253: Eczema Expo 2022 Recap

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Did you know that there is a huge annual event just for people struggling with Eczema?

Yes!!! It’s called the Eczema Expo and the event is hosted by the National Eczema Association.

Due to my dad’s health declining and then the pandemic, I wasn’t able to attend in prior years, so this was my first time!

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the entire experience really was incredible. Many of you asked for a recap to see if this might be a good event for you next year.

Just in case you’re wondering – my review of the event is not associated with the hosting organization or the event. I paid for all expenses to travel and attend the event and was not compensated (nor incentivized) to share this information.

It’s my hope that this will answer many of your questions about the event, so let’s dive in!

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In this episode:

  • My experience attending the Eczema Expo for the first time
  • Talk highlights from my favorite talks presented at Expo
  • Activities + events that you can enjoy
  • Experience with the hotel hosting Expo
  • What I hope will improve next year
  • Will I attend again? (drumroll, please)


“This event that frankly was very “you do you” without any requirement to show up to anything to allow you the freedom to come and go as you pleased.”

“It seemed impossible to feel alone because you were immersed in this beautiful, welcoming, supportive community.”


Seattle Skyline

253: Eczema Expo 2022 Recap (FULL TRANSCRIPT)

Welcome back to episode #253 of the Healthy Skin Show!

In today’s episode, I want to share what my experience was like attending the Eczema Expo 2022 in Seattle, WA hosted by the National Eczema Association.

I received so many questions about the event and requests from my community to share what I got out of the event (as well as if you should go next year), that I figured I’d do a special podcast episode for you!

This was my first time attending the Eczema Expo so I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect!

I knew that I’d get to sit in on presentations, meet Instagram friends and colleagues for the first time in person (some of whom have been guests on the Healthy Skin Show), and be present to what seemed like a neat event for people of all ages dealing with eczema.

Well friends, “neat” isn’t a word I’d use for this event now that I’ve attended it.

Better words that come to mind would be – powerful, exciting, joyful, and a sense of belonging

I didn’t know before attending that I’d have the privilege to experience the beauty and joy of being with people who could show up and participate in activities without feeling judged. These are kids and adults who often feel like they can’t participate in life BECAUSE OF their skin.

Seeing them join in a relaxed fellowship with others just like them – eczema warriors of ALL AGES, parents, spouses, and a few practitioners who deeply understand the shared struggles, needs + goals – was just incredible (something I wish I had experienced when I had dyshidrotic eczema).

Everywhere I turned was a friendly soul happy to talk and share their experience.

I went to the event alone, but honestly, it seemed impossible to feel alone because you were immersed in this beautiful community with friends and family (albeit some of whom you just haven’t met yet).

Held at a lovely hotel that the National Eczema Association had well-prepped for guests to expect a fragrance-free environment with toiletries in the bathroom that were deemed “eczema friendly” and meals that could accommodate a myriad of allergies, I was welcomed to my room with a heavy bag of samples from Expo sponsors. You could later visit them down in the “exhibition area”, which was a mix of pharmaceutical companies, conventional skincare companies and other more “alternative” companies like Gladskin, Skinesa, and SkinFix.

I could clearly go on and on about this, but for the sake of time, I’m going to run through some of the highlights from the Expo as well as my hopes for the future!


Woman with itchy skin

My Two Favorite Presentations from Eczema Expo 2022

If you were to ask me what was my favorite course that I attended at Expo – I’d have to say that by far it was from Dr. Ian Myles, MD, MPH called “Eczema + the Microbiome”.

He presented research about the Microbiome (both topical and a bit on the gut), research that he’s conducting on different strains of commensal skin bacteria, chemical exposures and how they impact eczema (especially important if you live in an area prone to wildfires), and how products applied topically interact with the skin’s microbiome.

Here’s a clip from his presentation that I shared on Instagram:

I’ve already been in touch with Dr. Myles about coming on the Healthy Skin Show and he has accepted, so stay tuned!

The second talk that I really enjoyed was from Dr. Shawn Kwatra, MD called “Understanding Itch” where he broke down many different mechanisms that can drive itch.

This presentation spanned several triggers for itchiness – some I’m familiar with and others that were new to me.

One big point he wanted to make is that most itchiness IS NOT histamine related (which I have realized from my clinical practice and working with clients).

He also stressed his concern for long-term antihistamine use due to concerns about how they impact the brain and could potentially contribute to dementia (which I’ll have a guest here on the show in the coming months diving deeper into).

And yes, Dr. Kwatra has agreed to sit down with me on the show and talk through this information on itch with you all, so stay tuned!

There were other really great talks with lots of science presented; workshops focused on emotional wellbeing, relationships and practical strategies to navigate life with eczema; movement + meditation classes; activities like attending a Mariners baseball game + the big Saturday evening dance party; and a camp for the kids available as well.


Woman putting on topical steroid cream

News About TSW from Eczema Expo 2022

It was really great to see ITSAN.org represented at the Expo AND finally meet Kathy Tullos (recurrent guest on the show – her episodes are here) and Kelly Barta (author of the recent book To Eczema, with Love: Eczema, Topical Steroid Withdrawal, and a Life Beyond).

Two sessions were hosted on Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW) (that I saw on the schedule). I was able to attend the one hosted by Kathy Tullos and Dr. Peter Lio presenting on what TSW is and how it can present.

A few important points to come out of this session that I know you’ll want to know about include:

  1. The FDA is in the process of reaching out and interviewing doctors who do and do not believe in TSW. They had contacted Dr. Peter Lio who stated that he had a lengthy conversation with them about his experience working with TSW patients.
  2. Dr. Peter Lio believes that TSW should actually be called “Topical Steroid Withdrawal Syndrome” because of how different everyone’s experience actually is. Some journeys last months while others last years. The withdrawal from the drug itself would not take years which is why calling it a syndrome would help it make more sense to other clinicians + to do research as to why there are such huge differences in time for healing.
  3. Dr. Lio announced that he is undertaking an effort to create diagnostic criteria for TSW in the US with the help of other physicians at the conference. Both Dr. Olivia Friedman and myself spoke with Dr. Lio about the list of current symptoms + concerns that we see in practice that could be helpful.


Empty conference room at Eczema conference

My Hopes For The Eczema Expo 2023

If you’re curious if I’ll attend another Eczema Expo, the answer is absolutely! I plan to be there next year (and would love to meet you!).

It was definitely a worthwhile experience and something that’s truly a unicorn – no other event exists like this for people dealing with other skin issues at this time.

My ultimate hope is that the National Eczema Association continues to honor its promise to the community – and will offer a broader selection of alternative options available to those struggling with eczema in the future.

Right now, the 2022 schedule was quite focused on pharmaceutical approaches. Dr. Olivia Friedman (who has been on the Healthy Skin Show) who practices Traditional Chinese Medicine and works solely with herbs was sort of the lone “integrative” speaker.

They had a single class on nutrition hosted by Rakhi Roy, RD (who’s also been on the Healthy Skin Show). It was certainly helpful for those at the beginning of their journey, but Rakhi simply didn’t have the time to address bigger concerns faced when someone gets frustrated with the conventional approach and starts using diet to help. Another class on navigating different diets, avoiding nutrient deficiencies, and other helpful diet-based strategies would have been really helpful.

(psst… I’m happy to help out on this front if you’re interested – wink wink)

Alternative approaches are gaining popularity (especially when paired with conventional approaches). Some are helpful, while others can cause major unintended health issues when someone isn’t aware of certain pitfalls that might not seem obvious.

Offering additional content from vetted integrative speakers is a win-win.

Not only supports eczema warriors no matter where they are on their journey, but also could inspire collaboration between doctors and practitioners at the Expo who get to watch each other’s presentations.

So if you’re wondering if you should attend the Expo next year – I encourage you to attend.

The Eczema Expo offers a virtual pass if in-person attendance is (for whatever reason) impossible, AND there are scholarships available for financial support.

And if you do attend in person, make sure to bring some fun clothing to dress up however you like for Saturday night’s fun dance party. One of the weekend's biggest highlights was watching attendees (from young kids all the way up to elders) dancing and celebrating together on the dance floor.

If you’ve got any questions or thoughts to about your experience to share about the Eczema Expo, leave a comment below so I can address them.

And please share this recap with someone you know (even if they didn’t know this even exists) knowing that these thoughts are ENTIRELY my own. I don’t currently have any relationship with the National Eczema Association and paid to travel to and attend the event entirely myself.

I hope my experience is helpful to hear because this event that frankly was very “you do you” without any requirement to show up to anything to allow you the freedom to come and go as you pleased.

And check out my entire highlight of the event on my Instagram page HERE!

Thank you so much for tuning in, and I look forward to seeing you in the next episode!

“This event that frankly was very “you do you” without any requirement to show up to anything to allow you the freedom to come and go as you pleased.”