Someone lacing up hockey skates while the ice cracks underneath them.

The Change Room

Ever been in the change room at the gym or change room on a sports team?

I have played sports all my life.  I live for playing ice hockey; even now, in my forties, I like to play!

I had played in Canada when I was young, now I live in Australia, and I play here, and I have also gone on a trip to play in New Zealand.  We went to a tournament in New Zealand and won the GOLD in 2020 before the pandemic started.

A love-hate relationship

I suffer from severe eczema and red skin syndrome, and the one thing that I have a love-hate relationship with is the change room.

What do I like about the change room?  Well, it’s the friendships you make with your teammates, enjoying a beer after a win!  The laughs and just having fun!

What do I hate about the change room?  Well, where do I start?  I am always self-conscious about my skin.  Getting changed in front of 13 other people can be quite nerve-racking when you are the only one with severe eczema.

The reactions from others

The stares that I get about my red skin, people looking but not wanting to say anything.

The comments that I get are every game or practice.  Like, "Oh Chad, you look very sunburnt."  "Why are you so red?"  "You are glowing!"  "You are redder than the redwings jersey!"  And there are many more comments.

The suggestions are always coming from people.  They will say, "Have you tried this?  Or have you tried that?"  "This is what worked for my niece."  "Maybe you should stay out of the sun because you are so sunburnt."

My after-care

I have to have a shower after the game to cool down, a nice cold shower!  And I’m still red.

Putting on cream is always a highlight, as well as people stare, and some people comment and make remarks/jokes about putting on cream.  I laugh it off, but really I need to put the cream on, or I feel like a dried-out fruit.

Redness and overheating

I really find that after 3 twenty minute periods I am overheated and red, head to toe.  I am still red for at least two days after a game.  I go into work, and my co-workers would know I played a game the night before because I was so red.

I now use a frozen towel on the bench to keep cool. I wrap it around my neck after a shift.  At least one player has said that is a great idea, and he will start doing that.  I take a Zyrtec before the game to reduce the allergies and red itchy skin, it does not help the redness, but it does subside the itchiness eczema brings with overheating.

Marion Hossa's experience with eczema

Marion Hossa, an ex NHL player who has won the Stanley Cup 3 times and making over $1 million a year, had to quit playing because his eczema was so severe.  He chose his health overplaying NHL.

Former Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa saw his career come to an end after the 2016-17 season after being diagnosed with eczema and officially retiring in May 2018.

Nine months after hanging up the skates for good, Hossa spoke about the physical hurdles he faced over his final few seasons while fighting the skin condition. Needing a drug named Cyclosporine to combat the condition, the former Slovakian required bi-weekly blood tests to make sure there were no harmful side effects.

Hossa told Scott Powers of The Athletic that he didn't plan on retiring so prematurely when first diagnosed but couldn't disregard what his body was telling him.

"I wasn't really thinking about the end, it just (came) basically, the eczema kind of told me," Hossa said to Powers in his homeland.

"My body told me there was no other way. That's when I had to start thinking, 'Well, it could be.' Because my skin (was) almost like breaking. (It was) leaking from the wounds. (I was) missing practices."1

My experience playing sports with eczema

I look at what Marion Hossa has gone through and I can relate.  His schedule would be completely different to mine though with games and practices every day.  It does not give your body a break from overheating and does not give your skin any time to heal.

I will continue to play once or twice a week.  We won our division last year, and we have a great team, and I have made some great friends through ice hockey.  I am still self-conscious about my skin, and as much as the change room jokes and comments come at me, I find it still alright to deal with and have fun. Now onto winning another season!

Have you had your eczema affect your ability or comfort in playing sports?

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