Taking the itch out of eczema

Written by Cynthia Maseko

Mpumalanga – Nomonde wears the scars of eczema on her face but the 9-year-old girl carries invisible scars from being bullied because of her skin condition.

Because of discrimination against people with eczema, children like Nomonde end up losing confidence.  To make matters worse, many parents are misinformed about this condition and use traditional medicines, which further irritate and damage the skin and cause visible scars.  

Nomonde, from Ermelo, says that because of her eczema children don’t want to play with her. “I am called hurtful names which make me no longer want to attend school,” she said.

The specific cause of this skin condition remains unknown but it is believed to develop due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Possible triggers

A tearful Nomonde told OurHealth that she can’t have pets or play in the sand like other children because that can cause her eczema to flare up.

An ordinary day at school is filled with possible triggers that can aggravate eczema symptoms – from carpets to outdoor activities to schoolwork itself.

Nomonde’s mother Carol said: “My daughter and her siblings were born with eczema but we only found out she was bullied last year, when she was in Grade 3. She was struggling. Thank God, a GP in Ermelo informed us about a dermatologist in Witbank. We immediately took our kids for further tests and got medication. Since then there has been a huge improvement in my children’s skin and Nomonde’s self-esteem has grown daily.”

She added that before going to the dermatologist they used all kinds of treatment – such as traditional medicines from sangomas, aqueous cream, bath lotion – but nothing worked.

Dealing with the urge to scratch is a way of life for people with eczema. Scratching damages the skin barrier more and slows down the healing process.

Carol said parents whose children have eczema should consult a dermatologist as soon as possible. “Get your child’s eczema under control and don’t let eczema be the focus of your child’s identity,” she said. – Health-e News


About the author

Cynthia Maseko

Cynthia Maseko joined OurHealth in 2013 as a citizen journalist working in Mpumalanga. She is passionate about women’s health issues and joined Treatment Action Campaign branch as a volunteer after completing her matric. As an activist she has been involved with Equal Treatment, Planned Parenthood Association of South Africa, Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV and also with Marie Stopes Clinic’s project Blue Star dealing with the promotion of safe abortions and HIV education.