Skinfilter: Help! Help! Help! About 10 years ago, I started suffering from extreme dryness and peeling on my face, which got so bad that my skin would feel like it was burning. I'm female, and I was in my early 30s at the time. When I went to the dermatologist, he diagnosed sebborheic dermatitis based on my (long-standing) hypothyroid condition and peeling in my eyebrows. He treated it with Elidil, and told me to go off it when the sebborheic dermatitis remitted. But it never did. Over time, I’ve come to think the diagnosis was wrong, but I’ve yet to hear a better theory. Maybe you have one?
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The Treatment: When I went back to see the dermatologist a year later, he told me the lack of remission didn’t matter and to keep using Elidil as needed. (He also said he’d worked on the original studies and the black box label was nothing to worry about.) So I have now been using Elidil for nearly 10 years. About 2 years ago, I added .25% trentinoin to the mix, to attempt to make my skin easier to deal with, and this has been helpful, but it’s not solved the problem.
The Problem: Whenever I have tried to stop using Elidil, my skin has erupted with:
• red bumps on the cheeks,
• flattened bumps (more like lumps) on the forehead,
• some minor but hard-to-kick acne,
• obvious stretched pores,
• obvious uneven texture,
• redness from the irritation from (probably?) subcutaneous stretching (swelling) and acne, with some veinyness in my cheeks,
• closed white comodones, which are all but impossible to get rid of.
The central problem seems to be an extreme and very emphatic lack of skin shedding, exemplified by the fact that I
• hardly sweat at all, and
• moisturizers won’t sink in unless they’re very liquefied, and even then I tend to spend about half my day looking “shiny” so there’s enough moisturizer left on my face later in the day, so it won’t peel.
For all that, my suspicion is that it’s just the top layer that is dry, and underneath my skin is still quite greasy, as it was in my adolescence.
Anyway, note that the one improvement in my condition over ten years is that my face used to start showing symptoms within hours of waking, washing (or even not washing), and not using Elidil. More recently, I’ve been able to go as long as 36 hours without symptoms or medications.
What It Isn’t: It’s worth saying that I do not believe I’m describing rosacea. From what I’ve read, I think they’ve found Elidil to be ineffective for it—and it clearly does have an enormous effect on my skin. But also because my problems do not occur in a butterfly pattern, and if anything I’m too pale: I never flush.
When My Skin Looks Its Best
My skin looks its very best, and needs the least manipulation, in very hot humid weather. Unfortunately, I’m in the inclement Northeast right now. When it’s not hot and humid, and when I use Elidil along with a buffer of two (!) moisturizers and the trentinoin on top, my skin looks pretty clear, keeping the bumps and lumps either dormant or fairly flat and only visible from very close up.
Meds & Other Health Issues
I suffered from untreated hypothyroidism for about half my life–although it has been well-treated since my late thirties.
I suffer from strong mold and wheat allergies.
I take thyroid medication and amiloride (a diurhetic) daily.
I recently found I was wildly allergic to benzoyl peroxide: the tiniest dab swelled my face for days.
Make-Up + Sunscreen
I do wear makeup because I become unutterably depressed if I can see blatant traces of this affliction on my face: tinted moisturizer, blush, and powder (all recommended by Paula Begoun). The first and last contain sunscreen. I recently switched from using Paula’s Choice tinted moisturizer to a Sephora brand because I realized it was the one thing I’d been using consistently for all ten years, and I thought maybe I was allergic to the titanium dioxide or one of the colorants. The change seemed to make no difference.
What I’ve Tried
In general, I follow Paula Begoun’s advice, and I have used many of her products.
In addition, I have tested countless moisturizers (Cerave is a favorite), and recently changed cleanser. None of that’s made a difference either.
Nor has early use of Nizoral, or any other product that’s used to treat seborrheic dermatitis.
All the hydroxies (alpha and beta) and the tretinoin are way too strong for me without the dilution of Elidil + moisturizers. None of which helps matters. I definitely need something to help shed my top layer daily.
I know you are not doctors, but I’m desperate to figure out what this is, because I am quite sure the original diagnosis is bunk, and no doctor’s yet to come up with any sort of replacement theory. (I’m also really, really broke).
Anybody have any ideas!?!
All thoughts, stories, clues, notions would be dearly appreciated!