When eczema gets you banned from driving a rideshare

AUGUST 23 — Imagine being plagued with a constant itch, to the point you often find yourself scratching yourself absentmindedly or even in your sleep.

Welcome to the life of someone with eczema. My friend has severe eczema to the point he scratches a lot and has scabs all over his body. While it looks unsightly, it isn’t actually contagious.

Just this week, however, one of his rideshare passengers (he’s currently a fulltime rideshare driver) reported him to the service and he was suspended just because his skin scared people.

There isn’t actually one kind of eczema — it’s the common name given to a group of conditions that can cause skin to become itchy and inflamed. While many people can manage the condition with the appropriate treatments, there are some who find living with it a struggle. 

Eczema can easily flare up without warning — triggers can include a change of diet, stress, a change in weather, exposure to allergens. 

What saddens me is that isn’t the first time my friend had his driver status revoked — it was the second time. Despite reinstating his account previously after explaining himself and presenting a doctor’s letter, said service suspended his account again this time without letting him explain himself.

When asked why he was even booted out of the system before being allowed to plead his case, he was informed it was to apparently to give his condition time to recover.

That is ridiculous. Eczema doesn’t just clear up on a whim. While people with mild eczema might get some symptom relief with topical creams and medications, people with severe eczema aren’t as lucky.

There is no magic cure for eczema; what might work for one person might not work for another. My friend also happens to be allergic to quite a few things including seafood and cat dander, which means he relies a lot on antihistamines. But antihistamines also suppress immune reactions, which brings about a whole host of reactions.

Believe me, my friend has tried pretty much anything and everything but his unique set of health issues (beside eczema) make things very hard. It’s very likely he’ll have to rely on medication for the rest of his life.

So before you instinctively jerk away from someone with what you might think is some communicable skin disease, perhaps ask. It could very well just be eczema, complications from allergies or just a bad rash. 

In the meantime my poor friend is going to lose his current livelihood just because a passenger couldn’t be bothered to ask why his skin was raw and peeling. Life is unfair like that but here’s hoping he gets his account back and people would exercise more compassion.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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