I remember I was 15 and at camp away from home when some rashy-looking bumps showed up on the inside of my arms. I thought, maybe it is from something like a poison bush or tree, or something else, maybe it was from some allergy I didn’t know I had. I was pretty healthy at that point, no real allergies, so I figured it had to be some external cause. It only got worse, and more annoying, and it began stinging as I ran around sweating throughout the summer. I eventually decided to go ask the camp nurses who told me I should go see the doctor, a 20-ish minute trip outside of camp.
An unsuccessful doctor’s trip
I ended up missing my lifeguarding exam to see a doctor who “wasn’t sure” and thought “maybe it’s from something you’re allergic to” and didn’t give me anything to do or put on it. Great… I went back and jumped in the water, cooling the burning red bumps, trying not to touch my inner arms for the rest of the summer… and for the next few years. I guess I had figured if it were something common the doctor would have known, or told me to see a specialist, and I didn’t think about seeing another doctor.
Giving different treatments a try
When I was in Israel a year or so later I was given a random herbal cream that someone living there had gotten me, which actually did help a bit, but I couldn’t bring it back with me. A few years later I went to a dermatologist who said “probably eczema” and gave me a cream that sort of helped, but that I also was bad at remembering to use.
Later, it spread around my eyes, but I was away at school in Ohio, and I took someone else’s cream they had been prescribed for around their eyes. It helped a bit. I saw my eye doctor who prescribed me an expensive steroid for around my eyes, this helped for a bit.
The condition gets worse
By the time I moved to New York after graduating college, it was really all over the place. My legs, arms, stomach, butt, back and even my face. I had been dealing with other health issues that had taken precedence; though it was bad and embarrassing. I guess it hadn’t been enough for me to address it again. I also didn’t have the energy at the time to figure out what needed to be figured out.
I found a dermatologist in the city who confirmed eczema, gave me a new, lower strength steroid cream for my face, and a new prescription for my body. I started using the new creams, and they worked, but she wanted me to use them less often than every day. I tried to explain that I really had to use them every day; as soon as I stopped it would get bad again. Even with them I always had some small patch somewhere, and scars from picking at them years ago.
A new doctor and a new day
I recently moved and saw a new dermatologist who took the time to explain atopic dermatitis to me, prescribed me something new for my face and body and gave me the name of a lotion I could use that would hopefully mean I could use the creams less often.
I finally, after 10 years, feel hopeful. I’m excited to get started.