My Worst Flare: A Blessing in Disguise
Where do I begin?
At age twenty-eight, I have dealt with countless flares since I first displayed signs of eczema as an infant. Over the years, they’ve come and gone. As you can imagine, those experiences aren’t typically something I like to commit to memory, but to a certain extent, the major ones have a way of sticking around.
"Just a rash"
From what I can recall, my skin during the 1990s was particularly bad. There weren’t many treatment options at the time, and compared to today’s medical climate, eczema was often seen as “just a rash.” However, one flare, in particular, stands out to me, and to be honest, it has to do with its recency.
A bad eczema flare up
If my memory serves me correctly, this particular flare occurred during the summer of 2015. I was a recent college grad living with two friends in a suburb just north of Detroit. The home we were renting was built in the 1920s and did not have air conditioning. This didn’t concern me as I had previously lived in similar conditions while off at school.
Trying to find relief
I’m not sure if it was the summer heat or some unknown allergen in the home, but something triggered my skin for the worst. As with many of the flares I’ve had (quick note — I’ve never experienced clear skin), it started with my skin becoming more and more aggravated over the course of a few days. At this point in my life, I was used to my skin existing in a constant state of inflammation, so to mitigate the onslaught of worsening symptoms, I made a stronger effort to stay on top of my skincare routine. My efforts included an increase in showers, moisturizing, and the application of my topical steroids. Needless to say, it wasn’t working.
My skin looked like a burn patient's
I remember being in so much pain. My whole body was covered in red, raw, and dry skin with tiny cuts and cracks sprinkled into the proverbial mix. My aunt, who is a former nurse, likened my skin to some of the burn patients she had seen while working in the hospital.
Noticeable to others
One day at work, my colleague came into my cubicle to ask a question. Instead of swiveling my head to address him, I had to turn my body at my waist because the skin on my neck was so fragile (I remember it tearing like paper when I scratched it). He immediately noticed and inquired if I was ok. Deep down, I wasn’t, but I didn’t feel like explaining my current situation while in a professional setting.
Putting the wrong product on the rash
A day later, I called my girlfriend and asked her to come over so she could assist me with my skin. My back was in rough shape, and I was having a difficult time applying my medications and moisturizer. Somehow, I managed to give her a bottle of body wash instead of lotion. She applied some "lotion" to my back and started to rub it in. I immediately seized in pain. She did her best to remove the excess body wash from my skin and then blew cool air on it until the pain subsided.
Fortunately, I was able to see my dermatologist a few days later. He prescribed me some prednisone and my skin quickly cleared up. Oddly enough, I look at this flare as a blessing because it was the catalyst for motivating me to attend a National Eczema Association conference in Portland where I learned more about a promising new drug named Dupixent.
Spoiler alert: I’m currently using Dupixent, and it has changed my life in ways I can’t even begin to describe.
Have you been diagnosed with atopic dermatitis?