Written for www.metro.co.uk
Skin conditions can be incredibly hard to deal with, not only because they affect your physical health but also your mental health.
Eczema is one of the most common skin conditions with about one in 12 adults in the UK suffering from dry, itchy, red, cracked skin.
For those affected by eczema, it can be an extremely draining condition taking over all aspects of life.
From work life to night life, family events to friend’s birthdays, there’s nothing quite like an itch getting in the way of a good time.
A recent French study found that more than 80% of patients with eczema said their condition had an impact on their sexual behaviour.
Despite this, eczema has bought a lot of people together in other ways.
I spoke to five people about how eczema affects their relationships.
Charlotte Bouilloux, 17, student
When I was younger I was always scared I wouldn’t find love because of my skin, but little did I know I was wrong. I have been with my boyfriend for over a year now and am so happy he understands my skin condition. Things can get upsetting though. I have to prepare myself every single day in regards of my eczema and things can get frustrating especially as he tries to help me endure my constant itching. I feel and look disgusting, and I often feel ashamed. This can often turn into an argument because he doesn’t see anything wrong with me. I hate my eczema but I am slowly learning to accept my disease with the help of my partner.
Sean Anderson, 24, factory processor
Sometimes the itch can get so bad I’ve found myself going into another room to do it, not to hide it but she doesn’t know how bad it can get. I feel that she doesn’t understand how itchy it can be. ‘Stop scratching’ or “you’re scratching again” is like me saying to her “I’m going to tickle you but you can’t move or stop me.” It makes me wonder what she’s thinking when I’m unable to stop scratching. I guess unless you actually suffer from eczema, there is no way to understand what it’s like.
Michelle Vela, 21, developmental therapist
I first developed eczema during my teen years in high school. I had my first boyfriend around that time. I can remember constantly avoiding interactions with him and I pretty much ended the relationship before it even started. I am now in a relationship of two years and my self-esteem has yet again suffered, affecting my relationship yet again. My partner constantly reassures me that it will be OK but I can tell he gets annoyed when I obsess over it. All he wants for me is to feel confident in my own skin and enjoy my life. Although easier said than done, I agree with him and refuse to let my condition control my happiness.
Zainab Danjuma, 29, science technician
Eczema can really affect your self-esteem. I sometimes wonder how my partner can want to be with me when I’m a red flaking mess. I don’t feel pretty at all and find myself hiding my face and I would rather not draw attention to myself. I feel guilty about scratching at night and keeping my boyfriend awake. But, somehow this condition has bought us closer together. I’ve learned not to hold in my emotions, and he’s more understanding about how I feel and knows some days I need space and me-time. He can see past the scars and scratches and, if he can love me at my worst, he’s a keeper.
Jonny Hugill, 27, mental health nurse
If I suffer a flare-up I get it all over my face, neck and body. My partner is very supportive, and during my last flare up she would always tell me it would clear up and that I would feel better. She always reminds me to take my tablets and apply my creams, and understands I don’t like talking about my eczema when it’s bad. I worry it will affect my relationship but my partner understands, which is such a relief and makes me feel more comfortable. I’m so grateful for her. She knows what I can or can’t eat, what soaps I can use and what laundry detergent I can use. She understands me and works hard to support me. I think I’m lucky I have a supportive partner and this helps me stay healthy and when flare ups do occur, I can control them easier with her by my side.