My unexpected dermatitis and how I overcame it

Hey everyone!

I’ve been thinking about whether or not to publish a blog post on this because it’s made me feel quite self conscious and made me feel quite down. But then, on the plus side, it’s made me realise a lot about myself and in the end it has resulted in some positive changes to my daily routine.

I’m so jealous of any girl who has absolutely perfect skin, who doesn’t experience breakouts and who has barely noticeable pores on their t-zone’s! I for one, am someone who struggles with an oily t-zone and can get spot breakouts, especially when I’m hormonal or due a period. I thought I would grow out of this by my 20s but it turns out my skin is just as frustrating and admittedly, I don’t help myself! I struggle sometimes with anxiety and stress which leads me to scratch/pick my skin’s imperfections, sometimes without even realising it. I don’t know how, but it sends me off into thoughts about how I am going to handle things that might be making me feel anxious and then the next thing I know, I have picked the shit out of my skin. I then feel even more like shit because the last time I had done it (yesterday), I’d promised myself I wouldn’t do it again.

Anyway, around 4/5 weeks ago I had a week off work and so I spent a few days gardening because the weather was so lovely. I got bitten by mozzies on my jawline and chest which resulted in me itching them without realising. The itching with dirty gloves on my hands then resulted in me getting some spots on my chest and jawline which I was also itching because they were in the same area as my mozzie bites. Before I knew it, id broken my skin from itching so much which made these areas become really red, agitated and even more itchy!

Dermatitis in the early stages before I spread to my forehead.
Dermatitis in the early stages. I’m sorry, I felt so self conscious to take pics when it was at it’s worst!

What I decided to do about my skin issue:

A few days later and my skin was getting worse and worse. It had become so sensitive and I even had areas on my back that were experiencing the same symptoms. I felt really self conscious of it and would pile on the foundation before work in the hope that it would cover the bad areas on my face (which were now spreading to my forehead). The foundation only highlighted the areas in my eyes and I really felt as though I needed a few days off work just to let my skin breathe without all the foundation. I thought foundation would help because it would hide the redness but the truth was, I just needed to leave my skin to breathe. I also decided to book a doctors appointment to see what he would suggest.

I booked the Wednesday-Friday off work and went straight to the doctors first thing on the Wednesday morning. I explained how the issue started and at this point I thought I just had a really bad breakout of spots that were becoming uncontrollable on my own! The doctor had a look and explained that it had become dermatitis where the skin had broken. He agreed that I should take the rest of the week off work so that I could go makeup free and let my skin breathe. He also prescribed me some strong antihistamines to help stop the itching which was now the main issue I had (at this point I’d realised that picking was the LAST thing I should be doing). I took the antihistamines daily which REALLY helped the itching, although by bedtime they were starting to wear off and I would wake myself up itching the bad areas (FML!) I felt the issue was never ending as for the next few days it was still getting worse. I would moisturise 3/4 times daily with a perfume free moisturiser (Nivea Moisturisng Lotion) as well as washing the areas morning and night. After posting on my Instagram about the issue and receive loads of positive feedback about Dead Sea Salt, I decided to buy some. It was AMAZING! Although, it’s really hard to judge which products I was using was working best as I was trying anything and everything I could get my hands on. I also bought some Aloe Vera gel which is supposed to be great for the skin. It made my red, angry areas feel a little cooler and I applied it to my skin around 3 times a day.

How Dermatitis made me feel:

By this point, I was feeling so crap and down about myself. I realised that I couldn’t go on picking my skin anymore. I had even come up with a couple of small bites on my thighs which I’d itched just the once and they even became inflamed and red. My skin was so angry with me and I felt so guilty for not putting the time in to care for it more.

I was too embarrassed to leave the house, I felt like people would look at me and think ‘ew, look at her skin’. It made me feel unclean and my self confidence was at rock bottom. Even before getting the dermatitis, I would pick the smallest imperfection on my chest that no one else wold even see (you’d need a magnifying glass to see the imperfection) but because I would assess my skin so closely I’d pick it and it would become red and inflamed. This then resulted in me feeling like shit about my chest and so I wouldn’t be able to wear a low cut top. I have so many tops/dresses/playsuits in my wardrobe that I can never wear because I pick my skin so much it looks horrible and I feel like crap.

I realised that going forward, I HAD to stop picking my skin on a daily basis. But to be able to stop this addiction, I needed to tackle the route cause… which in my case was stress.

I’ve had a really stressful yet exciting year this year, what with moving house for the first time, getting a puppy, the stress of family issues as well as my mindset about things. This year seems to be flying by but it’s also been the most stressful year of my life.

I’ve realised that life is always going to throw obstacles and stressful situations in your way but the main thing is how to deal with it in a positive way. I always have to feel in control of situations otherwise I feel anxious and stressed out.

Why I’ve since turned to Buddhism:

I decided that the only way I could tackle my stress is to change the way I view situations. I’ve turned to Buddhism… not because I’m religious, but because I love the way it teaches you to view life and also the way it calms the mind. I have family members who meditate to help relieve the stresses of daily life and I was always curious to find out how it worked. I decided to buy a beginners book on Buddhism which I am already in love with! I have been meditating around 3-4 times per week (15 minute sessions before bed). There are so many ways to meditate and it’s all about finding the right way for you. I find that the best way for me is to play some calming meditation music and to lie in bed. I focus all my thoughts on the sound of the music and let myself forget about the stressful situations I may have on my mind that day. It really does send your mind off into a different place and leads you to think about positive things. When I come back round I feel so calm and I also have a different view on the stressful situations that I would usually be panicking about.

The other problem I have with myself is I ALWAYS have to be doing something otherwise I drive myself crazy. I can’t just work a 9am-5pm job and then come home and chill, I have to come home and keep myself busy. I think that’s why I studied the Marketing Diploma and took up blogging as a hobby. If I’m not blogging then I’m walking the dog or cleaning the house. But then even these chores have their added stresses, such as ‘I need to get these posts done on time otherwise I might p’off the company for posting too late’, ‘do I look ok in this post’, ‘I look fat’, the house is a mess and nothing I do makes it look any better (even after cleaning for over an hour’ etc. I’ve found that Buddhism gives me something else to set my mind on and it’s something that focuses on relaxation and feeling calm, mentally. I’ve realised that sometimes it’s good to take time out away from the world and to forget about things.

Buddhism really has helped me feel so much happier about every aspect of my life already and is something I want to learn more about. My spot picking has become a lot less (it hasn’t gone completely) and I can finally begin to accept that my skin will never be perfect.

How I care for my skin now:

I’m not sure if it’s true, but apparently it takes 21 days to break a habit. I still find it so hard not to pick at an imperfection on my skin but I appreciate my skin so much more now. I still have hyper pigmentation on my chest, back, face and neck where my breakout was and I’ve read that it can take around 3 months for this to clear. Either way, I’m happy that I’ve overcome the worst of it now and my main focus is to deal with my emotions that lead me to breakouts as well as focusing on my skin care routine.

I’m now washing my face morning and night, adding Dead Sea Salt to my baths 2-3 times per week and moisturising my skin twice daily. I was also prescribed Benzoyl Peroxide by my GP a while ago that I apply to any imperfections I want to dry out ASAP… This stuff is like a miracle in a tube.

I’ve come to realise that stress is such a negative thing and can affect your health in so many ways. It’s something I’ve struggled with for years and I am so pleased that I’ve been feeling a lot more positive about aspects of my life in recent weeks. I’ve always been interested in looking into Buddhism due to have relatives who are quite spiritual and I’d always heard of the great effects it has on the mind. I can honestly say it’s changed my life already and I can’t wait to learn more about it.

Here’s a pic of my skin now:

Still some hyper-pigmentation but the worst of it has gone.

My new diet:

‘You are what you eat.’ Something I hear regularly on TV programmes but a phrase that is probably quite true. I would usually snack on crisps and chocolate at work or in the evenings at home. Since the issue with my skin, I’m eating my 5 fruit and veg a day, I’ve cut out crisps and chocolate. Usually I wouldn’t be able to go a day without chocolate and I’m not saying I’ve cut it out completely (because where’s the fun in that?) but instead of snacking on crisps and chocolate at work, I’ve changed to snacking on a banana or a yoghurt. I’ve not changed the way I eat to lose weight, but because I’m hoping it will help improve my skin and the way I feel. I also find that it gives me something positive to focus on and eating healthily has already made me feel 10x better about myself. I also think it’s helped improve my skin already!

 

It’s been a really difficult decision to publish this post but I felt I had to share my experience if it would help another person who may experience the same issues.

Love,

Abbyeautifulx