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portrait of Brandon Hipps

Instagram Interview: @bhipps_14

The Editorial Team at AtopicDermatitis.net is highlighting people in the eczema community and their healing journeys in a series of Instagram Interviews. We talked to Brandon, aka @bhipps_14, about his eczema story and what it means to be an eczema warrior.

Brandon’s eczema story

Hi my name is Brandon Hipps and I am 20 years old and have suffered from eczema the majority of my life. My personal experience with eczema has literally been hell on earth for me. My first serious flare happened back in my sophomore year of high school causing me to get put on homebound for the last half of the year and not be able to play football or have a social life. It took at least a year for my skin to fully recoup with the help of steroids (which I didn’t know were harmful at the time), and a lot of moisturizing.

When eczema went haywire

There have also been less serious flares in between now and high school but none of them can compare to the flare I experienced my freshman year of college. My eczema went haywire along with symptoms I found out were related to topical steroid withdrawal (TSW) since I’d been using them for almost 7 years. I was covered from head to toe and couldn’t take showers, leave the house, or work. I had made many new friends in college but my condition caused me to shut down all my social life completely. I was in an extreme state of depression and even thought of suicide once or twice. The word suffering does no kind of justice in describing what I went through.

Hitting rock bottom

My eczema even had its own distinctive smell that made me sick to my stomach. I literally hit rock bottom as hard as I could. Waking up in a bed full of scabs and blood and not being able to move due to tight and painful skin from scratching all night long unconsciously really put me down and not having any money from not working really made me feel worthless.

I tried every medicine in the book ranging from immunosuppressants to steroids and even natural products but nothing worked. Finally, through all this though, 3 months ago, I was able to start Dupixent which has completely changed my life. I’ve been able to go outside, restart my social life, and even want to try dating now that my skin is doing so much better. I still flare but they are nothing compared to what I have gone through in the past and I am almost a whole new person.

Avoiding triggers is a struggle

Editorial Team: What triggers your eczema? Which trigger is hardest to avoid?
Brandon: At the moment I really don’t know 100% what all my flares are but I can name a few for sure. Candy, too much dairy intake, and scented products are the main ones I can point out. The main two I really struggle with avoiding are dairy products and scented products. I love to eat cereal and eggs for breakfast and so does my family so finding out something so delicious and easy to make was hurting me really hit hard. Scented products like deodorant and cologne were hard to give up too because as I mentioned I currently am searching for a companion and of course being able to smell good would be a major plus instead of smelling like nothing.

Coping with eczema stress

Editorial Team: How do you handle the stress of living with eczema?
Brandon: Nowadays, I cope with my eczema stress by taking an antidepressant called escitalopram. It helps calm me down and keep the anxious thoughts from eczema to a minimum. I also try to get out of the house as much as I can which consists of fishing and skateboarding since they both keep my mind occupied with something besides eczema. Music is also a big one for me. Music really calms me down and keeps my mind focused on more positive things so that I’m distracted from how my skin looks and feels. Starting to become more social has also helped my confidence boost up and I’m starting to become more proud of my situation more each day.

The strongest warriors face the toughest battles

Editorial Team: What does being an eczema warrior mean to you?
Brandon: Being an eczema warrior to me means so much more than it actually is. God puts his strongest warriors through the toughest battles and to be apart of such an amazing community really makes me feel warm on the inside. Being able to share my story to help inspire others is what I live for. I want to be able to encourage those who feel like they’ve lost all hope and show them that if I can do it then there shouldn’t be any excuses due to me having such a serious case. Even though there will be people that will bully and make fun of our situations, there will also be just as many that will accept us and push us to be the best eczema warriors we can be.

Follow Brandon’s healing journey on Instagram at @bhipps_14!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AtopicDermatitis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • nicolesibley
    2 months ago

    Thank you for sharing your story, Brandon! I can relate to you on so many levels.

  • Sarah Wallin moderator
    1 month ago

    @nicolesibley, I’m so glad that you were able to relate to Brandon’s story. Thank you for reading and commenting! -Sarah (AtopicDermatitis.net Team Member)

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