Career Choices with Eczema

For those of you who have had eczema from a very young age, has it limited or changed your choice of careers? Or had you even considered it when trying to decide on the kind of work you might do in your future? For me, the idea that my eczema might impact my job choices down the road wasn’t even a passing thought. Although it probably should have been.

What did I want to be when I grew up?

If I could go back 50 years, what career would I have chosen? Back then, I knew I wanted to do something creative, but like most young people, I couldn’t narrow it down to anything specific. The guidance counselor in high school had said a window dresser would be something I was suited for. Not a lot of call for that in a small town.

Photography didn't work out

I enjoyed working in the family business, photography, even the retail camera store side of it. The darkroom work seemed to have no adverse effects, even possibly helping at times. I still remember the stop bath chemical feeling good on my fingers. But this family-based business wasn’t going to work out for me after I married someone who could be, and was, transferred every three or four years.

Fabrics made my hand eczema flare

I did have a small side business as a seamstress, everything from bridesmaids’ dresses to draperies. Although those jobs usually left me with a flare-up of my eczema. Working with most fabrics draws every bit of moisture out of the hands, and then forgoing the lotions or creams to protect the fabric adds to the problem. But sewing always stood me in good stead when other options weren’t available. Looking back, I know if I had concentrated on this as a career, my eczema might have derailed it.

There are work from home options now

Some of the places we were sent had limited opportunities. Today, in the age of telecommuting, online sales, online teaching, and coaching, many more home-based careers are available. However, the stresses from that can bring on flares for some eczema sufferers, whether working for oneself or an employer somewhere else in the world.

Will my skin get in the way of my work?

But what if what you want to do is something hands-on? Is it easily doable with atopic dermatitis? Will it aggravate your flares? Or what if the only options available with your skillset spell disaster to the skin?

Do you have days when, upon waking from another painful, itchy sleepless night, you look at your scratched, red, bleeding skin and decide you just can’t make it into work? Have you thought about studying or training for a different, more suitable, perhaps more enjoyable way to make a living?

What did I settle on?

I did eventually settle on something I could do anywhere. I apprenticed and became a journeyman painter and decorator. Another job that exacerbated my eczema but was immensely satisfying. Would I have chosen a trade back in high school? Probably not. But that was a different time when women became either nurses or teachers.

Looking back, I realize we should all consider the health of our skin when choosing “what I want to be when I grow up.” What do you think?

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