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New drug transforms Northern Ireland girl's life after years of eczema agony

Pioneering treatment makes remarkable difference, says mum

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Agony: Miya Galloway, from Ballynahinch

Agony: Miya Galloway, from Ballynahinch

One of Miya's eczema flare-ups in earlier years

One of Miya's eczema flare-ups in earlier years

Agony: Miya Galloway, from Ballynahinch

The family of a schoolgirl from Co Down have spoken out about her lifelong struggle with a debilitating skin condition.

Miya Galloway (12) from Ballynahinch was diagnosed with a severe form of eczema when she was just four-months-old.

Far from just being an issue with her complexion, it caused serious discomfort on her entire body requiring the constant use of medication, specialised clothes and gloves.

Hospital treatments had limited success leaving her prone to distressing scratching attacks at night as well as having to cope with feelings of embarrassment among her peers.

Now at Ballynahinch High School and having played for Cooke Rugby Club in Belfast, a new medication on trial in Northern Ireland has radically improved her quality of life.

Miya's mum Lindsay (34) told the Belfast Telegraph about her daughter's experience and encouraged other families to reach out for support.

She recalled the agonising early years when there was no "miracle cure" to be found despite multiple trips to the dermatology department in the Royal Children's Hospital, Belfast.

"Miya was becoming more and more upset. She couldn't sleep and you couldn't get her into a normal routine," she said.

"She was waking up during the night and scratching, she was inflamed and her joints were very sore with inflammation as well."

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One of Miya's eczema flare-ups in earlier years

One of Miya's eczema flare-ups in earlier years

One of Miya's eczema flare-ups in earlier years

In school Miya would often have to wear medical gloves to prevent infections which could lead to bullying.

"She started becoming more self aware that things were different. Especially in PE class, other children wouldn't hold her hand. They would ask 'what's wrong with your fingers,' so she'd often would come home upset," her mum added.

After multiple treatments like increasingly strong steroids failed to get results, hope came with a new injectable medication (dupilumab) used in Scotland.

Although not yet approved in Northern Ireland, the family were able to put in an application on Miya's 12th birthday.

"When she finally got passed for the treatment she actually cried because she was so happy. She just had it in her head that this was going to be a miracle treatment as there had been so many great reports about it."

Progress was slow at first, but Lindsay said the treatment has now made "a remarkable difference" to her skin.

"I noticed her moods were very up and down at the start, and she would get into a very low place when she was still having flare ups or when things weren't looking as perfect as she hoped.

"Now that it has settled it's like her wee spirit is coming back again, just that thing I always wanted for her."

Today marks World Atopic Eczema Day, a campaign to increase understanding of the treatments available.

The charity Eczema Outreach Support is also celebrating a £500,000 grant from the National Lottery Community to roll out their activities across the UK.

For further information visit www.eos.org.uk

Belfast Telegraph