Oh summer, the time of hot weather, sweaty bodies and naked skin. For me, it’s also the season of itchiness.
When I was a teenager, I went through all the changes typical for this period: I grew myself a pair of boobs, my hips got wider and zits started appearing on my face. As annoying as they were, I knew they were a part of being a teenager.
It was also around this time that I started itching all over my body. It started with the backs of my hands. At first, I didn’t notice it and just scratched it a little. But the itching didn’t go away and I scratched and I scratched and I scratched some more. Then, it spread to the backs of my knees and later, my feet.
I was already very awkward back then and having ugly-looking blotches on my hands didn’t help. One day, I was sitting at the cafeteria with my friends and they noticed the rash on my hands.
“What’s that?” they asked me.
“I don’t know.”
“Do you think it’s contagious?”
“No!” I almost started screaming. It took me forever to find these friends, I was not going to lose them over this.
“But how do you know?”
“It’s not contagious. It just isn’t.”
Luckily, the friends stayed. Unfortunately, so did the eczema. It wasn’t contagious but it wasn’t going away. My PE teacher was horrified by the state of my legs. She tried to talk to me about it but I wouldn’t listen. Teenagers aren’t very good at receiving comments about their looks, especially when they think there’s something wrong with them.
The itching drove me insane. It made me want to jump out of my skin. In one word, it was horrible. Not knowing what to do, I scratched myself bloody.
My mom decided it was serious and thus begun the quest to find the right doctor.
We visited several and none of them could help me. Meanwhile, the eczema was spreading. Or rather, it would reappear on random spots on my body, without notice or warning.
With time, I figured out what it was: I used to wear a plastic Swisswatch on my wrist – the spots appeared just right under it. At that time I tried wearing belts with my pants- my waistline was another place where it loved to appear. My Birkenstocks were causing my feet to itch as well.
I reacted to my own sweat. If my bag touched some parts of my arm, I would have spots there. Even now, when my kids touch me, I sometimes have to tell them to stop because “mama has an ouchie,” even though it’s more of an “itchie.”
I realized that this wasn’t going away. These days, I know that hot weather, stress and humidity make it worse. I know that certain fabrics can irritate my skin (no wool for me, please). This condition requires body awareness and smart clothing choices. It requires always thinking, “Will this cause eczema?” instead of “Will I look pretty in it?”
Honestly, I can’t wait for summer to be over. I find the heat terribly irritating and so does my skin. I can’t wait for temperatures to get lower, and for the itching to get better – and with luck, it may turn into something else, like chin hair or hairy toes. Also irritating, but not so itchy.