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Skin care is essential if you are battling dry skin and acne. Here are two easy steps to get comfortable in your own skin when your face breaks out. And it couldn’t be simpler.
Taking care of your acne-prone skin: start early
If there is one blog that I would rather not write about it is skin care. I’m not too hung up on having acne. Of course I don’t love it, but it’s not the end of the world. Which might explain why I left it so long to go and see a dermatologist.
I have international health insurance to cover everything because it is a visa requirement in Spain. So while I’m paying for the top health cover, including repatriation of my remains in case of death if you must know, then I had no excuse to put off going to see the doctor.
But, my acne became really bad during COVID. And I think, it was exacerbated by wearing a mask. So after awhile, it became obvious that I’d have to manage my skin care with a strategy that didn’t include avoidance. If the cringe factor is high when you read this, sorry (not sorry). There’s no way of glamourizing the topic.
Getting down to the dirty facts of skin care
The dermatologist I found just happened to be one of Spain’s leading authorities on this subject, so it was comforting to know I would be in good hands. On the downside, he proved very difficult to book. I had to wait about 6 weeks to get an appointment slot. But I was able to use the hospital online booking system so that was a plus.
He sent me straight to get a blood test. Which meant I had to book another appointment to check the results and work out a treatment plan.
After all that, he recommended prescription medicine and a skin care routine which I have followed rigorously. With acne, you have to allow 6-12 months for the treatment to be effective.
Managing based on your skin type and acne type
My medication is specific to my acne type, and the skincare products I use are best for dry skin. There is no replacement for having your own blood test / dermatologist so please take that under advisement.
Yes there are different types of acne. And they come with extra gross names that leave nothing to the imagination. Let’s just get the grossness out of the way first.
No matter how many times I am confronted by the terrible reality of acne, there is also a kind of satisfying factor that makes Dr Pimple Popper such compelling viewing. And now that I’ve mentioned it, I’m sure your mental images while reading this list will be accompanied by a playback of some super-gross pimple popping procedure you’ve seen on YouTube. Look away, popaholic, if you can!
Color Me Up* Acne Types
Blackheads – Little tiny bumps with a black head. Often clustered up like they’re having a party on your forehead or your nose. Or it could be any part of your face that provides a suitably oily environment. Which leads us to the next color-coded face bump,
Whiteheads – The naming convention is not terribly difficult to crack. Exactly as it sounds.
Papules – (I’m calling these “paps” to limit the gross factor). I can’t help wondering why they suddenly abandoned the color code since the main difference between “paps” and black or white heads is…the color! These will be red or pink, which is a sign of inflammation. Also, no matter how hard you try, these will never give you a deeply satisfying “Pop”. They just become angrier and redder.
Pustules – This is a pimples + pus combo. Like little baby volcanos, I’ve abbreviated to “pusts” which doesn’t sound like a word, but again removes some of the gross. They are white but they will also have a nasty red ring around them. And even the bravest of your friends will not fantasize about popping these whoppers. In fact, they’re starting to wonder why they are still your friends.
Fungal acne – with this one they just decided to take two very gross words and mesh them together. This type will set up camp in your hair follicles when an excess of yeast develops and tend to be itchy. No pimple-popping goodness here.
Nodules – Finally, a pimple that sounds almost ok. Brings to mind Nodes, Nodules, Noodles. It describes those pimples that stay deep under your skin. Solid and inflamed but still visible due to the swelling. They’re the Mother-Node of pimples. And they hurt like, a Mother…well, they really hurt.
Cysts – Pus-filled pimples that can grow to the size of a tennis ball (elsewhere on your body but you get the idea). Scars are a sign you’ve had one of these.
* A soccer metaphor telling the ref to give a player a yellow or red card. Usually said in an angry voice from the sidelines as in “Color him up, Ref!”
Let’s talk about severity
Basically, to classify acne you start from Grade 1 and build from there. So Grade 1 (mild) is mostly the whites and blacks, with maybe a few of the ‘paps’ and ‘pusts’.
Going up the scale to Grade 2 (moderate), you’ll have multiple ‘paps’ and ‘pusts’ but it will still be mainly on your face.
Grade 3 (moderately severe), things have gotten out of control. It’s entered nodulocystic territory (combo of the nodules and cysts) and it is now hard to see bare skin on your face. Worse it might have even migrated south to your back and chest. There are so many that they form one big inflamed nodule.
I think you can see where this is going: Grade 4 (severe). And that’s where I found myself when I visited the dermatologist for the first time. Yup, that bad.
As I write, I am getting close to the end of the 12 months. Of course I can’t give you medical advice (please read my disclaimer if you are in any doubt about this at all. I study International Relations not medicine). But I can tell you this hand on heart: once you have the proper treatment plan in place don’t expect a miracle.
Now to the basic skin care routine
Aside from making sure I take the prescription medication, I’ve added the following super easy and efficient steps to my skin care routine. Which you can do too.
Each night, before bed, I do the following:
- Wash gently with a hydrating cleanser. I’ve mentioned this in another post but I cannot live without this one from CereVe that was recommended by the dermatologist and which seems to take the redness out. This product can be used for Normal to Dry Skin.
- Moisturize – you’ll be overjoyed to learn (as I was) that this product from Pierre Fabre Dermatologie does not contain urea. As the name suggests, urea is a waste product contained in urine. And for some reason, a very popular ingredient in some acne treatments.
During the day, add this step
Finally, I stay protected in the sun and use a sunscreen. When taking acne medication your skin is hyper -sensitive to sunburn (and you really don’t want any more redness).
The one I recommend and use is available for both Oily Skin and Dry Skin types (I’m using the dry type). Both are for sensitive skin types and there is also a Tinted BB version. When surfing, I pack a small tube of the same sunscreen that is designed for sensitive eyes.
Done and done
And that’s it for my daily routine. It’s surprisingly simple and easy. My skin is dry so it’s all about hydrating – so if that’s you too, don’t forget to hydrate. The easiest and free way by drinking lots of water. As I’ve said a million times, keep your water bottle handy at all times (I cannot stress this enough). You need to hydrate inside and out, which is why the products I use are hydrating. Especially for dry skin.
PRODUCTS MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE :
- CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser for Normal to Dry Skin 355 ml (12 oz)
- Dexeryl Emollient Cream for Dry Skin
- La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Dry Touch Tinted Facial Sunscreen SPF50+ 50m for Dry Skin.
Fact-checking: I have used the following website to get the facts right:
“Acne”. Source: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/12233-acneaccessed 30 September 2022