It’s the last weeks of my sophomore year of college. The sun has come out and it’s basically summer time. I wake up to get ready for my morning classes. First line of business, checking the backs of legs. I examine my legs to see if my scars have cleared up, just enough, so they might go unnoticed. Sadly, I find even more scars than I had before. I had an eczema breakout that night and scratched my legs in my sleep. I look at the olive green skirt I planned to wear for the day, and threw it back in the closet. It was another warm day of wearing leggings and a sweater to cover up my eczema.
That was about two years ago when my eczema was at its worst. And my confidence regarding eczema was at it’s lowest. That summer eczema stopped me from more than just wearing cute clothes. It stopped me from swimming, hiking, and having a good time at all.
Having a noticeable skin issue like eczema, acne, or psoriasis can make you want to hide. Besides being painful and uncomfortable, it can also hurt your confidence.
I’ve had eczema for most of my life. The red rash and bloody scars that appear on the backs of my legs, throughout my arms, and on my face make me self conscious. I’d like to share my story and how I’ve dealt with eczema because I know it’s a struggle many people deal with.
What is Eczema?
There are multiple types of skin conditions that fall under the definition of eczema. The most common is atopic dermatitis. It can be caused by a range of conditions that affect the immune system and result in the inflammation of the skin. Common symptoms are dry skin, itchy rashes, redness, and sores. They can be triggered from certain foods or household items. It can also be triggered by environmental causes, such as pollen or smoke.
About 31.6 million people in the U.S. suffer from some type of eczema. That’s about 10% of the population. Most people develop eczema at a young age. Some eventually grow out of it, and others continue to deal with it throughout adulthood.
I have had eczema since I was a child, and it has continued to bother me. Even now, as a 21-year-old, I still have to deal with it. It can be extremely painful at times. The itchy feeling is irresistible, so I scratch my skin and I am left with scars and redness all over my body.
My scared up arms and legs leave me feeling embarrassed. I tend to wonder what people will think when they see them. This insecurity has made me limit myself. Instead of dressing the way I want, I’ll wear things that’ll easily cover up my arms or legs. I have been afraid that people will be grossed out by my skin. They may think it’s weird that I have so many scars from scratching myself. The conclusions they might come to about my red and scratched up skin are terrifying.
Earlier this year, I had eczema on my eyelids. It left them dry and red. People around me would comment on how sickly or tired they thought I looked. There was no way to hide eczema once it was on my face. I tried to combat it by carrying eczema lotions and natural creams anywhere I went. I would run to the bathroom between classes and meetings to freshen up the skin on my eyelids.
Whether eczema was on my body or my face, I felt like I couldn’t escape it. Eczema determined how I would dress, the activities I’d do, and how I’d feel about myself. I was constantly trying to fix my eczema or make it unnoticeable. Living this way did not make me happy, and it kept me from reaching my full potential.
Dealing with eczema
There is currently no cure for eczema, but there are ways to deal with the painful symptoms. Personally, I have gone to multiple doctors, tried different creams and lotions, and eliminated certain foods from my diet.
It is important to talk with a doctor about how to deal with eczema and look for remedies. But, looking for the perfect solution shouldn’t take over your life. I missed out on so much because I was waiting until my skin cleared up before I did them. It’s hard to be confident. I know it’s better said than done because I still struggle to feel confident with my skin.
My personal advice would be to accept that you have eczema, and it is for the most part out of your control. It is a medical condition that many other people deal with it. You are not weird for having a medical condition. And there is no reason someone should judge you for having eczema.
Being confident is hard. Some days you’re still going to want to hide, but I hope you will be able to fight this feeling. It is a continuous struggle. I am still pushing myself to not let eczema control how I live. And when I am able to, it is extremely liberating.
If there is one thing I hope you will get from this article, it is that you are not alone! I hope that my story will show you that you’re not the only one dealing with this issue. I hope you can find strength in that.