Man who suffered from ‘red, blotchy skin for years’ finds out why during lockdown

Writer Will Hayward had struggled with red, blotchy and irritated skin for years, but it wasn’t until lockdown hit that he discovered the cause of the flare-ups. In an article in our sister title WalesOnline, Will wrote that his skin problems started about ten years ago, with a “burning sensation” on his face resulting in “horrible red spots” within hours.

At times, Will also suffered from “itchy rashes” on his neck and beard, seemingly for no reason. Unsure of what was going on, Will tried different ways to fix the problem. He gave up alcohol after noticing rashes after nights out, but to no avail.

He even tried “every moisturizer under the sun”, slathered on sunscreen and ditched dairy – but nothing seemed to do the trick.

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Unfortunately, Will found himself struggling with his self-esteem due to his mysterious breakouts, and he’s already canceled dates and turned off his camera during video calls. Trying to find a cause, a dermatologist misdiagnosed him with rosacea, a condition that results in redness, flushing and visible blood vessels, gave him creams and encouraged him to give up caffeine.

He said it helped to some extent, reducing some of the low level redness. However, the spots and breakouts remained “just as bad” and appeared just as frequently.

A patch test revealed Will was allergic to two chemicals

Back at the dermatologist, Will was this time diagnosed with seborrheic dermatitis, a common skin condition in people with rosacea that is itchy with scaly patches. Will continued his caffeine-free diet, antibiotic rosacea cream for rosacea, and also added a “special shampoo to the mix.” However, again, he had received the wrong diagnosis.

Despite careful measures, her skin condition just seemed to get worse, until the day the UK went into lockdown. After this point, he saw significant improvements within a few weeks.

Will said: “Sometimes it was still a little bad, but at the start of the pandemic my skin was better than it had been for years. I didn’t understand it but I wasn’t complaining!

Will said his skin condition had cleared up especially during the lockdown
Will said his skin condition had cleared up especially during the lockdown

“Then, as the world started to reopen, I started going out more and my skin gradually deteriorated. This was especially true when I returned to the office after a year and a half last fall. Suddenly, I was back to square one – in fact, it was worse.”

After being referred to another dermatologist, Will underwent a patch test. He saw “loads of different potential allergens” taped to his back in order to determine exactly what he was allergic to.

It was discovered that Will was actually allergic to two chemicals, 2-brom-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol and methylisothiazolinone. He said the first chemical was easy to avoid as it has been phased out over the past twenty years.

However, the second chemical, methylisothiazolinone, is an entirely different matter, given that it is found in a number of everyday products, including soaps and shower gels. It is also present in everyday essentials such as dishwashing liquid and furniture polish.

He purged his house of these products. Yet Will encountered further difficulties at the office when he realized that the automatic air freshener in the toilet contained the chemical.

Will said his skin was fine
Will said his skin was “so much better now”

Will wrote: “Luckily I have an employer who is really supportive and they pulled the product. I am now sitting at the desk writing this article and for the first time in years I am at my desk and my skin is not hurting!

“Now I may be getting a head start here. I haven’t been back to the doctor yet and I’m still on antibiotics. However, I think after a decade I finally understood my condition and I know how to handle it.

“Over the next few months I’m going to quit antibiotics and various creams and potentially reintroduce chocolate into my life (I would love my first Twix in four years) to see what impact it has.”

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