The story of the ScratchMeNot. Interview with founder Andrea Thomas

Today, we have the opportunity to learn more about the story behind the ScratchMeNot products.  Founder Andrea Thomas shares her story dealing with her children’s eczema and how that inspired her to develop the ScratchMeNot Flip Mitten Sleeve.

Can you share your story as an eczema mom?

My story may sound familiar, yet it was very new to me at the time! I was a first time mom that wanted to know everything about everything about being a mom! I wanted to do everything right. Ha! When my daughter was born, something innate happened. I knew I’d do anything for her. When her eczema crept in overnight around age 2 months, I became her advocate. From doctors visits to research & intuition, I did everything I could to fight her eczema. In the meantime, my husband and I, dealt with this seemingly uncontrollable scratching that kept getting in the way of any progress we made. We couldn’t get a handle on it. I had never seen anyone scratch with such intensity, especially a baby.
 
How did you get started with ScratchMeNot?
During her extra scratching moments, that was all I could focus on. I couldn’t take time to research the way I wanted, doctors were leading me to steroids and I was VERY sleep deprived from co-sleeping day & night with a scratching baby. I knew I couldn’t continue at this rate, I needed to find a solution to bridge the gap. I designed the ScratchMeNot to do just that! They bridge the gap to stop scratching fingers from damaging delicate skin so parents can focus on stopping the skin from itching. I also knew I wanted my daughter to have plenty of hands free moments for her to interact with the world. All of these thoughts, plus dreaming of sleeping again, helped me create the first ScratchMeNot.
 
Tell us about your new product, the FlipMittenBody.
I’m so excited! Our Flip Mitten Sleeves are amazing on their own, as kids can wear them with just about anything. Yet, the Flip Mitten Body is an all-in-one scratching solution for babies, toddlers and older children that need extra protection. They’re also extra easy for caretakers to flip the mittens closed during scratching moments. Plus they go up to age 4T which is uncommon for onesies.
 
Have you connected with other eczema parents who have used your products?  Can you share some success stories they have relayed to you?
 
We have so much feedback from parents who have found success using ScratchMeNots for their little ones. You can read (and see) what parents think on our storyboard! I’m currently working with a family who’s children battle eczema daily. The youngest daughter has the most intense case of it. They were using socks, however their daughter rubbed & scratched through the socks causing some intense skin trauma. Sometimes, the socks would get stuck to her wounds. Today, ScratchMeNots are helping her so much, here’s a quote from her mom:
Her skin is at least 75% healed and we not used a single oral medication or prescription cream on her since we started using the ScratchMeNots. No one can believe the difference, and asks if we finally found a medication that works. Haha! I tell everyone about your company and show everyone her pretty sleeves and tell them we don’t use meds on her anymore. I’m so glad she is happy to wear them and doesn’t have to wear socks on her hands all the time anymore that would stick and hurt her. Plus, she could still scratch with those.”
Whenever I get feedback like this, it really inspires & propels me forward to help families in need of a scratching solution & hopefully provide them with information on how to start healing eczema from the inside out!

Interview with National Eczema Association CEO, Julie Block

NEA logoToday we feature an interview with Julie Block, President and CEO of the National Eczema Association (NEA). Over the past 5 years, Julie has been leading NEA’s mission to support and educate patients, and promote scientific progress in the fight against eczema.

The National Eczema Association (NEA) is the premier patient-oriented eczema association in the United States. Can you share with us how NEA started?

Originally the organization was called the National Eczema Association for Science & Education (NEASE) and was formed in 1988 in Portland Oregon. Dr. Jon Hanifin, a preeminent dermatologist and eczema researcher, knew that his patients battling this chronic condition needed more support and information. He, along with Nurse Practitioner Susan Tofte and patient Irene Crosby started a patient support group, and the rest is history as they say. The association moved its headquarters to California in the early 2000’s, and has been on a solid trajectory providing eczema education, support and funding research, ever since.

What is the mission of the NEA?

NEA improves the health and quality of life for individuals with eczema through research, support, and education.

How did you become President and CEO of the NEA? 

I have devoted my career to non-profit leadership and am privileged to serve NEA now.

How have you seen NEA grow over the past 5 years as leader of the NEA?

NEA continues to educate and support more and more eczema sufferers and their loved ones each year. As well, we have funded close to $500,000 in eczema research. One of the biggest changes has been communication through social media channels, as you can imagine. NEA has increasingly engaged in advocacy efforts – for example, ensuring access to phototherapy, and for increased federal research funding to NIH. Our outreach to physicians has been ongoing during this time to provide eczema resources that improve their patients lives.

Support, awareness and education are very important for patients and families with eczema. What is the biggest piece of advice you have for our readers without eczema in how they can support patients and families with eczema?

Great question! Don’t tell anyone “Stop Scratching”…its near impossible and just makes the person with eczema feel bad.

How can readers get involved with the NEA locally or nationally?

Your readers can get involved in a host of ways: participate in a local Itching for a Cure Walk! Create a team, fundraise, and join the entire eczema community across the nation in either a virtual walk or the national walk being conducted that year. We always are in need of magazine article submissions, and website content that is personal. Start a local support group with an eczema patient and or caregivers – its easy! Clinicians and researchers will have an increasing opportunity to get involved in NEA advocacy to improve eczema care and assure access and affordability. Stay tuned.

Over the years, NEA’s support of scientific research has been critical for advancing our understanding and treatment of eczema. Can you share some of the most exciting findings of these projects that NEA has supported?

Two specific NEA seed funding projects come to mind. First, Dr. Eric Simpson of OHSU studied eczema prevention in high risk infants. This research grant was parlayed into an international effort to study the same, and was awarded NIH funding. Secondly, Dr. Gil Yosipovitch received two research grants from NEA on itch, specifically Pruritus in Atopic Dermatitis using Arterial Spin Labeling Functional MRI and The Effect of Visual Stimuli on Itch Perception Intensity in Healthy and Atopic Dermatitis Patients. These projects too led to NIH research grant funding and have contributed greatly to the body of research knowledge on the underserved study of itch.

So much work remains to be done in eczema. What exciting projects is the NEA currently supporting and what endeavors will NEA be undertaking in the coming years?

Now, for the first time in decades, there is a healthy pipeline of new eczema drugs in development, including the first biologic drug for eczema. All this development will bring profound change for eczema atients. It will also bring misconceptions and bewilderment as patients, payers, medical practices, government and medical academia all scramble to understand eczema’s changing healthcare landscape as it retains to their respective needs. NEA wlll soon launch a Roadmap to Advocacy to usher in this Decade of Eczema. The roadmap is a blueprint for change, a vision that will propel NEA into a leadership role in this new era of transformative care.