Out, out damned spots!
November 9, 2012 4:24 AM   Subscribe

Why do I keep getting spots round my eyebrows, temples and hairline?

I know the usual answer here is 'see a dermatologist', but I can't - here you have to be referred by a GP before you can see one, which is rare for mild or cosmetic skin problems.

I keep getting spots on my hairline and in and around my eyebrows - small, painful whiteheads - and a couple on my actual eye area, between the brow and the lid. These aren't milia - if I squeeze them normally, something will come out - but they are kind of cystic. I don't particularly want to irritate the skin on my eyelids by squeezing, either. Googling 'spots on eyelids' only brings up results for milia.

I can't think of any changes in my skin or washing routines that might have affected my skin - this has been happening for the past month or so, but I'm using the same cosmetics, the same washing powder and the same skincare products that I have been before this started. I also make sure I clean my brushes regularly (I use Dr Bronner's peppermint liquid soap). A friend said it might be hair products, but I only use SLS-free shampoo because I have a really sensitive, prone-to-itching scalp, but I do use a normal conditioner - while I've learned that silicone-based products break me out, I've been using the same conditioner for ages.

I have had a bit of a stressful period over the past couple of months, and as a result have been eating fairly crappily, but I've not experienced diet-based breakouts before - I'm not eating anything new.
Any ideas?
posted by mippy to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I get those too. It's apparently from hormones in chicken. Have you been eating a lot of chicken lately?
posted by nickhb at 5:23 AM on November 9, 2012

Do you touch or rub your temples/hairline area more when you are stressed out? I mention it because I do.

fwiw a couple of years ago I had a period of a few months where I was getting angry, sore, cystic acne on my forehead. I never isolated why but it just stopped again. I know that isn't helpful but perhaps hopeful?
posted by Trivia Newton John at 5:24 AM on November 9, 2012

Response by poster: I barely eat chicken. I'm actually struggling to remember the last time I had any....
posted by mippy at 5:26 AM on November 9, 2012

I do not have a solution, really, but I get these, usually near my hairline on the upper left of my forehead and on my temples toward my eyes. It seems to happen every so often, lasts for 2-3 weeks, then stops. I have noticed no pattern of stress, eating, or activity that would account for them. I have not eaten chicken in... well, a while. I usually respond with a more attentive application of my face-cleaning regimen (mild face soap while showering), but I can't say for sure if that does any good or they just stop on their own.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:26 AM on November 9, 2012

I get these all the time, and I haven't eaten chicken in 18 years. Haven't ever found a good solution to them except retinoids, unfortunately. I'm sure that my conditioner contributes to the problem -- but because of the moisturizing agents, not the SLS.

It's also possible your skin type is changing. It happened to me a few years ago (I'm 30), and it's normal for such a thing to happen over the course of your lifetime.
posted by Coatlicue at 5:36 AM on November 9, 2012

I take it you're a woman living in the northern hemisphere. I'm a man living in the northern hemisphere. So we're both experiencing fall and winter.

It might have something to do with the change in the weather. For example, I'm in Japan at the moment, and the weather went overnight from being 25 degrees to 15 degrees, and it's played havoc with my scalp and skin. My scalp started producing sebum like crazy, which led to a fungal bloom, and then I had issues on my face and my arms.

I had a more serious issue a couple of years ago when I moved from hot and humid Japan during the summer to dry, dry and cool Canada.

In general, though, I notice changes in humidity and temperature will do weird things to my skin. Winter is the worst, because the cold, dry air causes my skin to become more easily damaged.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:50 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've been suffering similar on my scalp this past month and can't pinpoint it to a product or diet change. I'm starting to think its a combination of my skin seeming to be getting more sensitive as I age (late 30s) plus the central heating getting turned on.
posted by Ness at 5:50 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

What have you been applying to your skin? It may be a heavy emollient (too oily) and your skin will gather it and small deposits like such will appear.
posted by Yellow at 5:51 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Did you change anything about your pillow at all? I recently just put on my flannel winter pillow cases which hold more moisture somehow than the smooth summer ones and that can effect my skin so I have to wash them more often. I am also getting greasier hair with the change in weather which totally gives me breakouts on my upper face (i have hair hanging across my forehead all the time). Stress can do similar things to my hair with knock on effects to my face.
posted by shelleycat at 5:55 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Check to see if any products you are using or foods you are consuming have a little notice on the packaging that says "NEW RICHER/TASTIER FORMULA/RECIPE!"
posted by elizardbits at 6:08 AM on November 9, 2012

You might have developed a sensitivity to the products you're currently using. Try switching to something else that's gentle. Also, if you're using a hand cream and rubbing your face, that could do it too. You also might have developed sensitivity to your makeup, or it might be expired.
posted by windykites at 6:18 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

It might be two different things: milia by your hairline and xanthelasma on your eyelids. The eyelid skin is very thin so that's where cholesterol deposits accumulate. Instances increase with overweight and menopause.
posted by carmicha at 6:43 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Did you change toothpastes? I know, odd question. But I had a pretty good case of dermatitis that looked similar and went on forever-- it was my toothpaste.
posted by oflinkey at 7:48 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I can't help you with why you're getting them on your eyes but ingrown hairs will clog skin and cause spots, so it's not unusual to get more of them where you grow hair, like your eyebrows and hairline.

I don't know why you're getting them now when you didn't before but I'm not surprised that you're getting them in your hair rather than everywhere else. Hormones fluctuate. Your skin can also change how it responds to certain products. I can use something that works great for ages and then suddenly start breaking out. Usually I just change products and the problem resolves itself.
posted by Polychrome at 7:49 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I got these when I used the new formulation of Olay Sensitive moisturizer. Turns out I (and a lot of people) react poorly to the Avobenzone. Any new products or new formulations lately? Check your labels.
posted by Coffeemate at 8:26 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

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