Saturday, May 5, 2012

Rainy Days and Skin Talk

I’ve battled acne ever since I hit puberty, and even until now that I'm already 20 years old, it’s still a daily struggle for me to have clear skin. It runs on both sides of the family, and I guess I got the full brunt of hereditary skin conditions, not to mention my rosacea, or skin redness. I’ve been going to the dermatologist for years to treat my acne and I’ve used all a manner of prescription medications, ointments, soaps. I’ve endured discomfort and pain from chemical peels and facials, the sting of special toners and astringents, all in the name of fighting acne. Certainly, at present this is the clearest complexion I’ve had in years, because all throughout grade school and high school, my acne was much, much worse. Thankfully, my acne wasn’t the cystic kind, but more of a barrage of whiteheads and blackheads. However, I used to have such awful acne on my back, chest, and shoulders, that I couldn’t wear sleeveless tops, and it really hurt my self-esteem and to this day I have lingering insecurities. I had to go through five peeling sessions back in high school to go to prom wearing a tube dress. I actually have very few pictures from middle school to high school because I was always so self-conscious about my skin and I felt so hideous, and I didn’t want to be photographed at all. There is actually this huge gap in our family photo albums, when acne had nearly destroyed any and all self-confidence I had.

I had tried just about everything, and I almost lost hope of ever having normal skin. But in my last year of high school, leading up to the months before my high school graduation, I so desperately wanted to be able to have a decent graduation picture and not feel ashamed in my own skin, so I did some extensive research on alternative treatments, and that’s when I learned about the pill, or oral contraceptives. Apart from being birth control, one of the side-effects or benefits of taking estrogen is that it suppresses androgens, or male hormones, that cause acne. I begged Mama to let me go on oral contraceptives to see if taking hormones would help alleviate my acne. Mama’s an OB-GYN herself and she consulted with my dermatologist, as well as her other doctor colleagues, including a fertility specialist, before she agreed to let me try it. And I’m not naïve, I know what the implications are, and you can judge me all you want, but we talked about it, and my parents trust me enough to be responsible for myself, so even if they had their reservations, they gave me permission, because it had gotten to the point where nothing could keep my acne at bay, and even with my dermatologist’s intervention, I would likely end up with scarring if it didn’t let up.

They always say that it gets worse before it gets better, and that certainly was the case with taking pills. The first month, I would get dizzy and lightheaded, and it wasn’t until more than three months later that I saw results, which were minimal at that. I actually barely made it in time for my graduation to have clearer skin. Before taking pills, I had a pretty regular, if heavy period, and the pill has made my period like clockwork, and has lightened and shortened my period, so that was a plus. So now that I’m in college, I’ve been on the pill for little over three years and the pill has helped immensely, but it hasn’t eliminated my acne. Not by a long shot. I’m still using other maintenance topical acne medications like gels and creams, because I still get breakouts. And there’s also the question at the back of my mind, what if I stop taking the pill? Would my acne return full force? There’s always that fear, but then, when does it end? Do I have to take it forever and ever? Is there no cure? Only treatments? I have heard of Acnetrex, but after researching it, it’s way too extreme for me, and even my dermatologist advised against it, because that was reserved for the worst kind of acne. So here we are now.

Yes, for sure, this is the best my skin has seen, but after years of suffering from acne, you can still see traces of the aftermath. I have scars and hyper-pigmentation and on my fair skin, even a tiny blemish looks so obvious. If you knew me from before, then you would agree that this is the best my skin has ever been, but by normal standards, my skin would still be classified as problem skin. These past two weeks leading to my period, I’ve had a nasty breakout on my forehead, that have only just begun to dry up. The pimples I got all over my forehead were the angry, red, and painful to touch kind, tender and sore.

Just yesterday, I took these pictures. Sorry, no before and after pictures here. You can see the blemishes on my forehead and chin. They’re all dried up pimples already, if you touch them, they’re smooth and flat already, not bumpy at all, but they leave unpleasant red marks that take a long, long time to fade.
















I have no makeup in the two above pictures, I only applied my Etude House Sun Powder Cotton Touch Primer Base as a sun block and moisturizer over my acne antibiotics, after cleansing and toning my skin. I haven’t worn any makeup to school these past two weeks, just sun block to protect my skin, because I thought my makeup might be aggravating my sudden acne flare up, and I wanted to use as few products as possible, so as not to make my acne worse. Sometimes, my skin just needs a break or a breather from all my superfluous stuff. With a healthy diet and plenty of sleep, plus religious skin care, my acne is dying down already, but just a few days ago, my pimples were these almost welt like things on my face! My bangs helped cover up the worst of it though. But at home, I pin them back and away from my face.

Anyway, this whole week has been surprisingly rainy, after the long and hot dry spell! It’s been raining hard mostly on afternoons, but yesterday, it was pouring all day, almost! In class we had a hard time hearing each other because of the rain. I won’t go into my problems with my PI 100 class, because really it’s not worth it. I’ve come to realize during my stint in UP, that there are all sorts of characters, and pseudo-intellectual professors that get a kick out of messing with students come a dime a dozen. They are not worth it.

IMG_0983So, yesterday, I was wearing a pink shirt and a mini skirt with my green sandals. As it happens, every time it rains hard, I am coincidentally almost always wearing these green sandals. It’s like these sandals are cursed to be ruined by the rain. I have a car now, so at least commuting isn’t an issue, but even when I parked just across the building with a short walk, AS parking lot has all these ruts and pot holes and enormous puddles and walking to and from my car I got all these muddy splashes on the back of my calves, and my sandals were dirty. Good thing these have sturdy workmanship and good leather or it would be such a shame. UP is a great place for walking, but a bad place for nice shoes. Almost all my shoes are the durable kind and it’s hard to find shoes that serve both form and function. This is one of those. But I've had one experience before when I was wearing a pair of flimsy and cheap sandals and the strap broke on my commute home, and I walked home hobbling like a cripple, and all the other commuters were staring at me and my broken shoes.

Going back to my outfit, I’ve had this shirt since high school, and as I’ve mentioned, getting fit has allowed me to wear clothes that I thought I’d never fit into again, the mini included. I love this mini, the hem has frayed ends on purpose and it has that rugged effect. I love how mini’s get attention. Or is it my legs…? HAHA Sorry, I just couldn’t resist. But yeah, all summer long I’ve been wearing either shorts or mini skirts five days a week to school because of the heat! In fact I wore this mini last week, maybe you might even remember it from one of my previous posts. I’m an outfit repeater, guilty as charged!

After school, I went home straightaway, and the rain had stopped so at least my drive home wasn’t difficult. I ate lunch, and then Mama took me and my youngest sister to the dentist for a check-up and my dentist told me I was “blooming” and I should dress up like this more often. She has no idea I’m recovering from a breakout and I always dress like this anyway. But I guess she’s used to my frumpy old self from years of being her patient.

While we were there, it started raining really hard again, and there was a bit of flooding by the time we left. We picked up my other sister from UP and had an early dinner at Shakey’s. We haven’t eaten at Shakey’s in a while, so it was great. We headed home and I went about the usual things. Like continuing my Fringe marathon.

Le sigh.

I’m saving my skin and hair care products post, as well as my makeup collection and storage for another day. Do watch out for those posts in the coming days. I’m so sorry for the long wait, it’s been on my list forever, I’ve just been distracted lately, I guess.

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