Thoughts on Eczema, Change, and Aging Skin

I have been thinking a lot about aging lately. More specifically, aging skin. Early in the new year, I will hit a significant age milestone: 30.

I find myself wondering what new things I will have to face with my skin as I age. My skin hasn’t always followed the “standard” pattern of complaints as I have gone through my life.

What was my skin like in my teens?

Like many infants, I dealt with dry skin and eczema. Nothing untoward about that. However, as I went through my teenage years, I found myself without the “standard” adolescent skin concerns. Health class through my late elementary and early middle school years told foreboding tales of pustules and uncontrollable acne.

However, I enjoyed a clear complexion throughout my adolescence and early adulthood. I think, because of this, I was entirely unprepared for what was to come.

How did my body begin to change?

Perhaps in the grace period of having “happy” skin, being as it lasted a decade or so, I had allowed myself to believe that I would continue enjoying such good fortune.

Then I got married. Shortly after, I discovered I was pregnant. Pregnancy is a beautiful, quite magical experience for a lot of people. It is a time of metamorphosis, change, growth and discovery. For myself, it was not the case in the ways I would have preferred it to be. While my body changed and grew a baby, other aspects of my body and health changed - and suffered.

What happened during my pregnancy?

Pregnancy is also known for the medical complications and changes it can cause. Acne is among the most common skin conditions that can develop during pregnancy. It can worsen for those already experiencing it, and it is known to start acne in otherwise unblemished skin.1

The latter part of the last sentence is what happened to me. I wish my complaints were only limited to acne. I didn’t realize it then, but my first resurgence of eczema began after my daughter was born. I brushed it off as being “just a rash,” but in hindsight, I believe it was the beginning of the return of my atopic dermatitis.

My acne has not gone away since, and neither has my atopic dermatitis.

Do I wish I had acne and eczema as a teen instead?

I sometimes allow myself to wonder which I would’ve preferred. Would it have been easier to experience what I had, or would it have been preferable to have my bad skin days as a teen and clear skin as an adult?

I suppose it doesn’t matter in the end. I can’t change the past. Fortunately, after some thought, I concluded that given the choice, I would have chosen my current situation. I would rather have finicky skin now than when I was a teen. At that time, I was going through and processing a lot of trauma. I was vulnerable, a bit reckless, insecure and didn’t yet possess the resiliency, teachability and self-security I do as an adult. As a teen, I imagine commentary from a peer on having bad skin would have been devastating.

How will I feel as I get older?

My atopic dermatitis has taken on some fantastical and massive forms on visible surfaces of my body. Surfaces like my face that cannot be covered up and camouflaged. As an adult, I can weather comments about my skin in ways teenage me never could. So, I can expect that I will be able to handle whatever aging skin throws my way. At least, I hope I can.

I’ll let you know if I still feel quite as empowered when I find my first wrinkle. ;)

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