Meet Meade Lent

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Name: Meade Lent

Age: 32

Occupation: Nurse Practitioner 

Location: Ogdensburg, NY

Skin Condition: Ichthyosis

I feel like people with skin conditions often have a one-line explanation that they use to explain their skin to others. Tell us yours. 

I have a genetic skin condition that causes my skin to be red and dry. Not sunburnt, not contagious.

What are you up to in life right now? 

I just graduated with my Family Nurse Practitioner degree. I will be start work in our local ER at the end of August.

Nursing is a really public job, and you're in close physical contact with patients.  How do you handle taking care of your skin during your work day? Are there extra precautions you need to take for your own health and safety?

No extra precautions are needed. My hands do get dry with the frequent washing and hand sanitizer but I keep small travel size lotions on me at all times and just apply when needed. 

You're from a small, rural town in northern New York. What was it like growing up with a visible skin condition in your community?

Growing up I didn't have any issues. I went to a small school where everyone knew me and accepted my skin condition. Most of my friends and family would just say that that's how I was and since I had always had it they didn't even really notice a difference. Often times when we would travel or take vacations that is when people would stare and make the rude "sunburn" comments. I have just grown up with it so I am used to it and most of the time ignore people. 

So we live near each other, and, fun story, we actually met at wing night at your hometown bar, where we discovered we'd both been to Camp Discovery (one of the American Academy of Dermatology's summer camps for kids with skin conditions) at the same time back in the early 2000s. For me, going to camp was really formative and emotionally nourishing, and I'm curious what you got from that experience.

I loved going to camp! I cherish the friendships that I made and still keep in touch with many of the friends I made. I always looked forward to going to camp because it was the one place I could go in the summer and wear shorts and not have people staring at me or asking about my "sunburn." I also enjoyed seeing other kids that were like me so that I knew I was not the only one living with a skin condition. 

So I'm starting to ask people about dating and relationships, because I think it can be a little scary to open up to others when you have a visible skin condition. Tell me about your husband. How did you meet, and how did he come to understand your skin? 

I met my husband 10 years ago while working and living in Albany. We talked back and forth for a while and then went on a couple of dates. He thought at first I was burned in fire but that was all. He has always been very helpful with my skin regimen, making sure I have my lotion and helping apply lotion to my back because I can’t reach it. He also makes sure that I do not overheat in the summer and he realizes that we will probably never vacation in the summer because of the heat! We take winter vacations to warmer places and always find a pool, the beach or shade. I am very lucky! 

I also thank my parents. I am so fortunate that they raised me to be independent. They never let my ichthyosis hold me back. They always let me go and do what I wanted and never sheltered me. I always applied my own lotions and creams, I was allowed to participate in sports and go on vacations with others. The only thing they held me back from and at the time I did not understand was summer marching band. In retro I realize that it would be way too hot and because I do not sweat I would have overheated and dropped within minutes. They did that for my safety and now I understand. I am fortunate that they did not treat my skin condition as a disability, it is just who I am and what I do. For that I am so grateful! 

Where can we keep up with you?
Facebook or email.

Sarah Harris