​The Stigma of Eczema in the News

​The Stigma of Eczema in the News

Jennie Lyon

The Stigma of Eczema in the News

For most people, eczema is a painful and frustrating condition. You can have a flare up at any time resulting in painful, red, itchy skin. Thankfully, it is usually mild enough or in an innocuous enough place that it doesn’t raise the suspicions or interest of the average person. Sadly, this is not true for all of us. For people who have severe, visible eczema, there can be a major stigma from people who don’t have an understanding of the condition. This can especially be a problem when traveling.

In the last few years, there have been a rash of stories about people being kicked off planes for many different and unfair reasons. From their weight, to their skin color, to their religion, these stories always enrage the average person as to the insensitivity of the airline staff and their lack of understanding. 

Recently, this happened to one Canadian woman who was in the middle of a major eczema flare up.

Last week, Emily Loh, who was booked on a flight from Barcelona to Paris, faced this situation. When she arrived at the gate to board the plane, she was greeted with distrust and a total lack of respect. Once the agent at the gate saw the red and damaged skin on her arms and hands, she apparently expressed a mix of disgust and suspicion. Upon being asked, Emily explained that she suffered from eczema, but it wasn’t contagious or a danger/annoyance to anyone but her. Instead of accepting this explanation, the agent suggested that Emily should be required to carry a doctor’s note confirming that it is safe for her to fly with other passengers. Emily was forced to wait at the desk as the agent called for her supervisor. In front of all of the other boarding passengers, the supervisor told her that this screening was to “ensure the safety of the other passengers.” Emily had just about enough of this treatment at this point, asking if someone with acne or another visible skin conditions would be treated this way. She was eventually allowed to board the plane, but received no apology from either the supervisor or agent about their behavior.Emily later received an apology from the airline, telling her that they would be investigating this matter further.

This kind of scrutiny is well known to eczema suffers and especially parents of eczema kids. They might be confronted with similar “concerns” from teachers or school officials about the health of the child and if there is any danger to other kids in that child's class. Children with eczema can certainly be attacked and bullied by their peers for the appearance of a flare up, sometimes with the response from teachers being minimal. This kind of behavior from all people in positions of authority must stop. Eczema is a well known, extremely common condition and its sufferers should absolutely not be treated any differently from anyone else.

If confronted with this kind of unfair singling out, it is best to keep your cool and try to explain the situation as best you can to the person. If the scrutiny continues, ask for that person’s supervisor or boss and explain the situation again. Without becoming visibly upset, make sure that they know how you feel and exactly what the condition is. In situations such as these, the best possible result is to make sure that this kind of treatment never happens to anyone with eczema in that establishment or business again.

Olivero, Simone. “Woman Nearly Refused Entry on Flight Due to Visible Eczema.”https://www.yahoo.com/beauty/woman-nearly-refused-entry-on-flight-due-to-visible-eczema-161221863.html . Yahoo Beauty. 09 June 2016. Web. 16 June 2016.

Image: https://pixabay.com/en/aircraft-manchester-jet-fly-994943/