Life with Eczema: “There’s So Much Suffering”
Prevention and Treatment What's it like living with eczema? Tanya Mohan, Torontonian and life-long sufferer of the skin disease, explains the physical and psychological impacts.
Tanya Mohan, 39, has been living with atopic dermatitis since the age of 1. The Toronto-based mother and project manager working in the health field knows firsthand the impact of the disease, and is eager to share her story and give hope to others.
Mediaplanet: How does eczema affect you physically?
Tanya Mohan: I’m always itchy and irritated. It makes it difficult to sleep. I’ve scratched until I bled. Then I feel guilty, sad, and angry at myself. It’s psychological warfare that doesn’t stop. All the while, I’m expected to function normally. It’s difficult to care for my daughter like I would like to. There’s so much suffering. I’ve never known a time when I’ve lived without it.
How do people react to your eczema?
I don’t think they understand how debilitating living with atopic dermatitis is. It’s not cancer or diabetes, so it’s not viewed as something serious.
What impact does summer have on your condition?
For some people, it helps. But for me, the heat, sun, and sweat are irritants that make my skin worse. I walk around with a UV umbrella and I don’t like wearing shorts or tank tops because I’m concerned about having my scars visible.
What treatments have you tried and what worked?
I’ve used topical steroids, oral steroids, immunomodulators, and moisturizers. Some are effective temporarily, while others can have serious side effects as they’re medications used to modulate your immune system and can be harmful to your organs. Recently, my dermatologist suggested a new medication which I take via injection twice a month. My skin seemed to transform overnight. Now I know what relief feels like.
What advice can you offer to others with atopic dermatitis?
What you’re going through is not trivial and should not be treated lightly. It affects your quality of life. Don’t accept just getting by. Push to see a specialist who can help.
This article was made possible with support from a Canadian research-based pharmaceutical company.