(Text only clips) Abid has had eczema since he was a baby. He emphasises the importance of self-awareness, knowledge of the body, diet, and exercise in managing his eczema.
Abid, aged 24, has had eczema since he was a baby. As a child, it was difficult for him to understand that the skin condition could be managed but not cured. As he got older he realised that self-management is key in coping with his eczema. Although he used to scratch his eczema as a child, it was mostly due to the skin being red and flaky rather than it being itchy.
Abid’s experiences with healthcare professionals have been primarily negative. He has found that the healthcare system can be slow and GPs have differing ideas about how to treat eczema. He notes that in contrast to other countries, patients in the UK unfortunately do not build a strong personal relationship with their GP. Abid found the process of being referred to a dermatologist lengthy and complicated, and has therefore never attended a specialist clinic. With regards to treatment, Abid emphasises the importance of lifestyle and medication. Two important aspects of his lifestyle that help him manage his eczema are diet and exercise. Abid feels that healthcare professionals often underestimate the effect of diet on a person’s wellbeing. GPs regularly suggested that he cut certain foods (e.g. dairy) out of his diet. However, Abid felt that this suggestion is too simplistic; he is influenced by Eastern ideals within medicine and felt that in order to manage eczema, a deeper understanding of food and its inflammatory effects on the body is necessary. Rather than cutting out certain food groups, Abid avoids eating processed foods and he tries to use anti-inflammatory foods as part of his treatment to work from the inside out.
Abid found that time-management in treating eczema was difficult. This process included deciding when to shower and estimating how long creams needed to soak into the skin before he started his day. He found that the prescribed ointments, creams, and shower products had a strong medicinal smell that he disliked. He has topical medications such as ointments and creams to remedy the symptoms of eczema but he avoids taking tablets. He says that this is because his diet already provides sufficient internal treatment and that focusing on internal physiological wellbeing is the best way to go about stabilising his eczema. Before buying commercial cleansers and shower gels, Abid would read reviews online. The internet is a useful source of information, but he warns against incorrect information and false advertising online. He often opted for products that contained natural ingredients and no chemicals. Even though these products were more expensive, Abid believed that they were worth the investment.
Abid’s eczema often made him feel self-conscious and kept him from participating in certain activities such as swimming. However, around the age of 17, he became more confident and accepting of his condition. He now enjoys rock-climbing and believes eczema should not limit you in your hobbies. He thinks that planning ahead and preparing the skin before any rigorous exercise are important. Eczema now impacts on Abid’s self-consciousness a lot less. He believes that societal standards for attractiveness are unrealistic and biased, and he encourages people to be more accepting of others that are considered different. Abid’s advice to young people with eczema is to educate themselves about the body and the effects of different foods on eczema.