Picture Perfect: Learning to love the skin I’m in

My Journey

By Olivia Montalvo

Published On: May 20, 2019

Last Updated On: Feb 2, 2021

I have dealt with eczema since I was 3 months old. I didn’t know how to explain it to my friends in elementary school. My friend’s mother, at the time, thought eczema was contagious. This really hurt me because she didn’t want her daughter to hang out with me just in case she caught it.

I got bullied in sixth grade by the rudest person ever. All he said was, “What is that?” and yet it brought me back into my shell, even though I was proud of wearing short sleeves.

I spent summers wearing sweaters and sweats because I didn’t want anyone to look at my skin and ask me what it was. I didn’t know how to explain it, but of course I got stares, and those stares automatically feel like judging.

To this day, I feel insecure whenever someone looks or stares at me.

I remember taking bleach baths and sobbing to my mother, “Why am I like this? Why did God make me like this? Why me?” I wouldn’t leave my house if I had flare-ups. I wouldn’t even go to school if I had flares-ups or scratches on my face.

It got a bit easier in high school. My skin was better than ever, but to the doctors, it was still considered bad. I went to several doctor appointments and received a bunch of creams and steroids. They put me on prednisone for 10 days twice a day. I did light treatment for about four years on and off.

It wasn’t until maybe junior or senior year of high school where I felt comfortable with my skin and body. I felt alone my whole life living with eczema because I didn’t know anyone with it. Then I went to college, and that’s when I started to fully take care of my skin and myself.

I currently am going to school for photography. I did a photography project about my skin and body. It was hard to find the words to describe my eczema and everything I’ve dealt with within a sentence or so. I get too choked up.

But my classmates and professors were very impressed and proud of me. It was extremely hard for me to photography myself in that way. Eczema is a skin condition that feels itchy. It feels like a hot rash that spreads across your body. Even when your skin clears up and you can’t see it physically on your body, it will always be around.

But in a way, I am glad I have eczema. Some days are good. and some days are bad. My eczema doesn’t define me. I am not just some girl that has it. It wasn’t until I found this the National Eczema Association that I felt like I found a place where I belong.  Now I know that God gave me eczema for a reason and that is to share my story.

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