Alumna Dameshia Edwards uses pharmacy expertise to create natural eczema products
When her son was 10 months old, Dameshia Edwards ’07 knew something was wrong.
“His skin was so itchy that he would inadvertently make himself bleed,” Edwards said, adding that his pediatrician would prescribe eczema creams that not only had unfortunate long-term side effects, they were also uncomfortable. “In addition to having an itchy baby, he was now always greasy too."
Edwards knew something had to change — and her PharmD from the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences eventually helped her solve the problem.
A few years prior, following high school graduation, Edwards knew she wanted to attend college but wasn’t sure which subject to pursue. To buy herself some time, she joined the U.S. Air Force. Edwards was stationed near Seattle and spent lots of time traveling the world. Her best friend, who worked on base in the pharmacy, knew Edwards was interested in attending college and had a hunch she might really enjoy pharmacy. Once she returned home, Edwards did not let the fact that she was a first-generation college student deter her. She took prerequisite classes at Oakland Community College until she was accepted into EACPHS.
Edwards says the program was very challenging and that she had to learn how to master the material. “I spent long hours at the library with my study group,” Edwards said. Thanks to her hard work and the dedicated care of the EACPHS faculty, Edwards passed her board exam with flying colors.
Because Edwards was passionate about combining her degree with her experience in the Air Force, she pursued a job at the John D. Dingell Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Detroit, eager to serve those with whom she could easily relate. Now she works specifically with patients on anticoagulant medication and is the one clinical pharmacist responsible for reporting drug side effects to the FDA each week.
Edwards loves working with patients, saying, “The veterans are sometimes confused about what their medication is doing, so I get to sit with them and explain their medication, which eventually leads us into sharing stories of our time in the armed forces.”
It was during her early years at the VA Medical Center that Edwards noticed her son’s red, itchy skin. Armed with her pharmaceutical knowledge and unhappy with how prescribed medications were affecting her baby, Edwards set out to create a lotion that was natural, soothing and didn’t have long-term negative effects. She found that natural herbs, oils and butters settled her son’s skin irritations better and more safely than other products she had tried, and named the resulting product line Eartha’s Natural after her late grandmother.
As Edwards talked about her products with friends and family, she discovered a promising market niche. The business started slowly, but Edwards recently won a Kickstart Award through TechTown Detroit, which has been a game changer. She used some of the funds to revamp the marketing for Eartha’s Natural, with plans to get the line off the ground this year.
Edwards said, “I feel fortunate to have found a way to combine parenting with pharmacy in a way that will help others.”