Friday, August 29, 2014

Project Skin Deep: Healing from Rosacea and Dermatitis

Here's a recent sweaty selfie after a run. This
is a no make up and no filter look.
They say that a woman's skin cannot hide her secrets. Had she been sleeping late, bingeing on chocolates or stressing over an issue, a pimple breakout would tell her story. Had she taken a little too much margarita on a Friday night out, her lackluster skin on the following day would give it away.

When I had the first signs of dermatitis late in 2010, I was quick to attribute it to a skin allergy and its medication without any sound basis. Scaling near the hairline was a skin problem that popped up from time to time yet, it did not bother me as much as when the scaling worsened and appeared on other parts of my face. Adding to the problem was what later on appeared as mild rosacea, which caused some itching and stinging sensation on my cheeks and between my brows.

Out of worry, I went on a product trial spree---changing my 10-year daily skin regimen to other drug store products and organic finds known to be effective on sensitive skin. None of them solved the scaling and flare ups.

It was only in February this year when I finally saw a skin expert in the name of Dr. Vermen Verallo-Rowell, Makati Medical Center's Chair of Dermatopathology and Founder of VMV Hypoallergenics. She diagnosed my skin problems as mild rosacea, and seborrheic and photocontact dermatitis. Dr. Verallo's approach to managing my skin problems was holistic. She inquired about my activities and sources of stress as a way to internally address the cause of my woes. Externally, her prescription included washing my face with Oil So Well Virgin Coconut Oil in the morning and at night time; rubbing Red Better Daily Moisturizer on areas affected with rosacea; and putting on Skintangible, a BB cream with SPF 30, every morning.

After six months of consistent use, coupled with healthy lifestyle activities that she advised me to sustain, I am already reaping the benefits of a clearer and healthier skin.

Sharing how I did it with what worked and what did not through the following tips:

1. Get an expert's advice - Here's something that you should not do: Google your skin woes.

At the onset of my rosacea, I relied on Google to take me to popular medical websites that offered descriptions of common skin problems and their corresponding medications. Despite insistent reminders to see a dermatologist, I still chose a DIY approach to solving my skin problems only to realize much, much later that none of my solutions ever seemed to work.

2. Opt for sustainable skin care - I have always lived by the philosophy that skin care should be affordable (within one's budget), accessible (can be easily bought) and always available (self-explanatory). When Dr. Verallo recommended VMV Hypoallergenics, I had no reservations because they were well within my personal skin care budget---not to mention that VMV stores offer occasional 10-15% discounts, and their well-stocked stores are present in malls that are near my home and workplace. I should also say that VMV allows product reservations by phone so if a shop happens to have run out of a preferred item, you can always reserve from another store and agree on a reasonable date or time for pick up.

3. Observe good hygiene - Even the best products in the market can be ineffective when used inconsistently and when good hygiene is not practiced. I would have been cleared from dermatitis earlier had there been no times - rare ones - that I fell asleep with my make up on.

4. Practice healthy lifestyle - The introduction to this post best explains why one should eat healthy and exercise. To eat healthy does not require depriving one's self with the foods we love; all it takes is a conscious effort to eat clean at least 80% of the time. Eating clean means choosing fresh and organic fruits and vegetables - especially those that nourish the skin - over processed food or it can simply be choosing healthy home-cooked meals over some oily fastfood.

Getting enough exercise also helps keep many skin problems (and other diseases) at bay. A good cardio like running, brisk walking, biking and zumba can help improve blood circulation and cleanse pores.

5. Drink lots of water - Water cleanses our body from toxins and other impurities. A well-hydrated body reveals better complexion and helps us feel revitalized after a stressful day at work.

6. Catch the zzzs before they bite - Without enough sleep, our body releases more cortisol -- the stress hormone that can break down skin collagen. Lack of sleep can result in dull skin, fine lines and those hard to rid dark circles under the eyes. Lastly, sleep facilitates cell regeneration, which is essential to curing both skin and emotional problems.

7. Center in your core - Common skin infections with external causes can be easily cured with topical medications; however, persistent problems such as rosacea and dermatitis are said to be more complex than what they seem to be. Studies suggest that stress is a strong factor as such, treatment should be administered more than skin deep.

A lot of this inner work can be addressed by regular meditation, mindfulness and yoga. Being aware of the sources of stress and taking steps to abate them with a calm and focused mind can make wonders not only on our skin but on our whole well-being.

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