Takeaways from the National Eczema Association’s 2014 Patient Conference in Boston
I recently had the privilege of attending the National Eczema Association’s Patient Conference in Boston, Massachusetts. In the past I have shared my challenge as an adult with Eczema. I have also shared my dedication to helping find a cure. Attending this conference in Boston has given me a new positive perspective about a cure coming very soon. There were general sessions related to different medications and treatments, allergies, medical breakthroughs in Eczema and my favorite topic, alternative therapies.
The understanding from everyone at the conference was heartwarming. To be surrounded by so many others who completely understand what it’s like to live the itch life made me feel a support that I had never experienced before.
I attended the patient support session: How do you cope with Eczema? This session was a group discussion where everyone had a chance to share their story. My favorite part of the session was when we all shared one positive thing that’s come from our Eczema. It’s easy to focus on the negative but focusing on the bright side makes everything better. Here are some positive things the adults shared:
- I am more compassionate
- I have learned how to cope
- I am more conscious of my healthy in general
- I am grateful for NEA (National Eczema Association)
- I am resilient and strong
- I am a comedian and can add jokes about Eczema to my stand up routine
- I appreciate my family being there for me
- I have more self control
Everything on that list is awesome! The conference had a Kid’s Camp where the kids got to learn, make new friends and just have a good time with other kids without having to feel self conscious about their skin. On the last day we had a general session with both the kids and adults. The kids had a chance to share some positive things about Eczema and the conference too. Here’s what they shared:
- I get to make new friends
- I get to see my photo featured on the NEA magazine
- I get to travel to new places
- I am itching for a cure
I am amazed at how smart and aware all of the kids are. The list of positive things from both the adults and kids is a great reminder that even when experiencing something challenging such as Eczema there are many things to be grateful for. I mentioned that I really enjoyed learned about alternative therapies. I avoid pharmaceutical medications as much as I can so I was happy to hear doctors recommending other things to try. Dr. Lio, the founder of The Chicago Integrative Eczema Center gave many suggestions on alternative therapies. He did let us know that with alternative therapies there haven’t been studies done to prove they work. Here are new things I learned:
- Oil pulling– This is a tradition in Ayurveda medicine. I have heard about this before but not for Eczema and it wasn’t recommended specifically for Eczema either. It’s a way to cleanse and pull toxins from your body through your mouth. At first the concept seemed odd but I’ve been doing it consistently for over a week with coconut oil and if anything, my teeth feel cleaner than ever!
- Acupressure– I can’t tell you how many times people have recommended I try acupuncture for my Eczema. My answer has always been that I don’t want to use needles to puncture my skin since I’m already so sensitive and I just don’t feel comfortable doing anything that will further irritate my skin. People don’t really understand this response and always tell me how “small” the needles are and that I won’t feel it. Well when you have Eczema, you feel everything! Dr. Lio recommended acupressure instead. Without me even saying anything about my concern with acupuncture , he started off by addressing my exact concern! I was so happy to hear someone finally understand why acupuncture is not right for most people with Eczema. He taught us how to do acupressure on ourselves and recommended we do it for 3 minutes, 3 days a week.
- Sooth skin with oil before moisturizing– Emu oil was recommended for Eczema. Some people also use olive oil and coconut oil. I have tried olive oil and coconut oil but never emu oil. I will look into emu oil, it does not seem very common.
- Hypnosis– This one seems odd, but I have actually tried it before! My friend Christian Wasinger is a Hypnotist in San Diego and made me a recording over a year ago. Listening to the recording is very relaxing and similar to meditating. I had not listened to my recording for a while, but last night I found it and will be listening to it regularly again. I definitely notice myself not scratching when I’m listening to the recordings.
- Apple Cider Vinegar Baths– I rarely take baths but it was recommended to place one cup of apple cider vinegar in your bath water. I am open to trying this the next time I take a bath.
- Get Vitamin D- I’m lucky to live in San Diego so I have plenty of access to natural Vitamin D from the sunshine. Vitamin D supplements can also be taken.
- New Products– In addition to learning about new alternative therapies, I received dozens of new products to try. I am going to read the ingredients very carefully before trying any of these, but the sponsors were very generous with their giveaways. The photo below only shows a few products, by the end of the conference I had more than triple the amount of products pictured.
Overall I feel very grateful that I was able to attend the conference. One of my favorite things is the luncheon with a doctor at each table (I chose Dr. Lio’s table). Getting this one-on-one time with Dr. Lio was extremely valuable. I also enjoyed the opportunity to share our positive thoughts both in our sessions and on camera. Julie Block, the CEO of the National Eczema Association shared that now, more than ever there is more research that’s focused on Eczema. This only means we are closer to finding a real cure. I’m excited to see more developments in Eczema research and look forward to staying positive.