MakeupTalk.com Top Picks
Have you gotten a second opinion on this? I would definitely if you haven't. I was misdiagnosed with it as a late teenager. They tried a variety topical and oral things to fix the problem but it never did. I did have patchy flare ups and rashes like you are talking about.
For me it turned out to be product allergies and sensitivities. I was actually experiencing almost a chemical burn from the products. Sensitivities are hard to diagnose because you don't necessarily have an anaphylactic response. Sometimes your skin just burns, rashes out, itches, peels and occasionally blisters. When that happens it can take days to weeks to heal, not to mention the weird looks you get in public.
I used to change around my skincare and cosmetics products daily so there was nothing that the doctor could pin point. In my 20s I finally got to a much better allergist who worked with me and my dermatologist and they nailed down a few allergies and sensitivities. I got some of the best advice ever given to me regarding my skin. He said "Just because a product is healthy, natural, or works great for someone else does not mean it is ok for you." They told me when I introduce new products into my daily regimen I should only introduce one at a time and no more. So far this has worked really well for me.
You could look at dermtv.com. That's the website of a dermatologist, he also makes videos on youtube, very instructive.
I do have rosacea, and it's a pain to deal with. Regardless of the origin, when your skin is on fire, treat it like a burn. I like to spray some thermal water on my cheek (like La Roche Posay or Avene), then when it has cooled down, i apply my spot treatment for rosacea (Avene as well, they have a specific line for rosacea). A hydrating or soothing mask works well too, or simply a cream for burns.
For the skincare itself, i think the only valuable advice is to take care of your skin and be gentle with it, no matter if it is allergies or rosacea that cause the redness. I use a milky texture to wash my face and remove my makeup, it's the most gentle thing i have found. Then i follow with serum, and moisturizer with spf. I use a night cream, and i rotate between textures, in winter i use heavier creams, in spring and summer i will go for lighter textures (i have combination skin).
If your redness comes from allergies, skincare brands have developped specific lines for what they call sensitive intolerant skins. This combined with your antihistaminics works well (i also have allergies so i know it helps). The only downfall is they last 12 hours, so technically if you want to be covered, it's one dose in the morning, then one before going to sleep. In that case, know what things you are allergic to. If it's pollens, it's vital to know when they rise in spring or summer, and start your treatment before.
If you have rosacea, at least get a specific treatment for your red areas (for me it's cheeks and nose), if not the whole line. All you can do in that case is slow down the process, wear sunscreen, avoid certain foods like spiced meals or red wine that are known to cause redness. But the only real treatment is laser.
Sounds to me like you may have compound allergies (environmental mixed with either topical or food allergies). I take a daily allergy pill that really makes my life so much better. Topical allergies are awful because once the product hits you, there is no turning back. This is why I test all new products on the underside of my forearm first. If it passes that test, I test it on my neck right up under my ear. Both are inconspicuous places in case I have a reaction. The double test is needed, for me at least, because my face skin is so much different than my body skin. I had to go through my items one at a time for testing and it was tedious but I felt (and looked) so much better once I got the reactions under control. Also, don't assume products are gentle because they are labeled "hypoallergenic" because it really doesn't mean much. See this article from the FDA.
Some drugstore brands that I have found to be generally easy on my skin are Cetaphil, Eucerin and Burt's Bees. Eucerin has a calming creme that is a great daily moisturizer that really helps when I get the itchies. Most of my facial cleansers are Cetaphil because they don't have the heavy surfactants that regular soaps do. Removing makeup using Oil Cleansing Method can also be gentler than some of the harsher removing products.
Like Mags said, being gentle with your skin will make all the difference. It's sort of an uphill battle for makeup junkies though since we love getting into everything haha. I do hope you find some relief soon.