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  • Writer's picture Miryam Van Horn

Protect yourself AND your skin - a warning on wearing masks on the daily

It all started with a small breakout on the tip of my nose. I had been treating it with Mario Badescu's Drying Lotion and had expected for it to disappear in a few days. I often get breakouts around my nose because the nose area tends to be the most delicate for rosacea sufferers.

Now I should know better than to wear a full face of makeup while wearing a mask that covered half of it. Not to mention, the constant rubbing against my breakout on my nose was continuing to irritate and spread the breakout. What's more, I kept touching up my nose with powder to cover the redness that lit up against the teal colored material. Working in a luxury boutique only motivated me to keep up with the luxe look. It wasn't until a week later when I noticed that the small breakout on my nose which had started out as tiny blisters were, in fact, becoming more inflamed and spreading like wild fire.

My son and I were enjoying summer at its fullest by swimming at our social-distancing neighborhood pool and though I wore a significant amount of sunblock, I could see how the mere exposure to heat and chlorine was not helping matters much. I woke up on a Sunday morning feeling tired and noticed my right nostril was itching and what felt like two zits inside my nose. I also noticed that I had started to get a sore throat, and when I told my husband about it, he insisted it was only allergies. We spent the day going to the outlet malls to which, again, I was wearing my mask for a couple hours.

That evening, after a movie night with my son and niece, it hit me like a hammer. Chills, headache and what I thought was the beginning of getting THE virus. Corona. I booked myself an appointment with a doctor the next morning after noticing the blisters that I thought were breakout spread along my lip. It wasn't COVID, it was a staph infection. I knew it.

Having rosacea, I was use to noticing these tiny blisters at the tip of my nose. But I would take a leftover antibiotic I had from previous flare ups and my skin would go back to normal. I had, in fact, woken up one morning last year with a staph infection in which I thought was a bad rosacea flare up at the time. People with rosacea can have all kinds of flare ups. Rosacea, after all, is a form of acne. It is formed when the skin's lipid barrier is weak and is unable to fully and effectively protect the skin from environmental elements. It is unknown why people develop rosacea but mine started after having my son nearly ten years ago. While there is no known cure for it, there are several treatments to keep redness at bay.

What followed in the next week was one of the most painful things I have gone through in my adult life. I don't remember having this much pain after giving birth. By the third day, it was full-on: swollen nose, swollen top lip and a huge ball on the side of my neck from the swollen glands. My nose was so red it was a light shade of purple. The blisters in my nose had spread into the right side of my mouth and my gum line

was so inflamed it sent sharp nerve pain to the top of my head like a lightening rod. I don't think I remember a time so painful that I sobbed one morning uncontrollably. Even my right eye was swollen and was hurting. How could one week of wearing a mask cause such an infection and pain?

It took two antibiotics, one topical treatment and one antibiotic shot for ten days plus a 900mg of Advil every six hours to control the pain. By all means I learned my lesson. WASH YOUR MASKS and keep a rotating stock of clean masks. I haven't returned to work just yet. My follow-up appointment with my doctor ended with a recommendation to see a dermatologist regarding the left over blisters I have on my tip of my nose and lip.

If you suffer from rosacea or extreme sensitive skin be sure to take note of the following tips to keep skin healthy and clear:

1) Wash your face EVERY DAY. If you are accustomed to wearing a full face of makeup be sure to clean off your makeup with a cleansing cloth like Garnier SkinActive Micellar Makeup Remover Towelettes or BeautyCounter Cleansing Balm. Follow up with a cleanser that is free of sulfates, phthalates, and fragarance such as Youth to the People's Superfood Antioxidant Cleanser.

2) Take note of foods that can cause flare ups such as : chocolate, red wine, liqour, tomato sauce and other rich and spicy foods.

3) Wear sunblock every day despite the weather. Not only can the sun have damaging effects that can cause skin cancer, but it can also cause rosacea flare-ups. Try to stay out of the sun as much as possible and wear a hat.

4) Resist the urge to run hot water on your skin in the shower. Not only does it wear down your skin's lipid barrier but it can also make it more difficult to keep skin hydrated. After cleansing, follow up with a serum like Naturally Serious Supercharge Anti-Oxidant Moisture Serum and hydrate with a cream that helps build the lipid barrier such as Naturally Serious Skin Warrior Anti-Pollution Repair Cream.

I hope this post helps to guide and warn about the importance of taking care of your skin. The skin is the largest organ on our body. It is a sponge. Be good to yourself and to your skin. And wear a mask!

This post is NOT meant to promote, influence or debate the importance of wearing a mask during this global pandemic. Please do your part and protect yourself and others. Be well.

Be good to yourself and to your skin. And wear a mask!

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