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  • Elizabeth Corrall

Dry Skin Diaries

Our skin is the biggest organ in our body. It is also, unfortunately, the most prominent and most seen. It is the victim of skincare trends, the sun, acne and dryness. It’s also the organ we consider it okay to comment on; when your skin is bad, these comments are usually not what you want to hear.

Having chronic dry skin and condition prone skin is incredibly painful. It stretches, cracks, bleeds and flakes, it holds you hostage. Your hands break and crack and become bumpy and dry, where the skin flakes apart and makes hand sanitiser burn. Your arms become bumpy and rough, body lotion stings when you apply it, making the now moisturised arms go red with pain.

Last summer, my flare up began as a simple dry patch behind one ear. After a few months of trying to manage it, my entire scalp was sore and covered in dry flakes. My face was a scaly mess. Covered in patches of red skin, the dryness of my dermatitis and eczema combination meant wearing makeup was impossible and unhygienic. My ears were completely covered in dry skin, they stung when I washed my hair and I felt so demoralised. I’m meant to be living a hot girl summer, but my face is falling apart.

‘Is your ear flaring up again?’ I was asked, as a harmless question of concern laced with disgust at the dry flakes across my ears when I wore my hair tied up last summer. Yep. That’s dermatitis and eczema, it’s not going to go away, thanks for mentioning it. When you have problem skin, it seems to become everyone else’s problem too. And when you can’t conceal it, it makes it even worse.

We live in an image based society. We consume all of our information through images. We sit on TikTok and scan others skin, looking for traces that it looks like ours. And when it does, the comments are rarely positive. Because the world is so image based, because we have such free access to these images, it’s almost like we believe the people on screen are images. Anyone who has a shred of a skin problem will have it relentlessly mentioned to them in comments on social media. Unsolicited advice, drawing others to stare. As I found last summer with a question based on shock at my skin, this attitude is seeping into our daily lives. Our adult lives.

It’s not bullying, but it’s just as demoralising. Living with a condition that everyone can see in a society where we think it’s okay to comment on these things is exhausting. Not only is there constant pain from the condition, but there’s also constant reminders that you have it. It is draining.

I’m very lucky that my skin has been fairly calm since December. A simple suggestion of Dermol from a doctor brought everything under control. But eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis are chronic. My dry patches will flare up again. But they will go back down too.

I think what is most important to remember in this image based age is that the darkness will pass. The days when your skin is so painful that you can’t get out of bed will pass. The days when you cannot face yourself in your phones reflection will pass. Things recover, and the reality of who you are will always run deeper than the flare ups on your ears.



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