255: Never Let Eczema Define You (A Personal Journey) w/ Abby Cramond

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If you've ever dealt with a skin rash like eczema, you know the itch and the feeling of embarrassment or anger perhaps. Now imagine being the center of attention as a pageant queen being partially judged on how you look and carry yourself.

Today's guest had to figure out how to navigate her journey with eczema all while competing in pageant after pageant.

Abby Cramond is a junior at Louisiana State University majoring in Digital Advertising and minoring in Textiles Apparel and Merchandising. She is a digital creator and entrepreneur who manages multiple businesses' media pages and the owner of her own jewelry boutique. Abby wants to share her journey with eczema, not only to spread awareness, but to make others feel comfortable in their own skin and that they are not alone.

Join us as we chat about her very personal, inspirational journey with eczema, all while being in the spotlight.

Have you struggled with finding the true cause of your skin condition but finally found peace or found help in some way? Let me know in the comments!

Or, listen on your favorite app: iTunes (Apple Podcasts) | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn | Subscribe on Android

In this episode:

  • Abby's eczema journey
  • Various medications Abby tried with her doctor
  • Her personal advice to get through the mental anguish
  • The ONE thing that has worked so far in helping her eczema
  • How Abby's standard of “what is beauty” has changed


“…It's not the fact that you have eczema and then you just put the thing (on) they give you and it goes away. It's this never-ending process of finding out what product works best for you and what truly kills a problem at the core.” [1:16]

“After the steroids, we were like, ‘I can't be using cream anymore. There has to be another option.' So we went to the dermatologist and they're like, ‘All right, we have this thing called Dupixent,' and listed, gave the whole rundown of it all. And I was like, I'm so desperate, I do not care what I need to do. So I gave it a shot, and it's the only thing that has worked for me so far.” [14:04]


Follow Abby on Instagram| TikTokTwitter

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255: Never Let Eczema Define You (A Personal Journey) w/ Abby Cramond FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jennifer Fugo: Abby, it is such a pleasure to have you here on this show. Thank you for joining us today.

Abby Cramond: Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited.

Jennifer: So why don't you start off by sharing with the audience when did you first get eczema, have eczema, experience it? When did it show up in your life?

Abby: So I've never had skin problems ever. So-

Jennifer: Wow.

Abby: … when this first came about, it was three years ago, whenever I started college, and it was the fall of 2019. And it just started in little red, flaky patches, very small, nothing to be concerned about really. My family just thought it was something I was allergic to in the dorm rooms. And so we just kind of blew it off at first, but it just started progressing, and it wasn't going away. I took allergy pills, put whatever creams we had on at the time for it. And nothing worked, and it started becoming concerning and just started growing, and we're like, “Okay, what the heck's the problem here?”

Abby: Went to multiple dermatologists and doctors, and each one was like, “Yep, this is eczema.” And we're like, “Okay, well, now, what do we do about it?” And that's where the entire journey began because it's not the fact that you have eczema and then you just put the thing they give you and it goes away. It's this never-ending process of finding out what product works best for you and what truly kills a problem at the core. And just recently, we figure that out.

Jennifer: Yeah. So to give everybody a little bit more context, you're a college student, number one, as you already shared, but you're also competing in pageants, putting you very much in front of the camera, in front of people. And to some degree, I imagine, pageants are also about your physical appearance, and I'm sure that eczema probably was not a part of your plan and may have changed… I don't know. Did it change how you felt about yourself?

Abby: So the mental journey along with it is big, big, big part too. And yeah, putting myself in the public eye to be judged and critiqued on how I look, that is tough. It was really, really hard, but that's what pageants is all about, and that can be a whole nother conversation in itself. But kind of with competing in pageantry, you have this story and you have this platform that you want to share with others, and for me, I didn't know what my story was. I really never had anything super, super traumatic happened in my life. So I was just kind of lost with it. And this was during whenever I had eczema too. So I wasn't even making that connection. It wasn't until after the fact, I was like, wow, this is my journey. This is my story to share and help others with.

Abby: So as far as competing and whenever it's pageant season, my eczema knows it's pageant season. So it just likes to come up in the worst forms then. And there's really nothing you can do with it, because people ask what's the best self-tanner or makeup to use. And honestly, even if you use eczema-friendly makeup products, you really can't because it's the texture of what eczema is, and you can't really get around that.

Abby: So having to cover that up competing, it takes away the color from it, but I mean, I guess on stage, the stage lights, it's far away enough where you can't see, but up close and in photos and stuff, it doesn't look the best, but that's where editing apps come in handy. But I've now learned to not do that and to just post what it looks like, because everybody has something on them, eczema, psoriasis, whatever it may be. Everybody struggles with some insecurity on their skin, and who am I to pretend that I'm perfect and to pretend that I don't have anything like that.

Jennifer: Wow. So this has really changed, in a sense, from what I'm hearing, your idea of what beauty even is, because I can imagine… So I was sharing with you before we started that I had had eczema in the palms of my hands. And so that's obviously not my face, and some people might say, “Oh, well, that's even better because you can put gloves on.” Well, you can only wear gloves to a certain point, everyone, because after a certain point, people are like, “Why are you wearing gloves? It's 90 degrees out.”

Jennifer: But the other thing is that people eventually would get to a place where they didn't want to touch me. They felt that I was infected. They didn't want to shake my hand. And shaking hands is a form of greeting one another, at least in our culture. And so it hurt my sense of confidence and feeling like I had… I won't even show up in any public space. I wanted to almost become a hermit and disappear.

Jennifer: And so was there a point in this journey where you just… You have to compete. You have these things. Like you were saying, this is part of you and your journey and your life. You do this whole pageant thing, which I've never experienced personally, but I can imagine is extremely stressful in and of itself. And then you have this thing with your health that pops up for you, it seems like, out of nowhere.

Jennifer: And going through this process, how do you deal with that mental part of realizing that your health and your skin and your body might be doing something else, you have these plans, and then also, too, that you've got to be very public with all of this? How do you mentally deal with that? Keeping in mind that everybody listening to this show, regardless of what you have going on, a lot of times, you feel a sense of embarrassment and shame and other negative or not positive senses of who you are as a result of what's going on. How have you learned to cope with that?

Abby: Yeah. So that, still figuring the perfect fix for that now, but whenever my eczema was really bad, it was whenever COVID hit, strangely enough. So I was lucky enough, we weren't doing too many public things or being out in public a whole lot.

Abby: So whenever school started back up, I had to put myself back out there. And we were wearing a mask. So I liked it. I liked wearing the mask because it hid majority of my skin problems, and I wore a lot of long sleeve clothes, and like you said, I hermit it up. I didn't want to leave. I didn't want to post on social media. And if I did, I heavily edited everything, and I can say that now.

Abby: So as far as what I do mentally whenever I was at that state and advice I can give, it's just knowing that you are not alone and that you are not different. You are not weird. You're not some disgusting creature that you may think you are, because at the end of the day, it is so normal. Like I was saying earlier, everybody has something that they don't like, that they're insecure about, that they may feel gross about, but at the same time, we, as humans, are not to judge others and shouldn't be so quick to just make those assumptions, like, “Oh, let me not shake her hand. What's that on her hand?”, because you know enough, and we know enough that if it was something contagious, we wouldn't put anybody else in that situation. So we know it's safe. We know we're not harming anybody else, and then shows up to others to accept and just be kind humans, because we are all going through something.

Jennifer: Yeah. I agree with you a hundred percent on that. We all are going through something. And how many times do you see online there's that meme like, you never know what somebody else's journey is behind the scenes or something, to some effect like that? But I wanted to ask you too, this is a relatively recent thing for you, about the last, you said, three years, more or less. What kind of things, if you don't mind sharing, have you tried in the process of trying to figure out what was causing eczema for you?

Abby: Yeah. And to be completely honest, we don't know the true cause of it. I do have pretty sensitive skin and high allergies anyway. So we never know whatever's happening at that moment. But stress, strangely enough. I guess not strangely enough, because stress is very impactful in our bodies. So I find whenever midterms are coming up or something heavy is happening in my life, it tends to have its flare-ups.

Abby: As far as just what happens around the house or outside, it's I don't know. I've got allergy tests done, and I'm allergic to different metals and the pollen and cat and stuff like that. But it was never a specific answer, like don't do this, so you can have clear skin. Food, too, is also something I found. I'm not allergic to any food, but I found that red meat, peas and corn, I want to say it was, I needed to avoid, and going gluten-free may have also helped. So I tried that though. I was definitely not super, super strict about it, but I didn't feel or see a difference. It didn't really affect me in any way. So I didn't think it was food, but I do know gluten has a lot of effects on people.

Jennifer: And so in terms of with the doctors, did you try steroid creams and antihistamines and all that stuff? I know that not everybody may know where you are because you did have a very… You had a reel. For those of you who are listening to this, kind of “Reel? What the heck is a real?” It's basically a video that showed up on some social media platforms, like Instagram, and possibly, I imagine, you probably put it on TikTok as well, Abby, basically just documenting your journey in a very quick frame-by-frame fashion to explain how you got from point A to point B, which was you ended up on giving Dupixent a try.

Jennifer: So can you just share with everybody what was the journey like medication-wise for you? And again, we're not, in any way, shape or form, suggesting that this is the right way for everybody. This is just Abby's journey. I just thought this would be interesting for some of you guys to hear, especially if you don't necessarily know anybody else who has eczema and you feel really alone about this.

Abby: Yeah. And so yeah, whatever products, it's what's worked for me. So don't… Talk to your doctor and dermatologist before trying something new.

Abby: So we started off on steroid creams, had a lot of those. I was like, “This one's not working,” so she boosted it up, and it was a heavier steroid cream.

Abby: I started off on steroid medication and different variations of it, up the dosage. And I was giving the warning, like, okay, this is a steroid. This is pretty much just awful to put on your skin, but this is what helps eczema. So I'm all like, ugh, I don't want to damage my skin to help something else. I don't know. I just didn't want to do whatever about it. But I was at a point where I just did not care. I did not care if I had to shed my skin off and just put a whole nother thing on because it was very bad at the time. So steroid creams after steroid creams. I have a whole little baggy next to my nightstand that's just my medicine bag. But as time went on, I was like, okay, these creams aren't doing anything. I forget the names of them, but I know triamcinolone is a main one that I used. And it does help, but it-

Jennifer: Where did you have eczema? Was it just on your face? Was it on arms? Do you mind sharing with everybody? Where did eczema show up for you?

Abby: Yeah. So it started neck, in my eyelid area. And eventually, it was mainly all over my face, neck, ears, chest. And then it grew to patches on my stomach. The inside of my arms was a big one too. I had patches on the top of my hands, but never in my fingers, which I'm grateful for because I'm sure that is really awful. Behind my knees and around my thighs too. So it was just everywhere, mainly face though, and face is what I keep talking about because I was the most prominent, and that's what I show to people.

Abby: Yeah. So after putting that, and putting steroid medicine on your face is not good for your face either, so I was very hesitant about that. So after the steroids, we were like, “I can't be using cream anymore. There has to be another option.” So we went to the dermatologist and they're like, “All right, we have this thing called Dupixent,” and listed, gave the whole rundown of it all. And I was like, I'm so desperate, I do not care what I need to do. So I gave it a shot, and it's the only thing that has worked for me so far.

Jennifer: That's great. And so do you have any more symptoms of eczema now that you're on Dupixent, or has it seemed to have pretty much got you back to a place where you essentially don't have eczema as long as you're on Dupixent?

Abby: Yeah. I mean, as far as the journey is so far, and I've only been on it for about maybe nine-ish months now, it's kept everything at bay. And maybe at times, it's a little, little itchy red spot, but it'll go away the next day type thing.

Jennifer: How was it when you shared that video of yourself very publicly? I don't know if you expected all of these people to see it and to share it and to start tagging other people. I mean, I was blown away by how many people had tagged me in it and sent me your video and were like, “You need to talk to her. You need to get in touch with her.” And I was like, “Okay. Oh my goodness.” How was that for you to have this very personal journey, which I'm sure, again, most of us who have gone through this, there is a certain level of you're traumatized by rashes, there's this whole piece of losing your sense of self-confidence? How was that having this go really viral?

Abby: It's completely insane. Never in my life, you think whatever you post will make it big one day. But I originally made it because I was competing in my Louisiana, USA, the big state pageant that following week. So I posted it with the intent of kind of prepping for the pageant, getting my [inaudible 00:16:02] there for that, and it got a lot of attention very quickly. And before even… I was even debating posting it because I wanted to make it, and yeah, putting myself in that vulnerable position, I'm like, oh, don't know how it's going to be received. And I typed up a whole thing under it. I sent it to my friends and family. I was like, “Hey, can you proofread this for me? Make sure it's right. Does this sound good? Should I change something?” And I kept watching it over and over and over again, just like, I don't know if I should post this or not.

Abby: And one day, I was just like, you know what, when I was at that point, I wish I had saw a video or I wish I had saw somebody share their story. So I'm like, if it doesn't do well, I can just archive it and I'll be on my day. And I shared it, blew up, entirely grew my following enormously. My DMs were so filled with people asking questions and asking for more details and asking for what I did, and I had to just make a video and just do stuff and post more information on my story because there's no way I could have responded to everybody because it was just so overwhelming and just overloading with comments and questions. And for all that, I'm so thankful because I definitely would be a person that would reach out to whoever would've posted a video and ask for more detail. And I'm glad you reached out as well, so I can share more about it too.

Jennifer: Yeah. I remember as you're talking about this, I'm remembering there's one specific episode on the Healthy Skin Show that I shared about skin picking, which, believe it or not, is pretty common for people who have skin rashes, because you start to… I don't know if it's consciously or subconsciously. I'm not a psychologist or psychiatrist by any stretch of imagination. So there's that. But a lot of people start picking at their rashes and at the wounds and things that can… And I don't know why some people will say it's a compulsion. Other people will say that it's the result of the stress that you undergo. And I was so nervous to share this episode because I do struggle with that, and I have for a long time, even beyond having eczema, and I was so afraid.

Jennifer: And do you know, when it got released, I, it was so weird, but was literally crying because I'm like, I feel like I'm sharing this part of myself that I don't know that I necessarily wanted to put out there, but I got, like you, the most kind DMs and messages and emails from people, thanking them or thanking me for sharing that what they were going through was not weird, was not crazy, that they really weren't alone and that it helped them recognize what was actually happening. They had no idea.

Jennifer: And so I think this goes to the point that, as a community, when we share our stories, there's so much power in that to connect each other together and to make those who feel so alone and so, like you said, you feel like you're a weirdo and crazy and all of these awful things that you think about yourself, and maybe even that you've had some people say about you, that you're actually not those things. And I just want to appreciate you for sharing your journey about this because it's not easy. It's certainly not. And I don't know what your journey has ahead of it down the road, but I'm excited to see what you're able to bring to the community as well, because you are doing something that's very public and you have this great platform now to be able to help other people out there who are feeling really alone. So I just think that's a truly wonderful thing.

Jennifer: Any final words of encouragement or just something that you wish someone had said to you earlier on in your journey that you would love to share with somebody sitting there listening to this being like, “Wait, what? Somebody who's in a pageant, who does all these things, she has eczema like me. She's going through something so similar,” do you have any words to share with them that they might be able to sit with and help them on their way?

Abby: Yeah. So it's much easier said than done to take advice whenever you're at your lowest with it, but you just have to remember that this doesn't define who you are. This doesn't define your beauty and your standards of yourself, that you are much more than just your skin. You are much more than just the shell that you are given. And so regardless of whatever you struggle through, there will be a solution. There is a way out. There is a light at the end of the tunnel for you. And you're not alone. You're in this journey with millions of other people. That's why shows like this and different accounts are, and blogs are a thing because a lot of people struggle through it. And do not be afraid to reach out or message somebody or do your own research, call the dermatologist, doctor at any given time, because it's much more common than you think. And just don't beat yourself up too hard about it because you will get through it.

Jennifer: And don't give up on your dreams. You're not Abby. You're not by any stretch… It doesn't sound like this is slowing you down. You're just going to keep on doing what you have in your mind for what your life is going to look like, and that's really powerful.

Abby: Yes. And I'm just doing my best out here, and like I said, I can't let it define who I am or get in the way of my journey.

Jennifer: Well, thank you so much for sharing your story. It'll be so great to be able to follow you as you continue. I certainly plan to stay up to date on what you have going on, and I really appreciate you coming on the show to share your journey with everyone here. And thank you. Thank you so much. I really appreciate you.

Abby: Thank you. This has been such an honor. This was so fun. I'm glad I finally got to talk to you, and I will be keeping up with you as well. And hopefully, I can come on the show again.

...It's not the fact that you have eczema and then you just put the thing (on) they give you and it goes away. It's this never-ending process of finding out what product works best for you and what truly kills a problem at the core.