My Current Battle with Irritant Contact Dermatitis

Last year around this time, I started experiencing rashes on my face. My cheeks were swollen, red, dried, and itchy. For the first time in twenty-seven years, I experienced skin complications, and I was so worried. Earlier in 2020, I experienced the same thing, but after a month of sticking to my skincare routine, it went away. However, in late April, the same rash occurred again, and this time it stuck around until the end of May. Finally, I decided to see a dermatologist.

I told the dermatologist of the symptoms when it first occurred, and what I did to maintain it the first time, then I told the dermatologist an approximate date for the second breakout. He looked at the patches on my cheeks and behind my ears by the nape of my neck. I also showed him pictures of when it first broke out. After a few minutes of diagnosing and asking me a few questions, he told me I had irritated contact dermatitis and that my skin barrier had been severely damaged. There were two reasons my skin barrier was destroyed which are changed in humidity/weather and my skincare routine.

Last May, I followed a ten-step Korean skincare routine, but I took out some products, making it seven steps. My skin, although it felt scorched, it looked good. My skin was glowing and had no blemishes. However, using all seven products was too much for my skin to handle. Moreover, most of the products I used were discontinued, so I had to find new products to replaced them. I didn’t give my skin a chance to slowly adapt to the latest products and smother it on my face like it was nothing. Moreover, I have never had problems with my skincare routine, so I always thought I would be fine using the new products. I was wrong.

The dermatologist told me to use two products from Cerave, the hydrating facial cleanser and the daily moisturizing cream. He also told me I could use the nighttime moisturizing cream. He also prescribed a cortisone cream, which was not available over the counter, and told me to switch out my face masks regularly. He also told me to stay away from any facial makeup, like foundation, concealer, blush, highlighter, and bronze, for a while to let my skin heal. Finally, he told me to stay away from antiaging products. In other words, stay away from anything with retinol, and use fragrance-free products. I did exactly just that.

After a week of just using three Cerave products and the prescribed cream, my skin was slowly starting to heal. But it did leave some dark patches on my neck on the side of my left jaw, where I was constantly scratching it before my dermatologist visit. In the middle of June, I went back, and by this time, my skin was fully healing. My dermatologist told me to keep using the Cerave products, don’t forget sunscreen (which I can also get it from Cerave), only try a small amount of new product on my face. Additionally, he told me the condition could show up again. Still, I can always get prescribed the cortisone cream if needed and get another diagnosis if required.

True to his words, dermatitis came back around October, right after I got my nails extended. However, this time, I noticed that my skin was getting itchy by my nail extension because it happened right away after touching my face with my nail extensions. I couldn’t remove my nails immediately because I had to go to work. By the end of the day, my cheeks and side of my necks were red, itchy, and swollen because I couldn’t help touching those areas. The following day I removed my nail extensions, went back to visit my dermatologist, told him what happen, and prescribed me the same anti-itch cream. I also got an allergy test to see if I was allergic to gel polish or acrylic–there was no reaction. So he told me to stay away from getting nail extensions until my skin barrier was repaired. After two weeks of using the cream, the patches went away, but I wanted to know when my skin would be restored.

I asked my dermatologist in the next appointment. He told me it depends on the person and how severe the damage is. Some people only need two weeks to a few months, while some will take longer. However, I will know when it has healed entirely because the dryness will go away. There should not be any prickly or stinging sensation in contact with water or products, and I will start to notice normal oil production levels. So far, I only had a recent break out two weeks ago, but I was not consistent with my three-step skincare routine and wore the same face mask two days in a row. However, this time it healed much faster than the last two times.

I quit using Korean skincare products, and honestly, I don’t miss using them. In fact, I do not miss my old and expensive skincare products. The glow in my face is still there because I am starting to drink lots of water to stay hydrated. I do not wear makeup daily. The only thing I do is my eyebrows, so I do not have to worry about makeup. I started to wear facemasks that I made from muslin because it feels so much nicer and softer on my face giving me less irritation. My skin is going on a healing journey. Everything up until now has been going pretty good I have also decided that after my skin heals, I will stick to my simple skincare routine because it is cost-effective and has good properties to keep my skin healthy.

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