News / 12 May 2023

International Nurses Day: Spotlight on Dr Deryn Thompson PhD

Today we celebrate International Nurses Day. It is a significant day, falling on the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale – 12th May. We, as an eczema community know only too well how amazing nurses are, not just in providing medical care and advice but more importantly in showing compassion and connection when our bodies and minds are in desperate need! There are so many of you AMAZING NURSES out there and we want to extend our gratitude to each and every one of you.

Our very own Florence Nightingale (featured here) is Dr Deryn Thompson. Deryn is a highly qualified (PhD) and experienced allergy nurse and eczema educator. She has dedicated her career to helping Australians living with allergies and eczema. When Deryn is not seeing patients face-to-face, she makes a point to join our online support meetings to offer her medical advice and support as well as writing medical papers to raise the awareness of the impacts of eczema.

We sat down with Deryn and asked her to share some of her experiences as an eczema nurse:

Describe your association with eczema and how eczema has impacted your practice.

When I stared in allergy care we saw few babies/children. By 1990’s more babies had food allergies. These babies also had eczema, some severe. As an allergy nurse I very quickly needed to also learn all I could about eczema to help families care for their children. Note though: not all eczema is triggered by allergies!

Share an experience where a patient has used their eczema in a positive way.

Nurses can help people to use their eczema ‘in a positive way’, by enabling them to build their knowledge about their eczema, recognise their triggers and develop the confidence to control (master) their eczema care. If setbacks occur, they can think and reason as to why, adapt care and move forward, positively.

What is the whackiest advice you have heard to reduce the craving to itch?

Professionally, nurses cannot give wacky advice. However, a YouTube revealed a teen who looked in the mirror when they felt the urge to scratch. As the mirror saw the reflection, it looked like they were scratching the opposite side. That confused their brain, thus stopping their urge to scratch!!

Knowing there is no cure for eczema, what is one wish you have for eczema patients?

My hope is people realise there is no ‘magic quick fix’. It is a long process: moisturising is ongoing. It’s vital to use enough thick moisturiser usually multiple times a day (adult/teens use minimum = 500gms/week; child = 250gms/week).  Few people use enough because no-one mentioned it!! Also, using enough flare cream  as directed on the red itchy patches, without fear, is important. A great video to understand the role of moisturiser and how to apply can be found here.

What amazes you about a patient you have treated?

Despite the setbacks, once we teach people to think about their eczema, recognise triggers (e.g. sickness will flare eczema, and in babies, teething), people realise they have not done anything wrong for eczema to flare, they successfully manage their eczema. They follow their eczema plan, adapt care and get back on track, knowing we there to support them, and guide them to move forward.

This International Nurses Day, is there any advice you have for other nurses out there maybe considering specializing in the skin/eczema field? What specific skills are needed?

Key nurse skills are listening, empathy, compassion and kindness in a shared partnership with patients and families. Sometimes eczema will be OK, other times, a setback occurs, but nurses provide ongoing support. Knowledge of the skin, fundamental skin care requirements/treatments and knowing where to find reliable, evidence-based information/resources is vital, as there are many myths about eczema. Experienced eczema nurses also mentor newer nurses.

We thank you Deryn for giving so much to support the eczema community!