The Agony of Socializing with Eczema
Socializing with eczema can be such a trying and demoralizing thing sometimes. When you have eczema, you have so much more to consider and deal with than someone without it. Sometimes it can interfere with building friendships or getting closer to people despite your desire to.
Here are some major things that get in the way of having fun when you have eczema:
Sometimes the sensation of itchiness and soreness from your rashes is so overwhelming and sudden that either all you can do is scratch or hunch over for hours while trying to avoid scratching and damaging your skin as much as possible. Just dealing with this can zap up a lot of our energy and concentration and potentially make us late for things or completely forget about any plans we had for that day.
Eczema is commonly misunderstood
It can feel really overwhelming for us to be in social situations because we are so used to being stared at for our rashes and assumed to be infectious or contagious. It's hard and makes us feel ashamed. Because of our appearance, we learn very early on that meeting anyone new, even if it's just one person, can result in a third-degree trial or an examination of why we are “choosing” to harm ourselves and what's wrong with us. It's very rare for us to just feel immediately understood or even just accepted as human being especially when we're going through really bad flareups. This can make socializing at all feel very unappealing and to create a lot of isolation which can lead to depression and potentially worse.
We are constantly getting unsolicited advice from doctors in non-doctors alike. Doctors just tell us to stock up on steroids which don't heal anything. And non-doctors aka civilians without experience with eczema will tell us about every single random article they read about skincare or dermatitis. And even others who do have experience with eczema will give us advice because something helped with their skin, but that's no guarantee that it will work for our skin. It can be really overwhelming to have to deal with all this information and impatience for us to heal. And the thing is that these people who do this are actually doing it for themselves to make themselves feel better about seeing us in a bad state. More so than actually knowing whether or not their advice is going to help us. This can become annoying despite its best intentions.
Stares, commentary, and assumptions
Many people are very rude to us. And whether or not it's intentional, they are very obvious about staring at us. While it is understandable, it just makes us feel like we are bad, ugly, diseased people even though we do our best to not scratch, heal and cope with intense impulsive pain. In this kind of situation, the best thing for people to do would be either to leave us alone or to genuinely and kindly ask us what we are going through and if there's anything they can do to help. But please don't ask us if we've done anything about it or “try to put lotion on it" because that is baseline what any person with common sense will do and believe us we have done it all! Please do not insult our intelligence.
Did I miss anything?
I hope that these insights prove to be useful and helpful for someone with eczema trying to explain what they're going through and for people without it to understand what we’re going through when they react to us in public. What are some things that you've dealt with in person than I have not listed here? I would love to continue to share our stories in the comments below!
Have you been diagnosed with atopic dermatitis?