On the resilience of skin

STEEPED BY SAMIA #10 | 11.10.22
I’m developing a cordial relationship of sorts with my skin, wbu??

When the weather gets colder (that’s, like, 45-50° F in the South Bay…), my toes participate in a mysterious ritual. Every year, without fail. It starts with a tingling in the nighttime, that gives way to a burning warmth. My toes puff up. Bruised, very itchy, slightly sore. A Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer type of red. Toward the end of the cycle, the swollen skin deflates into a scab and eventually falls off to reveal skin anew.

This “mysterious ritual” is eczema. I was first diagnosed when I was 5 or 6 years old. In 2020, my former doctor suggested that it might be chronic chilblains that develop from Raynaud’s Syndrome (poor blood supply to the hands and feet).

It’s just something I deal with — and it’ll be around for my whole life, most likely. There’s no “cure” for it, just ways to regulate it. So, I pay attention to the temperature, wear thick / double socks, and slather my toes with prescription topicals & colloidal oatmeal lotions. I try not to be hard on myself when the inevitable flare-up happens. I try to tell people about it more; it would come up, let’s say, in a conversation about planning a trip in the wintertime. I even wrote about it for Kulfi Bites in 2020, along with essential skin-soothing products.

It’s quite profound, really, when we think about the history of our skin.

Priyanka Ganjoo (Kulfi Beauty founder & forever didi) and I wrote a Kulfi Bites piece on the meaning behind Kulfi’s Main Match Concealer campaign. I wanted to share a part of it that I’ve been reflecting on:

We are storytellers in our own skin. 

We all have narratives around our bodies that are composed of memories, comments, and internal & external perceptions. Each freckle, scar, and patch tells a narrative of who we are and who we’re becoming. 

Be Your Own Main Match: The meaning behind our campaign by Samia Abbasi & Priyanka Ganjoo / Bites blog, Kulfi Beauty

Recently, I was scrolling through my camera rolls to find something. A thought occurred to me: My selfies (& feet pics for my doctor…) tell a story of my skin cycling through bouts of acne and eczema. Hard times, good times, neutral times. It’s history.

The swollen bug bites on my arms that left me in a Benadryl haze in August. The time that Zayn bit my arm because he didn’t want to go back inside from a walk and the lasting scar it left (I cried a little, lol). The stretch marks that zig-zag my knees. The colony of small white dots (perhaps milia?) in the crease above my chin. The visible pores, valleys, mounds, and divots on my cheeks. Patches of dry skin and oiliness.

I think about my dad’s skin throughout his Bone Marrow Transplant treatment and recovery. We have to watch out for something called Graft Versus Host Disease (GVH), in which: “the donated bone marrow or stem cells view the recipient’s body as foreign, and the donated cells/bone marrow attack the body.” Isn’t that wild??

A major sign of GVH is a skin rash that can happen anywhere on the body. My dad has already had a GVH-induced skin rash, and it can happen at any time in the future. Luckily, it’s easily treatable with topical steroids and lotions. It’s profound that through the skin, the external, the body can tell us about something going on inside, the internal.

I’m learning to develop a cordial relationship with my skin.

Some moments, my skin takes up negative brain space. Some moments, I’m in awe of its progress. Some moments, I experience everything in between.

“Cordial” might be warmer than I intend this connection to be, tbh. I’m going for something a little more neutral. Maybe it’s an acquaintance I know some things about, but I wouldn’t exactly call them a friend. That’s okay, though; it’s just where we are!

I can tell you now, though, it’s become easier to romanticize it: the textures and colors and ugliness and general ~weirdness~ of my skin. This combination of skin facets that is mine, alone. Above all, it’s become easier to just shrug and think: It’s doing its thing. There is no rhyme or reason. It just is. —S.A.

Steep On This:  

Catch Up:  

11.05.22 | In defense of quiet, meandering books & TV shows

STEEPED BY SAMIA #9: Finding joy in slower media & wondering what it means when something is “worthy of attention.”


About This Blog:

Steeped by Samia is a space where I can simmer on thoughts & curiosities in the scope of digital culture, creativity, life, & more. Far too often, my writing ideas fizzle out in energy; I never get to see them to their full potential. While building my rhythm with writing, I want to share these ideas with you. 

Stay Up-To-Date on my blog by clicking the ‘follow’ button at the bottom of the page, and you will receive an email every time I post. I aim to post a new installment at least once or twice a month. Thank you for supporting my storytelling!🧡

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