(I’m still stretched and stressed by medical paperwork and still not able to spend much time with the site.  So, here is a post from my draft archive…)

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  I receive many wonderful words of thanks, but relatively few pictures.  Or I should say, I receive a lot of offers to send pictures – only to hear later almost as many epiphanies of how eczema changed parents’ lives without their realizing it.  It happened to me, too, in the same way.

A friend – whose baby’s eczema is entirely related to detergent exposure – recently gave me a “before” photo of her son with terrible baby eczema.  I have some beautiful “after” photos that I took myself.  I am wondering whether to post them on my blog – the “before” photos are so fuzzy.  And my friend says they were only taken after they had already started removing detergents and the eczema was 90% better. Typical story.  

In the past, when people wrote to tell me their stories of dramatic transformations, I often asked if they were willing to share photos.  People were very generous, offering to go through their photos to find good “before” and “after” comparisons.

In my own case, looking for those photos was an eye opening experience.  Until I needed photos for the newsletter articles, I hadn’t realized how much our picture taking habits had changed:  after the eczema became severe, we took far fewer pictures.  We took photos from a distance, or of a “good” side when the eczema waned.  We don’t have any photos showing the eczema at its worst, not one. 

That story played out over and over again when parents contacted me and offered to look for photos.  Like me, these parents did not realize how their picture taking had been affected by trying to work around the eczema.  So many times parents got back to me – often with sheepish apologies – only to report in wonder that in fact they didn’t have any good “before” close ups of the eczema at its worst.

So, if people have photos and offer them, that’s great and it helps for other parents to see them.  There are a few on the “Letters” page of Solveeczema.org, and a few more in my files that I’ll get around to posting someday.  But I almost never ask for them anymore.

If you are just starting the process described on the Solveeczema website, it’s a good idea to take a few photos of the eczema at its worst.  If detergents are the problem, when the eczema is cleared up, old photos help explain the choices you continue to make to protect your child.  

As much as parents may forget altering way they take photographs of their child with eczema, they also seem to frequently forget how bad things were once everything is cleared up.  There is nothing like old photos to remind yourself of what you did for your child, and just how much better things are when the eczema is cleared up.  This comparison, too, seems a perennial, wonderful surprise – like a cosmic pat on the back.