Video Project Puts Spotlight on Severe Eczema
Peter Moffat talks about his experience with eczema and making awareness and education accessible.
Executive producer and award-winning writer Peter Moffat gave millions of viewers a glimpse into the reality of living with severe eczema, or atopic dermatitis (AD), when he created the character John Stone (played by John Turturro) for the HBO crime drama The Night Of. In each episode, viewers saw Stone’s struggles, as he tried a variety of extreme remedies to alleviate the pain and itching from his AD—from Crisco to topical creams, UV light therapy, and exotic herbal teas. That part of the story is inspired by the personal experiences of Mr Moffat.
Now his new project, Understand AD: A Day in the Life, in partnership with Regeneron, Sanofi, and the National Eczema Association (NEA), takes the struggles with AD directly to the broader public through a short video to raise awareness and educate on the disease. The short video, written and narrated by Mr Moffat, is a documentary style experience that allows viewers to peek inside a day in the life of a person living with uncontrolled moderate to severe AD (Figure 1).
In an interview with The Dermatologist, Mr Moffat noted that the video aims to educate on the significant physical and psychological impact of the disease—from sleeplessness, to feelings of anxiety, depression, and isolation—and to drive empathy for this often-misunderstood disease.
Just like Stone in The Night Of, Mr Moffat said he often wears sandals even in winter when no one else is wearing them. “It is what works for me, it brings air around my feet,” he said, noting it also brings stares from people. “In the London Underground (the tube), parents look at me wearing sandals in winter, they look at my feet and then they move away. I think the parents of those kids move away for fear of me, they don’t want to catch what I have got. I wish the world would understand you can’t catch AD from anyone,” he said.
This shows how poorly educated people are about the condition. “Maybe they think it is contagious. In my worst imaginings, they think maybe I have leprosy. I want to make people understand what it is like to live with eczema. If something like this project works against isolation and depression that would be good. It can also help let people know they can find out how they can help themselves,” he said.
Lifetime of Experience
Mr Moffat has had severe AD for 50 years and was diagnosed at 5 years old. “When my mum and I went to the doctor he said, ‘you have infantile eczema and it will go away really soon,’” but it never did.
“There are no signs of it going away. I have still got it,” he said. While eczema can affect different parts of the body, it mainly affects his feet. “My feet can be a real mess. I kind of describe it as looking like a cross between corn flakes and puss. It is really ugly. I got to bed and my feet are itching, and then I scratch in the night, and then my skin flakes. I take off my socks and I shake the flakes out. It is a bit grim,” he said.
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