8 Remarks You Might Not Realize Are Offensive To People With Eczema
In addressing people with delicate skin, a little sensitivity when bringing up their skin condition could be useful. Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition that renders patches of skin to become inflamed, dry, itchy, and scaly.
In the United States alone, around 35 million Americans fight the long-lasting skin condition. Even when their skin looks clear, eczema causes the immune system to send inflammatory signals to the surface. This leads to constant itching and rashes that can keep those affected up at night.
The frustrating physical symptoms of eczema are already difficult enough to deal with it, not to mention the emotional toll that comes along with the flare-ups.
So if you come across someone who fights the irritation that the skin condition brings on a day-to-day basis, you have got to be careful not to drive them up the wall. After all, understanding skin condition sometimes includes avoiding remarks that may not always be the most welcoming to people with eczema.
- “That looks painful. Is that contagious?”
Those with eczema know fully well how bad their skin looks, so exhibiting hints of fear or paranoia about the red, itchy patches only hurts them more than it hurts you to look at it. But to answer the question, since eczema is an allergy in the skin related to gene variation, it is not possible to pass the active rash to someone else.
- "Just stop scratching."
Trust me, those with eczema already wished it was that simple. When people have a bug bite, you can easily find a way to keep from scratching it since the itch is only concentrated in a small area. However, with eczema, every part of the body seems and feels like covered in bug bites.
- "Try using anti-bacterial soap."
Eczema, like many skin allergies, has nothing to do with a lack of personal hygiene. "Use anti-bacterial soap" is probably one of the worst pieces of advice an eczema patient can receive since anti-bacterial soaps could often be harsh for people with skin conditions.
- "You should drink more water."
Although drinking water helps to keep the skin veer away from dehydration, we can assure you that people with eczema are not water-deprived individuals. Drinking water could be helpful, but it might bot be the best solution as those with eczema live with dry skin almost every day.
- “Why is your ___ so red?”
There is nothing more irksome than answering this question over and over again. Eczema is visible on the skin, so pointing out the obvious to eczema-affected individuals can add a little irritation to what they physically experience.
- "At least it's not ____"
If reassurance for you means downplaying the seriousness of eczema and comparing it to other "more pressing" medical conditions, then you got the whole concept wrong. While it is true that eczema isn't lethal, this remark will do no good as people with eczema don't usually live in a state of total bliss. The symptoms alone can be extremely challenging.
- "Have you tried this medicine? My friend has eczema and it worked for them"
People with long-term eczema have most likely tried many different remedies since the first flare-up occured and wished a magic bullet could also work simply for them. However, it must be noted that there are six main types of eczema, so medication and treatment aren’t the same for everyone. And as the saying goes, "what works for others, won't always work for you."
"You're so anti-social."
Those with eczema suffer from reluctance to engage in activities and socialization. But people with eczema aren't always killjoy as they may be in pain or feeling self-conscious about their skin.
Moreover, if someone with eczema declines your party invitation, understand that even the tiniest things found every day in our surroundings could cause their eczema to flare. Blowing off an event and cold-eyed stares from people are one of the least things they would want.
Despite this list of insensitive remarks, perhaps the hardest part for many of them to deal with is the stares of unease and perplexity from strangers who saw their distinctive red patches.
Although their skins may not be as healthy and bright as yours, people with eczema also have feelings too! Skin allergies, like eczema and psoriasis, are often associated with stigma. That's why we need to make them feel more included, embrace their condition with compassion, and tell them that their symptoms don't bother us at all.
They may not change the way they dress, but at least we can positively remind them that they're so much more than the red and flaky spots surrounding their body.
- Nathan Mariano