Two of my girls suffer from atopic eczema, a skin condition that affects one in five children in the UK. Life can be tough for them. They start feeling the itch. They scratch. Their skin breaks. It gets more and more itchy. They scratch some more. Patches of skin become inflamed. Clothes stick to the affected areas. Their skin gets infected. Their behaviour changes. They regress. It is a vicious circle.
“Tell them not to scratch,” I hear you say.
How about you try to stop breathing for five minutes?
“Impossible,” you reply, puzzled.
When eczema gets out of control, scratching becomes as vital to them as breathing is to all of us.
So far, we have dealt with it in the comfort of our home, but when they start school full-time and the central heating is turned on, they will be vulnerable. How will it affect them? How will other children react to their constant scratching, to the appearance of their skin?
Eczema is a visible condition, which at best will attract attention and at worst, mockery and bullying. Children are blunt. They are not always cruel intentionally, but they say things the way they see them. When they spot another child scratching, their first reaction will probably be that they have something catching.
I am not the kind of mum who wants to overprotect her children forever, but I am worried about the fact my daughters’ self-confidence might be tested when they start school. They are strong, determined little girls with fiery personalities now, but they are only human.
Today sees the launch of National Eczema Week. A brand new free resource, ‘All about eczema – an information pack for schools’ can be downloaded here. The pack is aimed at parents and teachers. It focuses on the challenges children with eczema face in the school environment and how to overcome them.
It “provides an overview of the condition with advice on how teachers can help a child with eczema to integrate into both their class and the school routine through a series of activities and lesson plan resources in different formats and for different suggested age groups, equips teachers with tools to teach their class about eczema in order to encourage understanding and compassion amongst a child’s peers.” (National Eczema Society’s website).
If you are a parent or a teacher, can you please help by ensuring schools in your area know about this free resource?
Here is a list of Helpline Live events taking place over the next few days:
Saturday 13th September – Union Square, Torquay
Sunday 14th September – Ashford County Shopping Centre, Ashford
Monday 15th September – Trafford Centre , Manchester
Tuesday 16th September – Touchwood Shopping Centre, Solihull
Wednesday 17th September – Fishergate Shopping Centre, Preston
Thursday 18th September – Kirkgate Shopping Centre, Bradford
Friday 19th September – Kingsgate Shopping Centre, Dunfermline
Saturday 20th September – Oxford Westgate Shopping Centre, Castle Street, Oxford
Sunday 21st September – Intu Watford, 201 The Harlequin, Watford