YANMD, but MD(ermatologist) can't see me until October (!), thanks to some excellent health insurance. Last summer I started, seemingly out of nowhere, having a very odd and very severe reaction to the sun on my face - whiteheads, all over, almost literally in crops all over my face. If you picture a person's skin being almost completely swapped for whiteheads, that's along the lines of what I had (not on eyelids, etc, but it hurt and felt horrific). It might be getting worse, I can't get to see a dermatologist, and I work outside in the summers - is there any help for me this summer?
posted by AthenaPolias to health & fitness (12 answers total)
More info: I have student health insurance and am thusly tied to my university's health services. I ran this problem past a GP recently and they just said, "go to Derm," but Derm only works one morning a week, so they're backed up for months. I can't afford to pay out of pocket to go out of plan, so that's pretty much it for my legitimate medical options until the fall.
The background: I work outside all summer, every summer. I do what I can to avoid sunburns, but sometimes the amount of sweat and general busy-ness means that I get overexposed and burns do happen. Last year, I burned - came home, put on aloe with lidocaine, as usual, and about 3 hours after the burn, my face started to throb. Turns out, my entire face was sprouting whiteheads, from my hairline to my jawline. There were probably a couple hundred of them - it was genuinely disgusting. After this happened twice, I realized it wasn't any product I used or something I ate, but rather the burn - the whiteheads followed exactly the line of the burn, and wouldn't appear anywhere that wasn't overexposed. Sunscreen helped avoid this, but not entirely - and, again, with how much I sweat while working, sometimes I simply can't maintain the coverage I need. (Obviously, I will have a gigantic-brim hat this year, but last year all I had access to was a baseball cap - not enough shade).
This year, I wonder if it might be getting worse. I went for a run three days ago around 3pm. I slathered myself in sunscreen, but sweat through it within about 15 minutes. I came home and had no burn, but began to break out around where the sweat was the worst. It seems now that maybe I'm getting more sensitive?
There is no way I can avoid being in the sun. I try to minimize it when possible, but honestly the option is quitting my job and damaging my career, so that won't happen. I will have a series of shady hats, and I am looking into some more persistent sunscreen - though I've always had very sensitive, acne-prone skin so most sunscreens make me break out just from their ingredients. I'm in a bit of a catch-22.
So, without access to a derm/good doctor - what can I do? What might this be? Google is almost no help, and when google + doctors aren't helpful... dear god, I feel like I'm on my own.
Me: 30, blonde with extremely fair, freckly skin. No previous horrible burns, but constant sun exposure each summer. No preexisting medical conditions, though I have been very fatigued this year, inexplicably, despite having decent sleep, fine iron levels, thyroid, etc etc (fatigue is another thing the drs didn't help with - one said, "in a college, everyone has mono. I can't even test you for it." I've already had mono. But that was the dismissal.) Also, the skin on the rest of my body has been very itchy lately - no outward signs as to why, but I'm just generally kind of ... prickly. Though I'd chalked that up to our insane pollen at this time of the year. The pimples themselves are of only one type - small whiteheads. No cystic acne seems to come from the sun exposure.
Tl;dr - fair-skinned female started severely breaking out last summer from sunburn, situation may be getting more sensitive. About to go abroad to work outdoors for 6 weeks, hats only do so much. Doctor can't see me until fall. Help??