Nine-year-old tells of bullying because of eczema

Eczema can cause psychological damage.
Eczema can cause psychological damage.

Nomonde wears the scars of eczema on her face but the nine-year-old girl carries invisible scars from being bullied because of her skin condition.

Because of discrimination against people with eczema, children like Nomonde end up losing confidence. To make matters worse, many parents are misinformed about this condition and use traditional medicines, which further irritate and damage the skin and cause visible scars.

Cause remains unknown 

Nomonde, from Ermelo, says that because of her eczema children don’t want to play with her. “I am called hurtful names which make me no longer want to attend school,” she said.

The specific cause of this skin condition remains unknown but it is believed to develop due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

A tearful Nomonde told us that she can’t have pets or play in the sand like other children because that can cause her eczema to flare up.

An ordinary day at school is filled with possible triggers that can aggravate eczema symptoms – from carpets to outdoor activities to schoolwork itself. Nomonde’s mother Carol said, “My daughter and her siblings were born with eczema but we only found out she was bullied last year, when she was in Grade 3. She was struggling. Thank God, a GP in Ermelo informed us about a dermatologist in Witbank. We immediately took our kids for further tests and got medication. Since then there has been a huge improvement in my children’s skin, and Nomonde’s self-esteem has grown daily.”

She added that before going to the dermatologist they used all kinds of treatment – such as traditional medicines from sangomas, aqueous cream, bath lotion – but nothing worked.

Dealing with the urge to scratch is a way of life for people with eczema. Scratching damages the skin barrier more and slows down the healing process.

Carol said parents whose children have eczema should consult a dermatologist as soon as possible. “Get your child's eczema under control and don’t let eczema be the focus of your child’s identity,” she said.

Misconceptions about eczema include:

  • That it’s caused by witchcrafts;
  • That it can be treated only with traditional medicine
  • That it can be contracted via touch

Foods that may trigger an eczema flare-up include:

  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Gluten or wheat
  • Soy
  • Spices such as vanilla, cloves and cinnamon
  • Tomatoes
  • Some types of nuts
  • Citrus fruits

Tips to help soothe itching:

  • Wear cotton clothes
  • Keep moist – dry skin itches more
  • Smack it or rub but don’t scratch it
  • Keep busy, distracted, and hands occupied
  • Use ice packs wrapped in a cotton cloth or a damp washcloth to soothe the itch
  • Use thermal spring water sprays – it cools the skin and has healing properties
  • Keep your nails short. – Health-e News

Image credit: iStock

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