It took a while for me to actually be diagnosed with atopic dermatitis, and in all of those years, not really knowing what it was and struggling and scratching and picking and bleeding endlessly, I realize now all that I did because of it.
The Bed Setup
When I was still in high school, in my family’s house, we all had white sheets. The good: they could be bleached. The bad: I saw how much I was scratching, and bleeding. I was usually at other friends’ houses, but I’m sure if people would have been coming to mine I would have made sure the covers were always over it all. And maybe would have rallied for some other color. College was a different story. I went dark grey, dark beige, dark blue – I wanted it invisible. (I wasn’t about to bleach anything in college either, let’s be real.) I’ve stayed with dark bedding because I just like the colors, but not much gets on them these days, since I’m taking steps to manage it.
Similarly, in the early days, I chose dark colored shorts and t-shirts to wear to bed. They all had blood stains, but then they weren’t really visible.
At some point, I stopped wearing shorts. To be honest, I never loved shorts for anything but exercise, but I’m sure subconsciously when I really stopped wearing them had to do with my atopic spreading to my legs. My legs are fine now but I still don’t like them, and I still don’t wear them often. I remember once going to the beach and putting a giant gauze pad band-aid thing on the back crease of my leg. My atopic dermatitis was bad there at that point, and in addition to not wanting sweat to drip in I didn’t really want people to see it.
I used to use this Bobbi Brown touch-up stick on my face. I was going to prom my Junior year with my Senior friend and his friends and I freaked out looking in the mirror and seeing how much the red on my arms stood out (I hardly ever wore white). I used the stick on my arms, and brought it with me. It definitely hurt and stung when it got in there (especially the more open spots) and didn’t even cover it up to well, but I tried.
I had to get used to lotion. I hated lotion.
There were a few times when I was younger that my friends and I thought that a good way to obnoxiously push to the front of concerts was to pretend it was a contagious rash. They’d say something like, “Hey, did your doctor say the rash is still contagious?” And I’d say something like, “Yeah, but it’s just so hot I can’t cover up all my arms right now!” It didn’t really work but we thought it was hysterical. Use what you’ve got, right?
Sometimes I’d sit covering part of my face with my hand – it made it worse from the contact but at least no one was seeing it then. Or I’d cross my arms if inside didn’t look too great. It wasn’t like people were mentioning it or looking at it, but it made me uncomfortable at that point for it to be so there, so figured out ways to hide it. I’ve since joined more of the “get used to it” point of view.
What have you done because of your atopic dermatitis? Share your story with the community.