Fear of "IT" Being Seen

I just returned from attending a conference. I’ve been going to this conference for about 6 years, maybe 7, but this was my first year going with my eczema being so noticeable. To top it off I also had a recent a flare up around my shoulders. I was extremely nervous, especially since large crowds can sometimes make my anxiety go wild.

All I could think about on the way there was, “What if someone sees my rash?” “Will they think I am contagious?” “Should I have brought a note from my doctor?” I tried to push those thoughts out of my mind before the event, but they haunted me throughout the entire weekend.

The first night

Not ready to show the world my shoulders, I wore a normal t-shirt. With my latest flare-up hidden, I was able to relax and enjoy myself. Between speakers, my friend and I wandered around and checked out the various booths and merchandise tables. It wasn’t until we ran into a few of his friends that I started to panic. I kept thinking “Oh no, they’re going to freak out!," or, "They’re going to look at me weird. Please don’t go for a handshake.”

A nervous encounter

I started nervously playing with my hands, hoping they wouldn’t see my eczema. Well, we did indeed shake hands and luckily they didn’t seem to notice or at least didn’t mention it, which was extremely comforting. All in all in was a good night. No one said anything nor did anyone give me weird looks.

Dawn of the second day

As I unpacked my clothes that morning I realized that I had only brought a tank top to wear!! Feeling slightly more confident than I did the day before, I decided to just go for it. Thankfully it was a chilly morning which allowed me to wear a cardigan over my tank top. It covered my back and my hands. I was still nervous about people seeing my rashes, but with my cardigan on I was able to let go of my worries.

In the end

It warmed up later that afternoon. I had to make a choice, leave it on and sweat to death or take it off and risk someone seeing or saying something about my rash. I slowly removed my cardigan. To my delight, no one said anything about it nor did they throw any weird looks my way. I even talked to a few of the speakers and they didn’t even notice the rashes.

That's on them, not me

I realize now that I was worried about nothing. Who cares if someone sees my eczema and comments on it?! I need to learn to accept that not everyone will be horrified by the sight of it, and even if they do, that’s on them and not me. That weekend helped me become more confident with my eczema and body. Most importantly, it showed me that there isn’t a need to hide or to be embarrassed. Eczema is what I have, not who I am.

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