Man with ‘irritated, red skin’ for 10 years finds office air freshener to blame

A reporter who has suffered with “irritated and blotchy” skin finally achieved a diagnosis after 10 years thanks to lockdown.

Will Hayward, the Welsh Affairs Editor at WalesOnline, revealed that a return to the office caused his skin to flare up.

The journalist described his skin as a “nightmare” and that he couldn’t hide the effect as it was “slap bang in the middle of [his] face.”

Will noted: “It all started about 10 years ago.

“I would get a burning feeling on my face, which within hours would result in horrible red blotches appearing on my cheeks and nose.

“Sometimes I would also get scratchy rashes appearing on my neck and in my beard.”

Then, having tried everything from giving up booze to wearing sunscreen everyday he visited the GP.

For four years, he was given various diagnoses including rosacea – a condition that causes flushing and bumps on the face – and seborrheic dermatitis.

Will commented: “The problem is that one of the treatments for [dermatitis], steroids, makes rosacea much worse.

“Long story short I maintained my caffeine free diet, my antibiotic cream for rosacea and added a special shampoo to the mix.

“But despite this things seemed to just be getting worse until the day we went into lockdown.

“Within weeks my skin massively improved.”

During the pandemic, where most Brits worked from home, his skin was “better than it had been for years.”

Sadly, the improvement was not to last.

Will wrote: “Then as the world started to reopen I started going out more and my skin gradually got worse again.

“This was particularly true when I returned to the office after a year and half last autumn.

“Suddenly I was back to square one, in fact, it was worse.”

Having visited doctors again, Will finally received an allergy patch test.

It was discovered that he was allergic to Methylisothiazolinone (chemical one) and 2-brom-2-nitropropane -1,3-diol (chemical two).

The reporter noted: “Chemical two wasn't too hard to avoid, it was used a lot 20 years ago but was phased out because so many people reacted to it.

“Chemical one was a different beast entirely.

“It is in a huge range of household product include soaps, shower gels, shampoos and sun creams in which it is used as a preservative.”

Will removed any products containing the chemical from his home, but his skin still worsened.

He said: “I went back to the office (I had not been in for a while due to Covid).

“Within a few hours of being in the office my skin started to burn and by that night I was back to square one.

“It was then I remembered that inside the gents toilet there was one of those automatically spraying air freshener things.

“Turns out the spray did contain the chemical meaning that every minute, three of these sprays were essentially waterboarding my face with something I was super allergic to.”

Luckily, Will’s employer removed the product as soon as he asked.

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He wrote for WalesOnline : “I am now sat in the office writing this article and for the first time in years I am at my desk and my skin doesn't hurt!

“The reason for writing this piece is because, though I have it easier than many people with chronic skin problems, having a visible skin condition affects you far beyond the physical discomfort.

“It erodes your confidence, it is the first part of you the world sees and it take a far more self assured person than me to stop that getting to you.

“Hopefully this provides some insight to those without such a problem, and reasons to hope for those who do.”

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