Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Acne, warts, BDD?

Recently, I read an article in the NY Times's "Price of Beauty" section about the differences between cosmetic and medical dermatology appointments and how some doctors seem to be more catering toward the cosmetic industry. Though my post isn't about this particular article, it got me thinking about vanity.

I've never considered myself a "vain" person. I've always left that title to my father (he would even agree with this really). However, I still think my appearance is important. As a teenager, one of my main concerns was dealing with acne. It was no doubt a normal, typical adolescent process, and I know I was not the only one who suffered this angst. Since the age of 10, I've always had some acne, even to this day. I just never seemed to have been blessed with the beautiful skin I always wanted. Dermatologists would always tell me, "oh you'll grow out of this. It should be ending soon." Well, I'm 28, and it has not ended.

Just like with those who diet, I've tried every product under the sun--from potent medications like accutane to Retin-A to birth control pills to products with antibiotic ointments like Ziana and Benzeclin to Proactive to Beautiful Skin, to drinking tons of water, and a number of other things. I think my next step if I could really afford it would be micro-dermabrasion or maybe phototherapy at a dermatologist's office. The funny thing is that whenever I go to the dermatologist about my acne, she always says, "oh, it's not that bad." It drives me nuts. Just because I am tan and do not have flaring red acne doesn't meant it is "not that bad." It sometimes makes me wonder if this is all in my head., like I'm suffering from subclinical BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder). I say subclinical, because I don't think this necessarily hinders my daily life, though I do think about it a lot, pick at my skin, etc.

At my last few appointments with the dermatologist, I also noticed I had bumps on my face which wound up being flat warts (gross!) and warts on my finger which were removed with cryosurgery last year. Then this summer, I noticed these other bumps on my arms, and my fear was it was warts. She confirmed this, though wondered how I would have gotten flat warts on my arm as opposed to my legs which is where they are often seen. Again did another round of cryosurgery. Though cryosurgery works, I hate how the warts balloon up in size and/or are darker than the rest of the skin until they grow scabs and fall off.

Anyway, I did a little research about warts. I already knew it was a virus that caused them and many times they fade or will go away in sometimes just as little as a few months to years! Well, I couldn't handle the years part, so I guess that is why I sought the dermatologist. The other interesting thing I read was how people who chew their nails are more susceptible to the virus since that could be one way the virus was coming into the skin. That was kind of scary to think about, because I have always had a problem with biting my nails. The other thing was how the immune system may be low, so it can't fight off the virus. That makes sense, but I always thought I had a great immune system. I rarely if ever gets colds or sick. I can literally only count on my hand the times I've been ill.

So I'm dealing with these skin conditions with yet again another ointment to try. I asked my dermatologist whether she just thought this was hormonal. She thought probably so. Great (insert roll eyes here)

Then this past week, I noticed Baxter had a large white growth on his lip. I had originally mistaken the growth for his tooth since it was similar in color. Well upon closer inspection and a little research online, I know it is canine viral papilloma, aka canine warts. Most of the time, these warts are harmless unless they grow inside the throat and cause breathing problems. It's actually a common thing dogs get, but more prevalent in puppies as their immune systems are maturing.

One of the people on my dog list said to just leave it alone and that it would go away in a few months. But what if it doesn't? He has three growths--one is large, the other two small. It is contagious to the other dogs, but the incubation time is 1-2 months, so I'm not sure how long it's been present. I haven't seen any symptoms in the other two, but still it makes me worry.

If I went to the vet, he'd probably do cryosurgery which isn't a guarantee that he'll be cured. I'm thinking of trying a natural approach and seeing how that goes. The thing about this is that this isn't affecting Baxter in any way, he is not bothered by it, but it bothers ME. This reminds me of when my other dog Hank was getting a little pudgy. I didn't put him on a diet per se, but I did add extra vegetables and cut back on his food by an ounce, everything else remained the same.

Does this make me a vain person both in terms of myself and my dogs? Am I really obsessing too much about any of this?


Carrie Arnold said...


I'm like that with things too. My mom always told me if I would *just leave things alone* it wouldn't look as bad. If I see a zit (or ingrown hair or nail that doesn't look "right") I feel compelled to pick at it.

But with the dog. One of my friend's friend's dogs had a wart removed and I think the dog was fine. I will have to ask. If it were on Aria, I would have it removed and go from there.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Well, I have had both really bad acne, and foot warts. I went through many ineffective treatments for acne. Even when I started getting treated by a dermatologist. It took 3 Accutane rounds to treat it. Then it started creeping back on! By that time, Diane 35 was available in Canada and that really solved it. I don't know if you already tried it (you mention birth control pill, but do not specify).

For my foot warts, I went many painful times to the doctor for liquid nitrogen treatment. I then read someone's tip somewhere on the net: put a piece of ductape on it, and leave it there for a weak. It worked! I was the first surprised. I don't know if it works by blocking access to air, or from the chemical glue or what. Placebo effect? That same kind of internet search got me on research papers that demonstrated the liquid nitrogen treatments where ineffective (compared to just leaving there, if I remember correctly).

Can't help about the vanity stuff. :-]

Deb said...

A certain amount of narcisissm is healthy and good. I don't think you are obsessing and going too far.

Tiptoe said...

Everyone, thanks for the feedback.

Carrie, yes, picking is one of my vices, and I have too many stupid scars from it. I just haven't learned yet to leave some things alone completely.

As for Baxter, I'm going to try thuja for a few weeks first (figure I can also use it on myself as well), but if they don't go away, then I'll take him to the vet.

Anon, I guess we can both commiserate with dealing with acne and warts. ;-) I've never heard of Diane 35. Is it a type of BC pill?

I've heard of the duct tape method, though think it might be difficult if you had multiple warts. I think my whole arm would be covered. LOL I'll have to consider it if I just have a localized wart.

Dr. Deb, I appreciate your thoughts and reassurance that I'm not being obsessive. I tend to worry that I fall into that category, and it's hard for me to differentiate sometimes.

aashna said...
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