Nose Blowing Zits

So what, exactly, is the proper office etiquette for telling a coworker that they stink? There’s a woman in my department who insists on wearing this horrible, overwhelming, perfume. I’m sure it’s some ridiculously expensive French concoction, but the simple fact is that it’s killing me. It was bad enough when I only had to deal with it during staff meetings, but now she and I are working together on a big project, which means we are spending a ton of time together. Joy.

 What’s worse, her Eau du Skunk is aggravating my allergies. This means that in addition to the headache that I get from her over ripened stench, I’m also dealing with a runny nose, sneezing, and constant nose blowing. (Not to mention the sudden rise in my weekly Kleenex costs) Just when I thought this budgeting project couldn’t get any worse, I noticed something: all the extra irritation is causing a major increase in the number of pimples around my nose!

 Granted, I always seem to end up breaking out whenever I’ve got a cold or there’s a lot of pollen in the air, but I think that up until now I’ve chalked it up to toxins or what not in my system. But working with Ol’ Stinky has caused me to take a different look at the whole nose blowing acne situation. The constant rubbing of tissue and fingers against the side of my nose has definitely given me a couple of bumps that wouldn’t have been there otherwise.

 So what to do about it? The last time I had a big bad breakout, I took some benzoyl peroxide products out for a spin. (And found a couple of OTC products that I really liked) This time, I think I will try the flip side of the coin and pick up a salicylic acid treatment on the way home.

 Anyone else out there ever have to deal with a toxic or smelly coworker?


Acne Vaccine in the Future?

Let’s hear it for the docs at the University of California at San Diego. They are actively working on developing an anti-acne vaccine. When I heard the news, I just had to find out more. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

 It turns out that scientists started working on finding a cure for acne back in 2001. P acnes is the name of the bacteria which is primarily associated with pimples and break outs, so doctors have been trying to perfect a vaccine that would target P acnes and eliminate it. The problem came a couple of years into the research, when medical professionals realized that our bodies might actually need to hold on to some of the P acnes bacteria, and that getting rid of all of it may do more harm than good.

 Today, research has begun again, with a new goal in mind: targeting the toxins that are secreted by the P acnes bacteria. It’s a pretty new idea, and one that deals with the protein makers on a cellular level. The toxin, called the CAMP factor, is the leading cause of many forms of acne—meaning that a vaccine that actually gets rid of it can be an effective cure for those dreaded pimples once and for all.

 Initial results are looking pretty good, especially since early versions of the vaccine are working well on mice. Whether or not it will work as well on humans remains to be seen, though, because mice don’t produce the same skin oils as us.

 So what’s next?

 A clinical trial with human beings is the next step in the process. And it might end up being a big hurdle, because funding has yet to be secured, and those trials cost a pretty penny. We’re talking about a couple million dollars here. Then there are those of us (myself included) that are concerned that the drug companies and OTC acne corporations might get in the way of this vaccine coming to fruition. Either way, it’s looking like it’s going to be at least 10 years before we see an anti-acne shot, should it happen at all.

 What’s your take on the acne vaccine?

Acne Down Below?

Readers, I was approached today by someone with a serious concern. Apparently, this person, who is my older brother’s friend, but shall remain nameless for obvious reasons, is concerned about body acne. Most specifically, he’s worried about acne down there. As in, *there*. Now I have been struggling with the acne thing for a while now, and (thankfully) have yet to break out in my nether regions, but apparently, pubic acne does exist. And it’s a problem faced by more people than I realized.

 You can get acne anywhere on your body. That includes the dreaded bacne, pimples on your chest or arms, and yeah, even your special place. Yikes! So I decided to do a little reading up on the subject. Here’s what I found out:

 There are a few different things that can be causing a break out south of the equator. What’s more, it might not be regular acne at all! While you can get pimples on you’re privates, you may also be suffering from an STD, clogged sweat glands, or even folliculitis—which is an inflammation and infection of the hair follicles. Which means your best bet is to get to a doctor. (Better safe than sorry, yes?)

 In the mean time, here are some tips for dealing with pubic acne while you’re waiting on that appointment:

 Wash the area twice a day. A good antibacterial soap might help, because bacteria or fungi in the area may be what’s triggering your break outs down below. Also, don’t stay in sweaty work out clothes. Wash the area after exercise, intercourse, or any other activity that leaves you less than fresh.

 Moisture is a lovely breeding ground for germs, so try and keep the area as dry as possible. That means paying extra attention to drying off after a shower. Also, if you tend to get sweaty easily, or if the weather is especially muggy, you might want to gently blow dry yourself.

 Lay off the razor of a couple of weeks. Shaving may be irritating your skin, and that could be making your breakout worse.

 Stick to cool, breathable fabrics for your underwear selection. Cotton works best, as synthetic materials may not be allowing your skin to breathe.

If anyone’s got more info on the subject, hit me up.

Using Zzz’s to Fight Acne

Hooray! The move is over. I am officially living in my new place. (Most of my boxes are still in the garage, and my socks and curling iron seem to be MIA, but hey that’s par for the course, right?) Wow, talk about a stressful weekend. I don’t think I got more than 5 hours of sleep between Friday night and Monday morning. No big surprise that I woke up with a pretty wicked break out then, huh?

 I thought it was just the stress and dust of packing and hauling that was tormenting my skin, but it turns out that the whole lack of sleep thing can cause pimples too.

 Everyone knows that sleep deprivation is seriously bad for your body. But I don’t think many people realize just how bad it really is. There are about a million things we can get into, but for now, lets stick to sleep (or a lack thereof) and its effect on your acne. For starters, not getting enough Z’s is a big trigger behind increases in inflammation—a major acne no-no.

 What’s more… you don’t even have to be majorly sleep deprived for this inflammation overload to kick in. Even a few nights worth of restless sleep can increase your inflammatory cytokines levels by 40-60%. That is a BIG increase in swelling, which in turn leads to a huge increase in the number of zits you can be spotting.

 Then there’s the link between lack of sleep and insulin resistance. According to the University of Chicago’s Medical Center, getting 6 hours of sleep or less per night can affect your body’s insulin resistance—a major contributor to diabetes and acne. Holy Smokes!

 Ok, Ok… not getting enough sleep was definitely a contributor to this break out. So now what do I do about it?

Homemade Facial Masks that Really Work

Who doesn’t love a trip to the day spa? But let’s face it, there’s a recession going on out there, and dropping a week’s salary on an hour of pampering just isn’t feasible for most of us. But there are ways to get that fresh from the spa feel for your skin right from the comfort of your own home. The key is to replicate the fundamentals of high end treatments… for less. And the best part? You don’t have to wait three weeks to get an appointment!

So light a few scented candles, throw on your fluffiest robe, and try one of these homemade masks tonight:

Purrfectly Smoothing Mask

Apparently, kitty litter is made from the same stuff as those high end clay masks. Here’s a quick and easy way to make the most of an inexpensive bag of cat sand:

  • 2 tablespoons cat litter (must be marked 100% natural clay)
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • Couple of drops tea tree oil

 Mix all ingredients in a bowl, apply to face, and leave on for about 15 minutes. Gently wash off, pat dry, and follow up with an oil free moisturizer.

Strawberries and Cream

According to beauty gurus, strawberries are a natural source of salicylic acid which (if you’ve been reading this blog!) you know is excellent for fighting acne. Combine them with the soothing and moisturizing properties of yogurt for a cool and yummy mask:

  • ¼ cup fresh strawberries (not frozen!)
  • ¼ plain yogurt

Mash the strawberries into the yogurt, and spread evenly across your face—avoiding your eyes. Wash off after about 10-15 minutes.

The One-Two Punch

For people with combination skin, it can be hard to find a mask that evens out both the oily and dry parts of your face. Here’s one that actually works:

  • 5 fresh rose petals
  • 2 tbsp rosewater
  • 1 tbsp plain yogurt
  • ½ tbsp honey (microwaving the honey for a few seconds will make it easier to work with)

Soak the rose petals in water for a few minutes, and then crush them in a bowl. Add the rosewater, yogurt, and honey. Mix well and apply to your skin. Leave on for 15 minutes, and then rinse.

 Anyone have a homemade facial mask that they swear by?

Acne 101 for Men

So after Saturday night’s post, I’ve been giving some serious thought to the differences between the acne issues faced by men and women. Though we are inherently different creatures, and as much as guys like to put up a nonchalant façade, the truth is that they are just as affected by their skin dramas as we are. A little careful research has turned up some acne pointers for those of the dude persuasion.

 Wash Carefully

Start by taking a look at the soaps and moisturizers that you’re using. Believe it or not, they could be aggravating your breakouts. Remember that just because something says it’s made “for men” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for every guy’s skin. And while your manly instincts may be screaming at you to scour your face with all the finesse of Captain Caveman, over scrubbing will only end up irritating and drying your skin. Instead, gently wash twice a day with a dermatologist approved, made just for dudes cleanser and, if needed, follow up with an oil free moisturizer.

 Shave with Caution

While the act of shaving itself won’t cause pimples, the wrong blade or shaving cream can cause irritation and lead to an increase in breakouts. Replace your blades often and use only high quality shave gels for a smooth shave with minimal issues.

 Know your Triggers

Just like with women, stress can play a huge role in triggering adult acne in men. It’s easier said than done, but when at all possible, avoid the things that drive you nuts.

 Hands Off!

Though it may be tempting to squeeze those unsightly blemishes in the hopes of clearing up your acne faster, you’re really doing more harm than good. Popping pimples leads to scaring, inflammation, and bruising, so keep your hands to your self.

 Finally, if you’re dealing with acne that isn’t clearing up with diligent OTC treatment, it’s time to make an appointment with the dermatologist.

 Let’s hear from some guys out there who are doing the acne thing…

Bonding Over Blackheads

Moving sucks.

 My lease was set to expire at the end of the month, and since I wasn’t really too keen on the part of town I was in, I decided to set about finding some new digs. I found a great place (closer to work, and with an amazing kitchen, no less) so I was pretty stoked. Until, that is, I realized that I had to pack and actually move across the city.

 So I’ve been up to my eyeballs in boxes and tape every evening after work this week, and it still doesn’t look like I’ve made a dent. How did I accumulate so much junk in the first place? And more importantly, why am I so reluctant to part with stuff that I know I don’t need? Time to call in reinforcements! I rang up the boyfriend and told him to get his cute butt over to my place and help me sort my, ahem, treasures.

 Fast forward about two hours later, and he and I are lounging on my couch, sharing a pizza. Nothing has gotten packed, much less thrown out or cleaned up. Oh well.

 Instead, we’re watching a marathon of beauty makeover shows—the kind he really likes but insists he watches just for me. As they slap a pore clearing strip on some girl’s nose, D asks (around a mouthful of Italian sausage and extra pineapple) if those things really work. I have no idea. Although I’ve been dealing with adult acne off and on for the past few months, my skin tends to be a little dry, and from what I’ve heard, blackheads are directly related to excess oil on the skin.

 Apparently, my boy toy is somewhat self conscious about the blackheads on his nose. He’s always been so sweet and supportive of my own skin issues that I decided to help him find an answer. Plopping my trusty laptop on the pizza carton, we began to hunt down some tips on banishing blackheads.

 Turns out those so called miracle pore strips aren’t really a good idea. They can damage skin and even encourage the production of more blackheads. Yikes! Instead, this is one case where squeezing can actually be a good thing. There is a definite technique to doing it right though:

 First wash with a gentle cleanser. Next, cover the affected area with a warm wet cloth for about 10 minutes to loosen up all the gunk. Pat your skin dry, and then wrap your fingers in tissues to prevent scratching or tearing the skin, which can cause bruising and scaring. Finally, use GENTLE pressure to push down and then up around the sides of the blackhead. If nothing comes up after two tries, you’re best bet is to stop… it’s not ready to come up yet.

 I must say, it felt really good to know that the bf trusted me enough to open up about his acne issues. It also made for the beginnings of a really long, thoughtful conversation. Somehow, I don’t mind so much that we didn’t get any packing done.

I’d love to hear from you guys (and gals) out there… have you ever struggled with blackheads? Did you find something that really worked?