Feeling Comfortable in My Own Skin (Even With Eczema)
You got exma?
When I was a lot younger, I had the weirdest bumps on my body. They itched, I scratched, they spread. At times I was covered with it. On my stomach, the back of my legs, my arms— everywhere imaginable. My parents were pretty concerned and didn't know what was wrong with me.
"It could be ringworm..." most adults would whisper to my parents, giving that look.
Eventually I was diagnosed. The doctor took what appeared to be a mini bear trap. He scraped my skin. Took samples.
"Ek-zem-uh?" I'd sound out incredulously. "How do I make it go away?"
That became the question of the century, as my parents and I set out on a journey to find a cream that works. We tried so many. So many old wives cures, so many, "Miracle eczema cream! Only $59.99!" None of them worked, some of them made it worse.
At some point in that time, I discovered my eczema got worse when exposed to the nickel buttons sewn into jeans. And sweat. And perfumes. And bug spray.
The latter one was discovered in Newport, Rhode Island, when my family went camping. Right before bed, my mother wiped me down with one of those OFF bug repellant wipes. After about 20 minutes, I literally felt like I was on fire. I couldn't scratch fast enough, and when I did, it just made things worse. My mom woke up in the middle of the night and heard me scratching (pretty rigorously). A soon as she shone a flashlight on me, she gasped, pulled me by the hand out of the tent, and ran with me to the showers.
I distinctly remember in kindergarden, my parents would send me to school with whatever cream we were experimenting with at the time. One day, I didn't want to put my cream on. It's not like it would work anyways. My teacher pulled me aside and did that thing where you kneel next to a kid? And yeah, I really hated that. But I'll never forget what he told me:
"Skye, sweetie, if you don't put your cream on, you'll be ugly and no one will want to marry you."
Doesn't that sound like the most ridiculous threat to a 5 year old ever? No marriage? Oh no! How else will I determine my worth?
Nevertheless, since that moment, my skin has been heavily intertwined with my body image. It's always been something I've battled with, instead of embracing. I always wanted the cream that would make my skin silky smooth, and well... Let's just say I still have scarring pretty much everywhere the eczema decided to go.
And this isn't one of those body image pieces where I'm like "Just love yourself and everything will be better!" Because I love myself very much, and I still have eczema. I feel self concious in crop tops, where my eczema scarring is. I think twice about wearing shorts all the time, because I know exactly where it is on my legs, and how there'll be no covering them. But then I also reconsider jeans, because the sweat will make the eczema worse.
I can't win here.
What I can say is that I can't do anything about it. Actually I did find a cream that mostly works, (Cortisone Intensive Healing). It heals your eczema before you can scratch it again! It's the bomb. Not a plug, I genuinely rely on this cream every day. Although I found my miracle cream, it doesn't make the scars go away, and it doesn't prevent me from randomly scratching my elbow one day, and then the cycle starts all over again.
Itch. Scratch. Spread. Itch. Scratch. Spread.
So, knowing I can't do anything about it kinda helps. It keeps me from looking at my eczema in the mirror. Scratching it in frustration until it bleeds.
There are some aspects of ourselves we have to live with. They aren't things you can really love. But if you hate them, then you aren't doing yourself any favors. Is there a neutral position to take on things like this? Or must you shower them in affirmations and positivity?
I genuinely don't know. Food for thought, though.