Thursday, 28 April 2011

Overexposure: The Silent Epidemic

How many of you are familiar with the term ‘overexposure’ or know what it means? 
Many people experience overexposure without ever knowing it because it hides behind the term 'contact dermatitis': this IS overexposure.
Overexposure is a term used by experts in the field meaning: a reaction in your body, usually on your skin, when it reaches the point of critical mass, that is: where it has had enough (too much) exposure to a particular chemical, or chemicals, and cannot take any more exposure to it/them.

How ‘overexposure’ manifests: (symptoms may vary from person to person).  Here is my story:
"I had been using a brand of moisturiser I loved and trusted for 7+ years – from mid teens to early 20’s.  One day I noticed a odd tiny pimple near my nose.  This ‘pimple’ was mildly itchy like an insect bite and wept like a blister.  It was a cross between a pimple and a cold sore, yet I'd never had a cold sore in my life.  Then I got another and another.  After a while the first ‘pimple’ stopped weeping and scabbed.  It was still fairly tiny but it now looked like a red sore on my face.  More of these tiny blister things appeared around my mouth and nose, all starting off and ending the same way.  Soon I had a mass of red sores that had spread around my mouth, nose and chin and was too embarrassed to leave the house or see people.  I looked hideous, the rash was utter torture and I was miserable!

When I finally braved the outdoors and saw a skin specialist he told me I had perioral dermatitis (a dermatitis that affects the area around the mouth and nose), gave me topical cream and tablets to take.  Telling me I’d only ever get it once in my life and it would never come back.  For quite some time I was fine.  Then years later it started again.  This time I knew the signs and went straight to a doctor who gave me different pills to take – which made me blow up like a balloon and gain 3 dress sizes in three months.  I stopped taking the pills.  The rash while never getting as bad as the first time did not completely go away.  I would have these ‘break outs’ then they would subside and then come back again.  Another couple of years later the rash came back in full force!  The sores merged together to make one horrible mass of cracked weeping skin.  This time nothing the doctors gave me worked, plus I was pregnant at this stage and there was little they could safely prescribe to me.
[this photo was taken of me after I gave birth and I was depressed because this is how I looked in my photos]

I was using mainstream makeup and foundation to try and cover up my red skin, all the while being vaguely aware that after the application of foundation the ‘rash’ would flare up.  I thought it was the pad (contamination) I was applying the makeup with so I threw it away and used a new one.  It made no difference.  Soon it got to be a vicious circle.  Using foundation made the rash worse yet I needed the foundation to cover the rash so I could go out in public.  I was living a nightmare!

After having my baby I went to see another highly skilled (scoff scoff), highly reputable skin specialist and plastic surgeon.  This guy told me it was acne and I “need to leave my face alone” (suggesting the pimple type things has scabbed and become sores because I had been picking at my pimples). I tried to explain how they first appear as small itchy blisters (much like a small insect bite) that popped and weeped and scabbed all by themselves.  However, this specialist insisted I had acne.  I’ve had oily skin all my life and I knew a thing or 10 about pimples!  These were NOT pimples!  In fact pimple treatments made the rash flare up ten times worse!  The skin specialist prescribed a rather expensive acne treatment brand of skin care specifically sold via his clinic and when I read the ingredients list on the back I said “no thanks”.  The lotions and potions were filled to the brim with chemicals.

By this stage I knew about chemicals in skin care and was becoming aware that the rash breakout was coinciding with the use of my favourite moisturiser and foundation, when I stopped using these products the rash subsided and when I used them again the rash started to flare up.  I switched to a natural moisturiser and after some time it dawned on me that using mainstream makeup while using natural skin care was defeating the purpose, so I switched to natural mineral makeup as well.

Thankfully I was blessed with a double ACE.  Once I switched to natural skin care, as apposed to the petroleum based chemical filled skin care on offer, my pores became less clogged, my skin became healthier, clearer, glowing, and I no longer have the problems associated with overexposure.  I can recall those miserable times when I didn’t want to be seen in public because of the sores on my face and how hideous I felt!  Those days are now a distant memory.  My skin is a far cry from how it used to be."  

* * *
It was during my training as a nail technician that I learned about overexposure and the effects on skin and body.  About the chemicals in beauty products, how toxic they are and how our body deals with these chemicals in tiny amounts, and how when they reach critical mass – the point at which YOUR body cannot take any more exposure – a reaction occurs.  This is ‘overexposure’.  Each person’s critical mass levels vary.  You will find babies have a low critical mass level which is why many babies have severe skin reactions when using mainstream skin care products.

I have spoken to many people about overexposure over the years and have found they too have experienced this without knowing what it was or why it was happening.  They used a product for X amount of years then suddenly one day they couldn’t use it any more, switched to anther brand of product which they used for a while until they also couldn’t use that product any more either.  Some times chemicals reactions are instant; sometimes they take some time to present themselves, depending on a persons level of sensitivity.  I have also spoken to people who have not experienced anything like this who say they’re fine because they have no symptoms.  True, they may have no symptoms but they are still being exposed every time they use products containing chemicals.  Why wait until ‘overexposure’ symptoms occur?

Switching to healthier skin care options is a much better choice for you and your family.  Trust me... Your skin will Thank You.

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