Lindsay can’t remember a day when she did not have to think about her skin. First diagnosed with eczema at the age of two, she has spent her entire life juggling the pain and aggravations that come with having a skin disorder, all while just trying to live a normal life.
Watch Lindsay's story of living with atopic dermatitis
From the beginning, Lindsay’s skin disorder has been unpredictable and evolving. As a child, she had bad rashes on the back of her ears and in the cracks of her arms. As she grew older, Lindsay says her symptoms became worse, most often showing itself in the form of sores and rashes around her legs. Despite going to doctors for years, Lindsay didn’t get the answers she wanted. Nothing was helping. There was no long-term relief. Feeling defeated, Lindsay says she stopped going to the doctor. “I'd gone to so many that couldn't make [my skin] better, or make it bearable. And so, I didn't want to waste the time or the money.”
But she also couldn’t live the normal life she wanted. Whether it was with family, friends or even entering into a new relationship, Lindsay’s skin disease has always been a distraction. Lindsay recalls that sometimes she felt uncomfortable when people would look at her skin. “People would say, ‘Oh, are you okay? What happened to you?’” She felt embarrassed and would quickly feel the need to ease their minds by letting them know that she wasn’t contagious.
The skin disease also kept Lindsay from doing things she loved. “I really like to swim,” she explained. “I have younger nieces and nephews, so it's fun to be fun Aunt Lindsay that can take you to the pool. I've really stopped doing that…mostly for fear of what people in the swimming pool would think. I don't want people afraid of their kids getting what's on my legs.”
Lindsay struggled with the pain of her skin disease for eight more years before taking a chance on another doctor. She’s glad that she did, explaining that her most recent doctor took the time to examine the history of her disease and, for the first time, Lindsay was diagnosed with atopic dermatitis.
Atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema, is a chronic, systemic inflammatory disease characterized by rashes and can include intense itching, dryness, cracking, redness, crusting, and oozing.
Finally knowing what has been plaguing her skin for more than 35 years provided some sense of relief for Lindsay. But, even with the atopic dermatitis diagnosis, the sores and discomfort remain to this day. For Lindsay the most frustrating thing about her atopic dermatitis is how she feels when the rashes and sores are not visible to the eye. The itch is still present. “That's the one symptom of atopic dermatitis that's the hardest for me to describe to anybody,” said Lindsay. “There are people that will just tell you, ‘Just stop itching. It's not that hard, just stop itching.’ The way I can describe it is, a mosquito bite on your chicken pox that gets poison ivy. That's atopic dermatitis on a good day.”
Lindsay continues to manage her atopic dermatitis on a daily basis. It’s a part of her life but she says she doesn’t let it define her. “Let it be a part of who you are, but don't let it be the only thing that you are,” she cautions. “Don't let it prohibit you from doing the things that you want to do.”
Lindsay’s story is one voice among many who suffer from atopic dermatitis. Her story is part of our UnderstandAD campaign to raise awareness about this challenging skin disease.
To learn more visit UnderstandAD.com.