Imagine having a dermatologist tell you that for the next 2 weeks, you cannot use any products on your face – no sunscreen, no lotion, no foundation, no make-up, no nothing. That is exactly what happened to me on Friday afternoon.
For the 4-5 days leading up to the appointment, my face had deteriorated into an itchy patchwork of severe peeling and irritation. Theories among my friends and family ranged from latent eczema – triggered by the unseasonably warm weather – to allergies and an adverse reaction to the sun, given my increased frequency of running outside. I tried more frequent washings, moisturizing face masks, anti-itch creams and aloe vera gels. Nothing seemed to work, and my face even got a little swollen and ruddy, and not in a jolly kind of way.
I finally overcame my skepticism of the efficacy of doctor visits and booked a last-minute appointment with a dermatologist referred by a good friend. As soon as the doctor saw me, she identified my symptoms as “contact dermatitis” – or in layman’s terms, an allergic reaction to something smeared on my face. Because of the heightened sensitivity caused by the original unidentified irritant, my face is extremely sensitive to all chemicals at this point, leading her to issue the strict ban for all products for two weeks (after which products are added back one at a time to identify the irritant). Only 2 items are currently allowed – the cortisone cream she prescribed, and original formula Vaseline for dryness. THAT’S IT.
Now, I do not consider myself a vain person, but the thought of having to face the world bare-faced was somewhat terrifying (it’s a girl thing…guys may have a hard time understanding). Would I be viewed as unprofessional at work? Are people on the street going to peg me as an unkempt housewife? How will I be able to run outside???
Alas, I met up with co-worker and his wife (for the first time!) last night without make-up, and after the initial period of being hyper self-conscious, it actually felt fine. Somehow though, I know it’s going to be a long two weeks.