Ryan Murphy, an Olympic swimmer, Talks About Having Eczema
- Ryan Murphy, an Olympic swimmer, and Coco Ho, a renowned surfer, have opened up about their experiences with atopic dermatitis (AD).
- In the US, AD affects more than 9.6 million children and over 16.5 million adults.
- Even though the precise origin of AD is unknown, researchers have found a hereditary element and a link to immune system dysregulation.
Swimmers spend a lot of time with their skin exposed, and for Olympian Ryan Murphy, this means his atopic dermatitis (AD) frequently manifests.
When Murphy was a little child, AD was identified. According to the National Eczema Association, the disorder, which is the most prevalent type of eczema, affects more than 9.6 million children and around 16.5 million adults in the United States (NEA).
“Having eczema in a sport is kind of unusual. People frequently see my flesh because I participate in a sport that requires me to wear a Speedo, so I’m learning how to feel at ease when being questioned about what’s on my skin. Is it spreadable? Murphy spoke with Healthline.
It’s not infectious, just so you know.
Rashes and dry skin can flare up and get infected or burn when exposed to water as a result of the condition. Murphy frequently has flare-ups on every part of his body, including his neck, armpits, feet, legs, and knees.
His time as a swimmer will be more challenging because the sun, stress, sweat, sand, and seawater can cause skin sores.
qualified surfer Coco Ho is all too familiar with Murphy’s difficulties. When she was in her 20s, a burning, itchy patch appeared behind her ear, leading to a diagnosis of AD.
“At first, I merely dismissed it as a rash, possibly a stress-related rash that would go away, and I did so for a while…
I understood it was something lot more dangerous than a rash brought on by stress when it got worse and worse and burned when I went surfing and jumped into salt water, she told Healthline.
Both avid swimmers discovered therapies and techniques to manage their AD so they could keep swimming.
Murphy follows a well-thought-out method to maintain his mental fortitude and clarity while swimming despite his AD. His prevention strategy calls for using soft, non-irritating towels, hydrating his skin, washing after exposure to saltwater or chlorine, and sitting on a towel or blanket at the beach to avoid contact with sand.
He claimed that having a strategy made him feel “very comfortable and relieved some of the stress.”
Ho concentrates on reducing stress before competitions by surrounding herself with mellow individuals, such as her closest friends and coach.
I also try to enjoy things and not think about itching, she added, adding that being hydrated “helps calm my whole system quite quickly.”
Right before she enters the ocean, her AD can become inflamed, especially when she’s surfing in hot areas like Hawaii.
“I’ll hop in the water and have a burning sensation for a little bit and I’ll hit a wave and kind of forget about it. [It’s about] learning to make sure I’m treating it before events and keeping my system as cool and calm as I can,” said Ho.
Making a splash to raise awareness about eczema
Both Murphy and Ho collaborated with Dupixent for the “The Now Me: Beach Mode” campaign to increase awareness of AD. They want to eliminate the stigma associated with skin disorders, motivate people to feel confident in their own skin, and encourage people with skin conditions to seek medical care by sharing their personal experiences with AD.
Patients occasionally claim, “I’ve never worn short sleeves,” or “I’ve always worn long sleeves to hide my body,” when they enter the office. According to San Antonio dermatologist Dr. Annabelle Garcia, Healthline.
Patients with AD who suffer from severe itching and have deep scratches on their skin as well as those who have trouble falling asleep are treated by her.
Garcia said, “It’s vital to know that there are therapies and that we can typically keep eczema under control.
The Society for Pediatric Dermatology member Dr. Adnan Mir said that mental health may also be impacted by AD.
According to him, having a chronic itch, being sleep deprived, or developing eczema can make kids and parents anxious and negatively impact their academic performance and self-esteem. You should not overlook these issues, and your doctor and the local community can offer vital assistance.
Misconceptions about AD might also be clarified by a healthcare expert. Mir noted, for instance, that while some varieties of eczema are brought on by contact allergens, AD is innate to the skin.
“Your skin acts as a barrier that keeps what’s supposed to be inside (water) in, and what’s outside (potential allergens and irritants) out. When that barrier doesn’t function properly, the skin dries out through water loss, and irritants are allowed to contact the deeper layers of the skin resulting in inflammation,” he explained. “So, the chances are that your child isn’t really allergic to anything that’s causing the eczema — it’s just the nature of their skin.”
He recommended restoring the skin barrier with moisturizing creams and ointments and avoiding harsh soaps, products with fragrances, and hot baths.
Garcia reassured that AD is not related to hygiene. While scientists don’t know the exact cause, they have detected a genetic component and connection to immune system dysregulation.
“But it’s nothing the patient did wrong; it’s nothing that you’re causing. It’s just sensitivity in the skin and studies have shown that there’s different barrier issues on the skin of patients,” said Garcia.
Treatment for AD might include trigger management, medicated ointments, creams, lotions, biologics, phototherapy, as well as complementary and alternative options, according to the NEA.
Learning about the condition and treatment options is what Ho hopes for everyone living with AD. She also aims to make them feel less alone.
“It’s a small intricacy but in your body it’s the biggest thing ever…when I’m in my office, which is the salt water, and it’s burning and I’m trying to focus and compete at the highest level, if I knew 10 years ago, that a lot of other people or other athletes were dealing with this, I’d empathize or feel better about myself,” said Ho.
Murphy concurred. He wants to encourage people to accept their AD by speaking out.
“I feel like I’ve grown up with this special experience. I learnt to accept [AD] at a very young age, so it’s awesome to be a part of this campaign and maybe make everyone else do the same,” he said.