(There will be no gory extreme close-up illustrations.)
- itchiness, at its worst making you want to claw your face off
- watering eyes
- tears from watering eyes make skin around the eyes and on cheeks itchy and sore
- excessive tenderness, hypersensitivity: even brushing the skin with a scarf, or rain, makes it hurt. Side-effect: totally fucks up your love-life.
- swollen puffy skin, especially around eyes and nose
- red rash, at its worst all over. Centred on the thinner skin to the sides of my nose, mouth area, chin, jawline, cheeks.
- raised bumps in that rash, particularly cheeks and jawline
- some of which blister, some develop what looks like whiteheads and pustulation
- skin feels hot to the touch
- heightening of the above with over-reaction to many things
- PAIN: the sensation of being flayed alive, or burning (like sunburn or a regular good old scalding from boiling water or burning from fire), and of your whole head ballooning and going “whooompf”
HOW TO KNOW SOMETHING IS WORKING
- if the symptoms above decrease rather than increase
- if you don’t feel your skin at all: this is The Ultimate Good
The following, twice a day:
- Cleanser: something mild that didn’t irritate and inflame my face further + tepid to warmish water + facecloth
- Pat skin dry
- Apply thin layer of Metrogel 1% (prescription from doctor)
- Bland soothing but lighter moisturiser
PHASE TWO: CLEANSER TWEAKS
- Swapped facecloth for (softer) reusable cotton pads. I use them for eye makeup removal, they’re made from pyjama-/bedlinen-type flannel.
- Cliniderm shampoo stung skin (it usually doesn’t, but this last month has been full of Skin Firsts).
- Bar cleansers (Aveeno, A-Derma): stung skin.
- Plain oatmeal: stung skin.
- CeraVe Hydrating cleanser (leftover dregs in an old bottle): OK. I had barely enough left for one use, though.
- Avène Xeracalm (I use it in the bath): stinging.
- Samples of various things from doctor: variable.
- At the worst stages, plain water from the tap (we have good soft water) and even mineral water: stung skin.
- Best one, no stinging, face calm: La Roche-Posay Lipikar body cream-gel cleanser. Also good reviews from assorted skin-problem people, including a lot of rosaceans, on MakeupAlley and Beauté-Test. It happened to be on special offer at a local drugstore so I bought a full bottle and that’s what I’ve been using for the last several days.
PHASE THREE: MOISTURISER TWEAKS
- Several moisturisers that are in my standard arsenal for my usual skin problems (dryness, eczema, allergic irritation) were too thick and rich. Spreading and rubbing them in hurt skin. Skin would also feel hot and would be hypesensitive in the way that a fresh burn is. Thus:
- DIY oil blend: nope.
- Avocado oil: nope.
- The following super-bland oils used alone–safflower, sunflower, meadowfoam–nope.
- Mineral oil: nope.
- Prevex cream: nope.
- Drugstore own-brand dupe of Aveeno’s blandest unscented lotion: nope.
- ShiKai borage dry skin remedy hand cream: nope.
- Impruv cream: nope.
- CeraVe cream, lotion, and P.M. lotion (doctor samples): nope.
- Avène Xeracalm cream: nope.
- La Roche-Posay Lipikar AP+ balm and another one (cream or lotion, doctor samples again): nope.
- Avène Cicalfate: OK but a bit thick and, on day two, some burning around nose and on jawline. Great on hands though…
- THE WINNERS:
La Roche-Posay Cicaplast: excellent, soothing, calming. No irritation or burning. Also great on hands. And (update 2015-04-05) around eyes.
La Roche-Posay Tolériane Ultra. I first got this for around the eyes. Super comfortable on even the most upset areas of skin. Feels very like Cicaplast, not quite as moisturising, and usually nearly three times the price. But: very minimal formulation and no preservatives (sterile packaging with a special delivery-mechanism where there’s no contact with air).
PHASE FOUR: METROGEL
- My suspicion that Metrogel might be hindering more than helping arose at PHASE TWO. That experiment resulted in improvement. When I had washed with LRP Lipikar and patted skin dry, my skin felt calm, comfortable, cooler to the touch. It still wasn’t pretty (a.k.a. normal). But felt OK. Then I would apply Metrogel and it would sting. I bore with it. For the first few days, my face would stop stinging by the time the Metrogel had sunk in. I would then apply moisturiser (with PHASE THREE experiments above) and sunscreen.
- On the sixth day of using Metrogel, I observed noticeable stinging and increased skin redness, inflammation, and downright pain. No matter what I did next, that stayed. It worsened through the day.
- That evening, I observed that my chin had more raised pustules after Metrogel application than before. I hypothesised that, whether or not it had helped earlier, Metrogel was now irritating my skin.
- I spent another three days tweaking sunscreen; no difference to the day 6 pattern. Hellfire burning sensation with Replenix spray one and with Derma E (had to remove with both, immediately). EltaMD less agonising, but hot and heatrash in addition to other bollocks.
- I have now therefore stopped using Metrogel. The very first time I washed and moisturised without it, my skin felt and looked better.
- It is now 5:37 p.m. I washed at about 11 a.m. Skin much improved, no pain, less puffy / inflamed, rash receding (barely discernible on forehead), blisters way down (they’re just slightly raised parts of the rashiness, no larger than minor milia), no pustulating sores, and the thin tender tenderised skin in the nose & mouth area is way down, nearing normality.
- Remaining bumpy rash and some spots / cysts: left jawline, right cheek
The fight goes on.