May 2022

Please note this blog contains references to Imogen's experience with medication. Imogen's treatment was prescribed as part of her personal care plan. If you are struggling with eczema, please contact your GP and/ or dermatologist as each person needs to be assessed on an individual basis.

Living with eczema

Living with chronic eczema as a young person has been life-changing, it has altered my relationships with family, friends, and partners.

I have had eczema since I was 5 months old. I have no recollection of what it was like at that age but my parents say that it was heartbreaking for them to see their child go through that amount of pain and that they had to lie with me at night to stop me from scratching.

My eczema journey

The first time I remember my eczema having an impact on my life was when I was 13 and in secondary school in Australia. The backs of my legs had become infected which made me a target for bullies. People would comment on my legs. This led to a lot of social anxiety centred around the way that I look. I would cake on make-up to cover up any inflammation, which in the end just made my eczema worse.

At the age of 16, my eczema started to cover my entire body. Steroids worked for a week and then my eczema would return to a worse state. At this point, I was referred to a dermatologist to start immunosuppressants. This was terrifying. As a 16-year-old girl, taking my clothes off for a male doctor to examine my skin made my anxiety worse.

The first immunosuppressant I was prescribed was Methotrexate. The side effects I noticed were mainly: hair loss - whilst washing my hair I would pull out clumps of hair, fatigue, nausea, and loss of appetite. Luckily, I was prescribed it during the first lockdown, which helped my anxiety as people weren’t able to see what the side effects. After around 6 months the Methotrexate had stopped working and my prescription changed to Ciclosporin. However, this also stopped working after a few months.

A few weeks before my 18th birthday my eczema had completely covered my body to the point where I was demobilised. I was referred to a new dermatologist where I was prescribed Dupilimab, a pen form injection that targets the gene that is the cause of eczema. But in the weeks of waiting for the medicine to arrive, my eczema became unbearable. 

I was in the bath one day (as my skin couldn’t handle the shower's water pressure) when I rang my mum at work as my legs were torn apart and weeping. She raced home to take me to A&E. This is where we waited as I cried in pain. When we were seen by the doctor, we were unfortunately told they couldn’t do anything for us as I was already under the care of a specialist.

Moving forward with a positive outlook 

Two weeks after being in the hospital my first Dupilimab injection arrived, although it didn’t completely clear my eczema at first, it did calm down the need to itch almost immediately. 

It has been over a year since the last big flare-up and my eczema has almost completely cleared with only a few flare-ups now and then thanks to the Dupilimab injections. I am now a student mental health nurse, with the hope to help people so that they don’t have to go through the same things I did.

Imogen

Donate    Find out more about eczema

By donating to skin disease research, you are helping us to find treatments and cures for common conditions like rosacea, acne and psoriasis through to potential killers like melanoma skin cancer. Thank you.