We spoke with Alyssa Hansen about the challenges of living with atopic dermatitis and her advice for others managing the skin condition.
Tell us about your experience managing atopic dermatitis (AD).
Managing my AD wasn’t a challenge at first. In the beginning, topical ointments made a difference and cleared it up temporarily. However, as my condition got worse, the ointments and lotions and anything else I tried eventually stopped making any difference at all. It wasn’t until I got referred to a dermatologist that I was able to be put on a treatment that kept my condition under control. I was finally able to go without AD flares and to feel comfortable again after starting my treatment.
There wasn’t much in my life that hadn’t been affected by atopic dermatitis (AD).
What impact has this had on your overall quality of life?
When my AD was at its worst, it had a significant impact on my life. I basically lived around my condition in an attempt to just deal with it. I dressed in ways that would cover the majority of my flare-ups, I avoided going out and doing most activities that I knew would irritate my skin in any way, and I eventually started to isolate myself in order to hide my condition. At the worst point of my struggle with my AD, I had very little quality of life. Suffering from it had caused me to become severely depressed due to the constant discomfort I was in. I didn’t want to be around anyone, my family included, and I struggled to do most daily tasks. My skin constantly hurt, I had difficulty sleeping due to the discomfort, I avoided being around anyone, and I did as little as I possibly could every day to avoid hurting any more.
What are some day-to-day challenges of living with AD?
Some of the day-to-day challenges that I faced included some of the most basic things like sleeping and showering. I struggled to get out of bed some days, I had a difficult time with cleaning and completing other chores, and I was unable to do most physical activities because anything that caused me to sweat would irritate my skin significantly. Other challenges that I had included spending time with family and friends because I tried to avoid anyone seeing my condition or how badly it had been affecting me. It even made it difficult to care for my pets. Also, when I was in school, it made it challenging for me to focus on my classes.
My best advice to anyone suffering from AD is to take control of your condition and seek help from a dermatologist.
What other areas of your life were affected by the pain of AD?
One of the biggest areas of my life that had been affected was my social life. I avoided spending time with anyone close to me because I hated the way I looked, and the constant discomfort caused me to become a very irritable person, which is the opposite of how I normally am. Physically, I was exhausted and in pain no matter what I did to try and relieve it. Mentally, I was irritable, depressed, and struggling on a daily basis to do nearly anything. My AD had come to control almost every aspect of my life and I really came to base most of my daily decisions around my condition. There wasn’t much in my life that hadn’t been affected by AD.
What myths or misconceptions about AD do you feel the general public has?
One of the biggest misconceptions about AD, in my opinion, is that it’s just dry skin. There is so much more to it than just having dry skin. That’s really just the tip of the iceberg. It can be such a painful and uncomfortable condition that can affect your physical and mental health, and it can be a very isolating condition to suffer from. People need to understand that it isn’t always just dry skin that putting some lotion on will fix.
What advice can you offer to others living with AD?
My best advice to anyone suffering from AD is to take control of your condition and seek help from a dermatologist. If you aren’t already seeing a dermatologist, get your doctor to refer you to one. Don’t wait for your condition to become unbearable or to get any worse, and don’t allow it to control your life. If you’re living with AD, you don’t have to suffer through it. There are treatments available that you might not know of, and it’s so worth it to find something that works for you!
This article was sponsored by an IMC Member Research-Based Pharmaceutical Company.