What do you do when you have an allergy face? When eczema or psoriasis comes to visit and leaves you feeling red, sore, itchy and vulnerable? Do you hide away and mope, icing and treating your ravaged skin and refuse offers to go out? (Yes, sometimes, when it really is just too bad)
Or do you put on a brave (red and sore) face and go out, see your friends, ignore the pain and try to laugh?
It’s never actually as bad as you think it looksIt’s a very hard choice to make but I find when I can put aside all my fears and worries about what people will think and take a painkiller and go out for a bike ride, walk or jog, it nearly always makes me feel better.
Honestly it does, and this cartoon is just fantastic at depicting exactly what we think it looks like and the anguish inside our heads to try to get over it and realise it is never quite as bad as we think.
Whilst the sweat from exercise can be painful (I take a bottle of water, splash face and then reapply lovely gunky emollient en-route if necessary) it is also very therapeutic to engage your body in something else that doesn’t involve inward thinking, negative moping or lonely depressing pain.
I am lucky that I have a very kind and loving husband who knows this. Who will ignore my protests and get my bike ready, find my cycling gloves, and generally chivvy me along when I delay this outing while the allergy face screams at me.
It’s screaming “IT HURTS, SCRATCH ME, TOUCH ME, GO ON TOUCH ME, I NEED YOU TO TOUCH ME, IT ITCHES SO DEEP, SCRATCH, SCRATCH IT NOW, DO IT, DO IT, DO IT YOU BITCH SCRATCH!”
Crikey where did that come from?
And when I get over my patheticness it is fine, really. Liberating even. Husband-who-can-eat-everything and never has an allergy face (I must point out here, he reads these blog posts and he too has an allergy to snails, which I tend to forget about, but hey, snails are easy to avoid… so really, he can eat pretty much everything. Thus proving I am right again, as always) often persuades me to venture out of my allergy fug and go out cycling, or for a drive in the car.
Despite the pain of sweat on my sore face and (in my head only) the humiliation of being out in public where people know me and I can see the pity in their eyes…(oh do shut up Ruth).
Spare a thought for people who don’t look like the ‘norm’. People with burns or disfigurments on their face. Maybe with ears too big, a long nose, anything that stands out from the crowd. We stare at these people too. We can’t help it. We might say that we don’t but we do, out of the corner of our eye, we stare, especially at really fat people or really ugly people. It’s natural I suppose in a way but it’s horrible to be stared at. And what is normal anyway? We have a very negative body image in the Western World. The media spread a noxious image that we must all be preened, perfect, sculpted and primped into beautiful un-blemished beauty. But not many of us have our very own airbrushing team at home. So remember that the allergy face will pass and you can once again blend into the crowd and be ‘normal’.
This isn’t a permanent disfigurment but just imagine for a moment that it was and you had to live with it forever. A swollen face a good ten shades brighter than it should be. You don’t like that thought do you? So remember and trust that once the attack has subsided you will be yourself again and be thankful that you are lucky. Some people aren’t as lucky but they still go out, they still brave it, because they have to. Smile at them, look them in the eye and have some compassion. They are just like you, they just don’t have the option of hiding away for a week till their face or body morphs into normality. God I hate that word.
Today I feel blessed, just to be me, to be normal, no allergy face and the sun is shining.
And remember that next time you are down in the depths of an allergy face remember that actually, you might feel better if you went out with your friends.
That the sweating, though it might sting the sore open bits, may ultimately make your skin feel so much better; take some water so you can wash if it gets too angry. I think exercise does help to flush out whatever nastiness is hurting you faster than it would work its way out normally. It also helps to take your mind off the pain and concentrate on moving and not falling off your bike, or whatever exercise you’re doing.
Sauna’s are also a great way to shift an allergy face, if you have access to one. We’re toying with the idea of building a proper, old fashioned, coal fired one in our back garden. Whenever I feel a reaction coming on I could whizz out, light the sauna, get icing the rash first of all while it warms up and then wham – sweat it out. It’s a pipe dream that we’ll probably never get around to but it would be great fun too. It’s on my long list of things to do.
If you’ve never had to pull yourself together and go out with an allergy face, eczema and visible psoriasis and battled comments from people about seemingly perfect skin health, you might not understand. It is far easier to mope, hide away and wait till it gets better, but that way leads to a depressing and lonely few days. Far better to get out there. Ignore the pain and do some exercise, if you can bear it, see people, if you can stomach that and generally move and be.
It never looks as bad as you think and most people will not comment on your skin. If they do, most of the time it’s out of genuine concern. The odd few ignorants don’t mean to hurt you really so just reply with the truth and change the subject. This generally works, makes them feel a little uncomfortable sometimes but it’s far more positive than getting upset, which I have done on many occasions in the past.
Here’s a few replies you could try out:
- “Yes, I’ve caught the sun again… ha ha ha. Feel it, warm your hands on it, Go on. It’s still pretty hot actually and burnt my hands earlier. Won’t be trying that again. Hot potato that old sun.”
- “Oh, no, this is a new make-up range I’m trying out, it’s called red and rosy. What do you think? Suit me?”
- “What have I done to my skin? Oh, this is normal. Actually it’s really good at the moment thanks.”
- Q: “What’s wrong with your skin?”
A: “Would I like a gin? Oh yes please. How kind of you. With tonic please and slice of lemon.”
- “Have I been to the doctors? You know I might just try that. Never been to doctor about my skin. Never. Imagine that, all these years and I just needed to meet you for the inspiration to take that first step. Thanks soooo much.” (NOOOOOTTT!)
- “Do I moisturise enough? Well, there are never enough hours in the day, so please excuse me while I go and get in another moisturising session.”
- “Could I wear makeup to cover up the rash on my face?” Oh, well, I could, yes. But if you don’t like looking at my skin, you can always turn around, walk away and cast your eyes over someone elses more perfect skin.
The reason for this blog is that I found these words hidden in another post about lactic acid… just tagged on the end. Much better on its own, don’t you think?
So, to end this little blog post about being thankful and putting on a brave face, enjoy the sun today and remember, don’t get sunburnt!