“I didn’t want to look at myself in the mirror,” 18-year-old Ella confessed after a recent experience with a severe case of eczema.
The uncomfortable at best, and painful at worst, recurring, non-infectious, inflammatory skin condition had suddenly spread all over her face. And the Year 12 student from Melbourne was struggling to cope.
“The stress of the start of Year 12 made my skin change from completely normal, to suddenly being very reactive to things,” Ella told Mamamia.
“I started getting spots of eczema on my face, then they developed into patches.
“At the worst of it, it was like a rash on my face, with blistering and peeling around my mouth and nose, then onto my cheeks.”
Ella admitted that she became very self-conscious about her face.
“I didn’t try to hide it with make-up, because I knew that wouldn’t help,” she said. “I was a little in shock, because I didn’t have skin problems previously, not even as a baby."
“Because I am quite pale, the redness of the eczema felt really obvious to me. I would sit in class and feel like so sore, like my face was burning.”
Ella says that the eczema made it difficult to concentrate, not just because it was very uncomfortable, but also because she was worrying about it all the time.
“I was thinking about what I could try next, because we’d tried everything like oils and vitamin E cream.
“I also worried a lot about whether it was something I was eating. I eliminated different food groups, and that didn’t work. I just didn’t know what to do.
“That was stressful and so distracting. I’d think, ‘will it get worse?’, and 'what will I do if it does?'”