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My name is Jaemin Kung and I’m a twelve-year old boy with atopic dermatitis, or AD, a skin condition where if something irritates my skin, my immune system overreacts and causes an inflammation. This inflammation leads to an itchy rash. Being constantly itchy has caused many problems in my life that a kid without AD wouldn’t have.
Living with AD means that I have to do many treatments that are often painful and annoying. I have to take bleach baths, which are painful most of the time, put on wet pajamas that stick to me and are either freezing or too hot. I often can’t play outside when it’s too hot, as I would get sweaty and it causes me to be itchy. Because of this, I had to stop playing soccer, as it was too hot to play.
I know you are trying to help by making more medications and trying to find a cure, and I thank you and all the others for trying to help people like me to live a more normal life, do all the activities normal kids do, and spend less time on skin care.
Our son’s eczema has caused a cascade of suffering that’s been an everyday battle.
In almost all respects, Jaemin is a regular kid. He cracks jokes, loves pizza and ice cream, plays board games, and sometimes hits tennis balls over the fence. But behind the scenes: the daily routine of morning showers followed by lotion all over, and evening bleach baths followed by steroid creams, wet pajamas, and sleepless nights. He’s been commanded, bribed, cajoled, and begged to do his treatments; all of us are wrung out.
My wife and I both work full-time jobs so Jaemin’s skin flares are the household’s flares: everyone grumpy and tired, lashing out, disagreements on skin treatment between my wife and I turning into fights. When his skin is good, we go on bike rides, or have a game night, or watch a movie. The next household alert rests on his skin status, always lurking.
Now, Jaemin must carry a big burden as we slowly load more of his skin care onto him. We want to help him form great friendships and relationships, and the best way is to teach him to first ‘be comfortable in his own skin’. But how do we do that when it’s literally the hardest thing for him to do?
Thank you so much for all the work you and your colleagues are putting into finding treatments for eczema. We hope that Jaemin’s immune system can be calmed down and his body strengthened. And maybe one day he won’t have to tell anyone “it’s just dry skin”. Maybe, one day, he can just be comfortable in it.
Li Kung and Eunice Park
Sponsored by Pfizer
Dear Scientist, atopic dermatitis keeps me itching nonstop. Can you help me and my family find relief?
Twelve-year-old Jaemin Kung, from Arlington, has a condition that makes his skin break out severely, with no preventative treatments to fight it. Scientist Jean Beebe is searching for ways to make his life less burdensome, and way less itchy.
Dear scientist, Duchenne muscular dystrophy stole my ability to walk, but hasn’t slowed me down
Jake Marrazzo has a condition that’s wearing down his muscles. He’s also a spirited actor and advocate. When he meets researcher Jane Owens, their conversation teaches them how important each of them are in the fight to find new treatments.
Dear Scientist, I am a woman who’s lost her hair to alopecia. Can’t you help me grow my hair back?