The Millennials’ exclamation “FML” (f*ck my life) springs to mind when I look in the mirror! At 51, I’m still getting zits on the regular. It’s like I never grew out of puberty because they’ve plagued me my whole life. So what’s a girl to do?
Frankly, I’ve had hormonal acne since puberty. Every single month, like clockwork, I’d experience a breakout, sometimes a ‘crop’ of pimples, sometimes just a big, fat, juicy blind one. Other times, somewhere in between. I could pretty much set my watch by it. And trust me when I say, all the common things people say about why you have zits did not apply. No, it’s not because I ate a chocolate bar this month!! No, it’s got nothing to do with the skincare ‘reeeeegiiiiime’ I adhere to. No, I won’t buy your $200 skincare package. Nup, I won’t keep makeup off them.
Let me just say at this point, I know there are people who suffer far worse breakouts than I do and I would never like it to appear that I’m catastrophising my own experience. I’ll never be a candidate for a Dr Pimple Popper video (thank the laaawd!).
Taking the OCP (Oral Contraceptive Pill) for adult acne
Over the years, I’ve seen dermatologists, tried facials, experimented with different products and so on and all to no avail. I’ll tell you what did work … the Pill! And it worked like a dream! I was on the Estelle pill, also known as Brenda or Diane, for ten years. This, after having my uterus removed, and whilst being single. There was nothing contraceptive about it; I just needed my skin to behave. For those ten years, my skin was blissfully smooth and flawless. My hair, too, was gloriously thick, shiny and free of split ends. In fact, my hair was so good, I got asked many times if I had hair extensions. Nope, just good hair, I’d say. The truth however, was that the hormones I was swallowing every day were giving me ‘false beauty’. I mean, yeah yeah, I know, I’m beautiful and perfect just as I am. But hey, when you love your skin and your hair, it makes a big difference to the way you feel about yourself.
OCP-free and back to Zitsville
Some five years or so ago, I stopped taking the Pill. After all, I was heading into menopause territory and plus, I didn’t like the idea of the blood clot risks involved with the brand I was taking. I also kind of wanted to be left to my own devices, to get my hormones back to normal in preparation for The Big M. So I gave it up and whoa mama, didn’t my hair start to fall out!! It really hasn’t stopped falling out and it’s been kinda traumatic. On the Pill, there was never any hair-fall.
Back in those heady days, my brush never looked like
a looming tool or a bushy hipster beard!
Now it’s all of that, and I had to buy a handheld vacuum so that every time I brush my hair, I can schwoop up all the strands from the cream tiles before I get to mourning them too much. My hair is definitely thinner but still not ‘thin’ as my hairdresser points out. “Geez, you still have more hair than a lot of my clients,” he says. But we all have our woes.
Meanwhile, my skin eventually came back around to monthly breakouts. Most of the time, it was just one pesky pimple, but a very visible, sometimes painful, often messy pimple that may or may not dictate whether I could go out in public! They would always pop up around that vertical oval area from the top of my nose down to the bottom of my chin and out to the corners of my mouth.
I never bothered with anti-pimple ointments. If I had a particularly yucky breakout, I’d stay home and keep makeup off my face. Otherwise, I’d suck it up and go out into the world, knowing I had a few hours before The Zit would come to a head and scare off little children.
The latest iteration of my pimply-ness
Yesterday, I was at my GP’s for a mole check and I mentioned that my zits were no longer conforming to the hitherto one-pimple-a-month pattern. All of a sudden, I have six … count ’em, six! … pimples in various positions around that vertical oval. What the actual, ya know? I was looking forward to menopause. I was looking forward to no longer being at the mercy of my hormones, and being able to predict when I could go out in public without worrying my face might need a grease and oil change. Nope, it seems menopausal acne is a thing, and it’s my thing. Of course it is. I did have a little talk with myself this morning and concluded that if pimples are the biggest thing I have to worry about health-wise, then I’ll take it and stop complaining. I hadn’t even considered doing anything about it but my wonderful GP said: “We can do something about that.”
Yes, Virginia, they are a thing and I have them. Throughout my life, I’ve had to deal with juicy zits in the pubic area. They didn’t happen regularly but when they did, they were painful and messy. I remember one that made it difficult to sit down and one night, with friends over for dinner, the pressure of it was so intense that I thought it might burst while I was sitting there. It did. All of a sudden, there was no pain and no pressure, but a warm, icky feeling in that spot. Ladies, if you’ve never had pubic pimples, count yourself lucky, but for those who have, you know what I’m talking about. It’s just another blessing from the Hormone Gods, no big deal. Well it kind of is a big deal when you have one, especially when you get them on the inner labia!! They hurt, they build up, you keep looking to see if it’s ready to pop and sometimes you miss the grand satisfaction of popping it yourself because it spontaneously erupts. Nobody wants those!
The remedy for menopausal acne
I was a bit reluctant at first to get onto meds for something as trivial as acne but look, don’t we deserve to feel good and look good? I started a course of Doxycycline and the doctor also prescribed me some Metronizadole cream to put on my pimples. Evidently, the Doxy will take about six weeks to yield results but I’m happy with that. I’m more annoyed that the breakouts are not happening on a monthly basis anymore (hello, menopause and irregular cycles) and therefore so random, but if I can keep my skin calm, I’ll be good with that.
Obviously, I would love to use a natural remedy but as the meme goes: “Ain’t nobody got time for dat!” Well I do, but in this case, I think I’ll just go with the pharmaceuticals and be done with it.
Do you get breakouts? What do you do about them and how do you feel about them? Is acne one of the menopause symptoms that you suffer from?