My 14 year old son is stubborn. I mean really really stubborn.
Last month when he decided to go on a shower strike because of some challenge he and his friends found online, the only way I was able to convince him to resume basic hygiene practices was by joking that he could compromise by washing everything but his face.
Fast forward 30 days and here we are. His room no longer smells like a locker room after a football game but what happened to his face was an experiment that was, to say the least, very entertaining (to me).
I found myself in the kitchen each morning, sipping coffee in my pajamas, looking forward to seeing what this self-inflicted experiment would do to his face. I used to have very bad acne, I still have a little bit of adult acne. Luckily he has never had terrible acne. Just some pimples here and there which bother him exponentially more than they should. I expected this little experiment to cause a cascade of cysts, infections, blackheads and a breeding ground for pimples.
On day 3 he walked down the stairs, poured out some cereal, and didn’t even look up as my wide eyes peered intently over my coffee mug while I examined his face with the focus of a surgeon. To my surprise his face looked, fine. Not a single pimple. I did spot a spec of pizza sauce from the night before which told me he in fact, still hadn’t washed his face.
It was on day 6 that things got very interesting. He started to complain that his face was becoming very itchy. His skin had also started to slowly turn a sort of light red, even splotchy in places. A few flaky patches had started to appear, almost as if he was starting to form dandruff on his face.
At this point you might be wondering why I didn’t just make him wash his face. I would be lying if I said I didn’t worry that this was a terrible parenting moment. My friends assured me that this little experiment wasn’t life threatening. So on we went.
By day 14 he had developed a sort of “misted” look. Not in a good way. In a sort of, maybe-I-slipped-and-dipped-my-face-in-butter-grease sort of way. Things stuck to his face. Things like flying dandelion seeds and lint.
And then the pimples came like a field planted with little pimple seeds had all just sprouted in unison. The chin first and then forehead all glowed with red lumpy bumps. By this time my son started to crack. He was irritable and curt in all of our conversations. He avoided leaving the house if at all possible. I couldn’t blame him and always suggested he just stop.
And then he did. In total he made it 20 days without washing his face. What shocked me the most was how long it took to reclaim his normal skin health. Those pimples stuck around for months. Then he became obsessed with washing his face, sometimes 5 times a day. All he watched on YouTube were acne treatment reviews and tips. But the pimples, stubborn as my son, stuck around.
Eventually we decided to see a dermatologist to assess the damage. But we are on a very strict budget at the moment so I didn’t want to pay out of pocket for this visit and I work 2 jobs so it is very hard to find that 2 hours to make an appointment. We ended up finding this free virtual dermatologist appointment via a company called KeevaRX. It was honestly a great experience. You basically only pay for the prescription acne treatment and it comes with this virtual visit.
We sat on the couch on a Saturday afternoon together, and video chatted with their dermatologist who gave my son some tips on keeping his skin clear, assured us that the prescription acne treatment they were shipping us would clear things up in a few weeks time. She also assured us we hadn’t done permanent damage but to avoid scarring she recommended a natural acne scar cream in addition to the prescription she was shipping to us.
Thankfully the dermatologist was right. We are now 4 weeks into the prescription acne treatment and my son’s face finally has returned to normal. Better than normal in fact. He has his confidence back and my hope is he doesn’t decide to tackle any new insane challenges his friends cook up anytime soon!