This is a wonderful guest blog sent in by one of our followers, writer, and moderators for our website and Facebook page Shelley-Marie. Dating someone with eczema can have its challenges. Shelley has been brave enough to ask the questions some of us have wanted to ask for years.
Go follow this amazing young lady on Tumblr and other social media platforms @shelleymarietalks.
We know how hard it is for anyone to talk about their skin condition to their loved ones, which is why we have huge respect for Shelley for being brave enough not only to approach her loved ones but to also share it to help other.
What an amazing young lady!!
We hope you enjoy her blog.
Does your skin affect your loved ones?
It’s easy to talk to fellow skin sufferers especially hiding behind a keyboard on forums and websites, a big shout out to Carl at Our Eczema Story for his continuous support and help… But can you talk to your loved ones about your skin in the same way? How does it affect them?
The 3 closest people to me that have suffered too are my Mom, my Dad and my Boyfriend of 2 years. Each of them has watched me suffer in different ways and at different times.
I currently live with my Mom and have done all my life so far so she see’s how my skin is day after day. I don’t live with my Dad, since a separation at a young age, however, I see him a few days a week. And my Boyfriend I see a couple of days a week after work and he stays over most weekends.
So they have all seen the good times and the bad times. I do have discussions about my skin with all 3 of them however, it wasn’t until a young lady contacted me through Facebook after seeing an article that a newspaper covered about my skin in 2014 asking if my Eczema has ever affected my relationship with my boyfriend? And if so how I deal with it and my confidence issues when it comes to getting intimate, that I thought of interviewing him.
There was also talk about relationships with friends and family during the conversation too as the “big itch” can cause moods, anxiety, depression and make you physically and mentally unwell which can cause conflict with others. So I thought why not interview my Mom and Dad and ask them some questions too and compare their experiences and opinions.
I asked my Mom and my Dad the same set of questions however due to the timeline and relationship status I have changed the questions that I have asked my Boyfriend Ben.
Interview with my Mom, Tracey:
– At what age did you notice a difference in my skin? AS A TINY BABY, ONLY A FEW WEEKS OLD.
– What was different? I NOTICED A SMALL REFD PATCH THE SIZE OF A 1P PIECE ON THE BACK OF YOUR SHOULDER.
– What did you do? I IMMEDIATELY CALLED AND TOOK YOU TO THE DOCTORS AS I THOUGHT IT WAS RINGWORM.
– Did the doctors diagnose me with eczema straight away or did they think it was something else? NO THE DOCTOR SAID STRAIGHT AWAY THAT IT WAS INFANTILE ECZEMA.
– Did I have any tests? AS A PRIMARY AGE CHILD YOU HAD A PRICK TEST AT THE MANOR HOSPITAL UNDER MR RYATT, A CONSULTANT DERMATOLOGIST ON YOUR BACK WHERE THEY SCRATCHED SPOTS ON YOUR BACK WITH A SMALL BLADE THEN DROPPED DIFFERENT LIQUIDS. THEY THEN WROTE WITH A PEN WHAT EACH ONE WAS. YOU ALSO HAD BLOOD TESTS.
– Did do you know what eczema was? YES AND BECAUSE IT WAS WELL BEFORE WE HAD MOBILE PHONES AND THE INTERNET I USED TO GO LIBRARIES TO TRY AND FIND OUT INFORMATION.
– Have the doctors been of any help? AT TIMES THEY HAVE BUT ONLY BY PRESCRIBING STEROIDS TO HELP CLEAR IT.
– If not why? And how do you think this can be changed? DOCTORS DO NOT SEEM TO HAVE ANY COMPASSION WITH ECZEMA SUFFERERS OR THEIR LOVED ONES WHO TRY TO HELP BECAUSE THEY JUST SEEM TO SEE IT AS DRY SKIN AND NOT THE PHYSICAL, MENTAL DEBILITATING CONDITION THAT IT REALLY CAN BE.
– What was your experience like bringing up a child with a skin condition? HEARTBREAKING AND VERY STRESSFUL. AS A PARENT YOU JUST WANT TO HAVE THE PROBLEM YOURSELF INSTEAD OF SEEING YOUR CHILD / LOVED ONE SUFFER WITH IT.
– Has my Eczema ever affected me more than physically?DEFINITELY. IT HAS AFFECTED YOU MENTALLY AND PLAYED A BIG PART IN YOUR LOW SELF ESTEEM AND CONFIDENCE.
– What are your opinions on Eczema and mental health? ECZEMA CAN BE VERY MENTALLY DEBILITATING AND SUFFERERS CAN BECOME VERY WITHDRAWN AND ISOLATED.
– What was my daily skin routine? AS A MOM I USED TO HAVE TO APPLY CREAM TO THE THE WHOLE OF YOUR BODY DAY AND NIGHT AND AFTER SWIMMING AND BATHING. AS A BABY I TRIED WRAPPING YOUR HANDS IN BANDAGES TO TRY TO STOP YOU FROM SCRATCHING IN THE NIGHT.
– Is your experience of having a daughter with Eczema easier now that I am older or was it easier when I was younger?THERE’S NO DIFFERENCE, IT’S JUST AS UPSETTING. THE ONLY THING THAT IS PROBABLY BETTER IS THAT YOU HAVE TO PUT YOUR OWN CREAM ON AND LOOK AFTER YOUR OWN SKIN INSTEAD OF ME DOING IT. THE HEARTBREAK OF WATCHING YOU SUFFER IS NO EASIER.
– How has my skin affected you? THE WORRY OF WATCHING YOU SUFFER HAS STRESSED ME OUT AND UPSET ME. DOCTORS HAVE INFURIATED AND FRUSTRATED ME AS THEY DO NOT SEEM TO UNDERSTAND THE IMPACT UPON THE PATIENT AND LOVED ONES.
– When I have a bad flare up of eczema how does that affect me from your P.O.V? YOU GET VERY DEPRESSED, UPSET AND WITHDRAWN WHICH MAKES YOU VERY UNWELL.
– Have you ever had a bad experience with my skin? YES ON VERY MANY OCCASIONS.
– If so what was that and how did you help resolve it? FROM A TODDLER THERE WERE TWO OCCASIONS WHEN I HAD TO CALL AN EMERGENCY DOCTOR ON A BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND AS YOUR SKIN AROUND THE BACK OF YOUR NECK WAS SO BAD IT WAS STICKY AND YELLOW. I HAD TO BATHE IT TO TRY AND SOOTHE IT. I HAVE HAD BOUTS OF TAKING YOU TO THE OUT OF HOURS URGENT CARE CENTRE AT THE MANOR HOSPITAL WHEN YOUR SKIN HAS BEEN SO BAD YOU’VE BEEN IN PAIN AND ON FIRE. ABOUT THREE YEARS AGO YOU WHERE HOSPITALISED AND HAD TO HAVE INTRAVENOUS ANTIBIOTICS AND VIRAL MEDICATION DUE TO A SHINGLES INFECTION AT THE SAME TIME AS A VERY BAD FLARE UP OF YOUR ECZEMA. THEN MORE RECENTLY WHERE THE ONLY OPTION WAS TO PAY PRIVATE WHEN YOU WERE DIAGNOSED WITH A SEVERE CASE OF ERYTHRODERMA.
– Do you think there is enough help out there for sufferers with a skin condition? THERE IS HELP OUT THERE BUT ONLY IF YOU KNOW WHERE TO LOOK FOR IT. DOCTORS DON’T HELP AND ADVISE OF THIS AND HAVE NO UNDERSTANDING OF THE IMPACT UPON LOVED ONES AND FAMILIES.
– If not how do you think this can be changed? THERE NEEDS TO BE MORE SELF HELP GROUPS, WIDER KNOWLEDGE, AND PUBLICITY.
– What would your advice be to other parents with a child (of any age) who has eczema (or any other condition)? LOOK ON THE INTERNET AND SOCIAL MEDIA FOR SELF HELP AND ADVICE GROUPS. IF YOU HAVE NO SUPPORT FROM YOUR GP SEEK PRIVATE MEDICAL ATTENTION.
Interview with my Dad, Nigel:
– At what age did you notice a difference in my skin? WHEN YOU WERE A BABY.
– What was different? RED PATCHES IN THE CREASES OF NECK ARMS & BACK OF KNEES.
– What did you do? TOOK YOU TO YOUR GP.
– Did the doctors diagnose me with eczema straight away or did they think it was something else? AS FAR AS I CAN REMEMBER STRAIGHT AWAY.
– Did I have any tests? NOT AT THAT TIME.
– Did do you know what eczema was? YES.
– Have the doctors been of any help? THEN YES, AS CREAM HELPED AT THE TIME.
– If not why? And how do you think this can be changed? N/A
– What was your experience like bringing up a child with a skin condition? WHEN YOUNG NOT TOO BAD ALTHOUGH HAVING TO MAKE SURE CREAM WAS ALWAYS APPLIED. AS TIME WENT ON THIS BECAME TIME CONSUMING.
– Has my Eczema ever affected me more than physically? YES… HAD A BIG EFFECT ON YOUR FEELINGS AND MENTAL STATE.
– What are your opinions on Eczema and mental health? GO HAND IN HAND.
– What was my daily skin routine? AS A CHILD CREAM WAS APPLIED US, YOUR PARENTS. AS AN ADULT IT WAS SELF APPLIED.
– Is your experience of having a daughter with Eczema easier now that I am older or was it easier when I was younger? EASIER WHEN YOUNGER.
– How has my skin affected you? WORRYING OVER YOU. NOT BEING ABLE TO DO ANYTHING TO HELP.
– When I have a bad flare up eczema how does that affect me from your P.O.V? YOU GET VERY DOWN. STRESSED. ILL. AND CAN WORK YOURSELF UP WHEN YOU HAVE A FLARE WHICH DOESN’T HELP.
– Have you ever had a bad experience with my skin? YES. WHEN ON HOLIDAY.
– If so what was that and how did you help resolve it? I COULDN’T HELP. YOU TRIED EVERYTHING. ALTHOUGH WE DID PAY FOR PRIVATE TREATMENT TO HELP WHICH HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL.
– Do you think there is enough help out there for sufferers with a skin condition? NOT FROM GP. SHAME THAT WE HAD TO PAY TO GET WHAT WAS NEEDED.
– If not how do you think this can be changed? NOT SURE.
– What would your advice be to other parents with a child (of any age) who has eczema (or any other condition)? DON’T KNOW AS EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT.
Interview with my Boyfriend, Ben:
– How long have you known me? 2 YEARS.
– What were your first impressions of me? A FUN LOVING AND EXCITING PERSON WHO ALWAYS SEEMED TO BE ABLE TO MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY.
– Could you see that I had a visible skin condition? NO, NOT UNTIL AROUND 2 WEEKS OF KNOWING YOU.
– If so what were your opinions on it? IT DIDN’T REALLY REGISTER AS ANYTHING IMPORTANT. BARELY NOTICEABLE TO ME AT ALL.
– Did do you know what eczema was? YES, HAVING SUFFERED FROM IT FOR A SHORT TIME AT A YOUNG AGE.
– Have you more knowledge about eczema now from being in our relationship? DEFINITELY, IT’S BEEN AN INTERESTING AND EMOTIONAL JOURNEY. ONE THING THAT I CAN HONESTLY SAY IS WE WILL NEVER STOP LEARNING FROM IT, AS THE NATURE OF THE ILLNESS CHANGES REGULARLY.
– Has my Eczema ever affected me more than physically? IT HAS, BUT IT’S UNDERSTANDABLE. IT IS SO MUCH MORE THAN A PHYSICAL ILLNESS OR “A BIT OF DRY SKIN” ETC. IT CAN REALLY GET YOU DOWN EMOTIONALLY AND THAT IMPACTS ALL ASPECTS OF LIFE.
– What are your opinions on Eczema and mental health? I THINK THEY ARE A DUAL SIDED SWORD. I DONT THINK YOU CAN HAVE ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER. EVEN THE MILDEST FORM OF ECZEMA CAN EITHER AFFECT YOUR CONFIDENCE OR YOUR MOOD IF YOU ARE OFTEN IN PAIN OR UNCOMFORTABLE.
– Has my eczema ever come in between our relationship? NO, I THINK IF ANYTHING IT HAS CREATED A STRONGER BOND BETWEEN US.
– How does my skin affect you? ECZEMA IS ONE OF THE FEW CONDITIONS THAT WILL AFFECT THOSE AROUND THE PERSON WHO HAS IT. SOMETIMES WE HAVE TO CHANGE PLANS OR REARRANGE DAYS, BUT MORE THAN ANYTHING IT CAN BE UPSETTING AS YOU HAVE TO SEE THE PERSON YOU LOVE IN PAIN AND THERE IS LITTLE YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT. IT DOES HOWEVER FILL YOU WITH WARMTH WHEN YOU KNOW YOU CAN HELP AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE, WHICH IS ALWAYS NICE.
– Have you ever had a bad experience with my skin? YES, BUT NOT THAT I REGRET. I ASSUME THAT QUESTION MEANS HAVE I EVER SUFFERED BECAUSE OF IT. BUT I NEVER SUFFER HALF AS BAD AS YOU DO, AND THAT’S WHAT GIVES ME THE DRIVE DO HELP HOWEVER I CAN.
– If so what was that and how did you help resolve it? THE WORST TIME WAS WHEN YOU WERE VERY ILL, AND THE NHS/GP ETC WERE OF NO USE. EVEN CALLS TO 111 WERE FUTILE, ALL THE WHILE THIS PERSON I CARE SO DEEPLY ABOUT IS SUFFERING WITH A SERIOUS FLARE UP WHICH AFFECTED YOUR BREATHING AND ABILITY TO MOVE. AFTER THROWING YOUR MEDICATION AT A DOCTOR AND BEGGING THEM TO HELP, WE GOT YOU A SPECIALIST APPOINTMENT WHICH IN TURN HELPED DRAMATICALLY IMPROVE THE TREATMENT OF YOUR CONDITION.
– When I have a bad flare up eczema how does that affect me from your P.O.V? IT AFFECTS YOUR MENTAL HEALTH, YOUR BREATHING, YOUR MOVEMENT AND ALSO TRIGGERS OTHER ILLNESS LIKE SICKNESS AND CHRONIC FATIGUE/HEADACHES.
– Do you think there is enough help out there for sufferers with a skin condition? NO, NOT IN THE SLIGHTEST, WHICH IS VERY SCARY WHEN YOU ARE HELPING SOMEONE THROUGH THE CONDITION AND LIVING WITH ITS EFFECTS ON A DAILY BASIS, YOU HAVE TO LEARN AS YOU GO WHICH SHOULD NOT BE THE CASE.
– If not how do you think this can be changed? I THINK THE ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE CONDITION NEEDS LOOKING AT, EVEN AT A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL LEVEL. THIS CONDITION CAN MAKE PEOPLE SERIOUSLY ILL AND EVEN THREATEN LIFE.
– What would your advice be to others who are in a relationship with someone who has eczema (or any other condition)? IT’S IMPORTANT TO TRY AND MAKE THE MOST OF THE COMMUNITY. THERE ARE SOME AMAZING ARTICLES AND BLOGS OUT THERE THAT HAVE HELPED MY RESEARCH (BUT ALWAYS TAKE THEM WITH A PINCH OF SALT, EVERY CASE IS DIFFERENT)
– Do you have anything else to add? JUST THAT I THINK THIS BLOG IS REALLY IMPORTANT. IT WOULD BE AMAZING IF MORE PEOPLE AND SUFFERERS HAD ACCESS TO VETTED INFORMATION FROM THIS COMMUNITY. ALL ADVICE IS REGULATED, SO IF YOU ARE READING THIS, PLEASE SHARE THIS BLOG, YOU MAY HELP SOMEONE IN DESPERATE NEED WHO IS FEELING HELPLESS.
This blog was to not only to document the opinions of my loved ones for myself personally at this time where my skin is neither good nor bad but to compare the different opinions and experiences to the different relationships I have.
Eczema, Psoriasis, other skin conditions, visible illnesses, body dysmorphia or even just unwanted scars, lumps and bumps, they should not be hidden away, frowned upon and be something to be embarrassed about.
You are beautiful!
Love & Light
Dating someone with eczema-Final thoughts
If you have ever worried about your relationship due to eczema or worried about dating or even sleeping with someone for the first time, then please feel free to ask questions or email us directly. We have all experienced many of the issues you’re worried about and may be able to offer help and support.
I know as a teenager I was terrified of sleeping with my first girlfriend. All I could think about was that when I got undressed in front of her, she would scream and go running out of the room.
Of course, that didn’t happen and I married her some years after, but It did worry me and stopped/slowed my relationship and dating down somewhat. Simply through the fear that eczema created inside my head.
We hope you’re brave enough like Shelley was to address any concerns you may have.
Good luck and remember, there is support here for you!