Thursday, November 24, 2011

Eczema Awareness Month

That's me and I wear make-up
So, in case you didn't know, November is Eczema Awareness Month in Canada. There aren't a lot of events planned; so, there's little to cover on that front. Plus, I'm late on my entry, but I'd like to start with a (brief) explanation as to why the Awareness part of the title is so important.

Unlike allergies, asthma and depression, eczema is not invisible. It's pretty much out there whether or not you like it and unless you're on organ-destroying meds, nothing can make it go away. Unless you're lucky enough to outgrow it, which I wasn't. Watch television for about five minutes and it's very difficult to miss the stress put on having perfect skin. From Photoshop to light-reflecting make-up and razors with five blades, the emphasis is on smooth, flawless skin.

So, I hate to break it to anyone who's seen a picture of me or met me in person, but my skin isn't actually flawless. I didn't magically escape the toll of eczema, though it has improved greatly over the years. In some ways, I still hide it. I no longer wear long-sleeved shirts in the height of summer (like I did when I was a child), but I do wear make-up to even out my skin tone, which suffers simply from the trauma of eczema.

So, where the awareness part comes in is that I was bullied as a child because I was different. My skin was my enemy - it was brown and it was patchy. Both didn't go over well at my school. But, kids today shouldn't have to be bullied, just because they've got eczema, something completely out of their control. Teachers didn't understand the physical and emotional toll having eczema took on me. I don't know that anyone did. It's yet another condition that a lot of people don't understand and because it's visible, you can't pretend you don't have it. And, you shouldn't.

But, as usual, it takes a lot of work to make people understand. So, here's my proposition. I encourage parents who have children with atopic conditions, like eczema and asthma to be as active as you are with food allergies. Talk to your child's school and teachers. Ask to schedule a quick talk to the class or the entire school. Making people aware of this condition is the first step to normalizing it. Children are taught not to judge people on the colour of their skin. It's time they were taught not to judge them on their skin at all.


  1. Yep, I agree that parents have a role to play in raising awareness. May be surprised that schools can be very open, I contributed an article to newsletter of my baby's preschool, a nationwide chain in Singapore.

  2. This is wonderful, Marcie! Thanks for sharing. I hope other parents are interested in developing something like this.

  3. Agreed! Children and parents will be a lot less judgmental if they are just informed. I'm starting an eczema support group for parents in Montreal and hope that through it we can help spread local awareness.