Eczema has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember; a relentless itch that has been by my side throughout my school years, during sporting events, exams, at parties and all manner of special occasions. My earliest memories with eczema were mostly in the form of frequent visits to my local doctor and the dermatology clinic at my rather intimidating local hospital. I remember missing lessons at school to attend these appointments, having to explain the various creams I would have to apply at sleepovers and the great care I would have to take on a daily basis to keep my inflamed, and at times bleeding skin, under control.
“Eczema doesn’t discriminate – all genders, all skin complexions and all ages can be affected. The impact that eczema can have on loved ones around us is also profound.”
When I was younger, living with eczema was not only a distressing experience for me but also my parents; the innumerable regimens of moisturisers & steroid creams they would help me apply, bearing the torment of having to watch me scratch constantly and all of us hardly getting a wink of sleep as a result, was difficult to say the least.
As I was growing up, eczema affected me in a variety of different ways and was particularly challenging during my teenage years. This period of great change in my life made me more aware of one of the hidden effects of eczema; the impacts it can have on one’s emotional wellbeing. Eczema dictated what clothes I wore, made me question if others viewed me differently because of how my skin appeared, affected my relationships and influenced my self-confidence overall as well. At times I felt alone in this journey and it was easy to wonder, “why me?”, despite the support of my family and my dermatologist.
“My experience with eczema was one of the main drivers behind my desire to study Medicine. As a doctor now, hoping to build my career around caring for patients suffering from skin conditions, I have been grateful to be involved in supporting my patients who, like me, are battling this chronic disease.”
Seeing the positive impact that sharing both my medical knowledge and my personal insights into the challenges of living with eczema has on my younger patients is what has ultimately led me to founding the ‘itchY – Teenagers with Eczema’ platform. Eczema will always be a part of my life and will rear its head from time to time but I know that connecting with each other through this itchY journey will collectively give us the confidence that we are not alone. Join me and share your #itchYstory!
Written by: Dr. Ranindu Abegunawardene, founding partner of itchY, MBBS MPH GDipClinEd CertPracDermoscopy.
itchY in an online platform for teenagers living with eczema to support and connect with each other.
Teenagers face a unique set of challenges often do not have people around them that understand the feelings of managing severe eczema. itchY connects teenagers with other teens living with eczema to share experiences and support to make daily life as a teenager living with eczema more manageable.
With customised information downloads, online meetups and a closed Facebook group, the itchY platform creates a safe and confidential online platform for teenagers to share and connect.