Shams eczema has caused difficulties in his schooling and personal life. Although finding the right treatment was a long process, he found that settling into a routine with treatments has helped in managing his eczema.
Shams was diagnosed with eczema when he was seven. He is of British-Bangladeshi descent and his mother encountered a language barrier with GPs. As a result, Shams had to translate and take responsibility for his treatments from an early age. Although this was initially difficult, Shams began to understand the importance of a consistent treatment routine when he got older. His triggers include dust, sweat, and possibly stress.
With regards to treatment, Shams hated using liquid paraffin because he found it greasy and uncomfortable. He has used a variety of steroid creams and has been prescribed sleeping tablets in the past for when his eczema has been very itchy at night. He tried UV light treatment but found it ineffective. Shams has moved around a lot and seen many different GPs who have had different approaches to treatment. At times, this was frustrating because GPs would provide different advice and some were hesitant to prescribe the medications Shams would request. When he was 13, he was referred to a dermatologist after treatments through his GP did not work. Shams found that the dermatologist consultations differed from GP consultations because the dermatologist took the time to analyse every patch of eczema on his body before prescribing treatment. Rather than prescribing a single treatment, the dermatologist offered him a more tailored treatment plan with different medications for different parts of his body. Shams used the internet, namely forums and comment sections, to learn how to manage his eczema. Although his medical advice still comes from healthcare professionals, his management strategies (e.g. wet wraps during physical activity) were found online.
During painful flare-ups, Shams was unable to attend school and this had a serious effect on his learning. Fortunately, some of his teachers made extra time to help him and set assignments aside for him when he was absent. However, he has also encountered teachers that are less sympathetic. With regards to work, Shams refrains from working in the food/restaurant industry because he finds it unhygienic with his eczema. His appearance during big flare-ups has influenced his success in searching for work in retail and his motivation to pursue acting. With regards to relationships and friendships, Shams often distances himself because he is worried people will not be able to cope with his eczema. He wears long-sleeved tops and long trousers to hide his eczema and avoid comments from others. He does not like to talk about his eczema so he has learned to be quick on his feet with excuses when he cannot participate in an activity.
Sham’s advice to other young people with eczema is to get into a disciplined routine of treatment and to speak to a healthcare professional about alternatives when a treatment doesn’t work very well. He notes that doctors should be aware that everyone is different and that treatment plans should be tailored to the individual and their lifestyle. He encourages teachers to persevere and be understanding when they have a young person struggling with eczema.