Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Raging Menopausal Pimples

Or Struggling with Acne Rosacea at Age 50 ~ Part 1


I'm not really trying to be the face of middle-aged acne rosacea, but I want to talk about it because I know I'm not alone in struggling with this painful and often painfully embarrassing disease. It's not uncommon among women of a certain age, but many remain untreated. I know I want to be a big girl and not care about something as trivial-seeming as a few zits, but acne rosacea, especially during severe flare-ups, is much more painful and disfiguring than the occasional pimple. It's hard to ignore, because frankly it hurts, itches, and burns. From my perspective, pimples are not better than wrinkles.

I remember having some pretty unsightly acne when I was in my teens. I was (and still am) acutely shy, and preferred not to be noticed, but sometimes classmates made rude comments about my bad skin. My elders would comfort me with, "Just wait until you're out of your teens, your hormones will settle down, and you'll have lovely skin!"

If only those elders could see me now, with much more severe acne rosacea, that in many cases just gets worse with age, especially with the raging hormones of menopause. If I could hide in my office, great, but I frequently meet the public, and well, have this thing called a budget style blog. Taking pictures of myself required shedding some self-esteem issues over time, because I was always the one never in photos. Recently, I've started avoiding photos again because my skin has gotten so bad.

I took some self-portraits with and without a new mineral foundation today, at the clearing up stage of a bad breakout (couldn't work up the nerve during last few weeks) on a new skin care plan, and with my typical orange makeup face (because I haven't found a foundation that doesn't make me look orange). I can't just not wear make-up at all. Well, I guess I could, but uuummmm, no. I like light make-up and won't wear multiple heavy layers, so forget the layering of the green, the white, etc. often recommended for acne sufferers.



I didn't quite capture the real life redness and all the healing spots in the bathroom mirror lights, 
but wow, the orange-ness :( The Teen and I have determined the perfect foundation shade for me 
would likely be called Pateux Anemique (Pasty Anemic in French).

Acne rosacea has various degrees of presentation and severity, some of it pretty darned gross, including facial redness, bumps and pimples, red patches, eye irritation, and even recurrent styes.

I enjoyed some relatively acne free years in my 20s and 30s, but was diagnosed with adult acne in my late 30s. I was prescribed topical antibiotics that had to be kept refrigerated, and seemed to take about six months to clear up my increasingly bad skin.

Although no one diagnosed it at the time, I had signs of ocular rosacea in the form of repeated styes, one even requiring eye surgery (super gross). What stopped the recurring styes was my eye doctor's suggestion to wash my eyes every day with baby shampoo, plus my primary care physician prescribed a topical antibiotic (one that didn't have to be kept in the fridge) for what was still being called adult acne.

Then about two years ago, all hell truly broke loose on my face. No matter how gentle I was with my skin care, I had huge angry-looking break-outs that would not resolve within a few weeks, to the point my skin sometimes became cracked, bumpy, and very red, especially my nose and cheeks, but also my forehead, chin, and jawline.

I finally saw an dermatologist who correctly diagnosed acne rosacea. He prescribed a topical antibiotic, as well as a special oral medication that cleared up flare-ups extremely quickly - but also costs a fortune and has quite the set of embarrassing side effects of its own. The co-pay was high, too. I only took it for the very worst flare-ups, but I found out last week that my insurance won't cover it any more - when a pharmacy associate asked, "Are you sure you want to pay $460 for this?" Which almost caused a heart attack right there at the cash register, and she rightly gathered the answer is no.

Next week, in Part 2 of this series, I'll talk about some of the new skin care tips that really seem to be helping me - and my search for a new mineral makeup that doesn't turn my face orange. My dermatologist's nurse recommended the drugstore brand I'm trying now, to save some money, but also urged me to try MAC Cosmetics mineral foundation, swearing that the higher cost of the makeup is absolutely worth it.

If you're a fellow acne rosacea sufferer, I'd love to hear some of your tips for keeping flare-ups to a minimum - and whether you've found the perfect foundation yet.

Source: National Rosacea Society

23 comments:

  1. New mineral make up - as a luminously pale person I can vouch for Lily Lolo mineral foundation. They also do sample pots (from their UK website). I've never broken out with Lily - no affiliation - just a happy user. They also sell on Amazon I believe.

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  2. Sorry you have to deal with this, you are very strong woman to share. I'm looking forward to learning more about your skin care regimen as I'm in my early 40s and still have acne. I've tried many products. Right now, for mineral powder I like Jane Iredale. I hope you have a place nearby where you can try / see her products. The foundation is pricey, but so far (knock on wood) don't feel like it adds to my break outs. There are a lot of shades in the powder range-she has both loose and compact version. I like the compact version for portability and seems less messy to me. I stray away from it now and then because I keep looking for one to deal with the hot disgusting weather....this one does need touch up mid day.

    Have suggestions for diet changes been made?

    Wishing for break through. Best

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  3. I love your courage, taking your skin woes right to the people who care (that's us!). I don't have this skin issue but I am going to do some mineral makeup research and talk to my buds. I never would know you had rosacea from your pics, not in a million pictures!

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  4. Have you tried Mary Kay mineral makeup? Your local Mary Kay consultant can color match you by using a special color card....so you can see how well it blends with your skin without even putting any on. I think you look like an Ivory 1.
    Sometimes makeup will get that orangey look when the makeup interacts with the oil on your face.
    If you do go with a mineral makeup you need to do two things; first gently blot it onto your face with the brush and then using the brush BUFF it into your skin in circular motions. I have a minor case of the same skin condition. I use this makeup and you cannot see it on your skin.

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  5. Aging is so much fun...I just had an appoitment with the dermatologist...age spots are popping up. He froze some and they are highly uncomfortable. I guess it is always something, but I am sorry you are going through this. Just keep that beautiful smile...you are gorgeous!

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  6. My mom struggles with rosacea and she got it around your age as well
    She has it pretty well under control now, but sometimes has to deal with flare ups
    There is hope
    Brett

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  7. Horrible. I am 27 and I still have acne, straight through from my teens. I am quite sure it will never go away. So, while it is not as horrible as what you have now (cracked skin, OUCH), I can somewhat relate. I am cursing all those who told me in my teens that it would go away when I grew up. Liars!!!

    Really looking forward to your skincare tips!

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  8. Ugh. I can so relate to this. I've had rosacea forever. It runs in my family. Lucky me.

    I didn't realize until you mentioned it that they stye in my eye is also due to that. I haven't had them before, just lots of eye irritation.

    My problem is even finding a cream that I can use on my face without burning it and turning it red. I used to use Rosa Cure by Clinique I think and now they have changed the formula and it doesn't agree with my skin anymore.

    I try not to wear makeup much. I don't wear a foundation every day, instead I just blot on some cover-up where I need it.

    I do notice that mine gets a whole lot worse when I drink, especially red wine. I think that the sulphites in might be the culprits. Otherwise I haven't really been able to narrow it down to any one thing making it better or worse.

    Looking forward to the second part of this.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  9. Fellow acne roscea sufferer here--it just popped up the last couple of years. The prescription stuff seem to make it WORSE--plus the expense is just ridiculous.
    And in addition I have super oily skin.
    So what's a supermodel to do??
    1. I wash very gently with with a handmade shea butter & tea-tree oil soap--it's very gentle and antiseptic.
    2. NO SUN--
    3. Foundation makes me nuts--due to my oil and hotflash/sweat festivities. I've gotten good "results" with Garniers oil-free BB cream as far as coverage/staying on. I use the light color. It's sheer yet protects. I never wear blush as my cheeks are "rosy" enough on their own
    4. I found the mineral powders made the roscea WORSE-go figure.
    5. I vary my night-time moisturizer. I'm currently using good ole oil of olay original version. It helps the dry patches and doesn't seem to aggravate anything.

    And I thought puberty sucked skin-wise. Menopause is a BITCH, ya'll!!

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  10. It it takes a lot of guts to write about stuff such as this. I had medium-bad acne that would flare up in high school and was always self-conscious of it. In my mid-30s I went through I horrible bout of huge, crater-like zits, hard and painful, along my jawline. The docs said I was pre-menopausal (lovely) and did little to help me. I think stress over the situation made it worse. They eventually went away in time and have never returned, and I don't think I did anything special in terms of skin care regime, though I swore by Jane Iredale mineral power and makeup - she is a rosacea sufferer herself - as it provided excellent but sheer coverage. My skin has never been better now, living in France, where processed food is hard to come by and even drugstore skin care is botanical or natural and mostly paraban-free. Looking forward to your next installment. Xo

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  11. Have you tried looking into Asian make-up? You have an Olive tone to your skin, so it may take looking for different under tones in make-up, that may be geared towards different women. I can't wear most make-up because I have 'neutral' undertones and neither pink or orange make-up looks right on me.

    Of course, everything in world breaks me out. I have two massively painful cystic zits around my eye today. I'm just praying the camera does not pick them up.

    I've had horrible skin since I hit puberty. The only thing that remotely helped was birth control pills. Even now, I still get break-outs. The best I've been able to do is use plain water to wash, witch hazel on wounds.

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  12. Lynne, I hear you. Though I don't have roseacea, my skin has been problematic all my life, and the comfort of "you'll grow out of it" proved false. So now, I have spots AND wrinkles - great! My skin flares up/calms down all on its own, and I notice very little impact from any skin care regime. I think mine is hormonal - too much testosterone, should have been a man obviously! Though Kelly's description of hard painful red lumps on the jawline sounds awfully familiar.
    I STILL feel self-conscious about having bad skin, and I let it affect my confidence for many many years. Now - I don't like it, I wish I looked better, but I figure if I wear bonkers clothes, it will distract from my face!
    I think you are beautiful, Lynne. Difficult skin doesn't make anyone less than beautiful. My youngest has a serious skin condition, and if that is the message I want to give to her, then I need to live by it myself. xxxxxx

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  13. Thanks for writing about this; as others have noted before me, it takes guts. I'm fortunate to have had, post-teenage years, pretty good skin, although now, in the merry days of perimenopause, my skin's giving me a bit of trouble. I'd never compare it to something like acne rosacea, but I swear, I appreciate EVERY bit of data I get from other women dealing with various menopause-related weirdnesses.

    I've recently started using a BB cream, and I have no idea whether or not that would irritate your AR, but I seriously love the stuff, and am a total convert. The comfort factor with my skin has gone way up since I started using it; and it blends really really well with my own Consumptive Pallor skintone. Maybe ask your dermatologist about them? Also, I can totally vouch for the quality of MAC's products.

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  14. Same problem here. And, as you've seen, I have horrible acne scars from my college years. You have my sympathy. No advice to give, just emotional support. I *love* you!

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  15. Oh, Lynne, you look lovely in the pictures to me. You really do. I love seeing real women in pictures with no makeup. Maybe it's because I have read your blog for awhile now and I see the Lynne I am coming to know. You are beautiful to me. That said, I look at my wrinkles and think "NOOOOO" sometimes, so I know it's a real thing to be concerned about what changes our face, the first thing people see when they look at us! You are wonderful for sharing this. I am sure it will help a lot of people. I wish I knew of a good mineral makeup. I like rice powder from Sally's Beauty supply, although now my skin is so dry (thank you menopause) that I don't use it. I also have Physician's Formula and I like that pretty well.

    xoxo
    Lynn

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  16. Lynne, I'm really sorry to hear of your struggle. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to deal with this and bravo that you've faced it head on and a bigger bravo for talking about it here. You totally rock and I do hope you find a suitable range of make-up for yourself.
    Hugs to you
    Wendy

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  17. I had no idea you were suffering behind your model image! If any cosmetics or pharma company rep reads your blog, I hope they will send you free products to test and review. I'm sorry that you have this, but I hope you find affordable comfort soon! I'll check my sources as well.

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  18. I don't mean to be rude or anything, but I think you look good in your close-up pictures without make-up. But it's obvious from what you're saying that you are suffering and I am sorry to hear that. I've never worn make-up, other than eyeliner and concealer so I don't have any helpful hints. And I don't use any special cleansers or anything. You're sure to get good advice from the sisterhood of the blogosphere though, so kudos to you for reaching out for some advice here.

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  19. I totes forgot you had those blue tights. They're supes cute. Must borrow. BT Dubs, happy mothers day. You're blog is supes grawesome.

    The Teen

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  20. Ah, the Teen checked out your blog! :-)

    I have no advice, just commiseration, as I have had skin woes with dermatitis. The doctor was next to useless so I have been working out my own best treatment. And it is of less comfort when your skin is painful, but often people really don't see the skin issues you think they can see xxx

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  21. A combination of things has helped clear mine up - and brilliantly:
    omitting all sugar from my diet
    omitting wheat
    adding fish oil capsules
    switched to oil cleansing method - I found a great oil wash, but it's made in Canada so I won't link you - but there are lots of good ones in the States, I've noticed, or you can make your own.

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  22. I've had pesky skin from puberty onward and it has become increasingly challenging with the onset of peri-menopause. I've used expensive retail products and Proactiv for approximately 6 month intervals, but found it would stop working for me and leave me with eruptions that it could no longer control.

    I tried Clinique, DHC, Tea Tree products etc. during those times when Proactiv was not working for me. FINALLY, I tried this natural brand called Citrus Clear after researching online - this was 2 years ago when I had a major eruption. I've been using Citrus Clear products ever since. In addition to Citrus Clears ability to CONTROL my acne, it also has an option to help MAINTAIN my clear face. And its all natural and doesnt burn. I love that I have an option of which face wash to use, depending on the day.

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