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About three years ago I discovered that I had eczema. For as long as I can remember I had patches of dry skin all over my body. It was annoying but I moisturized a little more often and it’d go away on its own. When I was in college I was obsessed with good smelling products. I used scented body washes, lotions, and other harsh products all over my body and face.

I had the worst breakout of my life. My skin was peeling everywhere. I tried to ignore it and put on lotion to fix it. When my eyelids started peeling I realized that something was wrong. My doctor said that I had eczema and gave me medicine to stop the peeling that happened on my body. She didn’t give me anything for my face because she was afraid that it could bleach or damage my sensitive skin. She also told me that I needed to throw away all of my scented products and switch to sensitive skin dove body wash and Aveeno lotion. My mom told me to try out Nivea Creme lotion on my face. I still had very minor (and very fixable) breakouts but my eczema was pretty much nonexistent. I was even able to put bath and body works lotion on after my Aveeno.

Then the pandemic happened.

My eczema started getting worse on my face. Wearing a face mask chafes against my skin and leads to my skin peeling. My lips and the surrounding area would flake off. It’s honestly disgusting and sometimes embarrassing. I started putting lip restoring vaseline on my lips to combat this dryness. For the surrounding area, I’m stumped. I don’t like to experiment with my face because of my doctor’s worries. So I stick with the Nivea and hope for the best.

My hands are the most notable. Hand sanitizer is a reality during a pandemic. Whenever I enter my home I immediately use hand sanitizer or wash my hands. When I’m in public and I feel like I haven’t cleaned my hands for a second I’ll use a hand sanitizer. You get the point–I use hand sanitizer a lot. Sadly, this means that my skin is really dry a lot of the time. I have a lot of breakouts on my hands and despite this, I still have to put sanitizer on them. Every single time it burns awfully. It’s like pouring alcohol on an open wound. You think you get used to the pain but I still have to grit my teeth every time.

The appearance is fairly gnarly. I joke around and say that I have old man hands because it’s often shriveled up, red and peeling. One time, to my absolute shock, I saw that my hand was oozing this clear liquid. It was disgusting. Thankfully, it only lasted for a day but, I was embarrassed. I always tell the people around me that I have eczema and that’s why my skin is peeling. To the everlasting credit of my friends, they tell me that they completely understand and that it doesn’t matter. But I can’t help but still feel like a disgusting, peeling freak. It’s not true though.

Eczema is something that a lot of people can’t control. It’s a skin condition that is hard to deal with during everyday life. Adding a pandemic makes it a lot worse for a lot of people–including me. It’s uncomfortable and it’s painful at times but I refuse to let it rule my life. My eczema doesn’t define me or my beauty. It might be a factor in my life but my eczema will never rule my life.

Destiny is currently enrolled in Columbia University's MFA Writing program. She is a national writer at Her Campus and the former editor-in-chief of Her Campus Rowan. She likes thrifting, romance novels, cooking shows, and can often be found binging documentaries.
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