I set a goal to post at least twice a month, but I totally blew it the last couple months. Not for naught though; I’ve been taking a step back to figure out the direction I’d like to take theporexplorer. And funny enough, the one issue I’ve been having these past months was the answer to this direction.
I had been breaking out a lot these past months. The last 6 months have been super stressful for me and my cystic acne flared up. I was trying new products to get rid of it but it only made my face break out even more, which stressed me out even more. I kept stressing, “Is my cystic acne never gonna go away??” and “Is there really nothing that can get rid of it??” January and February were the worst for me: super dry air + stress + no time = effed up skin. While stressful, this did provide me with a clearer direction on theporexplorer moving forward and prompted me to write a 3-part chronicle to document this misadventure that includes a mansplaining dermatologist (lol more to come soon). So I’ve decided to focus on the one problem I’ve always had issues with (besides mansplainers, that is) growing up: acne.
My teen skin was awful as I suffered from extremely oily skin and acne. Someone said to me several years ago, “Hey Joann, what did you do to get rid of your acne? Because I remember they used to be all over your face.” Ah… Yup. Even though I had been super self-conscious of my skin growing up during the very brutal years of hormonal adolescence, I didn’t think anything could be done to fix it. Obviously now-me should travel back in time to teenage-me to guide the young padawan on skin care. But until someone figures out time travel, teenage-me would continue to suffer from oily skin and acne. It stayed with me through grade school and high school, but they slowly started to disappear during and after college. “My acne days are finally over!” I thought. I would get the occasional minor break out or pimple when my period is about to start, but for the most part, my skin had been fine.
Well, it was fine until last year. At 27, my job required me to travel a little bit. Like weekly back-to-back traveling two to three times a month. This meant dehydrated skin, out-of-whack schedule, and an unbalanced diet. I was not prepared for this. In the middle of dinner in Alaska, I found my face starting to break out all along my chin and jawline. I was freaking out. I didn’t have any of my regular products in case of emergencies like this, so I did what I could with what I had. They eventually went away during the remainder of my trip and I thought that was the end of it. When I finally returned home, I noticed patches of cystic acne started appearing right along my jawline. It was horrifying. I initially had no idea what they were because they appeared different than the acne I grew up with. I only knew what these bumps were because they looked exactly like what they are: cysts. So I Googled “cystic acne” — that’s a thing, right?
I have never felt so understood. Like when you’re reading your personality assessment and you’re just nodding to every word? Yeah. Like that. Every result I pored into regarding cystic acne perfectly described the condition on my face. They grow under skin; they are hard; they are painful; they can be huge and are glaringly red as if crying for attention. Regular acne normally does not hurt, but cystic acne can hurt even when you’re not touching them because they are inflamed underneath your skin. Ouch.
It’s been a year since my first cystic acne breakout, and I am still dealing with them right now. Some days they’re tame; other days, they are inflamed and angry with me so they come out in red patches for the whole world to see. I have been experimenting with different combinations of methods: diet, lifestyle, and skin care routine and products. I’ve been keeping a skin care journal of sorts to note what I’ve used to figure out what works and what doesn’t. As I’m writing this, they are mostly tame; I see them and can feel the bumps but they are not as angry as they were a week ago. I am supposed to go back to the mansplaining dermatologist this Wednesday for a quick check-in, but I only want to go to give him a piece of my mind. I will definitely be including that meeting in my 3-part chronicle. So, stay tuned for my skin’s chronicle to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes I made; and if you did make the same mistakes, read what I did to correct them!