Dear Skin,

You are my largest organ. This means that pretty much by definition, I can’t live without you. But let’s be honest — we have a bit of a sordid history, don’t we?

open letter sensitive skin

Remember when I was a baby and you’d cover me in a rash if my mom so much as changed my laundry detergent? Obviously you haven’t forgotten when you broke out in guttate psoriasis from my head to my toes just as I was hitting puberty. (The timing of that one was especially appreciated — my tween self thanks you tons.) And then just last year as I finally started to make peace with you, I got little red bumps all around my nose and chin — perioral dermatitis, another itchy lifelong skin condition. As if one weren’t enough.

People ask me about you often. They stop me on the street to ask what’s wrong with you, motioning toward my legs. Some people will even ask me about you when we’re out on a date. It’s hard to feel confident in my dress and heels when the only thing people seem to see are the red blotchy spots on my arms and legs.

I’ve tried so hard to make you happy. Creams, diet changes, potions, medicine, shots, vitamins, homeopathy. Nothing works. (By the way, you owe me something in the neighborhood of $30,000 by now. This stuff is expensive!)

But I’m starting to realize that it’s our sordid history that’s made me the person I am today. I may not always like you, but I like the person you hold together. It is through you that I have felt the sloppy wet kisses of my tiny niece and nephews. It is because of you that I’m able to feel the cold, soapy waves of the ocean as they hit my feet. And then there are those rare occasions when you clear up for a week or so, and I get to feel such joy at the simple pleasure of wearing a dress without fear (and, ahem, opaque tights).

It’s a fact of life that experiences and often suffering shape us into the people we become. You have helped shape me into an empathetic person who truly understands when people don’t feel comfortable in their own skin, for whatever reason. I may not always feel comfortable in you, but I’m learning to feel comfortable with me, and that matters even more.



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