Monkeypox exacerbated the stigma of skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis

The cashier with psoriasis received daily complaints from customers at work. A passenger with eczema was picked up from a flight and questioned by airline staff. A traveler with small, benign tumors on her body was filmed without her knowledge and checked out on social media.

They were all distinguished because people mistakenly believed they had monkeypox.

People with chronic skin conditions say they used to stare and questions about their appearance, but the harassment and stigma only got worse during the monkeypox outbreak around the world.

As a result, some people with skin differences say they started covering up with jackets and gloves, even in warm weather, or stopped going outside often.

This summer, 21-year-old Jacqueline Nguyen, who suffers from eczema, boarded a Spirit Airlines flight in Los Angeles, but shortly before takeoff, Nguyen was asked to leave the plane and questioned about her skin.

After Nguyen explained it was eczema, the airline requested proof of this. Nguyen was only allowed to return to the plane after producing a bottle of eczema cream. Nguyen described the experience as “embarrassing” and “a nightmare” and published it Videos on TikTok about the accident. Spirit Airlines did not respond to requests for comment.

“I was there in my skin that I wear every day and it was treated like a problem,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen now splits his hair differently to try to cover up eczema on the scalp and face, wears long sleeves to leave the house, or avoids going outside altogether during a flare-up.

appreciate 84 million According to the American Academy of Dermatology. Eczema, an inflammatory skin condition that can cause itchy patches of red, scaly, and sometimes oozing skin, and affects the following: 30 million people in the United States of America. Psoriasis, an autoimmune disease about 3 percent of the adult population in the United States and can create raised red, silvery and scaly patches With well-defined edges, especially on the elbows, knees and scalp.

By contrast, monkeypox tends to appear as pus-filled or fluid bumps and are often painful, says Esther Freeman, MD, a dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a member of the task force on monkeypox of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Psychologists say the pandemic has heightened medical anxiety in general, which may explain the additional screening of people with skin conditions. A recent national survey from the Public Policy Center Annenberg showed Nearly 1 in 5 Americans They were worried about getting monkeypox, but they didn’t understand much about it.

Health concerns can exacerbate prejudices toward those who look different, said Mark Schaller, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia. His research also found that there is a higher risk of infection associated with More biased attitudes To immigrants, the obese, and the elderly. It was also found that when people felt they were more likely to get sick, they reported having less contact with people with disabilities.

“In the past three years, the disease has been on people’s minds a lot because it’s been in the news a lot,” Schaller said. “When people are more anxious about illness, they express more prejudice against people with physical disabilities.”

Kate Riggle, 41, has psoriasis, and after an outbreak of monkeypox, she started getting daily complaints from clients at her job. She works at a deli in her hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota, where she helps prepare food and works as a cashier.

“Some people have complained that they don’t even want me to touch their money,” she said. “Even if the psoriasis is on my elbow.”

Lily Simon, 33, of Brooklyn, said she understands people’s uncertainty when they see bumps caused by neurofibromatosis 1, a genetic condition that causes benign tumors to grow on nerve endings and create tiny bumps all over the body. But she said, it doesn’t happen Justify rude behavior or abuse.

This summer, Simone was inadvertently photographed by a stranger on her way to work. The video was then posted on TikTok with a monkey emoji and a question mark. The video went viral, with many comments accusing Simon of catching monkeypox and spreading it.

When Simone saw the post a few days later, she was horrified. “My heart kind of stopped,” she said. “All those old feelings came out. The old feelings of feeling like I have to cover up.”

Simon quickly posted a file Reply video To raise awareness about her condition, explaining that she has been bullied about her skin in the past and that she has sought treatment to deal with it.

It’s not clear if people with skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema are more likely to get monkeypox if they come into contact with it. The chances of getting monkeypox from normal activities are still low, said Freeman, MD, a dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Freeman advises her patients to follow the same precautions as the general population: get vaccinated if they are in a high-risk group, avoid skin-to-skin contact with strangers and avoid contact with anyone with monkeypox.

What do you know about monkeypox symptoms, treatments, and prevention

Freeman emphasized that anyone in a group is at risk of developing monkeypox, too Condition that threatens the skin barrier should receive Jynneos . Vaccine, which is specifically approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for monkeypox. An older generation smallpox vaccine, ACAM2000, carries the risk of severe side effects for people with certain skin conditions.

A person with eczema who develops monkeypox may be at risk of developing a more serious disease because the disease can spread more easily from one area of ​​the body to another, said Erica Dumash, MD, a dermatologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

If someone has or does not have a chronic skin disease, Noticing something unusual on their skin, I encouraged them to consult a dermatologist.

As for those people who check and harass people with complexion Circumstances? She said: Leave the diagnosis to a specialist.

“There are a lot of other skin diseases out there in the world, and we shouldn’t just assume that everyone who looks different has monkeypox,” Dumach said.