I Cant Cover Up Eczema When Its on My Face
â€˜Skincare Is My Self-Careâ€™: How a Beauty Blogger Manages Eczema
Jesse Dalton is no stranger to the toll eczema can take on your life. As an actor, heâ€™s missed rehearsals. As a waiter, heâ€™s called out of work. As a friend, heâ€™s canceled plans.
Hallmark symptoms of eczema, such as dry, red, itchy skin, can be troublesome for anyone, but, as Dalton can attest, itâ€™s a whole new level when it affects your face.
Eczema in High School: â€˜My Skin Was Such a Messâ€™
Daltonâ€™s skin became an issue in his teen years, when both cystic acne and atopic dermatitis â€” the most common type of eczema â€” started to appear on his face.
â€œHaving eczema on top of acne, as a high schooler, it felt like having a civil war on my face,â€ he says. â€œI would have one patch that was extremely dry, I would have one patch that was oily and bumpy and pimply. It felt like every square centimeter [of my face] needed its own special spot treatment. And I was just guessing at how to treat it.â€
Dalton dealt with his skin woes like any other self-conscious teen: by attempting to cover it up with his motherâ€™s makeup. But that didnâ€™t stop his peers from questioning what was going on with his skin. â€œI had friends saying â€˜Why are you wearing so much makeup?â€™ and then, when I wore less, â€˜Whatâ€™s wrong with your face?â€™â€ he adds. â€œIt was so embarrassing.â€
Dalton coped by keeping physical distance between himself and others. â€œI didnâ€™t go out very much,â€ he says. â€œI was at home, waiting for my skin to get better.â€
Self-Esteem Is the Invisible Struggle That Comes With Eczema
Now 28 years old, Dalton seems to exude confidence, having overcome the insecurities of his teen years. â€œIt was only recently that I started feeling more confident in my skin,â€ Dalton says, which he attributes in part to having a better handle on his eczema treatment.
Yet Dalton still says the biggest challenge of having atopic dermatitis is how it affects his self-esteem. Even today, heâ€™s no stranger to canceling plans or calling out of work when a bad flare crops up, because he doesnâ€™t want to go out in public.
â€œI kind of resent having it on my face,â€ he says. â€œIf it were anywhere else, there could be a way to mask it, to hide it. Thereâ€™s just no way to cover raised, bumpy, patchy, dry skin all around [your face].â€
When his eczema flares, Dalton prefers not to leave the house for a few days, until it subsides. â€œIt is a really alienating condition to live with. I feel lonely during those times.â€
Dalton has found a couple of ways to deal with eczema-related anxieties: meditation and yoga. â€œGetting in touch with my inner body, and not letting these itchy, painful flare-ups get the best of me, has been really helpful,â€ he says.
Impostor Syndrome: Feeling Like a Fraud When Eczema Flares
Dalton knows eczema is not his fault, but at the same time, he admits to feeling guilt and self-doubt about his condition. â€œImpostor syndrome is something that I feel a lot,â€ he says. â€œSaying to someone, â€˜I canâ€™t go because I have an eczema outbreakâ€™â€¦ it sounds like a fake excuse.â€
Part of that impostor feeling stems from a perception that heâ€™s undermining the struggles other people face. He understands that things could be worse. As Dalton puts it, â€œWeâ€™re living in the middle of a global pandemic right now, and there are some severe health issues that people are living with. I realize that itâ€™s not the end of the world to have an outbreak. But itâ€™s still draining. It costs money, itâ€™s emotionally taxing, and itâ€™s still something that holds me back.â€
The COVID-19 pandemic itself has added another eczema trigger for Dalton. â€œWearing a mask for more than an hour or two at a time triggers some of the worst flare-ups that Iâ€™ve ever had,â€ he says. â€œI had to call out from work one day, and of course my boss didnâ€™t understand, because it sounds like such a vain thing, but it was really jarring to look at.â€
As a whole, Dalton feels like most people donâ€™t understand what heâ€™s going through. â€œThereâ€™s just such a lack of information about this condition,â€ says Dalton. â€œPeople understand to a point, but itâ€™s hard to explain to somebody that my skin looks so bad that I donâ€™t even want to leave the house.â€
Along with withdrawing socially during a flare, Dalton wouldnâ€™t post on social media as much as usual â€” until this past winter, when he posted a photo of a particularly bad flare-up on his face. He thought maybe other people were experiencing something similar.
And he was right. Dalton received messages from other people who have eczema, and some of them sent photos of their own outbreaks.
â€œJust seeing that somebody else was living with it was really validating,â€ says Dalton. â€œHaving a community of people to talk to about this has been really helpful, and it helps bring down those feelings of alienation and isolation.â€
Dalton hopes others who are dealing with eczema are also able to validate the emotional impact it has on them. â€œYouâ€™re allowed to feel that way,â€ he says. â€œItâ€™s okay to feel that way.â€
All images provided by Jesse Dalton
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