Wednesday, November 16, 2011

1-month update

No real changes in my skin. I've kinda stopped doing the ginger since the hypopigmentation wasn't getting any better at all. I've been told by a dermatologist that even if my melanocytes did start repigmenting, there's a lot of scar tissue in my white patches and so maybe the skin wouldn't change color anyway. Bummer. I am thinking about trying to get Excimer laser done for the hypopigmentation. In the meantime, when I have ginger root in the fridge, I'll try to use it.

As far as the hyperpigmentation, I think the kojic acid stuff has been working somewhat, but it's also killer on my skin -- really irritating. I start peeling like I have a bad sunburn, and I get reddish and irritated. So I stop for a few days and start up again. I'm keeping up with it because I do think that when I stop the kojic acid for awhile and the irritation subsides, I see that my skin is generally more pale, especially where I had the hyperpigmentation on my forehead. I think this stuff works -- or will work, if I can ever get my skin used to it. I also notice that if I do go out in the sun, I get brown again though. I'm trying hard to stay out of the sun but since I do triathlons, it's been hard.

I was also told that I may have melasma from taking birth control pills (Yaz) and this might be the cause of the hyperpigmentation rather than IPL damage. I've stopped taking the Yaz and hopefully that will help.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My experiment in treating Hyperpigmentation and Hypopigmentation after IPL

I'm starting this blog because I'm embarking on a journey to treat the hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation I developed after having several rounds of IPL on my face. Long story short, I was an "acne picker" for a couple of years, and I had red marks on my cheeks as a constant reminder of my acne-picking. I was told IPL ("photofacial") would be a great way to quickly zap those red marks and leave my skin looking much healthier.

IPL, according to many dermatologists and laser aestheticians, is supposed to be "safe," with a low risk of side effects. Tell that to my face, which after about my second IPL treatment, began to show progressively worse patches of hyperpigmentation (brown spots darker than my natural skin color) and hypopigmentation (white spots lighter than my natural skin color). My aesthetician told me this was fairly normal and more IPL in time would be needed to truly even out my skin tone. So...I kept going. Until finally I realized that even if the IPL did wonders for my post-acne red marks, it was truly wrecking my skin tone with the patches of hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation that were cropping up.

Just so you know, I am dark-haired and fair-skinned, which is supposed to be the "ideal" coloring for IPL treatments. I was never burned by IPL. I never had any blisters after IPL. I used a good zinc-oxide sunscreen for at least 2-3 weeks after IPL. I went to different laser clinics with different IPL machines, so it wasn't like I had an inexperienced technician or a bad machine every single time.

Yet, somehow, in spite of all this, I've slowly developed these horrible patches of hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation. It makes my skin look all mottled and gross, and FAR worse than the red marks left over from my in, I would have been far better off if I had never touched IPL!

This has been depressing and frustrating. One minute I want to cry, and the next minute, I'm just angry at myself for deciding to do the IPL in the first place. I used to have absolutely beautiful skin. Even when I first started picking at acne, my skin would always heal up was just a slow process, which is why I thought I could kick-start it with the IPL. Wrong. Now I'm beyond stressed and heartbroken, thinking I will never be able to get my beautiful skin back.

So, after a lot of reading about a ton of different over-the-counter treatment options, I took matters into my own hands and have developed a regimen that I'm going to start today. (A NON-laser regimen, since I am really wary now of letting any lasers go near my face!)

Here it is:
- Use Neutrogena Microclear cleansing scrub in the shower (this contains an AHA, or alpha hydroxy acid, which is supposed to be good at evening out skin tone)
- After the shower, on my hyperpigmented areas (the brown spots), I put on Neostrata Fading Gel, which contains an AHA as well as kojic acid, both of which should work to lighten my hyperpigmentation
- On the hypopigmented areas, I cut a thin slice of ginger root and rub the juice lightly into my skin.
- I let all this sink in for maybe 10-20 minutes, then apply a 30+ SPF sunscreen.
- I don't wear any makeup except a little concealer on major red marks/acne, and some eyeliner.

- I rub a thin later of Bio-Oil over my face. This is an excellent moisturizer and is supposed to even out skin tone, although it is a little embarrassing to wear it back to work because it does leave a sheen of oil on your face. But since I'm already going more-or-less sans makeup, I've sort of stopped caring what my co-workers think!
- If I remember to bring my ginger root to work with me, or if I have time to go home at lunchtime, I apply more ginger root juice to my hypopigmented areas.

- I wash off any remaining Bio-Oil (since I'm a swimmer, most days I'm in the pool after work, so this washes off then anyway.)
- I apply more Neostrata Fading Gel to my hyperpigmented areas.
- I cut another slice of ginger root and apply more ginger root juice to my hypopigmented areas.

On sunny weekends, I plan to follow the regimen above, but mix in a little extra treatment for my hypopigmented areas, as these are going to be much harder to treat than the hyperpigmented ones. (According to dermatologists, anyway.) I bought a 5% coal tar serum for people who have psoriasis. I plan to rub the coal tar into my hypopigmented areas, wait maybe 30 minutes, and then go out into the sun for about 10-15 minutes. I'm going to cover the rest of my face with a T-shirt so that my hyperpigmentation doesn't get any worse. Supposedly, hypopigmentation can be treated by a combination of coal tar and sunlight. Although this makes me nervous as well because both sunlight and coal tar can cause cancer.

I'm try to report back on a weekly basis to let you know how things are going.

My hypopigmented spots (on my temples) -- they have a hyperpigmented border around them

Red post-acne marks and hyperpigmentation from IPL: