My skin has been pissing me off for the better part of a year now. The year before I had permanently stopped taking the pill to help my thyroid and the rest of my body get back in order, so I didn’t mind having a bit of acne for the sake of feeling better for the first time in a long time.
What started as the odd pimple or little cluster of pimples around my jaw, on my cheek or chin was taking up permanent residence around my mouth area. They were little whiteheads, sometimes just tiny red bumps. Small fry compared to my pre-teen acnefest, so I wasn’t too bothered.
It was coming up to my Canada trip and I noticed that a picture my mum had taken of us a few weeks prior showed the acne spots I still had were in similar spots, some new, but the dead ones hadn’t healed. They weren’t dark like acne scarring, just… lingering. I knew that having hypothyroidism and, with that, a very compromised immune system would take my skin longer to heal, but this was verging on 8ish weeks!
Cut to Canada trip. Inhabitants still on face. What should be long expired spots are still clutching onto my skin like little ghosts. Come on! I’ve been doing everything right; my skin routine is exceptional, while my diet hadn’t been A+, it wasstill good- and I was in another freakin’ country eating better than at home! I wasn’t stressing, and was taking thyroid medication.
It wasn’t making sense, and it was pissing me off.
My dear Canadian friend I was taking this road trip with has heard it all. She has been on the receiving end of my skin rants for the better part of four months now and, as a fellow sensitive skin sufferer, makes her own skin and body care. While at her house, she had made me a gloriously delicious-smelling moisturiser. It felt wonderful.
When I returned back home I used it as my night time moisturiser, but suddenly couldn’t after a week or two. Summer was coming. Australian summer was coming. Coconut oil-based moisturiser doesn’t bode well with the sweat-hell that is an Australian summer.
A month later, my sister and I moved into our current apartment. I knew my skin was going to get the full-brunt of my stress, aaaaand boy was I stressed. Every morning I’d waddle into the bathroom and see the new fresh little whiteheads amongst the linger red spots on my chin and around my mouth. It looked almost like herpes.
While it was funny for a full thirty seconds, it was puzzling me.. and angering me. I had products from Canada I still hadn’t tried, a new headshot photo I wasn’t looking like at all and had prepared to get myself into shape (a topic for another post).
I couldn’t lather enough moisturiser on for the dry, flaking skin (thanks, hypothyroidism!) because it would mix with my sweat (thanks, summer!) and just sit on my face, bringing more of the little white assholes.
The concentration to one area was now concerning me, the itchiness was frustrating me, and how sore they were was really annoying me, yet I still chalked it up to the stress of moving and getting nestled in.
Then one morning, I received a nice surprise.
I did my ritualistic waddle to the bathroom, only this time, Barry White was in there and he let out the lowest “woah” he could.
Only it wasn’t Barry White in there. It was me who “woah”ed.
The tiny red bumps had spread to right under my left eye, hugging the waterline, up to where my top lashes start at the outside of my eye.
I was mortified.
Like the other red bumps, they were itchy, sore and oh-so swollen. My sister was dumbfounded.
“That big one looks like a stye. Maybe it’s a big stye with little styes around it?”
While the bigger one in the middle of my lower lid did look like a stye and felt like a stye, it wasn’t.
These impostors were so itchy and tight, yet the skin was so inflamed and puffy that it just felt like my eye was puffed out an inch.
At this point I looked something like Woogie from There’s Something About Mary..
Sweet dreams tonight, kids.
Skincare-wise, nothing helped. I scanned my mental library for any natural remedies that might help it calm down but it was lost to me. Things that should have worked didn’t. I had only just visited my new doctor but didn’t want to wait another 2 hours to get in through his door, especially if I was going to be given something that would exacerbate it like steroids. It wasn’t biased; it hated everything I put on my skin. Some things didn’t worsen it, however a lot did (including sensitive-skin, safe oils like coconut oil).
Makeup didn’t help. Not only did my face look worse with makeup on but my skin would be itchy and uncomfortable.
I couldn’t conceal this mess, and nothing was making it better.
That’s when it really got to me.
Even though I was ballooning with my weight and my shape, I always had pretty good skin. Now, however, I looked infectious. I even had people looking at me like I was going to give them something.
Any inch of confidence I had was ripped away. I felt ugly.
I didn’t want to go out, moreso than usual. I didn’t want photos or videos taken of me. I couldn’t even go to the gym because the sweat made it worse and even lightly patting my face dry made it feel like it was on fire.
For an added kick, the bumps were starting to appear under my right eye. Greeeat.
Then my sister called me upstairs to her room one day. She was on Pinterest (we are never off that site) and she stumbled onto picture of people with Perioral Dermatitis, or POD.
Periorificial dermatitis is a common facial skin problem characterised by groups of itchy or tender small red papules…. The more restrictive term, perioral dermatitis, is often used when the eruption is confined to the skin in the lower half of the face, particularly around the mouth. Periocular dermatitis may be used to describe the rash affecting the eyelids. (dermnetnz.org)
As I read more about it and how it’s concentrated to the mouth area, sometimes spreading to the eyes (Periorbital Dermatitis) with the itchy red bumps that never completely disappear, it seemed more and more like I found my answer.
Perioral Dermatitis around the mouth (via noskinproblems)
Periorbital Dermatitis, usually ties in with Perioral Dermatitis (via medicinenet)
When I saw this poor darling’s picture, I knew it was what I had because my face looked exactly the same; the ‘rings’ of bumps under and around the outer corners of the eye, around the nose and folds of the mouth, as well as the chin.
I searched forums, blog posts, people who had written in to doctor-owned websites about their symptoms and factors that lead up to said symptoms. Some people discovered their flare up after a time of sudden stress, others had experienced some sort of eczema or mild dermatitis earlier in life while others had just been diagnosed with autoimmune diseases, inflammatory diseases, fungal overgrowth like candida or displayed symptoms of leaky gut syndrome.
Finally! It seems like I have a direction that seems to be the right path that could actually get me to a place of good health!
So I jotted down products and ingredients that people had tried that both did and didn’t work so I always had a list with me when I next went shopping. I ended up finding some amazing products, which I will share in the second part of this series!