We recently received an email from Sarah a reader of our website and she wanted to share her experiences with eczema in the hope that it may help others and bring to light the effects that eczema can have in our lives for all those who suffer and those who care for sufferers.
I have eczema and was bullied at school so I can relate to Sarah’s experience. Here’s Sarah’s email below.
Hello, My name Sarah, I’m 42 I was born with eczema I’ve had it all my life. Starting secondary school I was made to feel different, continually bullied and beaten up because of my skin and never fitted in, I hated myself the way I looked and still do.
As I grew up I was self conscious of people staring at my hands as I am now as it broken out and sore , even this day and this age you’re treated like your diseased which I know I’m not, stress plays a big part in my life, the only time I’m relaxed and not stressed is when I’m away and no one knows me it heals as soon as I’m back it starts again like a vicious cycle
There are no words how u feel with eczema apart from accepting who we are and not the disability we have.
Sarah Bagley ( Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your experience to help others )
Like Sarah said, it’s not only the obvious physical symptoms of eczema that we need to deal with, other areas in our lives can be just as important if not more important. People with eczema, especially children will at some point in their lives experience bullying or teasing due to their condition.
A survey carried out by the National Eczema Association (NEA) found that at least one in five children with eczema are bullied at school due their skin condition. This is just shocking!
More than One million school-aged children in the US alone and nearly 600,000 children in the UK that suffer from eczema will be bullied or teased. Therefore it’s not just a few isolated cases of teasing, it’s a growing issue that needs addressing, QUICKLY!
It’s not just children that tease and bully, We read a comment on INSTAGRAM just the other day from a follower of ours about the abuse he had just received after putting a picture on INSTAGRAM of his flare-up and someone ( An adult ) was sharing his picture saying ‘ Look at this ugly guy’ and other nasty things. That really shocked me as it was on an Eczema page where people go for support, Not abuse.
The key to stopping bullying and teasing in schools is education, There are lots of things we can do as parents to increase awareness in our schools. Simply going to school and talking to your child’s teacher is a good start. Educate them on your child’s conditions. It’s not fair for us to assume all teachers know everything to do with medical conditions and eczema. They’re teachers after all not doctors.
The NEA has published a series of charts and books called ‘ TOOLS FOR PARENTS ‘ In this series, there are two sections one called PARENTS GUIDE and another called AN EDUCATORS GUIDE. You can take these guides to school and help educate not only the children but the teachers as well. The packs are free and very helpful. These guides offer ideas and advice for taking positive action to improve the lives of those with eczema.
This chart is also helpful, you can print it and take it to school as a good visual reference.
HOW I COPED WITH ECZEMA AND BULLYING AT SCHOOL
My own experience of eczema in schools was much the same as every child who has eczema, You either tell everyone about your condition and hope they understand and don’t tease you. Or you hide yourself and your condition away like I did. I didn’t open up to anyone at school about my condition, I was lucky in the fact that my eczema on my face wasn’t too bad so as long as I creamed every hour no one really noticed. I did however always have long sleeve shirts on and avoiding PE like the plague. I was a master at hiding my condition from others, even my best friend.
Read my personal experience on my blog: MY SCHOOL DAYS WITH ECZEMA
When I look back I do wish I or my mother had taken a different approach to eczema and my school days. I don’t think she understood exactly what I had to go through each day. I spent hour hiding away from everyone and missed out on so many fun things like Swimming, PE, Sports days and trips to the beach. I don’t blame her as Eczema back then wasn’t really spoken about and very little research was being carried out.
This is why this article is so important to me, sharing and educating EVERYONE from the person with eczema, to other adults, teachers, parents, friend and family members is so important.
IF I CAN OFFER ONE PIECE OF ADVICE IT WOULD BE: TALK TO EVERYONE ABOUT YOUR ECZEMA!
Top 5 tips for dealing with bullying
- TALK TO YOUR CHILDS TEACHER: This for me is number 1, they need to know what your child is going through to be able to help. Teachers have a tough enough job to do as it is and are not mind readers. So help them and your child by educating them on eczema and your child’s needs.
- EDUCATE YOUR CHILD: Talk to your child about their condition and let them know they’re not alone in this battle with eczema. Use story books like LILY’S ECZEMA STORY to help them understand how other people see them and their skin.
- GET INVOLVED AT SCHOOL: By getting involved at school you will make friends with other parents and this can then use this to build their knowledge of your child’s condition. They will then pass this information onto their child which will help build better friendships and a more caring relationship with other children. Children are always closer if their parents are friends with each other.
- PLAN THEIR SKIN CARE IN SCHOOL: Make sure you have a skincare action plan for your child at school, School needs to manage their eczema when you’re not around. This will avoid flare-ups and their skin looking its worst within school times. Talk to the medical nurse in school and get them to plan times for creating and caring for their condition.
- TALK ABOUT TEASING AND BULLYING TO YOUR CHILD: Preparing your child to cope with the staring and teasing is paramount. Young children don’t understand what is classed as bullying, so your child needs to know that not everything said or done is intended to hurt or be mean. Children have a good way of saying what they see, which sometimes can hurt.
- 6. You’re not to blame. Remember no matter what you look like, talk like or act, bullying is not acceptable in any shape or form.
- 7. Talk to someone. It’s hard to trust someone to talk to but YOU HAVE TO, Talk to your friend, Parent, teacher or even book an appointment and go see your Doctor and tell them. They will give you good advice and listen to you, they cannot tell anyone so your secret is safe. So TRUST THEM they are professionals who will listen and advise you.
By helping your child develop coping strategies for dealing with unwanted attention when they are young they should be better protected from bullying and teasing as they grow older. Children from as young as 4 start to become aware of situations and can pick up on looks and stares from other children.
So start as young as 4-5 to educate your child and set them up well for their school years.
We have had many emails regarding bullying due to skin conditions and one of the common ones seems to be ACNE Read article on acne and how to treat and cope with this condition.
Please let us know if your child has ever suffered teasing or bullying and let us know how you and your child dealt with it. Comment below or complete the form and let us know in private.
We are always looking for readers to share their experiences dealing with eczema in a blog format. No experience needed, we’re not looking for professional writers. Just honest, from the heart experiences that will help other. We will format your email into a blog and do all the normal spell checks ETC.
Sharing is caring and by writing about your own experiences will let others going through similar experiences know they’re not alone.