Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The very long post on Eczema and Acne

I talked briefly about my skin problems in my last post, and felt like elaborating a bit.

When I was a little girl, my mother had a drawer full of make up. I always thought I'd have a drawer like hers when I grew up. Instead, my drawer is filled up to the brim with ointments and creams.

My skin problems have been described as psoriasis, dermatitis or simply a rash, but most doctors I've seen think it is eczema or dermatitis. One doctor performed a patch test, which consists of going without a shower for five days while your back is covered with 70 itchy patches of many different substances. The conclusion from that test was that I should avoid perfumes. But other factors trigger rashes on different parts of my body.
  • Sweat accumulation: This is the main cause of rashes on my armpits, my underarms, my eyelids, behind my knees, under my rings (including my wedding ring) and under my breasts. On hot, humid days, it might appear wherever an elastic band was in contact with my skin.
  • Friction. This comes from exercise and certain sports clothes. A  few bras have also caused it, and I also get it and around my eyes if I've been rubbing them. Wearing bracelets and necklaces is also an issue. 
  • Dryness: This is the main cause of eczema on my hands, which get washed many times per day, as it should be. Sometimes in Winter, when the air gets very dry, I get it also on my face.
  • Perfumes and perfumed lotions. These give me a rash that is very itchy and swells a lot, making me look like a puff fish.
I respond very well to corticoid ointments and creams. I have also had some success with coal tar ointments. As for over the counter stuff, I use Gold Bond to prevent itch, and witch hazel extract to treat swollen or broken skin.

About the acne, well, it is one of the symptoms of  PCOS. It started in my teens and it has not stopped to this date. I get it on my face, back and neck. Keeping my skin clean and staying on a low carb diet helps me keep it under control, but the best remedy is birth control pills. Witch hazel reduces the inflammation.  I apply an antibiotic cream directly on the breakouts. Regular over the counter stuff, especially benzoyl peroxide, gives me eczema.

This post makes it sound like this all sucks, but it doesn't. I am very used to it all: showering everyday and also after exercising (like everyone else, I guess), blotting instead of rubbing myself dry with a towel, applying ointments when needed, wearing jewelry and make-up only on special occasions, throwing away brand new bras that turned out to be itchy, washing my face before going to bed, and only using hypoallergenic AND non-comedogenic products, especially on  my face. When I want to use perfume, I apply it to my hairbrush, not to my skin. It all sounds harder than it actually is.

The only thing that sucks right now is that I have not had a manicure in two years, and it is looking like I will not get one until Winter is over. Oh well.


  1. ugh, what a mess. I am glad that you have found a way to manage this, but it does sound sucky. I get tiny patches of dermatitis on my face (I mean tiny) so I can only imagine what this must be like for you :( sign....Does stress make it worse? I am sure all this TTC is not doing your skin any good.

  2. I think the jury is still out there regarding stress. I do believe that stress makes me scratch when I sleep, so I try to wear cotton gloves at night.

  3. I've developed the occasional case of excema in the last few years. In my case I think age has something to do with it. And on my recent holiday, my face went all dry and scaly which I think was a reaction of make-up, heat and sweat - ghastly, but I figure I've shared far worse on the internet! It was actually painful in the heat. So all I can say is, I sympathise.