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Help! Super-sensitive skin that reacts to absolutely everything...

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#1 pmd584

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Posted 16 September 2011 - 01:21 PM

Ok, so I had acne from 16-22 years of age, but once I got on the Regimen plus aspirin mask for the dry peeling from the regimen, plus a St. Ives peel off hydroxy masque that's now discontinued, I got 98% clear.

Well, about a year ago I started getting some jawline acne and saw that I was developing blackheads on my chin, under my mouth, and basically all over, and the regimen wasn't cutting it anymore, but I continued anyway, afraid of what would happen to my face if I just up and stopped it all.

I tried steaming my face, bentonite clay masks, yogurt masks, to try and make the jawline acne and clogged pores go away. I even tried the Oil Cleansing Method. Big mistake! It worked nicely for about 4 days, then BOOM! I got a face full of flesh-colored bumps! I continued with the Regimen, clay masks, steaming, and yogurt masks, and used up the very last of the St. Ive's peel off mask. I used the peel off mask the night before my wedding day.

Then, here's the kicker, 4 months ago when I got married, and I didn't have a single pimple on my face! Not ONE PIMPLE! Even the little bumps were less noticeable... THEN on our honeymoon I used Clean & Clear blackhead erasing scrub for a couple of days, and got another face full of bumps! This time though, they refuse to go away...

That's why I'm posting this. I tried continuing to use the Regimen, but it WOULD NOT help the bumps at all. Nothing I tried helped. Some things would help the first day using it, then something would go terribly wrong a few days later.

-My face is so itchy, it has an overall reddish appearance
-I have clogged pores all over my face, I can squeeze caramel-colored plugs out of my pores
-After the bumps first came, they eventually began turning into pustules
-Whenever I go in a sauna, I break out the next day
-I'm not sure if it's food related, because there seems to be no rhyme or reason most of the time

-I've tried washing my face with oatmeal, but it doesn't take away the itching or redness or prevents any pimples or bumps
-steaming doesn't unclog my pores, just makes the acne worse
-anything I put or use on my face seems to make it worse

-The only thing that has helped has been Aveeno Hydrocortisone cream, which I understand you can't use for more than a week. Well, my week is gone... The Aveeno took away the redness and made the pustules heal faster, and quite a lot of the bumps have gone down or away, but pustules are still erupting and I don't know what's causing this.

Part of me thinks it's not acne at all, but some sort of allergic reaction or infection on my face. The way it all came on so suddenly, I just didn't think acne behaved like that...

Can anyone help me? I'm absolutely sick of Dermatologists giving me more chemicals to put on my face or in my body. I'm afraid to use anything prescription because of getting a dependency on it. Once I stop using it, all of it will just come back.

Anyone? Please?


#2 allatonce

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Posted 16 September 2011 - 01:54 PM

You mentioned getting married ... have you had other changes that might have caused a shift in your hormones? Did you start or change birth control methods? Jawline acne is pretty usually hormonal, as I understand it.

#3 gemmyjunebug

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Posted 16 September 2011 - 04:14 PM

Just from personal experience with super sensitive skin- those flesh colored bumps(hundreds of them with an occasional -but small whitehead) is more than likely a cosmetic reaction. If the cortisone helped and cleared it up to a degree of clear it's cosmetic. I get the jawline acne from time to time-but the sandpaper like pimples that come in like an army are not normal for me. It's sounds like that acne is not normal for you either. It's very unlikely to develop a thousand of pimples overnight-unless you are dealing with a reaction. So, says my Derm doctor. I would slowly reintroduce products into your regimen and see what your sensitive skin can and cannot handle. This will allow you to determine if you have a cosmetic reaction, and if so what you may be allergic to.
Red Flags to note for reaction:
1. Itching-not tingling.
2. Extreme Redness with bumps and itching.
3. Swollen face/hives


I laugh a lot. It's a requirement in my world. You're welcome anytime....'Ello loves!

#4 kefir

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Posted 16 September 2011 - 09:21 PM

I agree, this sounds like allergic contact dermatitis. Especially the itchiness, overall redness, and the sudden change from clear skin to clogged pores everywhere. The hydrocortisone is an inflammation reducer, so that being a help makes some sense, but long term use (as you know) can give you an even worse skin condition.

Maybe you've developed an allergy to a common addictive in cleansing or make-up products. Or photo sensitivity, where it's not just the product itself, but the substance being exposed to sunlight while on the skin. Even ragweed or other airborne pollens can cause dermatitis, an allergy test would catch those though.

Have you tried doing...nothing? That's probably what I would try first. A full week of say, twice a day hot steam (not too long though, just enough to open the pores and encourage them to detoxify), lots of water internally and externally, and zero topicals if you can manage it, or maybe an extremely gentle natural cleanser if needed. You're right that more chemicals is probably just going to keep the inflammation/bacteria cycle going.

#5 cvd

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 09:59 AM

You may have developed rosacea or perioral dermatitis. Your symptoms of reacting to saunas, harsh topicals, and stress all indicate this. Or you may just have extremely sensitive skin and acne. Or a combination of all of the above. I think I have this kind of combo skin. Athough you're adverse to seeing a derm it may actually help. Find one you feel you can trust and confide in. This may take some looking. And then follow through with their advice. Keep a journal of your symptoms from day to day so that the derm can see how your skin reacts to things over time. This can really help since we don't always remember to tell our derm everything when we're in the office. Good luck...and don't dispair...there's a way to figure this out.

Status - 99.9% clear

Morning - Panoxyl 4 Cleanser (BP), Cleocin-T, DML Lotion, Physician's Formula SPF 30 Mineral Pressed Powder, Spiro 100 mg

Night - Cetaphil Antibacterial Bar, DML Lotion

Monthly - Professional microdermabrasion

Diet - Whole high nutrient unprocessed foods.  Avoid oils, dairy, sugars, bread, nuts, alcohol, caffeine, and fermented foods.

Supplements - Opti l-zinc, citrical + D3

Daily - Walk, breath deeply, meditate and do yoga daily, wear hats for sun protection 

 

 


#6 pmd584

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 08:34 AM

You guys have been VERY helpful! My husband and I read all of your responses, and he agrees that I need to be very gentle with my skin, and most importantly drink a TON of water.

I'm not on birth control at all, thank God. I would never go on that stuff!

I've been using oatmeal on my face for about a month, but it seems to be making my face RED, of all things. I thought oatmeal was supposed to tame the redness and itching? It's organic rolled oats that I ground up.

I've been looking up pictures of what you guys have described to see if it looks like any of them.

It was getting rough again and more and more red every day. Yesterday I was crying about it... I used diluted Cell Power on my face, suggested by my mom, and it made the redness go WAY down, and also it made it smoother. I can't take using the oatmeal anymore, it's just not cutting it. It makes my skin feel raw, and I'm not even scrubbing with it!

I went on EWG's SkinDeep to find a very gentle soap/cleanser/something that could be used on babies, that has a very low rating. I found Dr. Bronner's Magic Baby Unscented soap. I was at my wit's end yesterday because even if I just wash with lukewarm water, my face gets red, and red for HOURS! Well, I used the Dr. Bronner's soap and it burned, then when I dried off I used Cell Power, and my face was a LOT LESS RED! Also, it was a lot smoother.

But who knows four days from now what will happen on my face...

Thank you all again for your responses! They're such a HUGE help!

#7 Addie

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 09:43 AM

I used to have very sensitive, red, itchy skin, but now my skin doesn't react like it's sensitive at all. Using Paula's Choice products has really helped. I think their main benefits to sensitive skin are that they're fragrance-free and contain many soothing ingredients.

#8 pmd584

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 11:49 AM

I used to have very sensitive, red, itchy skin, but now my skin doesn't react like it's sensitive at all. Using Paula's Choice products has really helped. I think their main benefits to sensitive skin are that they're fragrance-free and contain many soothing ingredients.


What had you been using that made your skin reactive and sensitive?

#9 Addie

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 12:35 PM

BP, Duac, Tazorac, any cleanser, any moisturizer, and any sunscreen I tried. There were a lot. I know I tried a lot of Neutrogena, Aveeno, and Cetaphil products. All the home remedies I tried were a bust too. I tried jojoba oil, aloe vera gel, petroleum jelly, aspirin masks, and sugar scrubs. My face just stayed red and itchy and awful until slowly switched over to Paula's Choice. It took awhile to go away even then.

Maybe try PC slowly and see how you like it. Some the products work for me and some just don't. Like, I don't recommend her sunscreens for you right now. The chemical sunscreens can really, really sting if your skin is sensitive, and the mineral ones are heavy for somebody dealing with acne. I couldn't use the sunscreen in my signature for the longest time because of this. The carbon mask can also sting. Actually, her toners stung when I was sensitive, too, so don't start with those either. Maybe a cleanser? The one in my signature is nice for oily skin. The Skin Balancing Cleanser works also works well, but I don't prefer it.

I also suggest you go back to basics. Try just a gentle cleanser, sunscreen, and moisturizer (if you need it) until your face is less red and itchy. Then slowly add in one acne medication at a time to see how your face handles it.

I haven't found a derm I like either, but seeing a good one would probably help too. (My Differin is prescribed by my general practitioner.)

#10 pmd584

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 08:58 PM

I was on Tazorac when I was in college. It wrecked my face! Wherever I put it, it made my face bright red. It took years for it to go away. And now that my face is getting red again, it almost looks like the same outline from where I had used the Tazorac years ago. I never put it near my lips, so my lips have a white ring around them. Of course not around my eyes, and not on my neck. I wonder if it permanently damaged my skin and altered the color of it. Hopefully not...

Thank you for your suggestions of Paula's Choice. I've heard of that brand and have heard good things about it.

#11 freeliving

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 04:55 AM

stop using everything immediately! do not touch your face, only splash your face with cold water morning and night, do not touch your face with your hands or a towel, NO SOAPS or CREAMS. do not allow shower water to hit your face, tilt your head back to rinse out shampoo. do this and you will get better.

#12 pmd584

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 05:43 PM

I had to stop using the baby soap, it was burning my face and making it more red. I've stopped using all soaps and the only thing that goes on my face is cold water twice a day and hydrocortisone cream on the real itchy spots. It seems like it's getting better, thank you! I hope it keeps getting better. I just don't understand why I can't even use baby soap....

#13 Roisin75

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 07:58 AM

Hi - for the past month or so I have been using the La Roche Posay Toleriane line of skincare, it is designed for easily irritated, intolerant skin. In particular, I use the Toleriane Fluid for my face. It is extremely light and very soothing. I am currently taking Roaccutane and my skin is extremely sensitive and delicate - this has kept my skin feeling soft and healthy. My husband suffers from excema and he has recently started using their Lipikar range (for dry skin) with great results.

.
Roaccutane course completed 19th February 2012

#14 nomore1923

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 09:21 AM

you might have folliculitis. If its itchy, it could be Pityrosporum folliculitis.

#15 pmd584

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 02:13 PM

you might have folliculitis. If its itchy, it could be Pityrosporum folliculitis.


I looked up the symptoms and progression of the infection of PF/MF, and it's the same progression mine took. First with bumps, then itchiness, then pustules and redness. I'm testing Nizoral shampoo on a portion of my face to see if it will help it. There isn't much on the internet as far as natural treatments of it.

This PF thing is the closest thing I've found to what my symptoms are. I found a picture online of it, of a girl's forehead, and my husband thought it was my forehead, so did my mother.

If anyone has any other suggestions as to what could help, or what it may be if it's not Pityrosporum Folliculitis, please help....

Thank you for the suggestions so far, they're really helping me!

#16 ethio84

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 07:30 PM

had perfect skin as a teen but once I turned 20, BOOM. Docs and Derms were no help, but I figured out that the problem all started when something changed in my tap water. They replaced the chlorine with chloramine (combination of chlorine and ammonia) which irritated the heck out of my sensitive skin. The problem went misdiagnosed as acne for years before I figured out it was Folliculitis, a overgrowth of yeast in the skin which has symptoms very similar to acne . My suspicion is that the chloramine dried out my skin so bad that it had to work overtime to self moisturize by increasing sebum production, thus allowing the yeast overgrowth. Washing my face with bottled water helps, but if the problem is advanced, you need to try anti-fungal topicals or oral medications (ask a derm) ZNP soap bar and tea tree oils should work if it is a fungal problem.

good luck :)

For tips got to a thread titled"Pityrosporum Folliculitis"

There are a lot of people on there with similar symptoms that appear to be acne that arise suddenly out of nowhere.

Hope this helps anyone that is suffering needlessly.

Chin up guys :)

#17 pmd584

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 08:36 AM

Wow, this is really helpful! The more I find out about this, the more confident I am that it can be treated. I'm still struggling, but not as bad. The roughness is still there, and my face still feels like sandpaper. I get scabs all over my face that I can't see, but feel if I scratch my face. I was getting more bumps by using Nizoral, and I know HEad and Shoulders will do the same, so I found a soap called Psoriasin medicated wash that I use. It has 3% salicylic acid in it. It's really helping with the redness, it's almost gone. It dries out the pustules. I also use aspirin so scrub a little because the dry rough scales build up if I don't.

I don't know what I'm doing though... It seems like if I use only water, it doesn't get better and only gets more and more red and bumpy. This soap has given me some hope, finally.

I'm also using Oil of Oregano, because it's anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-parasitic. I'm trying to cover all my bases.

I don't know what to do besides this, since I can't use Nizoral.... Should I just go to a derm and get anti-fungal scripts?

#18 ethio84

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 09:09 AM

@pmd584

The problem with Nizrola and Head & Soulders is that they are designed for the hair and not the face and include harsh chemicals such as sodium laurylsulfate. The best option is to find something that has the same active ingredient but with only natural additives which are much less irritating. For me, DermaZinc soap bar works great. Wash you face with it in the shower and let it sit for 5-10 minutes (this is important) then rinse and repeat if you want. Be careful to keep it out of you eyes. Rotating a tea tree face cleanser also seems to work. The key is to experiment and see what routine works for you. I have been using this stuff for about a month and half, and the texture of my skin has improved about 50%. I am not getting any new pustules but I still have a slight redness and oiliness on my problem areas (forehead and cheeks). Although these areas look much less red, when I touch them even slightly, they become flush red for 10-20 seconds before settling down, which does not happen on the rest of my face...is your skin like this as well?

I have not tried an oral ant-fungal yet, since the problem seems to be getting better (although very slowly) by the day. I am thinking, if I reach a plateau, or the symptoms return immediately after tapering off the topical treatments, I will have to try the oral meds to see if they can knock the PF out once and for all.

In the mean time, I am keeping up my regime and keeping my fingers crossed.

Good luck and lets keep each other posted on our progress.

Also, see the post below to read my story, it may be similar to yours :)

Hi guys,

Thought I would share my story.

Junior year college after returning from vacation abroad, I suddenly got what appeared to be acne for the first time in my life. I also noticed a change in my skin generally, which was now very red and dry after showering. My doctor told me it was acne and recommended using the typical cleaners. Of, course this didn't work and probably made it worse.

After months of frustration, I tried washing my face with bottled water, and surprisingly, it seemed to help. Encouraged, I starting researching what was in my tap water, and found to my horror that the onset of my symptoms matched the exact date of when my cities (San Francisco) water authority switched disinfectants from chlorine to chloramine (a combination of chlorine + ammonia). By this time, the "acne" was pretty bad on my forehead and cheeks and the bottle water only helped a little and was very impractical to begin with.

After moving to NYC (which doesnt use chloramine, hooray!) I noticed that my skin was feeling like its old self again, but I still bumps and irritation the areas it was the worst (forehead and cheeks). After seven years of battling this but not completely winning, I was on the verge of breaking down due to the stress it caused on my relationships.

Surfing the web for answers, I stumbled upon this thread a month ago. The symptoms that people described sounded very similar to mine, so I decided to try some of their suggestions. I tried the ZNP bar and tea tree cleanser, and it seems to be working. I started about a month ago, and since them my face is about 70% clear. I have never been diagnosed with PF but I am almost positive this is what I had for all of these years and NOT ACNE (grrrrrrr). Has anyone herd of PF being caused by chloramine? From my research I have not found any thing but am 100% positive this is what started the PF for me.

Right now I am happy with the ZNP and tea tree results so far. But I am afraid that the PF will become resistant. I am so sick of dealing with this and just what my life back. I am thinking about trying and oral anti-fungal but dread having to go to the doctors to get a prescription Is it really worth the side effects since from what I read the PF tends to come back after you stop?. However, since Ive had PF for so long (since 2004 ughhh), I am thinking that the yeast is so deep in the follicles that I may need to treat the blood borne causes to get to the root of the problem. Any stories about oral meds would be very much appreciate.

Stay strong guys, a solution is out there :)

#19 cvd

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 10:00 AM

Hi PMD

I have some more thoughts on your situation. First off I think your skin has gotten into a really reactive mode. In my experience when skin gets into this reactive state then you have to go really really gentle...almost as if you have rosacea.

This means washing with a product designed for reactive skin. I personally like Cetaphil Antibacterial Bar Soap. It was recommended by my dermatologist for being one of the most mild cleansers available. Even though it is a bar soap it rinses very clean and the antibacterial part helps in soothing inflammed skin that may be abraded and prone to infection. Most foaming cleansers have too much detergent in them for reactive skin...even the ones for so-called sensitive skin. Don't use any organic or natural products. These sound good but actually are too much for skin that is reactive. There's a reason for using a refined product...it has all the reactive elements taken out.

When you wash, only use tepid water and your fingertips...no wash cloth or rubbing. Pat your skin dry with a clean towel. Do not look closely in the mirror at this point. For a long time your skin will be shedding as it heals and there will be white patches. These are normal and fade away as the skin dries off.

Use a very mild lotion. I like the one below by Neutrogena. This company is devoted to making products for sensitive skin. I have talked many times with them and confirmed this. Do not use sunscreen. I know that everyone recommends using sunscreen but it is too occlusive and harsh for sensitive skin...even the ones designed for sensitive skin. Wear a hat instead. I think the use of sunscreen has added to the epidemic of adult acne.

Use loose powder mineral make-up. Most mineral make-up has zinc in it and that heals the skin. I like the Neutrogena brand...again because it is so gentle and hides any redness.

Absolutely avoid all sodium laurel sulfate in your products, even shampoos. This stuff is being used more and more and it is a big irritant to already sensitive skin. You can get SLS free products at the health food store.

Avoid flouride and SLS toothpastes. Some people are even sensitive to mint toothpastes. All of these ingredients are known irritants and can flare up acne lesions.

Avoid alcohol, dairy, and sugary foods. These foods affect insulin levels or hormones and that in turn affects acne.

If you do the above you should see a change in about 2 weeks. Once your skin calms down, then you should reconsider using a retinoid. I know you had a bad experience before. I did too the first time I used one. The second time (my derm had to really convince me to try it!) I used a generic brand of tretinoin cream and eventually upped it to .1%. At this dose it keeps my skin wrinkle free and 99% acne free. It took forever to kick in...about a year. And as time goes on my skin keeps getting smoother and smoother. Amazing stuff. I will keep on using it till I die!

Hope this helps...

Status - 99.9% clear

Morning - Panoxyl 4 Cleanser (BP), Cleocin-T, DML Lotion, Physician's Formula SPF 30 Mineral Pressed Powder, Spiro 100 mg

Night - Cetaphil Antibacterial Bar, DML Lotion

Monthly - Professional microdermabrasion

Diet - Whole high nutrient unprocessed foods.  Avoid oils, dairy, sugars, bread, nuts, alcohol, caffeine, and fermented foods.

Supplements - Opti l-zinc, citrical + D3

Daily - Walk, breath deeply, meditate and do yoga daily, wear hats for sun protection 

 

 


#20 Venus in Virgo Gal

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 04:23 PM

The person above me mentioned avoid fluoride toothpaste. Honestly, I had acne for 18 years and I switched to fluoride-free toothpaste one day. My face got clear fast and it has been mostly clear, even though I am prone to hormonal acne(blood test showed hormone imbalance). Even if the fluoride toothpaste does not touch your face or if you wash your face, just having it in your mouth can cause breakouts.