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Sunday, December 13, 2009

What This Hideous Rash on my Face Taught Me

This October I developed seborrheic dermatitis on my face. I’ve had it before, to varying degrees, and each time it returns I feel a renewed sense of dejection. It’s angry and red and it spreads, like spilled ink, from the corner of my nose. Sometimes it spills down my chin. Once, for a brief time, I had it on my entire face. Hemingway had something like it; this is how his buddy, the novelist and journalist José Luis Castillo-Puche, described it:

“The angry red streak running from his nose to his cheek, the rash of little whitish pustules that sloughed off like dandruff…the bright red patch, extending from the bridge of his nose almost down to his mouth and up to his eyes.”

Beautiful.

I developed seborrheic dermatitis for the first time as an adult when I returned home from my honeymoon in Barcelona, freshly diagnosed with type-1 diabetes. It was a rough time. The dermatitis seemed to know this; it stuck around for the better part of two years, a glaring symbol of my new life with illness. I tried everything: Elidel, steroid lotions, EFT. It just got worse. When it finally spread to my face, I went into Whole Foods and spent nearly $100 on a natural skin care regime from MyChelle Dermacueticals. It cleared, finally.