Goodbye 09! My Acne Resolutions for 2010

Joy.

 Looks like my New Year’s Eve plans are shot, thanks to a wicked upper respiratory infection and a cough that sounds almost plague-esque. Guess it’s just me, the cat and Dick Clark tonight. (The long distance bf isn’t helping matters much) A rockin’ New Year’s indeed.

 Of course, I do have an uninvited guest as well—the adult acne that has decided to make itself my near constant companion of late. But rather than sit here feeling sorry for myself, I (armed with a big box of Kleenex and an even bigger bag of cough drops) have decided to come up with a different kind of New Year’s resolution list for 2010. Forget gym memberships and cleaner closets; how about some changes I can actually stick with this year. (And, more importantly, that will make a serious difference in the way I look and feel over the course of the next twelve months.)

 Actively working with my dermatologist. I know taking time out to make it to those doctor’s appointments on time can be a bit of an interruption of my daily routine, but I realized that unless I make myself a priority, I’ll never get my skin where I want it. Therefore, I am going to go to the appointments, ask questions, and stick with whatever regimen she prescribes.

 Being diligent with my skin care routine. I’ve done it before… “Oh, it’s late and I’m tired, I’m sure it’s no big deal if I just go to bed without washing off my make up just this once”.  Well, this year I’m going to be good about gently cleansing and moisturizing twice a day, without fail.

 Using cosmetics that are better for my skin. Speaking of makeup, it’s time for me to look into finding some that’s going to be better to my skin. I’m done with the whole clogged pore thing. If it means spending a little more on a good mineral foundation, then I guess I’ll just have to cut back on my morning latte fix.

 Anyone out there have any new year’s resolutions that have to do with skincare or dealing with adult acne?

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Birth Control and Adult Acne

So here I was, flipping through channels on a late night TV binge—trying to decide whether or not to find my purse, dig out my credit card, and order myself that set of steak knives I’ve been eyeballing when that commercial came on. You know the one I’m talking about: Where the group of fabulously dressed thirty somethings are out for the night at some chic club sipping martinis and talking about birth control pills.

 Now, normally I’m not one to pay much attention to ads, but something that this little hussy said caught my attention… “Used for the treatment of moderate to severe acne.”  Now hold on just one second. Did she just say that the same little pills that keep me from getting knocked up can also help keep my face clear?

 Time to drag out the laptop and do a little research on the subject, shall we?

 It turns out that for some women, treatment resistant acne is caused by an excessive production of androgens. With extra male hormones in your system, your face’s oil glands go haywire—and the acne soon follows. Oral contraceptives that include low doses of estrogen and progestin can control the whacked out androgens, thereby helping to keep those blemishes in check.

 This is definitely something I plan on bringing up at my next doctor’s appointment. Wondering if this might be a treatment option that could work for your acne? It’s something you’ve got to discuss with your MD, but there are a few tell tale signs that can clue you and the doc in as to whether or not your acne is hormonal. For example:

 Acne as an adult for the first time in your life

Acne flares during PMS

Irregular menstrual cycles

Elevated levels of androgens in the blood (after a blood test)

Odd or excessive hair growth on the face or other unusual parts of the body

Acne 911: 5 Questions to ask Your Dermatologist NOW

Is there a doctor in the house?

 I finally did it—I made an appointment to go see the dermatologist about my adult acne. I’ve always been a little wary about MDs in general, so it didn’t come as a big shock to anyone that knew me that I procrastinated a bit before deciding to go see the doc.

 Not that I’m anti modern medicine or anything like that (I’ll take a couple of good ol’ Tylenol over some boiled willow bark any day, thank you very much). But let’s just say I get a little flustered when it comes to talking to the doctor. Imagine that… me, flustered. So this time, I decided to get my research on long before the big day. That way, armed with a list of questions, I could get the most out of my appointment. (Pretty bright of me, right?)

 Armed with a pen and paper (or, for the seriously tech-savvy among you, a PDA) you too can take advantage of the time I spent hunting down the best questions to approach your dermatologist with. Of course, it’s probably a good idea to do a bit of your own research as well… no two people have the same face, which means that there aren’t any identical cases of acne, either!

 1. What kind of treatment works best for my acne? Maybe you have blackheads. Maybe you have mostly whiteheads with a few angry red bumps. Maybe you don’t know if what you’ve got is rosacea. Regardless, you should talk to your derm about coming up with a plan that works specifically for your type of pimples.

 2. What’s the best way to care for my face? If your skin is dry or sensitive, ask about moisturizers, cleansers, or soaps for your skin type. How often should you exfoliate? Gentlemen… don’t forget to ask about shaving tips.

 3. How long will it take before I see results? This one is especially important for those of us that tend to be a little impatient. Don’t forget to ask about side effects, too.

 4. What’s the best way to prevent scaring? Because once I finally get rid of the darned pimples, I don’t want to have to deal with scars, too!

 5. What’s the best kind of make up to use? Liquid foundations, powders, mineral makeup… with so much to choose from at the cosmetics counter these days, how do I know what isn’t going to trigger an acne flare up?

Sex and Chocolate: Acne Myths Debunked

I am a grown woman. A logical one, even. I don’t believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, or the Loch Ness Monster. (Well, I’m a little iffy on the whole Nessie thing… I mean, it could be real, right?) But I absolutely refuse to buy into the idea that my occasional Milky Way bar is aggravating my adult acne flare ups.

 It’s been tough; what with all the information I’ve been trying to absorb lately, to decipher the difference between fact and fiction. Being the generous gal that I am, I figured I’d pass along all that I have learned in my ongoing quest for knowledge. So here you go… three myths about adult acne, cleared up once and for all. (If you’ll pardon my pun)

 Myth #1: The Harder You Scrub, the Clearer Your Skin

You may think that scrubbing your face of all that grime and oil and other assorted nastiness extra vigorously every chance you get will help keep it fresh and clean, but the truth is actually quite the opposite. Wash gently twice a day—no more!!!—or you can end up causing a mechanical effect that can end up making your acne worse.

 Myth #2: If it Tastes Good, It Probably Gives You Zits

Pizza, chocolate, fried chicken and potatoes– they’ve all taken the wrap at some point for break outs. Survey says… Nope. There’s no scientific correlation between greasy foods and pimples. However, it is important to note that there are certain foods that can worsen (though they still won’t cause) a break out. And they probably aren’t what you think. It’s not foods high in fat that can aggravate acne, but those rich in calcium—like milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese.

 And finally, my very favorite:

Myth #3: Sex and Masturbation Cause Acne

You’ve got to hand it to those seventeenth century parents. They sure had some wicked ideas about steering their kids away from premarital sex. Yeesh. Fear not, my friends, this one is definitely just a myth.

Yet Another Reason to Hate PMS

As if I needed another reason to dread the third week of every month.

Ever since the onset of my little battle with adult acne, I’ve noticed a very definite correlation between that time of the month and my irritating flare ups. It seems like about seven to ten days before I start my cycle, my face goes crazy… breaking out left and right. I scrub, I rinse, I exfoliate… it doesn’t help. Home remedies? Fughettaboutit. Even the ones that are normally helpful are all but useless. Over the counter creams aren’t much better.

So what gives? How come, in addition to bloating, cramps, irritability, and tender breasts, I now have to deal with a road map on my face for a week every month? Is this really necessary?

Ok, I get it… it’s a hormone thing. For those of you that haven’t caught up on your PMS pimple reading, let me give you the abridged version: in the days before menstruation, your pores open up more, and your body simultaneously releases more androgens (male hormones) from its adrenal glands). This happy little hormone alters your skin’s pH levels and increases facial oil secretions… a combo that encourages an onslaught of acne fun.

Apparently (and try not to laugh to hard here) it’s nature’s way of making a woman’s face “glow” during the time of the month when she’d be most receptive to sperm—therefore encouraging the reproduction of the human race.

Sorry Mother Nature… but it’s going to be kind of hard for me to get in the “reproductive” mood with a paper bag over my head. I’m just sayin…

Home Remedies for Adult Acne

Basil. Milk. Vinegar. Tea Leaves. When it comes to home remedies for adult acne, I’ve heard them all. So, when my own face started to break out not long after my 29th birthday, I thought, “why not?”

 After all, home made treatments are affordable (a fraction of the cost of OTC acne creams and lotions) and they don’t have any harsh chemicals that could irritate my already temperamental skin. Between well meaning friends and the World Wide Web, I had a sizeable list of remedies to try. A little too sizeable, actually. As in… if I tried them all, I’d be eligible for senior citizen discounts before I was done.

 So I crossed off the remedies that were just too gross for me to stomach (urine? No Way). Then I ditched any possible ideas that included hard to come-by ingredients (where does one find haemafine syrup or neem extract, anyway?) Finally, I narrowed my list down to only those methods that other people had given good reviews. Whew!

 For the next few weeks, my bathroom sink was a hotbed of activity. I experimented, tested, re-tried. I was surprised, disappointed, and, on occasion, questioned my own sanity.  

 Without further ado, I present to you three home acne remedies that actually help get rid of pimples (and one that you should stay away from!)

 Eye Drops– I know it sounds corny, but Visine really does “get the red out”. I put a few drops on a cotton ball and applied it to a big bad zit that was just starting to rear its ugly head a few times over the course of the night. By the morning… no pimple.

 Lemon Juice and Rose Water– When I read about this one, it made a lot of sense. Lemons are a natural astringent, and roses have antibacterial properties. Mix about 2 tablespoons of each, and apply all over the face for about 15 minutes, then rinse with cool water. (It does sting a little when the lemon juice hits your skin) Use this treatment at night, or else avoid direct sunlight right after putting lemon juice on your skin.

 Oatmeal and Honey– This one sounded so yummy that I couldn’t wait to try it. Cook a single serving of plain oatmeal, just like you would for breakfast. (No flavored packaged varieties please!) Add about ¼ cup of honey, mix thoroughly, and allow to cool for a few minutes. Apply it all over the face, masque style (avoiding the eyes) and leave on for about 10-15 minutes. Any longer and it gets a little tough to take off. I especially like this recipe, because the oatmeal exfoliates and reduces the redness from acne.

Toothpaste– I know a lot of people swear by this old standby, which is why I tried it a few different times, but my verdict is still “don’t do it!” Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like toothpaste actually aggravates my acne. Slather it on at your own risk.

 There you have it… my official list of home remedies. Have you guys tried anything that works? (Or failed miserably?)

Adult Acne… Ugh

Aren’t I too old for this?

 As I approach the ripe old age of (gulp) thirty, I figured there were certain things I was going to have to start worrying about. Like, for example, whether or not I have to retire my favorite torn jeans and Winnie the Poo pajamas now that I am officially into my adulthood. Or the fact that all of my crabby older aunts are coming up to me at weddings and asking if I’m next. (Seriously, I’m going to start asking them the same thing… at funerals!)

 But there’s one thing I was not expecting to deal with at this stage in my life… acne. Yep, acne. As in pimples, zits, blackheads, the whole deal. Isn’t that a teen thing? And here’s the kicker—I didn’t really have a problem with acne as an adolescent! So how is it that I find myself (a grown woman) freaking out at the bathroom mirror every morning?

 Turns out I’m not alone either—not by a long shot. Acne affects 50% of all women during their adult life. Holy pimple cream, Batgirl! And that’s not all. According to the International Journal of Cosmetic Science,

 “Recent epidemiological studies show that there appears to be an increase in post-adolescent acne, and that the disease is lasting longer and is requiring treatment well into the mid forties.”

So, just what, exactly, is causing this adult acne phenomenon? Is it an atmospheric thing? Something we’re eating? Global warming? And most importantly…

 Now what? I have no intention of being the only grandma at Bingo with acne… but I’m not 100% sure how to deal with it either. And I’m thinking that with half of women everywhere being frustrated right along with me, there have got to be more lost souls out there.

 Anyone else out there dealing with a mid-life acne crisis?