Friday, December 11, 2015

Reactions to products: Is it eczema?

I’m 23 years old and have very sensitive skin. Any product I use wears out its welcome after three months. About three weeks ago I began waking up with lines on the bridge of my nose. Two weeks ago I noticed lines forming under my eyes, and this week the skin under my eyes looks dry (but isn’t) and is full of lines and wrinkles. It even seems a little loose. What is happening?

My skin was smooth with tiny, barely visible lines three weeks ago; now it’s as if it has aged 10 years overnight! Why would this happen, and will my skin ever go back to the way it was before? Could this be an allergic reaction?

Based on your symptoms, I would say this is a classic allergic reaction. Crepey skin, especially when you find wrinkles overnight, is definitely a symptom of an intolerance to something used, and is probably a dermatitis called eczema. The eyes are so sensitive, and many times an allergic reaction to a new skin care product will occur near the eyes, even if the offending product was used on the entire face.

Depending on the severity of the reaction, you may need to see your dermatologist and get a prescription cream to help calm your skin down. First you could try a topical cortisone cream (found at any drug or grocery store) and see if this helps. You must, however, read the directions and be very careful about how close to your eyes you apply the cream. The doctor will be able to prescribe a higher strength steroid cream if the over the counter type isn’t effective enough.

Look at the ingredients of the offending product and see if you can find anything you know you are allergic to. Sometimes just fragrance in products can cause reactions like the kind mentioned above. Your skin, once calmed down, should resume its natural, normal state. How long this will take varies with the individual. But surely within a week or perhaps a bit longer, you will have your old skin back.

Recently I went to purchase some new products—an experience that turned out to be a living nightmare! First, I got my skin analyzed and was told that I have normal, combination skin. I purchased a papaya exfoliant, clay mask, and a moisturizing mask for dehydrated skin.

After several weeks of exfoliating and masking, to my horror I woke up one day with welts all over my face, redness, burning, and itching. My eyes we re almost swollen shut! I have never reacted like this to anything before. Needless to say, I am mortified that my skin may have been permanently ruined.

My doctor has prescribed methylprednisolone [cortisone] for six days. It has brought the swelling down a bit, but I still have redness and itchiness, not to mention that my skin feels very taut and dry—appearing to have wrinkled up (I didn’t have any wrinkles before this!!!!).

Everything I have tried on my face to alleviate the burning and itching has not worked, except for petroleum jelly, which soothed it considerably. I am worried and don’t know what to do next. I am thinking of going to an allergist.
Would you have any advice for me? Is my skin ruined forever? Please respond as soon as possible because I desperately need your expert advice. I am afraid of the cortisone I am taking, but feel I have no choice since my symptoms are severe. I am desperate!

Your reactions sound like a dermatitis, probably eczema: red, itchy skin that feels like it is burning, along with severe dryness and crinkling. A topical cortisone cream will probably relieve the symptoms, but that doesn’t tell you why you had the reaction in the first place. If you are game, you could also take The 72-Hour Test (see below) to help narrow down which product caused the problems. It may have been all of the products, but maybe not.

Of course, you may not be willing to develop those reactions in order to figure out which products you can or cannot use. In that case, an allergist will probably be able to figure it out for you. There may be common allergens contained in one or all of those products that the specialist can tell you about. If you are going to do the 72-Hour Test, I highly recommend you wait until your skin has completely recovered and even wait a few more weeks to be sure you aren’t still in reaction mode.

This client told me that after about a week of severe redness, itching, swelling, and pain her skin did finally calm down. She made an appointment to see an allergist, but wasn’t able to get in to see someone for almost four months.