How Can Eczema Affect Your Job?
Managing eczema can be a full-time job, but often it is at least a part-time undertaking. With a health issue that the everyday person, even sometimes those with an ailment, don’t see as serious enough to be an excuse for missing workdays or other commitments, how exactly are we supposed to cope with this disease? How do we climb the ladder or at the very least stay on the ladder without falling down?
I've never said eczema is the reason for a sick day
I have never called in sick to work and said eczema was my sickness. Even saying my really bad allergies (which most people relate to) would not be enough. Especially, when people do not understand the highest levels of allergic reactions.
Leaving my ailment up to interpretation
What I have always done was simply call in sick and that is it. Simply say that I am sick. If a manager wants to assume it is the common cold, that simply meant less work for me to explain something that I’ve already made the assumption they would never understand. When I consistently had bad flares with my allergies and more, I would tell my coworkers, "I have a weak immune system, so I get sick a lot." Which is the truth, but I never stated eczema was my problem.
People don't believe eczema is serious
Why is that? I am not fully sure. In the past, I was one of the people that didn’t think that eczema was anything more than the need for a higher steroid dosage to calm it down again. If you don’t believe that your own condition is that serious, no one else is going to go that extra mile and accept otherwise, or at the very least, understand it.
Working from home
Thankfully in a lot of my post-schooling professional career, I have been able to do jobs that I can work remotely if needed. That has allowed me to never fall behind even during those sick days. I highly advise remote work for eczema sufferers and am glad to see our future leaning that way.
Planning ahead for severe eczema flare-ups
What if your profession does not grant you the ability to work from home or you are so flared that there is no way that you can make it to anything that involves showing your face that day, even if it’s just a virtual meeting? That's where I say that it's important to take your condition seriously and truly plan ahead.
Earning the benefit of working from home
Many times in my past, working remotely for a company, I first had to prove that I was capable of having that responsibility by showing efficiency and being trustworthy in person. Then with time, I could see the areas that the job could be handled outside of the office, and was often given that freedom.
Building rapport with your employer
Once you have built that relationship with your boss, professor, or managing partner it is often easier to gain headway. If you know that your body surprises you sometimes, ease that conversation in with them. It may even be advantageous to say it in the beginning once you are hired or when you start your new class, explaining the severity of why you may have to use sick days slightly more than average. If you do this before proving your work ethic and ability then be sure to ensure them that you don’t see it as an excuse for missed work but as a request for flexibility to get to the same end goals.
Explaining the severity of eczema at work
Open dialogue is key in any relationship and if the other person still does not understand with all sincerity, possibly show them pictures of how bad it can get for you and that it’s not just an uncomfortable flare in random spots of your body.
Eczema should be considered a disability
Ultimately, we all have to be realistic even if these tips are used. Sometimes our eczema simply has other plans for our path in life. Sometimes we have to listen to our skin and put that first. I personally believe that eczema should be considered as a disease that you can easily file as a disability. One can only hope! Share your thoughts on the matter in the comments below.
On an average day, how would you rate your level of anxiety related to atopic dermatitis?