I was diagnosed with eczema at 6. Began a small patch on my arm, within months it progressed all over the body, requiring high-dose oral steroids. I was the primary school boy kids distanced away from. My urine smelled like antibiotics. My clothes smelled like pus. I rarely had a good night's sleep without waking up to scratch. It turns out eczema is an extremely common disease in where I grew up, Hong Kong.
I moved to Adelaide, South Australia, for middle school. Everyone claimed that a dryer climate like in Australia helped eczema - that my skin should be gone, and that as I aged I'd 'grow out of it'. My hopes were CRUSHED when I arrived. There was no improvement, if not worse off. I scratched like CRAZY during the scorching summer heat. My steroid life continued. At this point, my family had entirely given up on my lost cause.
All the doctors, no matter how many years of prestigious training and shiny credentials, FAILED to solve my tormenting disease.
In 2010, I moved to Shanghai for high school. In the land of Chinese medicine, my hopes were once again briefly activated. Three years of bitter herbal medicine SEEMED to help a bit, but never truly lasted.
By 2013, through mindless Googling for treatments, I discovered the concept of treating eczema inside out, addressing my unique root causes. I stopped steroid medications, and started my topical steroid withdrawal (TSW) journey.
My skin exploded in rashes, elephant skin, flaking piles of dead skin every day. I developed suicidal ideations. Life is not fair, it never was. I don't even know how to swim because of my skin.
School kept me busy - and I miraculously pulled through it. By summer, my skin was eczema-free. I stopped my last batch of steroids after a decade.
Since 2013, I’ve decided to make my life about helping people with eczema - talks, writing, coaching. It led me to pursue nutrition in university.
In 2020, I met many more similar courageous eczema patients who overcame a significant recovery, and together with a team of healthcare professionals, we started WeDerm to help (we hope) all the eczema patients in the world.
I’ve had eczema since I was 4. Since primary school, my eczema was on and off. It was noticeable, scabs and scars on my arms and the back of my legs. I was always very self-conscious… especially in school uniform. Skirts!
Steroid creams and countless skincare products were my daily life. My desk was filled with products that were supposed to fix my condition. The only thing that worked was the tube of steroid cream. Yes it worked like magic. But whenever I stopped using it, the rashes came back worse, and I just slapped the cream back on again. Cycle repeats…
Because of my skin I felt like a flawed person, like there was something ‘wrong’ with me. This chip had always weighed me down in trying to be more confident.
I'm also generally an anxious person. In my final year of high school, piles of books and past exam papers, consistently sleeping <6 hours a night, my rashes broke out strong. Stronger steroids suppressed the crisis for me… perhaps it was worth it after all - I entered my target college major, studying pharmacy at the University of Hong Kong. How ironic - the study of medications!
As the new schooling environment came upon me, gotten myself into a poor sleeping schedule, back to class heavily caffeinated, eventually by second year of university, my eczema had exploded in an uncontrollable state.
I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety disorder, and severe eczema. It started with 14 day of medical leave from school, which later turned into what I feared most indicative about my capability to excel in academics - a gap year into my studies. I not only felt horrible with eczema, my streak of academic success since years of education shattered. My life had completely fell apart.
There was no way I could meet anyone. I was bedridden. It hurt so much even to move within the house. I lamented about my life through my social media feed. All my friends knew about my condition. People would ask ‘are you ok?’ but they would never truly understand the pain of eczema.
About three months into a bedridden state of life, barely stepping out of the house, having tried numerous creams, Chinese medicine, and taking painkillers, miraculously the wrath of my skin slowed down, the fire began to die… my skin gradually closed up and became less red.
I eventually recovered to a state of completely clear skin!
Reflection let me realize my eczema was caused significantly by myself - the way I ruminate and stress about things. I always wanted things to be perfect, my grades, my life, and eventually the body couldn’t take it anymore. All the stress I was constantly placing on myself.
A year later, fate called me to join hands with Harrison to pay it forward and help more people with eczema, especially beginners, to manage their skin, and prevent them from experiencing what we went through.