How can I soothe/remoisturizing the irritated skin on my face?
March 11, 2013 6:42 PM   Subscribe

How to heal or restore moisture to this (probably) temporary chemical-sensitivity induced rash/dryness on my face?

I just came back from a weekend at a vacation rental and the skin on my face--mostly around my mouth--is very dry, red, scaly, a bit itchy and generally irritated (it actually feels like I have a sunburn, though I am near certain this is not a sunburn). Please help me fix this without making it worse.

I usually wash my face (only at night) with pretty gentle stuff--Trader Joe's face wash with tea tree oil or a Neutrogena "Naturals" or Cetaphil anti-bacterial bar, depending on how much make-up I'm wearing or how much I've been sweating. For this trip I grabbed a random travel size face wash in my attempt to be low-maintenance and not schlep my whole medicine cabinet with me. The one I got was Neutrogena's "Oil Free Face Wash". I realized after using it several nights that it has salicylic acid in it. I know that is already drying, PLUS I was not putting moisturizer on after I washed my face with it because...vacation/lazy, but my skin is irritated enough that I'm wondering if I also did not do a good enough job of rinsing it off or something (this occurred to me because after the first night of using it I got sort of red and itchy in front of my ear near my hairline--which sometimes gets missed when I rinse my face). Anyway there's a fine rash all along my jaw line and chin that sort of looks like little zits that kind of burns and the skin in that area is just dry and flaky and pretty nasty looking. The skin directly under my lower lip feels like it's chapped.

For what it's worth, this also may have been a matter of sleeping on vacation rental sheets that I highly doubt were laundered with the higher-end hypoallergenic detergent I use at home. I mention because I actually woke up this morning and the side of my face that I was sleeping on was swollen, especially around my eye (noticeable to others) and my eye sort a bit watery all morning so maybe this indicative of a larger allergy issue? Probably several converging factors here, but the question is:

Has this kind of thing ever happened to your skin, and if so, how did you nurse it back to normalcy? I am home now and I want to 1) take my make-up off (if I didn't have to go out and about today I would have just skipped it) and 2) soothe/restore moisture to that area. My first instinct would be to use a gentle soap (like the cetaphil bar) and a hot washcloth but would the heat make it worse? I have some coconut oil I put on my skin when it gets dry but I am afraid that will further irritate things too. I have a pretty heavy Cetaphil skin cream I use in winter months but I am just wondering if there are any better ideas? Oatmeal mask? Benadryl? I can get over my vanity but the burning/itching is just darn uncomfortable. Thanks in advance.
posted by lovableiago to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
First off, a lot of "natural" beauty products aren't gentle. Tea tree oil certainly isn't!

For current situation, I'd wash with Cetaphil or CeraVe (but nothing antibacterial or harsh, just the basic versions), use a gentle unscented moisturizer (again, Cetaphil and CeraVe make great products), and some cortizone cream. Oral benadryl can also help if it doesn't make you too sleepy.
posted by radioamy at 6:51 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes, I get rashy easily from various skin products. I agree with radioamy's suggestion of gentle stuff + cortisone or benadryl. An alternative to cortisone that I have used that works for my rashy outbreaks is Desitin or another zinc oxide diaper rash cream. I wear it overnight and usually the rash is cleared up by morning.
posted by Ouisch at 6:55 PM on March 11, 2013

One thing I've been using on irritated skin all winter is jojoba oil... it's nice and soothing and non-greasy... if you gently massage it on with a cotton pad, it'll clean the skin, and if you wipe off the excess with another fresh cotton pad, it'll moisturize, too.
posted by julthumbscrew at 7:11 PM on March 11, 2013

I vote don't wash the area unless it's really dirty or greasy. if you do feel the need to wash it, use Cetaphil's cleanser, which isn't soap and doesn't even need to be used with water. Just smooth it on and gently towel it off.

My main attack would be thin layer of hydrocortisone, then the Cetaphil cream, then don't mess with it. The hydrocortisone should cut the itchiness/irritation and the Cetaphil should rehydrate your skin so it's not as flaky.

My other main go-to for irritated-beyond-belief skin is LUSH Ultrabland, which is some magical combo of oils and such that looks precisely like Crisco but makes my eczema-ravaged skin feel very smooth and calm, and has never broken me out despite its Crisco-y texture.

Another option, if it gets bad enough to see a doctor, is a slightly more powerful topical steroid than hydrocortisone (desonide, maybe) and a great product which I don't think is very well-known but works wonders for me, a simple moisturizer called Mimyx or Prumyx. It's a 'barrier cream' that helps to moisturize and restore the skin's natural barrier. Anyway, that's only if it gets worse- hopefully with a short, gentle regimen, your skin will feel like normal again.
posted by rachaelfaith at 7:39 PM on March 11, 2013

Coconut oil can do wonderful things for both dryness and rashes! It seems really...oily, but will soak in nicely and won't clog your pores at all.
posted by zinful at 12:06 AM on March 12, 2013

When my skin gets hypersensitive, even things like rosehip and coconut oil make it go all batty. I use Dermalogica's UltraCalming line til it's back to normal. I have no idea why it works as well as it does, and it's not cheap, but it's never failed me. You can get a little kit of minis at Amazon. I think Ulta carries it, too.
posted by houseofdanie at 8:52 AM on March 12, 2013

And, oh! Using a steroid on my sensitive skin gave me perioral dermatitis, which was about 400 times worse than the original problem.
posted by houseofdanie at 8:53 AM on March 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

For anyone that stumbles upon this thread, I'm pretty sure that tea tree oil either caused the issue or made it about 10 times worse. Long story short, I irritated my skin to the point that it became a cracked, oozy mess and I ended up with impetigo. Be very careful with tea tree oil or avoid it altogether...
posted by lovableiago at 8:14 PM on December 6, 2013

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