Skin Care Tips for Acne and Allergic Reactions
MY FACE COMPLETELY BROKE OUT IN HIVES THIS WEEK...
I’m not sure why. Skin can be tricky like that. Especially my skin. I’ve never had a problem with acne but holy shit can my skin throw an allergic reaction when it wants to.
Once, way back when I worked in an office, they replaced the windows in the building and I threw a serious reaction to the fumes of the glue. My face basically peeled off and all my eyelashes fell out. It was hardcore.
When I was in high school I had my makeup done for a school formal. I threw a reaction to the makeup and spent weeks in class holding ice packs to my face while taking notes. One of my classmates told me I looked like an alien. Kids are jerks.
7 years ago I went through a really stressful time which coincided with receiving a complimentary case of wine from one of those wine memberships (that was a new thing back then).
I drank the wine - in a much shorter time frame than I usually would have - and my entire body erupted in a crimson rash that nearly drove me insane. Ultimately the rash got so bad it became infected and I wound up with septicaemia and needing antibiotics.
My friends will tell you that over the years they've been the beneficiaries of various powders and potions that I bought excitedly only to discover that my skin wasn't having a bar of it.
My leading theory on this current situation with my face is that I’ve thrown a reaction to my new cleanser.
But in all honesty I broke one of my cardinal rules of skin care - I used products from two different product lines at the same time.
A range of skincare is designed to be used together. The ingredients in the different products complement each other.
When we get creative and we add in products from other lines, we run the risk of the ingredients in the different products reacting. So perhaps that was the trigger.
Then again, I could also have been chewed on by insects. Mexico does good bugs.
Not to mention, I’ve been under more stress than usual lately. This outbreak could be due to one or all of these factors, or something entirely different. Like I said, skin can be tricky.
Skin problems are often closely tied to hormonal health. If you experienced acne as a teenager you’ll know what I’m talking about and are probably glad to have those days behind you.
But did you know that skin problems are also one of the lesser known symptoms of perimenopause?
During perimenopause, women can find themselves dealing not just with changes to their facial tone (the development of jowls, wrinkles and sagging skin) but also with itchy skin, hives, and hormonal acne.
For some, it’s the first time in their life they’ve had to deal with these issues. Which is another reason why we refer to menopause as being a second puberty.
The following are some tips for skin that is struggling with acne and/or rashes. As usual they’re in a sort-of order, and the list is not exhaustive. If anything pops into my head in the shower tomorrow I’ll be sure to nip back in and edit this article 😂
💄 Avoid makeup - this is hard I know. When your skin is flaring up the tendency is to want to try and cover it up with concealer and makeup. Resist this temptation. Your skin needs to breathe, and makeup can be very drying, as well as full of a bunch of chemicals that can screw with your hormones.
🌞 Avoid the sun - In Chinese Medicine we attribute a lot of skin conditions to what we call “excess heat” in the body. If it’s red and itchy, you got heat goin’ on. As a consequence you want to avoid getting overly hot, and going in the sun while your skin is aggravated.
🧴 S I M P L I F Y - stop using a bunch of different products on your skin while it repairs. Limit yourself to a pH balanced, soap-free wash (my favourite brand for this is CeraVe) and a light lotion or nourishing cream (this will depend on the type of skin issue you’re dealing with). 2 products. That’s all folks.
🔥 Avoid hot water - hot water strips skin of its natural oils and bacteria, this causes your skin to try and produce more oil which can worsen or even trigger acne breakouts. If you're dealing with a rash chances are your skin is already dry, using hot water will leave it more vulnerable.
🖐🏻 Don’t scratch - I knowwwwww this is hard, but fingernails are basically petri dishes and you increase your chances of infection and slow your healing time if you’re constantly breaking open your skin. If you’re super itchy, I know this sounds weird but … we recommend slapping the skin instead.
Slapping works to calm the itch and from a TCM perspective is also said to vent the heat that is trying to escape the body through the skin. Slap gently to start and build up to find the slap level that works for you.
If you find you’re scratching at night, buy some cotton gloves and put them on before bed. Yes, you will look like Mickey Mouse, but they will stop you from tearing shreds off yourself.
💧 Hydrate - being properly hydrated helps your skin to repair, helps support optimal liver function (processing toxins), and keeps you pooping. When you’re not pooping regularly (between 1-3 times per day) your poop sits in your intestine and your body starts to reabsorb the toxins it was trying to excrete. This is not good for skin.
🍫 Gut - Hippocrates (the Father of modern medicine) said that “all disease begins in the gut.” 2,400 years later and the smarty pants scientists of the modern era are concluding he was correct.
Did you know the bacteria in your gut can actually drive your food cravings? So, you think you want a cheeseburger but actually your gut bacteria are basically enacting mind control over you and making you THINK you want a cheeseburger. Wild.
Gut health and skin health are very closely linked.
If you’re dealing with skin issues try cutting out gluten, dairy and added sugar for a couple of months.
These are typically the most inflammatory foods in our diet. Also avoid fried and greasy foods, processed foods, and alcohol. According to TCM principles coffee is heating to the body, so it’s also advisable to avoid or limit coffee.
You can add the gluten and dairy back in one at a time later on (the sugar can stay gone) and watch for any reactions. If you find yourself bloating, experiencing loose stools, brain fog, PMS and painful periods … then you might be better off avoiding dairy and gluten ongoing.
If skin rashes are your problem, consider avoiding high histamine-containing foods (you can Google a list of these very easily) especially if you also suffer insomnia, heart palpitations and/or anxiety - all signs of histamine intolerance/high histamine.
💊 Consider pharmaceutical intervention - most of you probably follow my work because you’re the type that likes to use natural products where possible and take a holistic approach to your health. What I’m about to say is controversial in such circles but, if your skin is having an allergic or hypersensitivity reaction, consider a short course of antihistamines and topically applied (aka a cream or ointment) cortisone.
Here’s why: an allergic reaction is like a rolling snowball. If you can stop the inflammatory cascade before it really picks up speed you can avoid a whole lot of pain and suffering.
I support the use of corticosteroids and antihistamines if used at the right time, for a short time, and coupled with doing the work of investigating WHY you were prone to a skin flare.
The problem with these medicines (as I see it) is that they are often used as a treatment, rather than for symptomatic relief while getting to the root of the problem.
Additionally, if you’re in perimenopause and dealing with itchy skin, taking an antihistamine can help narrow down the cause. If the antihistamines work to stop the itch then you could be dealing with something called Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. I’ll write a totally separate blog on that topic at a later date.
🛌 Change your pillowcase every 2-3 days and buy a new pillow every 18 months. I don’t even want to go into the details of the bacteria that can live in bedding … just trust me. This is especially relevant for anyone experiencing jawline acne.
As you know (cos I say it in every article) I do not recommend self prescribing supplements, however some beneficial vitamins and minerals for skin that are generally well tolerated include magnesium (citrate or glycinate are well tolerated forms), zinc, silica, and vitamins C and D. That said, please check with your primary health care practitioner before taking any supplements.
If you’re dealing with skin issues I know they can be really unsettling. The above list are tips to help you manage an acute situation but if you're dealing with ongoing skin issues it's most likely time to take a deeper dive and look at your hormonal balance, environmental toxin exposure, and gut health.
If you would like some help you can click here to send me an email to arrange a 15 minute discovery call or to book an appointment.
And as always, if you made it to the end, thank you for taking the time to read my words. There's no AI here, not now or for the foreseeable future - I write from the heart ❤️ and please feel free to share this post with anyone you think it may help.