My war with keloid scars.
A really strong woman accepts the war she went through and is ennobled by her scars.- Carly Simon
About a week ago I posted a very personal photo on instagram where I publicly addressed one of my biggest insecurities, my keloid skin. This was a HUGE stepping stone for me and I was very nervous about letting every one know about it because it was something most people didn’t know other than my close family and friends. It has also been my biggest demon I have fought hard to conquer..until now.
I get comments all the time on my photos that state I am “Flawless”, that my “skin is gorgeous”, and fluently get messages from people asking me about my skin regime and all I can think when this happens is…”they have no idea.” I mean, since I was 12 I have lived my life in fear of every cut, scratch, burn, or blemish hoping my wounds would heal correctly and not turn into some huge scar that doesn’t stop healing. What made it harder was not knowing anyone else who had this problem though there are more than 3 million cases a year. It was just something I had to deal with on my own and it was a rough road because I felt no one every really understood how frustrating it was for me.
I’ll give you the textbook description of what a keloid is.
Research says they are harmless and though they might be, it still doesn’t change the fact that they are annoying. My keloids sometimes hurt and sometimes they itch. They are also contagious to any part of the body a single keloid forms which means if I get one keloid on my chest, chances are others will pop up around that area. As I said above, I get keloids from any type of trauma to the skin wether it be acne, scratches, burns, or even something as small as a paper cut. Basically, I should wear mittens and live in a giant bubble.
I got my first keloid when I was 12 years old and that keloid went from the size of a grain of rice to almost an inch and a half long. After that it was one keloid after another and now I have 15-25 keloid scars on my body. Most of my keloids are on my back but I have a few on my chest. I also have tons of other minor keloid scars on my legs as well but they haven’t risen.
My goal here is to shed some awareness. Sadly there isn’t much information out there about them and there is no real cure other than laser removal which isn’t much of a cure because there’s a 50-75% chance of that new scar becoming a keloid. To make sure the procedure has a greater chance of working doctors suggest radiation treatment which is really scary to me so I shy away from the whole idea. I spent years getting steroid shots, about 15-25 needles a session every 6 months, which are extremely painful and only flatten the keloids temporarily before they start growing again. A few years ago they put me on Accutane which made me very very sick. I can’t tell you how infuriated I get when I see people referring it to someone with skin problems all over the net. Sure you will be acne free but the trade-off is having such DRY skin you could literally peel your skin off, having to use chapstick every 5 minutes because your lips are so dry, and feeling dehydrated 24/7. How can I enjoy my face if I look like my face is chipping? It’s all a bullshit gimmick. It can and it will get you sick. I got off of it after 9 months of use and got the worst allergic reaction ever. I had a pinched nerve in my neck, the worst sore throat I have ever had in my life, and now I have arthritis. The turning point when I realized this was making me sick was when I got fluid in my leg. I never ever broke a single bone and NEVER ever had fluid in my knee until Accutane. My doctor shrugged it off like nothing because she was friends with my dermatologist who prescribed me Accutane. They did not listen when I told them it was making me sick. Remember the medical field is a business and companies like Accutane sell their products to Doctors who then sell those products to their patients. There are lawsuits being filed against them everywhere and still nothing being done to take them off shelves.
My keloids made me feel like a mutant. For a few years I wore shirts to the beach, hid my back behind my hair, and photo-shopped my keloids out of my pictures (which I still sometimes do now). For years, I had a problem with physical intimacy because I was so insecure about anyone touching my skin. For years I kept this a secret and tried my best not to show that this affected me so deeply. Sometimes I just wanted to tell my followers “You really want to know my skin regime? Well I travel with alcohol pads, neosporin, and band aids. My mornings consist of a 3 step treatment by Murad (it works great for acne!). My night-time regime is cleanser and night serum (Kiehls) and I have to wear band aids on my face to sleep when I break out so they don’t get affected and turn into keloids.” It really effects my every day of life and still sometimes does. I mean, I used to want to do burlesque and realized I would never be comfortable because I don’t have porcelain skin. I also used to wish I could wear backless dresses and not have to wear giant necklaces to hide my keloids. Sometimes I even catch people staring at my keloids which is really really uncomfortable for me. I exhausted myself with this one insecurity and watched it eat me alive until I got fed up and said fuck it. This is who I am. I can either accept it or live my life hating myself for it forever. Accepting it sounds like a more pleasant road.
So now, I don’t get anymore keloid shots. I still live life cautiously with crazy skin care regimes but I do not allow my skin issues to disable me from wearing what I want and feeling beautiful. It’s really all about perspective…I look at it this way, I’m sorta like Wolverine (or X-23 since she is practically the girl version), I heal faster than most people, sometimes all it takes is a day or two and I think that’s kind of amazing. I figured if I am going to feel like a mutant, It might as well be a super human mutant like Wolverine haha. As an advocate of body positivity I felt it was my duty to discuss my own insecurity and how I overcame it by just accepting THIS IS WHO I AM. At the end of the day your physical insecurities do not determine your true beauty, your character, compassion, and how you treat people does. Knowing that I am a wonderful person with a heart of gold made me realize that my physical insecurities do not matter at all. As women we are so concerned with what people think of us or what a man might think of us, and it doesn’t really matter. Someone who truly loves you will see you for the beauty you are and if someone doesn’t, it only means they are incapable of thinking beyond the surface. Don’t give small minds the authority to make you feel any less than wonderful. Don’t give small minds the authority to make you feel less than beautiful. Don’t give small minds the authority to tell you WHO YOU ARE because only you can do that. Only you have lived in your skin throughout your life. Now learn to embrace it like I have.
I want to thank all of you for being so supportive when I addressed my keloids on instagram and Facebook and even messaging me to let me know you can relate because of your skin issues. It made me realize that my scars was someone else’s sign of hope and that I wasn’t alone. Your responses were beautiful and made me cry tears of joy. It really restored my faith in humanity and showed me that I have such a great following of incredible people who see me for who I am, flaws and all, and still love me anyway. I am living proof that you can have scars/acne and still be accepted and celebrated for who you are. Let that be a positive message to all of you who are struggling with your skin today.
As women, as people, we often have unrealistic expectations of beauty and become so concerned with the outside instead of working on the inside of ourselves. We are all flawed and none of us are perfect (yup, not even all those girls you see on instagram) so you might as well live life loving the person you are (or working towards loving yourself) because you’ve only got one life to live. Here’s to conquering our insecurities and learning to embrace that they make us unique!