Thursday, 8 April 2010
There are two types of people; those who get spots and the bastards that don't. I'm in the former camp. Here in Camp Spot you're never truly free of spots, even when you have none, because you know that one might rear its ugly (white) head at any moment. I started suffering in my teens and went through the gamut of treatments offered by my GP, which went something like this...
Topical antibiotic cream
Didn't work. Dried out skin. Bleached bed clothes.
Contraceptive pill (Dianette)
Didn't work. Caused tension headaches.
Didn't work. Made skin sun sensitive for YEARS after.
I had to insist on being taken off Dianette (which is an old-fashioned high-dose pill) and have since discovered you're not supposed to be on it for over a year (I took it for two). After trying all of these treatments I also had to insist on seeing a dermatologist. The doctor would have preferred to palm me off with a few more useless treatments, while I suffered, spotty and self-concious. My experience is that GPs try to avoid writing letters wherever possible; it's so much easier to write a prescription.
Months later I attended my dermatology appointment at the hospital. I had in mind that I wanted Roaccutane, but I was persuaded to try another drug first. Can't remember which one; doesn't really matter as it didn't work. By this point I was either 19 or 20, in my second year at university and had suffered spots for about six years.
On my follow-up appointment I was finally given Roaccutane: from the moment I took the first pill I didn't have another spot for weeks. The horror stories of depression and terrible dryness never materialised. My skin and the inside of my nose became dry and I had a few more nosebleeds than normal. My eyes were sometimes a bit dry too. I would've put up with those symptoms and worse in order to have clear skin, and finally I did.
After a four-month course of Roaccutane I had relatively clear skin for several years. Once I stopped taking the contraceptive pill my skin got even better. Finally I could enjoy playing with makeup, rather than spending ages on foundation and concealer.
But that was then and this is now. Since January little tiny bumps have been mysteriously appearing on my chin. They're sometimes like small spots, and sometimes just red bumps. They are dry and red and look awful without makeup and awful with. I thought I was having an allergic reaction to something at first, but the only thing I'd changed was my diet, and that was for the better! After researching on the internet I diagnosed myself as having Perioral Dermatitis. A mysterious and little-understood skin condition. BRILLIANT!
I am back to square one and can't tell you how frustrating it feels. I went to the doctor (who was 12), told her what I had, listened as she suggested all the wrong things (and corrected her), explained to her the possible solutions and waited as she read from the exact web page I'd just looked up at home.
The treatments are the same topical and oral antibiotics as listed above, except I asked the doctor to give me a different topical lotion than I tried when I was young. If this cream doesn't work I know I'll have to go through the exact same rigmarole as I went through in my teens. To all those of you with dodgy skin, I feel your pain. My mum and brother have similar skin issues to me so I guess it's hereditary. This spring/summer I'll be mainly wearing a very large scarf.
Posted by Laura Wheat at 21:41