Picture this: It’s the summertime; the sun is high in the sky, beating down its warmth onto everyday humans who are going on with their lives. I am one of those humans, but one may not see me wearing shorts or tank tops like everyone else. I keep wearing my jeans to cover my legs, and it isn’t uncommon to find me wearing - or arbor least carrying around - light hoodie. Yes, I’m hot, but I will not take these essentials off, for I have atopic dermatitis, otherwise known as chronic eczema, and I have flare ups. Part of the reason why I prefer the winter and all seasons to summer is the fact that I don’t have to answer to “aren’t you hot?” every few seconds.
It is not uncommon to see my otherwise pale skin riddled with dry, red bumps. The redness can vary from a vivid red like the color of fire to a fainter, natural-esque red that can almost blend in with my skin; sometimes the redness is under my skin and other times over my skin. These reactions used to occur solely because of my metal allergy - which was how I got diagnosed with eczema in the first place - but has grown to occur from just about anything. From dust to fur to the weather to plants, if it touches my skin for too long, I will be guaranteed to start itching. Quite recently I noticed that if I swatch makeup on my arm, my skin throws a fit.
It doesn’t matter the time of year, either: If it’s too hot, I’ll react; if it’s too cold, I’ll react. Dryness in the air has been the current affliction; there are numerous patches all over my eyes that I cover up with my hoodies. You’d never know I was hiding something.
Over and over again in this article I’ve talked about my skin reacting, but truthfully, this is an immunological disease; whatever touches my skin, my immune system doesn’t like which causes my itching, which breaks my skin and leaves these markings. I had strep early this year and eczema plagued my elbows, so even when I’m sick, I’m not immune (pun intended) to a flare up. There’s nothing I can do to really prevent or cure this; I can only manage symptoms. I had to change my metal glasses to plastic frames, take steroid creams, change soaps and detergents, and of course, wear lengthy clothing to protect myself. It can happen anywhere on my body... from my legs, to my stomach, to my back, to my scalp, to my arms, to everywhere. It can be painful; it can feel like being burned alive if severe enough, but fortunately it’s mostly just annoying
Sometimes I just can’t hide, but at the end of the day, my skin is different, and I’m not ashamed or embarrassed of it. It often gives me a story to tell.