People With Eczema Should Not Have Biological Children
I had recently learned about the severity of eczema that afflicted one of my friends in Ireland. He had been heavily reliant on steroids and had told me that at one point in the winter, he could not even put his arms out straight. Eczema had significantly lowered his quality of life and had prevented him from going outside, obtaining education, or getting employment. He was unable to even use his photo online due to the rash that he had on his face.
Upon learning this, I gained great sympathy for him and completely understood the struggles he was facing. About a decade earlier I was in a similar dilemma. My skin was often extremely dry and cracked, to the point where I was in constant pain and bled often. During summers I found some reprieve, but winters were excessively harsh and I often developed depression and suicidal ideations.
Doctors treatments had often not worked. They prescribed steroids that would only make the problem worse, or pharmaceutical moisturizers which gave discomfort and didn’t address the underlying condition. It wasn’t until I moved to California and experienced constant sunlight that my condition improved dramatically. Eating a vegan diet, and recently cutting out all processed foods have benefitted me immensely as well.
There are often some heavy genetic links for eczema. My father’s side of the family had long had individuals who were afflicted by the disease. Yet, many of them had continued to have children. In society at large, this problem is prevalent all around, with people having children regardless of what conditions they face. The right and compassionate thing to do is to abstain from having children if we have genetic conditions. It is wrong to purposefully pass these things to a child.
There were some stories I remember reading that resonated well with me and demonstrated the potential consequences of having children that would inherit issues.
A 33-year-old mother and her eight-year-old daughter were discovered dead in their apartment yesterday in an apparent murder-suicide over the child’s dermatitis. The mother apparently choked her daughter to death before hanging herself in her bedroom.
According to local police, the mother regretted applying a steroid ointment to her daughter which worsened the rashes which had affected her since the age of three. The mother believed the daughter then contracted Cushing’s syndrome, a metabolic disorder that can be caused by excessive use of steroids.
In this story, the mother was quoted as something that I truly understood:
She is suffering this way because I gave birth to her.
The mother knew that her daughter’s condition was because of her choice to bring her into the world, and I believe that she took the right actions as a result. Unlike many who would let their child continue to suffer, the mother made the compassionate choice of euthanizing her child. Her choice to sacrifice herself was also valid because many wouldn’t understand the decision. They would have imprisoned her for making the right choices.
A former nursing student murdered her parents before killing herself on Father’s Day, according to Hong Kong police, who suggested her skin condition may have motivated the attack.
An initial police report found that the 23-year-old had attacked her parents, inflicting fatal wounds to her father’s chest, and her mother’s chest, waist and legs.
Their bodies were found by police after a relative called authorities, telling them that no one had answered the door at the apartment in Tuen Mun, a residential neighborhood of Hong Kong.
A 30-centimeter knife, which was suspected to have been used in the attack, was recovered at the scene, police said.
Before the woman committed the murder, she had posted the following on an online forum:
“People with eczema giving birth to kids are worse than poor people giving birth to kids. If you’re poor, you can rely on your own hard work. With eczema, sorry, you have to suffer (your whole life) with no change.”
While murder is not something that I advocate, I can understand this woman’s frustrations. She was likely in constant pain from her condition, and the topical steroids that she applied likely contributed to her deteriorating function. The use of topical steroids not only exacerbates skin issues, but can cause a rise in anger and violent tendencies. Likely, she could not bear the pain anymore, and broke down in rage.
What this instance showcases is that things like this would be far better prevented in the early stages. The woman in this story had likely suffered for decades already, before leading to the death of her and her parents. If children with eczema are prevented from being born in the first place, society would not have to cope with the fallout of these tragic events.
Those are two notable stories in individuals who have eczema. But there are many of them living silently inside, unseen, because they cannot venture into the outside world. According to the National Eczema Association:
One in 10 individuals will develop eczema during their lifetime, with prevalence peaking in early childhood.
This is a significant amount of people afflicted with the issue. The degree of the condition can vary significantly, but generally will lead to a lower quality of life. The reported burdens of the disease were listed in the same article.
A recent study of adults with moderate to severe AD found that 70.5% reported severe, unbearable itch in the past two weeks, 85.8% reported daily itch, and 62.8% reported itching at least 12 hours per day. 22
Reasons People With Eczema Shouldn’t Have Children
Eczema has hereditary components, and although treatable, can lead to an overall worse quality of life. It is therefore best for individuals with this disease to abstain from having biological children in order to prevent their children from going through the same suffering.
As someone who has lived through the disease a decade ago, I will explain some possible issues children with this disease could face.
Overall Lower Quality of Life
At the start of 10th grade, I was finally beginning to enjoy life after a long period of turmoil. I had a great quality of friends and school had become less stressful. The first semester proceeded nicely and I felt fulfillment in the path I was on.
However, during the winter, my skin condition began to deteriorate. As I returned to school, I was no longer able to enjoy things in the same way. From the outside it likely seemed that I was just lazy or distant from others, because the pain often just made me want to isolate and not do anything.
Arguments with Parents
Most parents and children alike were not equipped to deal with situations like eczema at the time. There were often arguments on what to do which just made the stress worse in a time where I really needed to be alone to myself. As a result, I developed chronic stress over time which exacerbated the issue even worse. I often felt I couldn’t be at peace and was being rushed by my parents or the school system when I needed that time to think and heal.
I now know that eczema can be linked to what we consume and our stress levels. However, if a person has a child with eczema, they may not be concerned with adopting better health for their child, or even if they know, their child may live a lifestyle that could continue to exacerbate it, eating unhealthy processed foods or consuming pharmaceuticals to treat it. This could likely lead to additional tension as families debate how to treat the disease. With the information that most currently receive, they would only be likely to make the issue worse.
Lack of Care by Doctors
My distrust in the medical system built early on, when I had first had faith in doctors, but lost it when all they would do is prescribe topical steroids. These only helped in the very short term, but just made long term problems worse. I would additionally be prescribed a variety of creams that did nothing to solve the underlying problem, often only exacerbating it. One doctor did show me light treatments which helped in the cold Texas winters, but other than that most did very little to actually look into the root cause of the disease.
My parents often pushed me to follow the advice of doctors, but if I did I would have likely reached the point where I committed suicide. It was only through methods like getting adequate sunlight and eating healthily that made me feel much better.
Resentment from Living Conditions
As I struggled with eczema, I often began to ponder on why humans would purposefully choose to live places where it could get so cold in the winter. I knew that my family could easily get a job in California or Florida and I felt that they were making it unnecessarily hard to actually make the move to one of these places. Not only that, but long periods without sunlight often just made me more depressed, in combination with the constant pain I was already feeling.
However there are some families that may have less financial means and indeed not be able to move. Many with eczema struggle just to manage to support themselves while coping with the effects of the disease, let alone being able to raise a child while doing so.
As I continued to get older while having eczema, I was constantly pushed to schooling and working when these were the last things on my mind. I was often in extreme pain and simply thinking about if life was worth continuing at that point, but yet I had to cope with additional responsibilities that I didn’t want at the time.
I often just began to feel that I was a problem for myself and others and during this time I just wanted to be left alone but it wasn’t a possibility. This led to me concluding that it may be better if I had just disappeared, and as a result I thought about suicide very often in my teen years.
Life Can Improve, But Biological Children Should Still Not Be Had
Since moving to California with ample sunlight and consuming a whole foods plant based diet, my eczema has improved significantly and I have been able to enjoy life. I have been fulfilled in the things I am doing and I love to write and share ideas with others. I believe that it is important to help others with eczema to be able to heal in this way, but it is necessary to not bring any new children into the world to experience the suffering that I went through earlier on.
Looking back, I really went through a lot of pain, and I believe that even a fraction of that is too much for a child to have to deal with. Furthermore, not everyone will be able to access what they need to make changes. People may be stuck in cold climates, or lack healthy eating options. Some hereditary eczema may also be too severe, and even with all the proper changes made someone could still live a significantly lower quality of life.
There are just really no reasons to bring a child into this world to potentially have to deal with this disease. I have been often told that it’s not a big issue or that the child may be free of the disease, which is a mindset which I find to be very dangerous. The real problem with this mindset is that it often comes from people who really deal with a lot of stress daily, yet they still promote the unrealistic view of having children as a positive benefit. Having children is something that needs extremely deep consideration, and it is wrong to take the chance of having a child which may develop eczema.
Instead of having a child, we can instead improve the lives of people that are currently living with eczema. Currently, many are placed on topical steroids and left to die without being told the reality of what they can do for their condition. I believe that light treatments, whole foods based diets, and new monoclonal antibody therapies like Dupixent can put people on the right path towards healing.
The Right Choice
The most compassionate thing we can do while living with this disease, is prevent it from passing to more unwilling people in the future.
Before I learned that my friend in Ireland had the condition to the degree of severity that he did, I was often pushing self-improvement onto him. I questioned why he played video games for so many hours daily when he envisioned more in life, and I told him he could achieve his goals if he focused on finding a career and becoming independent.
After realizing the severity of the eczema that he struggled with, I gained a lot of sympathy for him and I completely understood why he lived the way that he did. I no longer found fault in him for spending a lot of time playing video games, because I knew it would be almost impossible for him to do most other activities. It is likely he could get some type of online job doing software development, which I discussed with him and he also thought may be worth looking into. But for now, I let him move at his own pace now and haven’t pushed him to do anything, knowing the daily pain he must cope with.
I understand that many with this disease don’t really have a choice. They may want to work or go to school but it may just not be an option. It’s really a tragedy that due to circumstances like these, many are prevented from living the life that they want to live.
However, I do think there is one responsibility that those of us with eczema have. Regardless of the severity that any of us deals with on a day to day basis, it is important for us to not have children. It’s a beautiful thing to know that we can put an end to future suffering by not continuing the path down our family tree. Many believe that the propagation of genetics means to leave a legacy, but the ending of genetic lines can leave one that is even better.