We talked to influencer and National Eczema Association ambassador Abby Cramond about how she found the best way to manage her eczema and uses her platform to help other people with skin conditions feel happy and confident.
Ambassador, National Eczema Association; @abbycramond
“I feel that when my eczema is visible, it is kind of like a badge I wear.”
What inspired you to become an advocate for skin health, and how has your involvement with the National Eczema Association empowered you to help others?
As my eczema took me to a very dark place, I want to be the light for others, which is why I have devoted my online platforms to be resources and safe spaces for those struggling with the same or similar conditions. Speaking and posting about my eczema online led me to the National Eczema Association, which connected me to thousands of others in the eczema community.
Shortly after finding them, I became an advocacy ambassador and attended their expo event in Seattle, where I had the opportunity to meet others in the community and hear doctors speak about their research, and what we can be hopeful for in the future for treatment options.
Gaining this experience and knowledge, I feel it is my duty to share what I’ve learned with others through my social media platforms. Receiving thousands of DMs from people seeking help for themselves, their mothers, their children, their spouses, etc., was the response I needed to know I was doing the right thing.
What advice would you give to someone struggling with eczema or other skin conditions, and feeling frustrated with their treatment options?
Don’t give up on yourself. It is unfair that you have to struggle with this condition, and it’s even more unfair that there is no definitive solution, given that eczema is one of the leading skin conditions in the world. But because of the complexity of eczema, it’s hard to pinpoint the root cause because it varies with each person.
With that being said, I encourage you to give everything at least one try. I know that can be a very long process, so I also encourage you to find what your peace is. Balance the struggle by doing something you enjoy.
For me, I am a creator. I started to draw, paint, make videos, act, etc. It is all easier said than done, but there is a community out there that understands this journey.
You mentioned that you experimented with different products and treatments to find what worked best for you. What resources did you use to research and evaluate these options, and how did you go about determining what was most effective?
I was seeking help when my skin was at its worst, which was during the pandemic, so I searched online for answers, which varied from joining eczema support groups on Facebook, reading a multitude of medical articles, and even (slowly) posting about my skin on my business Instagram page.
I did see multiple dermatologists over this time, all of whom prescribed me the same treatment, which was triamcinolone (and it did more harm than good, as this causes topical steroid withdrawal). I also did multiple allergy patch tests (which was also a nightmare, considering I never had a clear/healthy area of skin to do the test, so we had to do it on top of my eczema, which flared it even more and intensified the pain).
After three years of searching for an answer, I finally came across one dermatologist who recommended Dupixent. None of my previous treatments had worked, so I became desperate and was willing to try anything.
As a trypanphobiac, it was difficult, but I agreed to get these biweekly injections in hope of relieving my eczema. After many instances of fainting and having the entire staff of nurses in my room when getting the first injections done, I did see a significant difference in my skin in just a couple months.
Fast-forward to today, and I have built up the tolerance to not feel lightheaded when getting the injection done, and even gained enough confidence to give the injections to myself. Dupixent was the clear choice as it made my skin 100% manageable.
In your opinion, what are some of the biggest misconceptions or stigmas surrounding eczema, and how can we work to break down these barriers and promote greater understanding and acceptance?
I think the first thing to understand is that eczema is one of the most common skin conditions in the world, which means you either have it yourself or know somebody that has it. With that being said, it would make sense for eczema to be contagious, but, thankfully, it is not.
Another misconception, or rather, something that may be overlooked, is the fact that eczema affects a person physically and mentally. I believe these misconceptions can be corrected by the same action: It’s important for those diagnosed with eczema to be open about their experience and spread awareness so people aren’t afraid or threatened by the condition.
Is there anything else you’d like to discuss?
I still get insecure when I have a flareup, but the thing that helps me overcome that insecurity is thinking my eczema is “cool” and something to be proud of. What I mean by that is how having a scar may make someone feel and look like a badass, or how working out your body to make your muscles more visible may make someone feel powerful and more confident in themselves.
I personally think stretch marks are so fascinating because they remind me of tiger stripes … they are like natural tattoos, and I think that is so beautiful. I like to think of my eczema in that same light. I feel that when my eczema is visible, it is kind of like a badge I wear. As I feel that advocating for people with eczema is one of my purposes in life, I walk confidently with eczema because I know that doing so not only heals me, but inspires others to be confident in their own skin.