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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Collinson

A brief overview of my life with AD

I was born with Atopic Dermatitis, my Mum says one of my first words was itchy or “ishy”. It is a condition which is all encompassing, not just in the way it affects your entire body but the way it affects you emotionally, psychologically, socially and in just about every way you can imagine. 

I’ve always been incredibly fortunate to have the support network that I do and I don’t know whether I’d still be here without them. Growing up my parents tried anything and everything and they’ve always said there was never a clear path and good advice was hard to come by. Once they’d exhausted everything that the NHS had to offer, out of desperation they even tried alternative medicine. If you can name a treatment/diet/lifestyle change that has shown any evidence to improve AD I’m sure at some point I’ve tried it; from every topical cream, to steroids, immunosuppressants, chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture, air purifiers, dehumidifiers, vegan diet, keto diet, carnivore diet and on and on.

When I was very young I of course knew I had a condition but I was fortunate to have a high level of self-confidence, a result of loving parents and a tight knit extended family. However the older I got the more regularly I was told I was different and my self-confidence was gradually washed away. I had to work very hard at school (often unsuccessfully) to not become a target. That feeling of walking the school halls and anticipating the next cruel comment which would come from anywhere and everywhere is something that has stayed with me even today.

Navigating the NHS was always hard work and it never felt like the severity and urgency of the situation was truly grasped. After years of seeing a certain dermatologist who essentially told me there was nothing more that could be done I went back to my GP and got referred to Guys and St Thomas in London where they told me that we were at the tip of the iceberg of things we could try. After a long journey with immunosuppressants and biologics I am still searching for the treatment which will keep me sustainable control my symptoms long term.

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