What’s Wrong With My Skin?

I get interesting questions every week, but recently a question included a great  photo.  A women I’ll call Tracy (she asked that her identity stayed private)  asked me  for a recommendation for dry,  red flaking skin around  her eyes.  She had already tried washing with baby shampoo and applied both vasaline and Gold Bond and nothing seemed to help.  To get the best answer I went to  New York dermatologist, Dr Albert Lefkovits  to take a look.While its not really possible to make an absolute diagnosis  from a  photo, Dr L came back with an impressive comment

The online diagnosis? Not simple dry skin, but   Contact dermatitis,  caused by something Tracy was using in her personal care.  Most likely culprit  was nail polish  or a  shampoo  with ingredients that  her skin found unfriendly.  Tracy did not want to use steroid cream, so the good doctor  suggested that she wash the skin with Cetaphil  and apply a room temperature compress made of equal parts of water and  milk.  The lactic acid inthe milk will gently lift the flaky skin and reduce inflammation.  She was to use  the compresses  for 3-5 minutes,  3X a day. 

Dr Lefkovits said that its  also important for  Tracy to try to identify  what is causing her problems.  She should stop using her regular  skin and hair care products for a few days and then re- introduce them one at a time.   If the flakiness continues, Tracy needed to go to a dermatologist for a closer  look– and a prescription  for a mild steroid cream.

Tract found that the dry skin patches  was spreading and decided to see  a doctor in her community.  She confirmed that it was dermatitis and prescribed – wait  for  it- a mild steroid cream.   In addition, Tracy was told to apply Aquaphor at night over the steroid.  In a few days  it cleared up.  She still hasn’t  figured out what  caused  the problem, but she’s  glad it’s under control and she  has an effective remedy  if  it returns.  The take away here is  that  not all dry  skin problems are the same.

Do you have a skin or hair problem that refuses to go away?   Send  me a photo and I’ll try to get some answers for  you.  When it comes to beauty, the truth is out there.

6 thoughts on “What’s Wrong With My Skin?

  1. I get the exact same thing, only worse. The reason the rash comes out around my eyes is that for years, without knowing it, I wore glasses which contained nickel. The area became extremely sensitized to nickel. If I get too much nickel in my diet, it comes out around my eyes. If I get stressed out, and eat high-nickel foods, I am much more liable to get a giant hive under my eye (immune system weak.) Certain cosmetics could also contribute, so I tend to stick with what I know is non-reactive and not try anything new.

    I use a little oil called DermaSmooth when I have an outbreak. My son was prescribed the oil for his eczema, but I tried it and within three days the rash / hive was gone.

    The worse part about my particular allergy is that since it’s systemic, i.e. it goes through my whole system before making its appearance around the eyes, it also strikes me chronic fatigue. That takes a little longer to disappear than the rash. But at least I don’t stress too much about the rash any longer.

    • Wow, nickel allergy! I’ve had other friends who had this problem and their biggest exposure turned out to be jewelry. Can you tell what foods are high in nickel? THis is certainly great info to have. And so glad things are under better control for you.

  2. I can’t be sure the woman in the picture is suffering from a nickel allergy–though 30% of the population is said to be allergic to nickel. That’s a lot. Anywhere you go you can find even cheap jewelry that is “nickel-free”, but you go to buy eyeglass frames and it’s hard to find anything nickel-free. You usually have to choose from the few titanium models (hoping you are not allergic to titanium.) Plastic frames? Yes, there’s lots of those, but the hinges can still contain nickel. Contact Lenses? Sure, if you’re not allergic to the lens cleaning solution.

    Modern life is such a minefield. Oh, and yes, many eye shadows and cosmetics can contain nickel.

  3. I suffer from the same type of rash under my eyes and my mouth. I have been tested 2 times from a dermatologist with back patch test, 1 time by a food allergist, and last using my makeup and products on my back patch test. NO answers and told they have no idea why. I have been keeping track and it seems to appear around menstral cycle and when I am really stressed. I have two creams I use but sometimes there is no relief:(

    • Tracking down the cause and best treatment of a rash is often very difficult. In many cases, the eruptions are due to biological changes in the body. Certain prodcuts can make it worse, but are not the underlying cause. I have been going throught a similar problem and have only recently gotten the problem under control. I will be posting my before and after pix as well as the causes and treatment that finally worked. It might help If you want to send me a pix that I can share with a specialist in medical, rather than cosmetic dermatology. ( I won’t use it without permission) Also, can you provide the names of the two creams that you are using. FYI stress is a HUGE trigger for red spotches but the good news is that there are ways to deal with it.

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