By Karin Friedemann, TMO
Facial redness has always been a problem for me. When I was a kid my friends used to call me Rudolph because my nose would get so red in the Michigan winter cold. In summer, I was always freckled and pink-faced. It didnâ€™t cause me any discomfort, just mild embarrassment. In fifth grade, I remember thinking I better marry a darker man because I wanted to protect my future descendants from ozone layer depletion. Probably a wise idea, since the sun is so much stronger now than when I was a kid. I have no idea whatâ€™s in those chemtrails either but I donâ€™t think itâ€™s good for my skin. Our skin is the only thing protecting us from this world.
I noticed a huge shift in skin health between youth and adulthood. Before age 20 I used to spend a lot of time in the sun outdoors and would attain a bronze color on my arms without any problem. As an adult, the combination of hijab and the housewife lifestyle made my skin extremely sensitive. At first I really liked the effect. No longer mousy brown, my hair went a shade darker while my skin became white like the moon. I looked like Snow White! But I also developed vitamin deficiency and became weak. If a family member forced me to enjoy a nature trail and a waterfall, Iâ€™d find myself covered with moles and would seriously regret it.
Around the time of the first Gulf War, it seemed like the sun got really bright. I remember being in college 20 years ago. I left my classroom and walked a couple blocks to the bus stop. By that time, my face was quite red and sunburned and stayed that way for a few days! The intensity of sunlight has continued to be much brighter than what I feel comfortable with. It is physically painful to me to go outside without sunglasses on a sunny day. My son, who has dark eyes, has similar complaints.
Now that I am a mother of four, we are still struggling over skin problems. When my son was a baby, heâ€™d get a red face rash just from touching a soft polyester fleece blanket. Now at 13, he has some kind of acne rash caused by dry inflamed skin. The winter cold makes everybodyâ€™s cheeks red and sore, especially the baby. I suffer from rosacea in the nose and cheeks, which comes from my German side of the family. It can sometimes become quite painful and had kept me up at night feeling my capillaries exploding until I discovered a French ointment that costs $40 for 2 oz. I seem to have an allergy to the antibiotic cream that the doctor had prescribed.
Whether we blame genetics or the environment, facial redness is incurable. All you can do is regulate it, avoid triggers like extreme temperatures or caffeine and alcohol, and try to eat a good diet and drink lots of water. I am so thankful that there are so many choices of skin products out there. One of the most beautiful things about capitalism. My personal favorite is a Chamomile Primrose salve marketed online by Common Sense, a Christian hippie community-based business. I often meditate upon the suffering of women in Afghanistan or Native People anywhere, as their faces turn to leather in the wind, sun and rain. As I understand, the early Muslims used olive oil as a skin salve. There is even a commonly accepted religious ruling that applying olive oil to the skin does NOT break the Ramadan fast. Thatâ€™s how important it is to moisturize!
Like prayer, the most important thing about any healthcare regime is that it needs to be applied regularly. No dermatologist in the world can help you if you donâ€™t actually apply the prescribed lotion. Likewise, we know the importance of eating avocados and carrots, but the knowledge doesnâ€™t help you. Eating in abundance the good food from Mother Earth helps you and your children to enjoy a better life!
Yet, I think we need to take the issue of moles caused by sunlight seriously. Hijabi women should find some way to privately expose their neck and shoulder area to sunlight on a regular basis. In my experience, this is the part of the body most sensitive, even more so than the face. I have read that people who are infrequently exposed to the sun, such as office workers, are more likely to experience skin cancer than construction workers who work in the sun without a shirt.
By the time I was thirty, I had developed a brown spot the size of a quarter on my left cheek. My mother had the same spot in the exact same place, although she was at least forty when it happened. The only thing I can think of is that it was caused by driving a car. Another argument against women driving cars LOL!!! But itâ€™s true, that intense sunlight pouring in through one window will age your skin.
One of the blessings of living in an informed culture is that we can learn from our elders, and we can apply what we learned to future generations. I have learned from the mistakes of my youth the importance of sunscreen. We are so blessed to live in a country where sunscreen is available. Otherwise, all women would have to wear a burqa to preserve their beauty.