What is this skin condition?
June 12, 2018 2:00 PM   Subscribe

I have had this ongoing skin condition that is probably not life-threatening, or even that bothersome, and I am reluctant to shell out the money to see a specialist on my current health plan, so I am hoping maybe someone might have some ideas of what I might be suffering from.

In the skin in front of my ears, I have bumpy skin that seems a lot like acne, but it doesn't seem to respond to any type of acne treatments I have tried, and the individual bumps seem to persist. They feel a lot like small whiteheads, but you can't really extract them in the same way, and if something does come to a head, (sorry to be so graphic, yuck), it doesn't seem to away like normal acne.

The area is actually in front of my ears, and then downwards over the jawline and onto the neck. It doesn't, hurt, or seem to itch (that I have noticed). Any ideas?
posted by nanook to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Are they ingrown hairs? Have you tried very gently exfoliating there?
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:03 PM on June 12, 2018

Lichen planus?
posted by jkent at 2:03 PM on June 12, 2018

Keratosis pilaris? In the past, AmLactin worked for me.
posted by answergrape at 2:07 PM on June 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

It's probably milia and it's not a big deal. I get it just under my bottom lip. (Am prone to it there, I've got it totally under control now.)

I don't know what kind of "acne treatments" you've tried but a lot of them are bs crap.

For milia a good regular routine that involves a daily chemical exfoliator will help a lot. What's a chemical exfoliator? An acid like an AHA or BHA. I go for the Stridex pads that have 2% salicylic acid (a BHA) because they're easy to find and they're cheap and really effective for me.

You need to clean your face first with a really gentle cleanser (I like Cetaphil but anything gentle will do fine), then use the Stridex wipe and let it soak in for a while, then follow up with a nice, non-irritating non-comedogenic facial moisturizer (I like CeraVe but anything that you like will also probably do fine). Do the acid at night before bed, not in the morning (cleanse and moisturize in the morning) if you can help it because BHAs make you more photosensitive than usual.

Keep this up for a month and if it's just milia you'll see it fade.
posted by phunniemee at 2:11 PM on June 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I have tried exfoliating, sadly it didn't work, and I am pretty sure not ingrown hairs, kp (keratosis pilaris) or milia. I have had all three, and this is definitely different. Fungal acne seems like a good candidate -- from what I am reading, excess sweat can contribute. I have been going through menopause and have been super sweaty for several months, especially at night. (I am not sure why it would be localized to my face and neck, since I am more sweaty on my neck, back and chest.)

Thanks for the suggestions, keep them coming!
posted by nanook at 3:49 PM on June 12, 2018

You could have a chronic infection hiding out in a preauricular sinus, and breaking out occasionally to go down your jaw.
posted by jamjam at 4:04 PM on June 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

I can’t find it but probably the funniest comment I ever heard on this site was when someone asked what the tiny hole near their ear was (preauricular sinus) and got told it was their reset button!

(Also, to actually answer the question, I have something similar to this and it’s been suggested that it’s a mild form of eczema. So there’s another potential option.)
posted by Jubey at 5:45 PM on June 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Are you a sleep dribbler? I've found that changing my bedding twice weekly and flipping the pillow over and round so my jaw/neck is on a different part each night has been invaluable for clearing up that area of my face.
posted by london explorer girl at 4:41 AM on June 13, 2018

Do you wear glasses, by chance? I tend to get blocked pores, zits, bumps, etc. in that same place, where the sweat and oil collect under the arm of my glasses. Just a thought before you go chasing down WebMD rabbit holes - it could be something simple like that.
posted by jhope71 at 8:25 AM on June 13, 2018

Response by poster: I wanted to add a follow up to my original question, just in case anyone comes across this question.

I started treating the areas daily with a sulfur (De La Cruz Sulfur Ointment) ointment, you put it on and then wash it off in 10-15 minutes. Within a few days, my skin started clearing. It took another few weeks for the skin to fully heal and normalize. So it was fungal acne (thanks SO MUCH for you post, Stonkle).

Additionally, I started take some zinc/copper supplements, hopefully that might help with some internal immunity, and then I am using a zinc pyrithione shampoo once in a while as a cleanser, and as a shampoo for good measure.

I am so thrilled. I LOVE Ask Metafilter.

P.S. If you want to use the sulfur treatment, do not wear any metal jewelry except stainless steel. It will tarnish (badly, to the point that you can't remove it), anything else, even on the days you are not using the treatment. The sulfur appears to linger on the skin for days after you have used it.
posted by nanook at 10:16 AM on August 1, 2018

« Older Best dog for a distracted photographer...   |   Best mail-order food for US delivery? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.