When a child has eczema, it impacts their whole family. We spoke to 14-year-old Maxine Moriaki and her dad, Tomo Moriwaki, about their family’s eczema journey.
We loved spending time with these two. They’re part of a smart, quirky, curious family—and managing Maxine’s eczema has been a learning experience for everyone.
Maxine, tell us about your skin.
Maxine: I’ve had eczema since I was a baby. It showed up pretty early, when I was like 6 months old. It was pretty tough. I was always having trouble sleeping, having trouble paying attention. And overall kids don’t have a lot of self control, so a lot of scratching.
Tomo, what was it like for you as a parent to learn how to care for Maxine’s eczema?
Tomo: It was scary. It was clear that the medical system didn’t quite understand how to solve it. We tried so many things. One year’s solution would start becoming something that would go out of use, and then the doctor would be pushing us to adopt certain new solutions. There were a number of times along the way where there was this feeling of ‘we don’t know how to fix it.’ So then we’d have to move into this mode of just mitigating the problem.
Those really tough moments drove us down a path of taking more responsibility, more care and control, and spending a lot more time to understand at least what is known. So that we were less reliant [on] and [had less] faith in the existing solutions and [took] more of an active role in it.
Maxine, your eczema is more mild now than it was when you were younger. What has that been like?
Maxine: The way that I viewed the world completely changed. I could sleep, I was more focused. I could experience a lot of things that I wasn’t able to before because it took up so much of my life. It’s made me reflect on how my eczema did affect me in lots of tangible ways that I didn’t really understand because it was all I knew.
It’s definitely shaped me a lot as a person. Going through some things that are a little bit painful–it’s helped me look at others in a more empathetic way and try and understand the things that other people go through a bit more. Now that I’ve had a bit more of a shift to mild eczema and been able to experience life through that, it’s helped me accept there were things that I went through.
What advice do you both have to children and families who are managing eczema together?
Maxine: It takes a lot and you have to try a lot of things. There are things that work and things that help and you just kind of have to get there.
Tomo: I’d say take it very seriously. It’s very important to be ready for the long haul. You can’t panic about it, it’s something you just chip away at.