eczema skin on neck

Think about someone photographing your body as you board a train, broadcasting it on social media, and speculating that you have monkeypox.

This was the reality for Lilly Simon, a regular individual who just so happened to get on the New York City subway.

She had a skin ailment called neurofibromatosis 1, which she later addressed via TikTok last week after being called out. She did not, however, have monkeypox.

Being a person with a skin issue myself, I was immediately alarmed by this incidence because I thought I would be the next victim.

The disturbing habit of taking distant images of people’s skin, typically their legs, and posting them online while speculating about whether they have monkeypox and whether they should isolate themselves is currently being driven by social media.

These days, trigger-happy Twitter users who can’t help but assume the worst about someone’s health and presumed “reckless” behavior harass and ridicule those with skin disorders.

In spite of the fact that it is improbable that the virus would travel rapidly between people without direct contact, it is still feasible. In any case, there is virtually likely little risk from a person standing on the railway car’s other side.

Teachers would frequently yell at me for refusing to remove my jumper in the summertime heat (Picture: Liam Beattie)

Leading dermatologists at the British Association of Dermatologists have condemned these types of images, warning that they “add to the stigma around the disease, which is enormously unhelpful; it is also the sort of thing that adds to the psychological burden of people living with a visible skin condition.”

Sadly, I’m not new to this kind of unwelcome attention. My entire life, I’ve suffered from severe eczema; I’ve been in and out of the hospital; and I’ve had bad mental health.

Pictures of me as a toddler indicate that, at the same time that my teeth were erupting, red blotchy marks that would follow me into adulthood were also appearing.

Leading dermatologists at the British Association of Dermatologists have condemned these types of images, warning that they “add to the stigma around the disease, which is enormously unhelpful; it is also the sort of thing that adds to the psychological burden of people living with a visible skin condition.”

Sadly, I’m not new to this kind of unwelcome attention. My entire life, I’ve suffered from severe eczema; I’ve been in and out of the hospital; and I’ve had bad mental health.

Pictures of me as a toddler indicate that, at the same time that my teeth were erupting, red blotchy marks that would follow me into adulthood were also appearing.

At the time, my parents were angry that they couldn’t stop the excruciating itching and sobbing and worried about taking too many pictures of me.

Teachers would frequently yell at me in school for refusing to remove my sweater in the summertime heat. I would have broken skin, red marks, and scrapes all over my arms. The jumper would be my lone defense against criticism from my peers.

My mental health began to deteriorate as I dealt with the stress of adolescence and days when my aching fingers prevented me from holding a pen. I spent days by myself in my bedroom, feeling ashamed of how I looked and hating myself for it.

Even my sexual life is not exempt. When I was unmarried, I frequently ushered folks out the door at the crack of dawn instead of giving tea and conversation because my sheets would be stained with blood from my nighttime clawing. I stopped having sex when my dermatitis was at its worst because the embarrassment was simply too great.

This is why the portrayal of people’s skin in images and conversations for Twitter stings so deeply.

Social media is often used as a monitoring tool to humiliate those who have any physical scars (Picture: Liam Beattie)

I’m afraid of being cross-examined in public for material for social media. It took me until I was 30 years old for me to feel confident enough to display my imperfect skin in public, and now anxiety, which is a major contributor to skin issues becoming inflamed and even more uncomfortable, is making me second guess my outfit choice.

Even though it’s unlikely that they are, when my skin is awful, I fear that others are already staring at me. But now that Twitter and monkeypox have combined, it’s horrifying to consider the possibility that they actually are.

According to a recent report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Skin, about half of people with skin conditions report some level of discomfort, and the NHS urgently needs to address access to mental health care.

This indicates that many people lack access to the assistance they require to maintain their skin and mental health. There is an even greater need for clear information regarding monkeypox and taking care of ourselves during this time of increasing fear for many of us.

Social media has become a tool to assist men who have sex with men unite and share the most recent information regarding where to obtain the vaccine since monkeypox has just been widely known in the UK. This is due to the UK government’s appalling continued lack of centralization of its vaccine program.

Social media, however, is also being employed as a spying tool to humiliate people who have any physical scars.

Videos and pictures of people zooming in on people’s legs and arms and concluding that they might have monkeypox are extremely detrimental and shame innocent individuals for what they believe to be risky behavior when nothing could be further from the truth.

Please don’t make any assumptions about my skin – or anyone else’s (Picture: Liam Beattie)

I think it’s fortunate that I was able to talk to a dermatologist this week about my concerns and questions and receive a clear response regarding whether or not I may receive the monkeypox vaccine.

There are conflicting reports concerning the safety of the vaccination for persons with eczema, which puts people with skin diseases at risk of more than simply social media trials. My doctor assured me that the shot was completely safe and advised me to proceed with the vaccination.

That was a relief, and doctors should be yelling about it.

As another warm spell is predicted for the coming week, I intend to keep cool and allow my skin to breathe. Please don’t assume anything about the color of my skin or the skin of anyone else.

In order to refute the myths surrounding the virus and understand how to protect ourselves during this outbreak, spend that time knowing the facts about monkeypox from reliable sources like Terrence Higgins Trust and Queer Health.

More people will feel at ease in their own flesh if we do this.

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