Skin Memories

(Memories from early childhood all the way up to current adulthood based on the ebb and flow of my eczema/dermatitis).

My earliest memory of eczema is being a small child (probably 4-5 years old) and my mother tying socks onto my hands at night so I wouldn’t scratch.  This tactic worked, as long as the socks stayed on, but despite her best efforts to tie tight knots in the strings, finagling the socks off and finally managing to itch was the most delightful feeling!

I remember being a young girl in gymnastics class.  I had eczema on my wrists and elbows.  Nothing crazy or widespread, just some scabs, but kids still managed to notice and give me funny looks.

Still as a young girl, I remember having eczema in the creases where your leg meets your buttock, and being concerned that it would be very evident when I put on my swimsuit to go in the pool.  Why did I have this?  Why wasn’t I like other kids with normal skin?

I remember puberty – Thank goodness for puberty!  I don’t remember a single instance of eczema from about age 14 to maybe age 19.  Which is wonderful, because kids can be so cruel in high school, and I have no idea what I would have done if I had these present rashes at that time.  My heart goes out to anyone that has to deal with the ostracizing of eczema during those formative years.  I was able to be in so many activities, from cheer to track, without giving my skin a second thought.  I don’t even think I put anything on it day to day!

I DO, however, remember going to gym class in high school and getting paired up with the guys for square dancing.  One guy peered at my face and said critically, “You have wrinkles under your eyes”.  (I had very faint Dennie-Morgan lines, a sign of dermatitis/allergy, which even I wasn’t conscious of until he said something and I didn’t know they were an indicator that comes with eczema).  Well thanks a lot, kid.  I go home, peer at myself in the mirror, and settle on using my mother’s Oil of Olay cream to try and ‘remove’ the wrinkles (which probably ended up irritating my skin).

Onto college age, and ending the period of puberty.  In early college years, I remember getting up and putting on anything that I wanted to … again, no thought of my skin.  I could wear skirts, shorts, tank tops, you name it, no fear of rashes, no self-consciousness.  I must have had really great skin back then.  Awesome!

In my third year of college, I was afflicted with some type of eczema/dermatitis around my eyes, probably similar to what I have now except not as bad.  I remember working in the cafeteria and wearing a cafeteria-issued hat to try and shield my face so that people couldn’t look at me as much.  So many cute guys came through the cafeteria line and I desperately wanted to smile and flirt with them, but I couldn’t help feeling self-conscious.

From the end of college until about 1.5 years ago, the skin on my face was fine and I don’t remember giving it a second thought.  Of course I used mild moisturizers and all that, and I didn’t wear a lot of makeup, but I definitely had no reason to be obsessed about its condition.

On my wedding day, the makeup artist looked at me, smiled, and said, “You have great skin, doing your makeup should be easy”.  I had a perfect wedding and I looked and felt like a million bucks.  Those were the days!!!!

A year later on a friend’s wedding day, I got airbrush makeup done.  I had false eyelashes too, and I was beautiful and glamorous!  The pictures of me look absolutely flawless.  The current Me wants that old Me back!

Now here I am.  I wake up every day not knowing what will greet me in the mirror.  Praying it will be clear, bright, healthy skin, but more often than not, it’s red, rashy, irritated skin.  However, now that I found out I seem to be sensitive to aloe vera and beeswax and have eliminated all products with those ingredients…. I remain optimistic that I can get back to feeling attractive in my skin!  🙂

What are some of YOUR skin memories??

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12 thoughts on “Skin Memories

  1. Celiac and Allergy Adventures says:

    I had never even heard of Dennie Morgan lines. I tried to look up a picture but the eyes looked normal to me, or at least like my eyes 🙂 I always worry what my eyes will look like when I’m older because I’m CONSTANTLY rubbing them!

    Do you know what caused your eczema to flare in the past few years? I know you’re trying to eliminate a lot of products and ingredients but have you been able to pinpoint it to anything more specific?

  2. Yeah, it’s just an extra fold under the eye (sometimes also called “atopic pleat”) but I don’t think they’re usually that noticeable in people unless they’re really bad or someone is up close.

    I’m always touching my eyes too! It’s a bad habit to try and break!.

    I am not sure what caused it to flare initially. That’s really why I started this blog, as writing about things seems to help sort it all out like a process of elimination. Maybe I build up a sensitivity to something… who knows. But I refuse to believe that it just came with getting older (I’m 26 now) since I didn’t really have any issue with rashes a few years ago as an adult.

    • Celiac and Allergy Adventures says:

      Yeah, I don’t think it makes much sense that it would happen because you’re getting older either! Has your environment changed at all – where you’re living? Hormones? Stress level? IDK! Mine didn’t start getting bad again until … I guess around 28! I’m 30 now. Prior to that, it hadn’t really been bad since my teens.

      • I DID start to think maybe it was something in my environment, since I moved to a different city when I got married in 2010. I thought maybe toxins in the tap water and I tried drinking bottled water for a while, but I didn’t notice any effect.

        Hormones, maybe, I did write a post about my theories that being on birth control might have messed up my hormonal balance (and I’ve read online a lot of women saying that BC made their skin worse). I stopped with the BC months ago, though, and didn’t see any drastic improvement.

        Stress level may be, though…. I started going back to school for my masters degree, and about a semester or two later is when I noticed it gradually starting up. I love school and I don’t FEEL stressed, but that could have something to do with it esp. since I also work full time! Fortunately I’m almost done with my degree!

        But it IS weird that we both had this flare up start all of a sudden as adults. Were you able to pinpoint anything for your own experience??

      • Celiac and Allergy Adventures says:

        I’m always thinking and analyzing like that too, trying to pinpoint things. For me, my eczema got worse at the same time as when my stomach issues got worse. It was also right after an extremely traumatic experience in my life — I don’t know if it was related to that, or related to Celiac (which I was ultimately diagnosed with). The only thing is that going gluten-free hasn’t helped my skin very much, maybe just slightly. So, I can’t really connect it to that. I don’t know! It then did get worse AGAIN when I moved in with my boyfriend about a year ago, and I think that is related to the fact that there is carpet in the bedroom.

  3. Hm, I hope you’re not allergic to your boyfriend! LOL, only kidding. (My husband sometimes jokes I must be allergic to him).

    Re: carpet – I read an interesting article the other day (I WISH I could remember where so I could put the link) that said carpet is actually good for allergy sufferers because it traps allergens versus having them float all around in the air like if you had, say, wood floors. Not sure if thats actually true, but it seems logical?!

    • Amanda says:

      I always had doctors recommend I avoid carpeting. Because unless you vacuum constantly, the dust and whatever else just stays there, and every time you walk on it, it stirs it all up in the air. With hardwood floors, you can easily see it and make sure it’s cleaner. Plus, sometimes mold and such can be trapped underneath the carpeting.

  4. Courtney says:

    Ugh I feel your pain! I have had eczema since I was 18 months old and have never had a break!! I almost didn’t pass my first year of high school because I had to miss so much time due to horrible eczema flares. When I WAS able to go to school, I felt like a complete monster and kids constantly asked “what’s wrong with you?” So hard, but it build character!? lol.

    Anyway, I’m sorry you’re having a rough time now. I just started using Emu Oil on my face to see if it will help the eczema; some people rave about it! We’ll see how it goes. My wedding is in 4 months and I’m PRAYING I don’t have a flare 😦 Ugh..eczema.

    • THanks, LOL, I feel the same way…. having eczema certainly does build character. We have a LOT OF CHARACTER! But at least us sufferers can stick together and commiserate. That is so crazy that you had to miss so much school due to eczema and that kids were so cruel. You look very cute and eczema-free in your profile pic now though! Definitely keep me posted on the Emu Oil. I have heard a lot of great things about it but never tried it. Thankfully now that I eliminated everything with aloe vera and beeswax, my skin has been really good and I’m praying it stays that way! How exciting that your wedding is 4 months away… I will pray you don’t flare up either – every woman should look and FEEL beautiful as a bride and I’ll stay optimistic that you will have great skin for your big day! 🙂

    • Amanda says:

      Hiiii Courtney! I just saw your comment here (we follow a lot of the same blogs, huh?) And that is so sad that you felt like a complete monster 😦 Does it affect your self-esteem much now? For me, most of my severe, monster-like eczema was in elementary and middle school and I too had to miss a TON of school. I looked like a burn victim. Ahhhhh. Maybe one day I’ll post the few pics that exist from my childhood.

      How is the Emu Oil helping so far? I’ve tried it in the past but don’t remember the outcome. I hope you don’t have a flare during your wedding also!

  5. smes9 says:

    I hate the feeling of waking up and knowing you’ve been rubbing your eyes all night. Im 31, and sometimes wake up with ‘lines’ all around my eyes that no make up will hide. Reading your post really brought back memories of not wanting to wear short or skirts or short sleeved tops in the summer and being so self conscious. People used to and still do actually, say ‘have you got a love bite?’ err NO! Its a patch of eczema. When I was 19 I was covered head to toe and my face was red flaky and swollen and the whole class at college used to stare at me throughout the lesson, and everytime I happened to brush against my facce, a shower of flakes would fall onto my desk. I hope it never gets that bad again. it is so depressing.

    • So good that someone else can relate. I used to have the terrible habit of rubbing my eyes in my sleep (without being aware of it) and would always wake up with them all puffy and irritated, with lines too. Now that I’ve sorted out what products bother my face, thankfully I have not had that issue! Wow, that is terrible that you had eczema that bad at 19. I am so sorry that you had that experience, but I am glad you don’t have such eczema now!! People that don’t understand can be so cruel. Right now my legs are terribly rashed but thankfully it is winter and cold, I want to try and fix all this eczema by summer so that I can wear shorts again!

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