by Kelly Whalen
Millions of people around the world have eczema, a chronic inflammatory skin condition, which is characterized by dry, red, or scaly skin. Eczema often impacts visible skin, such as the face and arms, and can cause extreme itchiness. Unfortunately, misinformation about the condition can also result in bullying.
According to a study from the National Eczema Association, 1 in 5 children with eczema are bullied or teased about their appearance. The study polled over 400 parents and caregivers of children with eczema.
Bullying reports include comments about the person’s appearance, refusing to play with the child, and name calling. This can affect a child’s self-esteem, lower their confidence, and cause issues with socializing with peers.
What is eczema?
If you are not familiar with eczema it is a skin condition that has eight different types including atopic, contact, and hand among others. Eczema is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental triggers, however there is no known cause. Eczema is not curable and is not contagious, but treatments are available. Some of the treatments include a daily skincare routine, over the counter or prescription medications, and learning triggers that cause eczema to get worse. Triggers can cause symptoms to get worse and may include things like encountering pet dander, certain foods, or environmental allergens.
It’s important to know more about eczema so that you can help combat bullying of children and adults who have eczema.
Information is a powerful tool. Share information with your daycare, school, parent/teacher association, coaches, clubs, and any place your child spends time. For adults share information with workplaces, schools, or other people you come into contact with regularly. Be open to questions you may receive and share resources, such as websites, that can help provide additional resources.
Being an advocate means publicly support yourself or your child. For young children it’s important that parents or caregivers advocate for information to be shared in school and care settings. Preschool or elementary school aged children would benefit from teachers sharing age-appropriate information and parents receiving information via email or pamphlets. Older children may want to advocate for themselves through several means such as talking to those who are teasing or bullying with a teacher present, talking openly about their eczema, or sharing a talk or information with students and teachers. Adults can advocate for themselves by being open and public about their eczema.
Keep communication open. For parents, it’s important to check in with children regularly, but also keep an open door policy to discuss anything and everything related to their eczema. Talk to teachers, coaches, and other adults who interact with them regularly.
For adult eczema sufferers, it’s important to find support as well. Look for local or national groups that have meetings or online forums. Having a safe person or group that understands the challenges you face can help you cope better.
Proper care is key to managing eczema, so ensuring caregivers, teachers, coaches, and other adults know how to help a child is key. After all many children spend more time in the care of others than in the care of their parents.
Providing your child’s school with medications and information that are necessary is a great first step, but it can be helpful that kids learn how to manage themselves as early as possible.
Avoiding triggers can also be key, and ensuring a child learns early what their triggers are and how to avoid or minimize their impact is incredibly helpful.
For more information and supportive resources, visit National Eczema Association: https://nationaleczema.org/school/