By Rose Thayer

Killeen Daily Herald

The National Eczema Association estimates that eczema affects about 30 million Americans, and I am no longer ashamed to admit that I am one of them.

Essentially, this annoying dermatological problem is characterized by red, itchy patches of skin that sometimes blister and peel.

Sounds manageable until the blistering and peeling part, right? More than anything, I would describe my eczema as annoying and just one more reason I have to sit in the doctor's office waiting room for an hour. But, there was a point in my life when I let it control my confidence and my wardrobe.

If you haven't dealt with eczema, I know you are thinking, "What's the big deal with a little itchy skin?"

But if you've been diagnosed with it, or its evil cousin, psoriasis, then you know just how frustrating it can be.

My eczema first reared its ugly red self during those already awkward high school years. Located on my right shin, the angry red flakiness was just obvious enough that I would catch people staring at it while I was in my cheerleading uniform.

During the dance classes I taught after school, the baby ballerinas were not shy to ask, "What's wrong with your leg?"

I even made certain to get a prom dress with a slit exposing only my good leg.

At that time it was diagnosed as psoriasis, and I received a prescription that worked for me.

But the chronic dry skin came back in college, and this time the cream didn't work, so my doctor decided in must be eczema instead.

Again, I found relief, but now it is back and has spawned a new patch near my ankle. My new doctor eventually gave me the right medicine. Relief is on its way.

Luckily, I can continue to wear my cute skirts while hiding the embarrassing red spots with knee-high boots.

My eczema does not affect my life as drastically as I've seen it affect others. Some people's eczema attacks their face, ears or arms, but mine can be easily tucked away when I'm feeling self-conscious about it.

Now that I'm older, the massage therapist is really the only person left who cringes and cowers from the red patches on my shin, inquiring about the situation as politely as possible.

Eczema is not contagious; it just looks gross and flaky.

The best way I've learned to deal with stares and questions is to wear my flaky, dry skin with pride. If you show no fear or concern, people won't doubt you. They'll be too afraid to be caught staring or to ask what's up with your skin.

And if that fails, well, there's still about month or so of boot season left.

Contact Rose L. Thayer at or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

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