Surviving Christmas Anxiety with Eczema

When I was little, before having eczema, all I thought about during the holidays was how much I look forward to getting all kinds of presents and the delicious food and sweets that I could indulge in with my family. It was a time filled with a lot of fun, video games, and anticipation for what was wrapped inside all of the beautiful boxes and gift bags covered in bows.

Stress to impress

But when I started to have eczema and got older, it felt like the stress of having to impress others around the holidays just grew and grew. Because we are surrounded by so much advertising around having lavish parties, looking our best and having get-togethers with fancy food, it seems as if everything needs to have a certain look to be considered an acceptable form of celebrating the holidays. Otherwise, we seem abnormal, uncaring, or like we failed at living up to the holiday hype.

Covering up eczema

And as my rashes got worse from my childhood into my early twenties, the holidays were not just about who I was going to celebrate with and give gifts to, but how can I look as “normal,” healthy, and put-together as possible despite my rashes. I couldn't really wear makeup because this was a time before the green and indie beauty movement had become popular and before Etsy was a thing. So because all conventional makeup (usually formulated with artificial fragrance at the time) would make my skin itchy and dry, I would just have to deal with whatever I had on my skin, hope that my outfit would distract from my unsightly imperfections as much as possible, and that I didn't look too ugly or embarrassing for my mom. That I wouldn’t look so bad that both she and I would have a lot of explaining to do to our relatives.

Added stress during the holidays

These were the worries and anxieties that I would have to deal with on top of holiday stress itself. And this is where I just had to learn how to put on a brave face and just pretend it was just allergies and play it off. I learned how to deescalate situations by playing them down even though deep down inside I felt like I was walking around with porcupine needles all over my face and body that simultaneously felt itchy as hell.

Feeling a part of the holidays

Although my current life and health are so much better and a far cry from the life I lived as a child with eczema, I still wish back then that there wasn't so much pressure to be perfect around the holidays or to have all these criteria to check off the list for being able to “fully” participate in the festivities. I think that it would help a lot of people with and without eczema to have a more low-maintenance approach to reigning in the new year. That would just make it a lot more bearable and enjoyable for someone going through flare-ups to deal with. They would be able to feel more included in the holidays even if they're not painting their faces with glitter and red mistletoe lipstick.

Are you someone with eczema who also struggles with being able to enjoy the holidays? What is it like for you?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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