Just want to share my experience in hopes that it might help someone. I've experienced all of the same things everyone is describing: stretchy white plugs that are rooted and can only be pulled out with tweezers. I'm on my 3rd dermatologist, and I think this one has finally figured it out. The 1st two dermatologists blamed me - said it was my picking and more or less called me crazy. The 2nd dermatologist was a good one, and tried very hard to help me, but after a couple of years you could tell he finally got frustrated with me. The 3rd dermatologist, the one I'm seeing now, knew right away what the problem was. For me, it's because my body doesn't know how to metabolize some types of medications. The medication that caused my problem was Zoloft. Since my body doesn't know how to metabolize the medication, it gets rid of it through my skin via hair follicles. This is what is causing the stretchy white plugs for me, it's the medication that cannot be metabolized by my body coming out through my hair follicles. Since it comes out through the hair follicles, it's also causing the hair produced by these follicles to be abnormal. In addition to the stretchy white plugs, I was also pulling out super-fine hairy things. These super-fine hairy things is hair that has abnormally formed by these hair follicles and is growing under the skin. Anyway, I was super nervous about coming off the Zoloft, and don't encourage anyone to do it without talking to their doctor first, but I gradually stepped off of it over a 2 month period and have been off of it for 7 months now. I would say that my skin is 80% better. Most of the lesions have healed up, but have left some bad scars. The dermatologist said that it could take up to a year to undo all of the damage that has been done. I still have a ways to go, and I still have some stubborn lesions that have been there for years (there's one on my arm that I've had for 4 years), but things are slowly getting better. The diagnosis that she puts on my office visits is Prurigo Nodularis, but from talking to her, it's more than just that. The current treatment she has me on is to take an over-the-counter probiotic everyday (to help encourage the reopening of the enzyme pathways for metabolizing - her words, not mine), a Rx for Spironolactone 50 mg once a day, and she just recently added a Rx for Metformin 250 mg once a day. I feel for all of you (and for me too), it's so hard to deal with something like this especially when doctors write us off and basically blame us for picking. I feel so fortunate that I have finally found a dermatologist who both understands what I am going through, and seems to understand what is going on with my body and what is causing these lesions.
I have similar symptoms, white plugs often but not always accompanied by pink bumps. I recommend checking out youtube videos of molloscum contagiosum removal to see if it resembles your symptoms.
The videos seem similar to what I'm experiencing, except sometimes there is no raised red bump, only the inner white plug (the molluscum body). In the past I have seen two dermatologists, both of whom said that it was just acne. I was not confident or assertive enought to tell them that I disagreed with that diagnosis at the time, however one doctor prescribed Adapalene, which is a peeling agent coincidentally also sometimes used to control Molluscum. The Adapelene reduces the length of time the bumps stay on my face significantly, from over a month to about one week, but it hasn't made them all go away. Now I plan to go back and tell the doctor believe I have MC and I want it gone, and I'm not going to settle for another acne diagnosis.
I have been very grateful for this conversation while dealing with this issue. Made me feel much less alone. Thank you.
Melanie723, thank you for sharing!
I have very similar symptoms((
Did any dermatologist suggested that might be molluscum contagiosum?
If I try to get that first white plug out (as you described) - it helps sometimes, but if I manage to take the plug out onle partly - the next day I have multiple plugs within the same lesion((
That's why I think that might be molluscum - as it's a contagious infection and can spread within lesion.
And most dermatologists know only classical form of MC.
Sounds like the desease we have, what do you think?
"Granulomatous Skin Infections. Malassezia pachydermatis, a zoophilic species that commonly colonizes dogs, cats, and other small mammals, is a very rare cause of warty papules and plaques on human skin. Histopathology shows hyperkeratosis, acanthosis, follicular dilation, neutrophilic microabscesses, and a mixed dermal infiltrate with multinucleated giant cells. In one case report, treatment was successful with oral fluconazole 200 mg daily for 10 weeks, liquid nitrogen cryotherapy, and oral ciprofloxacin 400 mg daily for 1 week (Fan et al., 2006)."
Luna2552, I did not have any hair removal treatments prior to my accumulation of this weird ailment we all seem to share. I was just 14 years old, and thought it was acne - just as everyone thought it was and thought that I was picking my face! I still have to tell my parents that I do not touch my face & if I do, then it's only because I HAVE to get this little ball out or else it spreads. The ball doesn't spread.. the sore/lesion does, bringing more balls to the surface usually.
In fact, I've never had any hair treatment done. But I have had bouts of folliculitis. & right after I wrote my first post in this forum, I had my first experience with alopecia areata - August 24, 2015 so I'm still dealing with that and trying to get it under control. I'm wondering if it has anything to do with my last flare up the week before I noticed the bald spot. It is an autoimmune disease. Despite my steroids and probiotic injections for alopecia, my face started peeling again at the recent scars and I had to get back on to my 100mg doxycycline. The only thing that works to keep these white things away is being on an antibiotic constantly. It is such a drag for my immune system!
I am trying to get insurance to pay for Oracea again. It's a mild, daily antibiotic and it kept my face so clear. I still haven't been able to find out how it works exactly.. I was trying to find out so maybe I could find natural alternatives. Even with me using zinc/antibiotic topicals, fungal topicals, and colloidal silver, my skin did not stay clear. They help heal faster when in combination with the antibiotics, but not without it.
Don't buy branded chemical soups. I get them from eBay where there are a lot of sellers who make soaps naturally. Buy soap made using the cold-pressed method. Seller's by law need to have their product cleared by the industry regulators and have to identify the ingredients used. This soap is by far better than anything you'll find on the shelf in a supermarket. Avoid chemicals. It's also better to support independent crafts this way. I didn't bat an eyelid at the price because anything that helps this problem is priceless.
I've also purchased some 10% Sulphur, 3% Salicylic acid soap recently. This doesn't calm the inflammation, but it helps to bring the debris under the skin to the surface and hardens it. It helps reduce the need to dig deeper into the flesh to fish it out. So I will wash with this, leave the lather to dry and soak into the skin. Then later I will wash it off - pick gunk out if I have to, then wash with nettle soap and let the lather dry - this is the best thing that's helped me so far. It prevents my skin from cracking, and calms the redness, and, after a while, it leaves a good base for any concealer you have to use.
Neat tea tree seems to have a similar affect to this soap. Causes inflammation though. So, like the soap, it can cause a break-out - which is inevitable anyway.
I think one other thing that can help a lot is limiting the damage you do to the epidermis trying to remove the offending white debris from deep within the dermis. Damage around the area is unnecessary if you can get deep enough to pluck the stuff out, or you're lucky enough to be able to grasp it at the surface to pull it out at the root without it breaking. I use my fingernails rather than tweezers - it gives a much better grip. Fingernail hygiene is a must if you do this. Another thing I use is a narrow-bladed scalpel which is useful for getting down into a pour/duct and plucking at the root of it.
So to clarify: If you're strong-willed enough to resist picking, the problem doesn't go away. A problem area will swell and swell until the inflammation causes a painful cyst or pustule. You can clean this up and it will never heal until you clean it up and then remove the white rubbery root thing that caused it in the first place - it never goes away without manual intervention. After over 25 years of trying different things, self-surgery is still the only solution so far. Even then, it will grow back again in a week or month. So, try to reduce the damage you do (I understand how picking can become a frenzy - try to do it with surgical precision), and calm the skin down with anti-inflammatory.
I'm experimenting with diets. I'm eating more fruit, drinking more water, cutting down on sugar, gluten, meat. It's made NO DIFFERENCE whatsoever.
I think I'm a lot more fortunate than a lot of people suffering with this problem. I am lucky that my skin heals very quickly and doesn't scar. And I've become a master at using concealer. So, unless it's really really bad, I can still manage to hide the problem enough to feel okay about leaving the front door. It's not ideal, but at least I can sort-of lead a normal life. If I could give any one of you anything from this, I would give you the confidence to go out and face the world and look people in the eye when you talk to them...
I still live in hope that someone will diagnose this and cure it. Until then, there's a whole bunch of know-it-alls that believe we're simply deluded and picking at imaginary stuff under the skin.