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A comic for a CCR called "The Start of My Eczema Journey" That depicts a story from an advocate on their first major eczema flare up in high school and how that affected their life afterwards.

The Beginning

Imagine having clear skin, using any lotion, detergent, fabric softener, or body wash that you like. Picture eating meals including seafood or any foods that have dairy in them. Imagine being able to be around plants, flowers, pollen, and any animal imaginable, and one day it all changes. Well, for me, this is where things went from being normal to life-changing. 

A boy is kicking a soccer ball across the field, there is a text box at the top that says

Growing up with rashes

Growing up, I was a very active kid. There was nothing that would stop me from going on an adventure, playing outside, or being heavily involved in sports. Nothing could stop me from enjoying my day-to-day adventures. My skin was clear, smooth, and radiant. During the school year, there were no issues when it came to my skin.

 A boy is looking over his shoulder at the back of his arm where a slight rash can be seen, he is saying

The only time I remember having any breakouts was during the hot summers when I thought they were just rashes. Little did I know, it was eczema. I would have breakouts along my sweat glands, i.e., on my arms, behind my legs, and neck. I didn’t think anything of it, knowing it would subside and eventually go away.
My mother worked at a hospital, so she would come home with Keri lotion where I would apply it to those areas, Vaseline or Jergens. Everything was normal from my adolescence to my early teenage years. Things began to change during my junior year.

My junior year of high school

During my high school years, I was a tri-season athlete playing football, basketball, and track and field. It wasn’t until my junior year that things began to change. We just finished losing the semi-finals during the basketball season, and I took no break between sports and transitioned to track season.

A memorable flare

While the weather was transitioning from winter to spring, despite the team practicing indoors, it was still cold in the building. Under Armor compression pants and long-sleeve shirts were commonly used to keep warm. I could not afford Under Armor clothing, so I layered up and wore long sleeves.

A teenager picks a dirty shirt up off the floor, he is in a rush. Two text boxes on the panel state

One day, I was running late to practice. As I walked into the locker room, I saw a piece of Under Armor clothing on the floor that was not claimed. I decided to pick it up and wear it. I went through practice and it was a normal day.

A teenager is pulling back his shirt sleeve and looking at his arm in shock, his skin is extremely irritated and rashy. Two text boxes on the panel state

I continued to wear Under Armor until I started noticing some changes in my skin. I didn’t think anything of it because I would get seasonal rashes growing up and they would “eventually” go away. Well, this time, they didn’t.

The beginning of my eczema journey

What started as a rash on my sweat glands began to spread throughout my arms and legs. I continued to push it to the side and go about my practices and track meets. This “rash" began to spread to my neck. It went from feeling like a rash to feeling like my skin was on fire. My skin peeled from any movement that I tried to do.

A teenager is sitting on the bed of a doctors office, looking downward in embarrassment. His skin is extremely irritated and rashy. In front of his a nurse is holding a clipboard and talking to him. Two text boxes on the panel state

It eventually got to a point where I had to see a dermatologist. Once I was there, they told me that I had eczema. I had no clue what it was. I thought it was another form of rash that would go away. I was prescribed not only ointments and creams, samples as well to see how my skill would react to them. The itching and uncomfortable sensation would go away with my prescription medications, but the eczema came back 2x as bad.

My senior year

A high school student is walking through a crowded hallway looking around nervously. He is completely covered up by a hoodie, his exposed hands are irritated. Two text boxes on the panel state

My senior year was an absolute nightmare. Whether it was 90 degrees or 20 degrees, I would layer up to hide the fact that my skin was different from everyone else’s. The first time my skin began to peel and stick on my clothes was when I took my senior pictures. I would see flakes of my skin on my clothes, my sheets, and basically everywhere. I wasn’t sure how I could be cured. I was embarrassed, shy, and became a shell of myself, asking, “Why me?”

Everything was going wrong

A teenager is sitting in a defeated position on his bathroom floor, his skin is extremely irritated. Surrounding him are several pill and ointment bottles. There are two text boxes on the panel stating

There was a time when I thought I was “cured” when I was prescribed steroids. However, my pigmentation changed and my skin began to thin out. Whenever I scratched myself, I would cut my skin open, making it take longer to heal. People wouldn’t make any comments, but they would just stare. I often wouldn’t give them anything to look at because I layered up. However, because the eczema spread all over my body and face, I could not hide it. Things from getting haircuts, taking showers, and applying any lotions appeared ineffective.

A teenager is laying in bed on his side, asleep. His skin is extremely irritated. Two text boxes on the panel state

The only comfort I had was sleeping. I was stressing out, feeling lonely and depressed, and life changes were happening at the same time.

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