lil-bee: the glamorizer

Healing Chemical Burns ... the stupid things I do to myself
Saturday, April 6, 2013 | 2:47 PM | Comment ⇢
Sometimes I do the most stupid things that make me go d'oh and hit my head. I look back at my deeds and think … what was I thinking?! The answer comes back to me as a blank. I wasn't thinking at all.

Usually this non-thinking is limited to silly things, like when I was 9 and wanted to have a fringe .. and decided to take matters in my own hands. I kept making it shorter and ended up with a little rectangular patch of hair, my own version of an astro turf. I'd call it can afro turf but it was more spiky than fluffy and I had to oil it up and force it down with multiple bobby pins. Thankfully I only got stick for it from my mum (literally) and female cousins / 'friends' (losers preoccupied with such useless things) and since I mostly hung out with guys, it wasn't too bad. Well clearly, since I went on to repeat this mistake 2 or 3 more times (by the 5th time, I had gotten hang of it and knew how much to snip and when to stop).

Other times its a bit serious and usually involves my face (harder to hide). Like the time I tried to get rid of my manly moustache by using my mum's nair depilatory cream for facial hair, kept it on for too long and then tried to wax off the remaining hair and ended up ripping off my skin. Okay, that sounds worse than it was but I did end up with some hyperpigmentation (dark patches) around my mouth and couldn't even cover it up with make up during secondary school so …

But the worse thing I've done so far? The chemical burn I gave myself all over my face by doing the most stupid illogical thing ever. As you may be aware from my rushed skin routine, I'm kind of a big fan of chemical exfoliation over manual (which I still maintain is bad for skin) and of exfoliating my skin in general anyway. I've used glycolic acid toners (mild), AHA / BHA washes, enzyme cleansers, hot cloth cleansers, lactic acid peels and more recently, Retin-A.

Pretty much all the exfoliation I use is very basic / not harmful .. except the Retin-A  and the lactic acid peels, which both are very potent. I've used the lactic acid peels quite a few times, 10 times or so I reckon .. and used to do it once a week or so. Then I got lazy and stopped using it for a good few months (6 or so?) because I started up a new regime and wanted to test out how it was doing in treating my pigmentation. Retin-A is something new in my regime and its been around a month and some more since I started using it. I read up on it extensively (as I do most things to do with my skin .. the joys of having sensitive / eczema skin eh) and prepared my skin for months by slowly getting it used to Retin-A, first through a weaker derivative, Avene Triacneal, and then by using the lowest strength (0.025), buffering it up with creams, using a pea-size, etc. I've also stopped using other strong exfoliants / serums (such as my Vit C).

I started slow and I was doing good. After a while, I wanted to do a lactic peel since it had been so long and I felt like I got into grip with the Retin-A and my skin was ready. First time, it went very smoothly. So smoothly that I had doubts about if I had done the pre-wash correctly since it barely stung and I could keep it on the whole 7 minutes. So today, a week or less later, I decided to do it again. I can't remember, but I think the first peel was done with a day's gap between my Retin-A treatment at night. This one, wasn't. I did it a few hours after waking up .. so the Retin-A was very much still in my system & the results … they were ugly.

This is why this tops the list at one of the most dumbest things I have ever done to myself. I put the peel on and it stung like hell, no biggie I thought, since it does that at the beginning anyway. But I should have known not to be so over confident and put such a thick layer on because it did sting more than usual and most definitely more than the peel I did a week ago. Peels usually stop stinging after the first minute but this one got worse over time. I really should have washed it off after the minimum 2/3 minutes but arrogantly thought I could handle it for longer since my last peel was 7 minutes long (which was a stupid thinking since I felt like I hadn't done the pre-wash properly and still had residual eczema cream protecting me).

I can't remember how long I waited, but after 5 or 6 or whatever minutes of increasing pain, I looked in the mirror, saw some frosting / mild burning and ran to wash it off, pronto. And while splashing cold water to my face, I had moments of panic and almost had a full blown attack. The water was stinging, MUCH more than usual, and my face looked horrid. Parts of my face were frosty and swelled (which had never happened before) while the rest of my face was red (this is normal after a peel). Horror stories about chemical burns kept flooding into me while I soaked my face in a basin of cold water while thinking oh god, the acid is burning up my face, what if I die, what if I have a horrible burn and go blind?!

I managed to calm down enough to remember that I had to quickly neutralise the acid before doing anything else. I sprinted myself with some witch hazel (which neutralises your skin and restores it to the normal pH balance) and quickly looked at what I could do to damage control. As I read stories from people, I began to feel more calm because it didn't look like I damaged myself as much as many of the other people had. I was using a low strength lactic acid, which is the weakest AHA acid to begin with, I think, especially compared to glycolic acid. I quickly put on some emu oil and hyaluronic acid as advices, got my La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume out (its supposed to help with healing) and prayed my skin wouldn't get as bad as I read.

The one good news I got was that my burns weren't as extensive as other burns I'd read about and it was likely that it would heal in a week or so. I was hopeful that it wouldn't become too bad / obvious over the week (old skin is supposed to scab up and peel off as it heals) and I was glad I was still on easter break for the next week. All that changed when my mum saw my face.

She screamed out loud, asking me what I'd done and should she call the ER. I didn't even think she'd notice since my face gets a bit red sometimes and I didn't think it was that noticeable. Well, I looked at the mirror in her room (which has more sunlight) and kind of freaked out myself (inwardly). Rather than the even red I get all over sometimes, this time I had patches of red skin, very noticeable since the rest of me was all pale white. I guess till then I was sort of in denial that I really had given myself chemical burns and thought my skin would calm down after a while (I had been around 2 hours since the peel when I saw my mum).

I had to act nonchalant in front of mum cos otherwise I'd smack me up the head if she knew how I really got the burns and that they were indeed burns. I told her that this had happened to me many times because I have sensitive skin and was just the result of an overzealous exfoliation and that it would die down in a few hours. She wouldn't buy it but thankfully she had a wedding function to attend and so left me be, after tutting at my stupidity (that my dad happily joined in to).

Its been around 5 hours after the peel and my face / marks are still red & prominent, perhaps even more so now that the rest of my face is less red / back to its characteristic paleness. Whats worse is that some of the red has turned into a patchy light brown and I know my mum is gonna FLIP when if she sees it. I've been reading up on heal times / treatments on the net while spraying myself with cold Avene Thermal water & slathering on some hyaluronic acid + emu oil, before applying a thick layer of Cicaplast Baume.

I know it could have been MUCH much worse, so Alhamdullilah my stupidity didn't cost me much (people frown at 'only' leaving a day's gap between the Retin-A and peels … I can only imagine how they'd cringe if they heard that I only left a few hours in between - you're advised to leave at least 3 days to a week or so). I'm not too worried and I know it will heal inshAllah. What I am freaking out about is my mum screaming the house down. I've got to contend with her all day tomorrow (weekend) and Monday morning since she's going to the GP with me (and I swear I feel like she's going to ask the GP to subscribe something to me and force me to explain myself). I'll just have to cover it up a bit with some BB cream or something. Which isn't gonna be doing wonders for the heal time, let me tell you.

Will I stop doing these things to myself now? Well, I'm definitely not stopping the peels, though I WILL be MUCH MUCH more careful in the future, you better believe. I know many of you will be shaking your heads, but the peels have done wonders for me. Could I live without it? Yeah. But why not accelerate my journey to get rid of all my pigmentation when I can? What happened here was drastic, but entirely due to my extreme hit-worthy stupidity & I'm positive if I follow the rules, all will be okay. I'm just hoping it heals up fast and doesn't get worse overnight or I'll have to seriously reconsider using a peel for a long time lol.

I'll be dabbing myself with my healing combo and hopefully it will get better before getting worse .. and fast. I'll also have to think of ways to hide my face from my mum for a while. This is the hardest in the mornings when she comes to wake me up by pulling the covers off my face (this is how she found out about my eyebrow piercing and that was NOT a pretty sight oye). I'm worried it will get worse overnight and when she pulls the covers I'll have a face full of brown marks or something *gulp*. Hopefully not!

Have you been through something like this? Would you recommend anything more to speed up the healing process so I have minimal brown marks??? I know I will definitely NOT pick at it or anything and keep using what I'm using. I'm also planning on getting some Biafine cream (or Biafine ACT, which is weaker, I think) from France (online) as its supposed to be really good for healing. I'm hoping the damage isn't very extensive (Biafine is used for burn victims) but I'd like to get it sorted quickly either way. If it gets worse, I'll look and see if I have any hydrocortisone left from my inflamed eczema patches and put them on my burns in a day or two. I've also read that Preparation-H cream can help so maybe I'll look into that too. Do you have any other tips? Pray it goes well!

On May 27, 2013 at 2:20 PM, Blogger Nadia I wrote:

⇢ I've just done a lactic acid peel (30%) and my face seems to have the same reaction as yours. Did your face heal ok over the next week? Any pigmentation?

On May 27, 2013 at 3:38 PM, Blogger lil-bee wrote:

⇢ Hey Nadia,

For me, it looked really REALLY bad. I took some before pictures and I'm surprised I didn't freak out even more. I went a bit overboard and literally slathered my face with creams, oils and serums (you can read more about that I used here) and it was pretty much healed in a week. The red patches turned into darker patches (I would say scab but they were very flat) which fell off to unmarked skin after around a week and a bit more. All I can say to you is remain calm and don't touch the dark patches! They are more than likely to fall off on their own, without leaving any marks. I picked at some scabs which did turn into darker pigmentation (thankfully they have faded, probably due to Retin-A and my Vitamin C serum) but the ones I left alone didn't leave any marks. Hope this reassures you!

Remember, if you go out, please please please use sun protection. Since lactic acid exfoliates the skin, new skin is more sensitive to the sun and wounded areas tend to increase melanin production under sun exposure, leaving pigmentation.

Let me know how you get on!

On January 23, 2014 at 1:45 PM, Blogger Kate DyeHouse wrote:

⇢ Hi, salam!
I've never followed this blog, but found it while desperately searching for answers after stupidly burning patches of my face with 88% lactic acid. I did the peel three nights ago.
My condition sounds almost identical to yours. The majority of my face seems to be it's normal color (white,) although it feels like sandpaper, and I see no sign of peeling!
However, I have two huge patches on my jawlines, and one around my eye, that are bright red. One seems to be worse than the others! I'm talking bright red too :(
I have slathered my face in rich Eucerin lotion, and used tea tree oil to treat the patches.
Did your red patches peel, scab, or just go away? Did you have the same rough, sandy feeling to the rest of your skin? And about when did the redness and flakiness go completely away?
Any answers are hugely helpful at this point! Alhamdulilah I didn't leave the peel on for longer than 8 minutes. and Astagfirullah for my stupidity!

Shukran in advance!

On January 28, 2014 at 6:30 AM, Blogger lil-bee wrote:

⇢ Hey Walaikum Asalaam and sorry about your face! Wow, 88%?! Thats pretty potent! I got my burns doing 40% so I can't even imagine :O

Firstly, have you done the peels before? The same strength or different? How long did you leave it on for, if you used it before (compared to 8 minutes this time)? What type of skin do you have?

I have DRY skin so usually stuff like peels I need to be quite careful about since my skin is so fragile. As far as I remember, some parts of my skin, especially around the red patches, did feel quite rough & of course the patches themselves were rough and inflamed. I remember taking photographs and it looked pretty painful.

The bright red patches are probably where you've burned. For me, the patches slowly turned into scabs with some parts eventually falling off after drying up and healing itself. I slathered my face with a thick layer of vaseline and at other times I used the La Roche cream.

It took around a week or less for my skin to heal properly and during this time I didn't do anything to it, washed it with mild soap, absolutely no exfoliation or picking at scabs (or they will very very likely turn into hyperpigmentations, or even worse, raised scars). I was stupid and did pick on some scabs before they had healed so I had some marks which took quite a while to fade, but otherwise I think my skin was back to normal after around a week and half / 2 weeks. You can read my new posts, one called Status Updates, where I posted each day during my healing, so you can see what condition my skin was in, etc. And another about healing the burns, I hope they help!

You might take longer to heal, depending on your skin type and the extent of the burns given its a much higher strength than I've used (should have exfoliated deeper / better than my 40%) but all I can say is that inshAllah it WILL heal. You just have to be calm and patient :)

And if it hurts, you could try putting some pure Aloe Vera gel on the patches, or even your entire face. Maybe put the gel in the fridge so its nice and cool too?

PS - I'm not sure but maybe putting tea tree oil isn't such a good idea. If its in its pure form as an essential oil, you shouldn't be using it straight without diluting it at all .. and if its in a diluted form, well I think you should be good but usually tea tree oil ends up drying up face / stinging a bit so it might be making things worse?

On April 11, 2014 at 2:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote:

⇢ Hi. I used a bleach today to treat an achne and the whole area is black and red. Should I panick? Plz help

On April 13, 2014 at 10:48 AM, Blogger lil-bee wrote:

⇢ @Ram Zee: I'm sending you an email now so don't panic yet .. but seriously, for anyone who reads this, DON'T USE BLEACH! Or anything super strong super fast. 99.999999...% of the time it will do a whole lotta more damage than taking a slightly slower, less strong approach. Also, don't use something on your face if its not meant to be used there (RZ used a cleaning product I think)!

On June 6, 2014 at 5:39 PM, Blogger C Haylen wrote:

⇢ Hi all, I did a 40% lactic acid peel last night and now by skin has burnt and is deeply burnt. To make matters worst I did this after a skin needling so it seems to have penetrated deeply. Not sure what to do! I am seeing my beautician later today for a led treatment to hopefully speed up the healing but it is all over mg cheek. I am using aloe Vera on it to cool it down. Is there anything else I should be doing?

On June 11, 2014 at 6:49 PM, Blogger lil-bee wrote:

⇢ Hey Haylen,

Anything I did are posted up. Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner, are you okay now? What did beautician say? You could try refrigerating the aloe vera and frequently applying it, it would be more cooling.

On August 12, 2014 at 10:29 PM, Blogger Rain wrote:

⇢ Hi I don't know why my thingy didn't post but
I just am healed from a big oral surgery and I guess the stress caused pimples like I was in middle school all over again!
So I put noxzema on my face and on my nose it was like a bruisey red color that as the day went on turned into this off red brown color

It doesn't hurt or burn
Or itch
It just looks awful :(
I was wondering if this was like the scab you had because the area is flat
Will this heal up or am I stuck with this multicolored nose now D:

On August 13, 2014 at 7:05 AM, Blogger Rain wrote:

⇢ This morning I woke up and I thought it looked lighter
But it could be my imagination
I asked my mom and said she can't tell
I'm putting aquaphor on it
I don't know if that'll help

On September 12, 2014 at 7:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote:

⇢ I have had what I THINK is a horrid reaction to using topical vit c 15% and retinol (Perricone high potency repair)....which is the highest % you can get from over the counter retinol. My skin looks like an orange peel texture......and It is veryyyyyy dry rough & like bumpy etc etc...NO redness though......Do u know if this has ever happened to you or anyone else on here??? I am so scared because IM rterrified I changed the texture (look &feel) of my skin permanently???? BUT - I only used these 2 things and wash with cetaphil. It has been 3 days since the reaction started and the texture changed....I stopped 3 days ago and have only washed with cetaphil once per day & used vanicream lite lotion. Do you know if the texture will go back to normal (smooth), and how long it will take?? I am so scared!!! Thank you so much for having this blog!!! Warmest regards, Christie......YOU can email me @ xoxoxo BTW i only used the stuff that caused it for like around 2 weeks.

On October 12, 2014 at 9:39 AM, Blogger lil-bee wrote:

⇢ Hi Rain,

Firstly sorry for the late reply, I've been super busy with work so only check my account every few months :( anyway I think possibly you might have burned your nose or at least irritated it with the noxzema. I don't have any personal experience of using it but from what I've read, this is something many others have gone through so it's likely that you were affected by it. Aquaphor is healing and you can also try other things like I've mentioned above in my post e.g. aloe vera, emu oil, etc. I think what you need to remember is that scabs form to let the skin underneath heal and what we can do to help is keep the area moisturised and most. If scabs dry out they get itchy and if you scratch off a scab before it's healed, it's more likely to leave marks. Your nose should heal, hopefully fairly quickly, keep up with the aquaphor and anything else you feel is keeping it cool, moisturised and not itchy and leave it alone to heal. Hope it gets better :)

On October 12, 2014 at 9:40 AM, Blogger lil-bee wrote:

⇢ @Rain: Apologies, I just realised I replied to you 2 months later! I hope by now your nose should have healed. Please feel free to leave a comment on what you did / how long it took to heal, etc. Might be helpful for others :)

On October 13, 2014 at 3:43 PM, Blogger Rain wrote:

⇢ It's okay, thank you for responding!! I just did as you said with the aquaphor and I used this stuff called derma e they have lotions and organic healing stuff I thought I'd give it a try.
It took about a week and a half for the scab to become hard and it eventually came off the skin underneath was lighter. Kind of pink and I'm an olive complextion so it was fairly noticeable. I kept it moisterized through out the day since I tend to blow my nose a lot and I also kept it out of the sun. I used fragrance free and hypo allergenic soap on my face for a while and after a few more weeks the pinkish hue looked more like my natural color :) I stopped using noxema for good

On October 15, 2014 at 9:52 PM, Anonymous Jennifer wrote:

⇢ I too did a glycolic treatment at 50% and burned my skin after leaving the peel on too long. I did the wrong thing and picked at the burned skin. I hoped that it would heal with aloe vera and the skinned scabbed back over. I guess I will have to wait it out until it heals. My skin has burns on my nose and areas of m cheeks. How will the burned skin heal? Will it automatically fast off. Will retin a help speed up the cell regeneration process? I did the peel because I planned on going out of town and did the peel seven days beforehand. Is it possible that my scabbed skin will heal in five day/ Thanks for you help.

On November 11, 2015 at 10:55 AM, Blogger Unknown wrote:

⇢ Hi! Can someone please help me? Yesterday, I burnt my face, because, stupidly, I put a ton of acne crap and natural acne remedies such as toothpaste , and at first it was just these two small patches, and this morning when I woke up, it covered my whole face. Its pretty red, but flat, and super embarrassing. Please help !!! S.O.S

On April 7, 2016 at 5:21 PM, Blogger Unknown wrote:

⇢ I used a bunch of acne medication at once and bunred my face about two weeks ago ive been using viamin a and d lotion and neosporin to prevent scaring and its still here but almost gone. I am going to be in the sun in the future so I was wondering if i could go in the sun if i am wearing sunscreen over it

On April 26, 2016 at 12:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote:

⇢ Hi I am same as you. All my life I have been experimenting with all sort of beauty products such as : peels, creams, gels, aha's, bhaa's, vit c , name it I have used it, I bought it I had it!.
Currently I'm on 0.05 of Tretinoin I have been on it for 3 months and I have noticed small scars I different places on my face, scars which I never seen prior to retin-a. which gave me small pitted scars. They look like minor chemical burns on the skin. They are all depressed.
I really don’t know what to do. My skin peels like crazy and no moisturizer isn’t able to fix the flaking. Applying foundation every morning became a nightmare.
I have to exfoliate face each morning after night with Retin A because without exfoliating I am unable to apply any foundation as it gets caught in skin flakes.

I am so afraid to continue Retin A in case I will get more of scars. I don’t know what has happened, maybe because I have been using 10% glycolic acid moisturizer ? I have been using La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Serum. It contains salicylic acid and that’s when my face goot worse.
Has anyone ever got some scars on face after using Retin-a?If yes than did they heal ,improved at all?

I have been also using Repairing Cicaplast baume b5 as well as you did but it did not help me at all.

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