Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Just As I Am

When I was a teenager my mom used to comfort me with the promise that adolescence doesn't last forever, thus the acne on my face wouldn't either. I began to look forward to turning twenty; I thought that as long as the word "-teen" wasn't a part of my age my skin would miraculously improve. If my mom had known that my skin would be plagued for a further two decades- and possibly beyond- I don't know what her comfort strategy would have been. It's difficult to instill confidence into a teenage girl with a severe case of acne.

And that lack of confidence followed me into my 20's. By then I didn't have the false comfort that the condition was on it's way out. My lovely mother then started saying that she still got the occasional pimple into her late 20's, which would have been fine if my problem was simply an occasional pimple. I did a couple of rounds of Accutane and experienced several months of perfectly clear and beautifully dry skin. I loved it, but the results never lasted (despite the dermatologist's word that it would permanently clear up my complexion).

Now I'm in my 30's and rosacea is the new problem, added to the old. In it's most severe forms it can be a devastating condition, so I'm holding out hope that it won't get worse. I did a fairly quick internet scan of natural treatments for rosacea and come up with quite a few. I still plan to make an appointment to get a referral to a dermatologist, but while I wait I've begun taking all of these daily:

Quite a regimen, right?! Add to that the prescription medications I take for my neck problems and it's a whole stomach-full of pills. I got to drop one though; despite being labeled as "odor controlled" it caused terrible dragon breath! I thought it would help boost my immune system, but it's going to have to work without the help of garlic.

I remembered years ago that I used to use lemon juice on my face in an attempt to bleach out my freckles (now I don't know why, I love freckles!) so I started using fresh lemon juice on my face hoping it could make my skin a nice creamy color again and also for its antibacterial properties. I don't have a clue if it's working, just as I'm not sure that the green tea I brew up daily and wipe my face with is either. But at least the tea is soothing and the studies about the amazing effects of tea on the skin are too tempting to ignore. It seems to be in every sort of beauty product these days, and I figure I might as well try it.

I love Makeup Alley, a site that has user reviews of various health and beauty products. I came across two highly popular "remedies" there that I'm trying: Burt's Bees Naturally Ageless and aspirin masks.

The trouble with the Naturally Ageless Repair Serum is all the oil- a big "n0-no" for anyone with oily skin and acne. On Makeup Alley so many people raved about it, even those with acne-prone skin that I decided to try it. I bought it for about $10 cheaper on eBay and have been using it for 2 days. I'm not sure what I think yet.

I'm a little iffy on the aspirin mask as well. As far as I can tell it just contains the same ingredient as half the over-the-counter blemish cream (salicylic acid). I have tried it twice- using 8 aspirin with a strong green tea solution (it doesn't take much) and a drizzle of honey- and haven't seen any difference. I will probably try it a few more times, and see if I can become as dazzled with the results as others are.

Some women, especially older women, clamor for the prescription cream Retin A. I've been using it off-and-on for many years. When the rosacea was first diagnosed, several months ago, I had gone to my doctor to ask for a stronger prescription of Retin A. He laughed at me. He said he's not sure how I managed to get the high dose I have and I wouldn't be getting anything more than that. I guess it helps, but the truth is that even if it didn't help the acne I would use it anyway for my "aging" skin. Maybe it's helping some tiny lines and wrinkles I have but can't see because of the Retin A!

Have you noticed how I don't "own" the acne with my words? It's not "my acne". After so many years of dealing with it I've come to see it as a condition that has happened to me. It's not me. I am effected by this condition, there isn't anyway around that, but it doesn't effect who I am essentially as a person. My friends and family- who know me as a person, not as a skin condition- love me, and my husband doesn't even see my skin issues when he looks at me- he sees me: the real me, the me I'd be if I was runway-beautiful or disfigured. I wish it hadn't taken 20 years to learn this lesson about true self-worth. I hope that learning it now will help me to teach my daughter that beautiful skin/hair/eyes/clothes are a nice bonus, but not what really counts. God created me as I am, with skin conditions I don't seem to be able to control. I don't know why. But I know he loves me just as I am.

"I don't think you're an idiot at all. I mean, there are elements of the ridiculous about you. Your mother's pretty interesting. And you really are an appallingly bad public speaker. And, um, you tend to let whatever's in your head come out of your mouth without much consideration of the consequences... But the thing is, um, what I'm trying to say, very inarticulately, is that, um, in fact, perhaps despite appearances, I like you, very much. Just as you are."

~Mark Darcy, Bridget Jones's Diary

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  1. Our Taylor (17) tried all of those treatments...even the RetinA...with no improvement. His face did clear up dramatically with Proactiv and he's used it ever since. It doesn't work for everyone, though, as I use it on his brothers but haven't had any luck at all. So frustrating, I know....but the proactiv may be another thing to try!

  2. Sparky has dealt with severe acne since she was 10. We are still struggling with it today at almost 15. Proactiv didn't work for her. We deal with dry skin along with her meds. Accutane wasn't an option for her based on her type of acne. Now she uses a combination of Retin A, Differin, and Clindamycin (sp). We just bought her make-up to cover up her red skin. She was finally ready. We bought the kind that is a lot like the mineral stuff you see sold online, but this is by Jane Iredale. Our dermatologist in VA sold it, and they said it was even a little better. She just wears it for church, and when she goes out somewhere. It gives her more confidence.

    I didn't suffer like you. I was like your mom. But I see what it does to my Sparky, so I can at least understand a little what it has done to you and in turn what it's doing to T.


  3. Actually, Kristine isn't dealing with acne, thankfully, but I want her to have a healthy self-image no matter what life throws her way. Sean has a "normal" amount of pimples for a guy almost 15. I feel bad for my kids: they are so afraid that they are going to have a severe problem with it like I have. There are some things no parent wants to pass on to their kids.

    Betsy, I've tried Proactiv before but not when I was using Retin A. I stopped all other medications when I started Accutane, then switched directly to Retin A as soon as my skin was clear. I hoped that would be enough to prolong he results. I've only recently started adding other treatments and I might try he Proactiv again. I also buy that on eBay since I get it at a discount.

    Cheers, ladies!


  4. Sorry...misunderstood the teenage girl comment.

  5. Reese, you are beautiful!

    My mom had terrible acne all her life, until she started with Proactive, and it went away. I know it doesn't work for everyone, but for some, it's great.

    Love you! Heather

  6. Contrary to popular belief, many dermatolgists and aestheticians agree, especially in Europe, that oil actually helps acne. There was a lengthy article about it in one of my magazines a couple of months back (I think WWD). For some reason in America we have been educated that you have to dry your face out to make the acne go away (thus products like Retin-A). You might want to look into it and ask your dermatologist.

  7. A beautiful expression of realizing your self-worth in God! I'm sorry it was a long and difficult road to realization! But thank you so much for sharing your journey!

    And I LOVE that whole speech from Bridgette Jones' Diary! Great connection!