Embrace the Red
Red. What does the color red make you think of? How does it make you feel? I think of hearts, romance, and love. Red is all around us during the winter holiday season, which means gifts and family time. With this cold weather I also think of dry air, cold noses, and red faces.
If you’re me, the red face is not just a winter phenomenon. Itchy skin and flares cover my face throughout the year. To me, red reminds me of my eczema. Red makes me self-conscious. It is also a warm color that makes me think of the heat rising to my face when I begin to feel the embarrassment of my eczema as I engage in small talk with strangers. It is a color that is literally so in-your-face or more accurately on my face.
What do I do about the redness?
I try my best to cover up. Make-up and concealer can be my best friend. However, even that comes with challenges when I have flaky, dry skin. Then it becomes a mental fight to consciously avoid scratching the itchy red spot that I just covered up. Some days it doesn’t seem worth even trying. Red is who I am.
What do I do when I’m exercising?
For me, exercise is the very physical, in-your-face contact sport of martial arts. Someone can be in a very uncomfortable position with their face right next to or in front of yours. I’ve fought. I’ve sweat. The concealer that I so carefully placed on my face to hide those annoying red eczema spots has slid right off or is now on my opponent’s clothes. I’m left now with a different fight. The mental struggle comes again. There is no hiding what is no longer hidden. Red is who I am.
What do I do when I’m in an intimate situation?
It’s date night and I’ve meticulously put myself together to put my best face forward. All the colors on my face are in the right place. The colors doing what they are supposed to do – cover the bad, showcase the best. Date night was great. I felt great. As the night carries on, tears from a belly laugh wet my face and tears from a heartfelt moment start streaming down my face. Therapeutic tears, yet they have washed away what I was trying to hide. The mental struggle starts again. Nothing is hidden. The redness from crying no longer hiding my eczema, but is actually acting as an accent to those previously hidden red spots. Now I’m just red all over. But that is who I am. Red is who I am.
Embracing who I am
I am not perfect. There is more to me than the colors on my face. As I’ve gotten older, I've cared less. Sounds harsh, but I have become more comfortable and confident in my own skin. My favorite color is not red. It’s actually quite the opposite. With my new confidence, I have started to embrace the boldness of red and what it represents. I welcome that it portrays love, vivacity, life, and confidence. I’m no longer a wallflower. No longer wallowing in self-pity. Red is who I am.
On an average day, how would you rate your level of anxiety related to atopic dermatitis?