At the age of 14, NUS student Bei Ning began suffering from eczema. It was an intrusive and long lasting itch that, basically changed her life. Compared to how she felt before she had it, she felt constantly more uncomfortable and anxious than before.
“I wasn’t sure how to really cope with it,” she reflects. “At the time, I had really bad flare ups, like the bottom half of my face, and then also at the back of my thighs. The skin would be really cracked and raw. And at that time, my parents still weren’t sure how to help me.”
“We saw a lot of doctors,” she remembers wryly, “and all just said, ‘try not to scratch’. Which anyone who has suffered from eczema will know, is not very helpful and not really something you can control!” She feels people forget how eczema can be a mental challenge as well. I just remember holding it all in for the week when I’m in school, and then on Friday, I would always cry and breakdown, because it’s also very mentally taxing.” And so as part of her course in Industrial Design, she decided to see how design could solve this problem.
“When I was doing my final project, I was given a chance to do anything I wanted. And I decided on this.” Suddenly her experience of suffering, became an advantage. “I really could relate to the people I was interviewing during the primary research I was doing. At the same time, I also understood the medical side of things, so I could try to figure out a middle ground.” Bei Ning spoke to a lot of people, many of whom related to the “don’t scratch” advice. “We know the advice is backed by science, and doctors strongly advise it. But the reality is not so simple.”