortable atopic dermatitis flare up that would not go away. I remember being deeply saddened by her embarrassment and how atopic dermatitis had affected her self concept and wishing I could take her scars away.

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