As a parent of children with eczema it’s heartbreaking watching them scratch themselves until their skin bleeds. You’ve done everything you can but you can’t make it go away. On top of that you’ve got to put up with unkind ignorant people scrutinising and commenting. That leads me to the accusation of child abuse. It happened one day at a certain faith-based play group. I point that out because I thought faith-based meant a place of inclusion and acceptance. As a young mother I was seriously misguided and naive. My son Adam was nine months of age at the time. It was a warm day so I took his top off. Suddenly a woman whom I had never met before started accusing me of child abuse when she saw the red scratches and welts on my baby’s arms. Trying to explain to someone who didn’t want to listen that it was severe eczema was like getting through to a brick. I went home and never went back again.
And then there was the pool incident
I’ll never forget the incident at the Robbie Vicar’s pool. It was the school holidays. Naturally there were lots of mothers and little kids there. Mostly big, obese gossipy mothers who seemed to know each other. I say mothers because it was a time when fathers weren’t as involved in parenting as they are today. In fact, not at all for some fathers. I was there as well with my tribe having a lovely time in the pool. Sarah, my youngest was developing huge welts all over her tiny body, a symptom of her chronic eczema. The welts were becoming redder and bigger by the moment obviously triggered by the effects of the chlorine. Suddenly the gossipy mothers started whispering with all eyes transfixed towards my daughter. Next minute, I was approached by the pool owner, the divine Robbie Vicar who told me people were complaining because my children have chicken pox. He told me to gather up my children and leave immediately. I did, and never went back there again.
‘She’s got the pox’
This wasn’t the first time I’d heard the ‘pox’ theory linked to eczema. Another time was during recess in Sarah’s first year of school. She was circled by a group of boys who were running up to her and jabbing a finger into her ribs. Then they’d shout ‘she’s got the pox’ and run back to the outer circle. Sarah didn’t tell me about this. Her older sister did. Hannah saw the incident and started sobbing as she was telling me what happened. The boys were jabbing Sarah hard enough to make her drop her apple which was then picked up by the ringleader and thrown away. That was the thing that upset Hannah the most. How sad for two little girls only five and six years of age having to learn about callousness through personal experience? The children implicated in this appalling behaviour were only between five and eight years of age. Obviously, a parent had told their brat(s) to stay away from the kid with the pox.
Victimisation is a regular occurrence
Being victimised by other people was a regular occurrence in the lives of my children when they were young. When they were old enough to understand what was happening it often caused maximum stress. Needless to say this aggravated the exzema. Researchers have known for years that stress can make eczema worse. There is even a branch of medicine, called psychodermatology which examines the relationship between the mind and the skin. Unlike many of the other triggers for exzema, stress cannot be avoided. But it could be minimised if those affected by the condition were not victimised by thoughtless people who feel the need to make a bad situation worse. Do you have an experience of being victimised because you or someone you know has exzema?