A woman looks at her phone, head in hands, sad that she's missing out on a beach day with friends.

Eczema, TSW, and FOMO

"FOMO," or "fear of missing out," is an acronym I've seen pop up quite a bit over the years, especially with the rise of social media and it's seemingly unavoidable presence in our lives. It's easy for anybody to feel as though they are missing out on something in this day and age.

When dealing with atopic dermatitis or other chronic health conditions, there is an added layer to it. While I've been learning to cope with it throughout the years, there are still a lot of things that I can't do or have to take precautions for.

What have I missed out on during vacations?

Water is something I’ve always loved and felt a deep connection with. However, my skin was always unpredictable when exposed to it. I didn't get many vacations as a kid due to other tough circumstances in my life. But when I did, it was always to places with lakes, rivers, or the sea.

My brother and our friends could spend as much time in the water as they wanted. Unfortunately, I didn't always get that luxury. There were times when I'd have to get out of the water because I noticed that my skin was breaking out in a rash. Other times, my skin would be fine the whole time I was in the water, but after I got home, I would go through a flare up or my skin would be extra dry.

How will my skin react to the water?

Needless to say, I'm pretty cautious when it comes to swimming these days. I never really know how my skin is going to react. Most of the time, I avoid it altogether (especially pools!) As someone who loves being in the water, I definitely find myself envious at times of people who are able to swim without thinking twice.

Why haven't I been able to have pets?

I have always loved animals. There is nothing more I wanted than a dog or a cat growing up. However, my skin could never handle it. Although I don't have a full-blown allergy, my skin is still just quite sensitive.

This prevents me from getting a pet, as medications don't alleviate this for me. I also have to be mindful of visiting friends' houses. Most of my friends have multiple pets, and no matter how much they clean, fur and dander are still there. So as much as I'd like to, I can't visit certain people at their houses often. Or at least not without risking a decline in the state of my skin.

Why have I struggled to cover my skin?

Something I'm sure most people with skin conditions can relate to is hiding their skin when it's doing poorly. It's definitely something I do (though I've really been trying my best not to). I always wore long sleeves, even when it was hot out, long pants when I wanted to wear shorts, and never wore cute dresses and skirts.

FOMO can be extremely difficult when it comes to seeing people wear and do whatever they want. Unlike me, they don't have to worry about covering rashes, spots, hyperpigmentation, or other skin issues. Not only that, but I have to be considerate of fabrics in general as well. I personally can't wear much polyester and other inorganic materials.

How has eczema made you miss out?

These are just a few of the ways I personally experience FOMO because of my skin. They are certainly not the only instances or examples, though. FOMO can be experienced in so many different ways in a variety of situations.

While it's unfortunate there are certain situations we have to miss out on, over time, we can learn to cope and do our best to have fun in a way that aligns with the well-being of our skin.

What are some ways you experience FOMO because of your skin? How have you learned to cope with it?

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