In Dec. 4, 2014, I had noticed my hands while they were on my steering wheel in the bright sun. They were looking … well, not as young as they once did. Some wrinkles were appearing. I wash my hands a lot at work and don’t really like lotion and it was showing.

That evening I had a brilliant idea. I would exfoliate!! I soaked my hands a little, grabbed a big file that is meant to be used on your feet, and began to file file file on that dead skin. It felt so good! When I was done my skin was baby soft.

I thought I was a genius —for about an hour. That’s when I looked down at my hands and saw that I had scrubbed too hard, to put it mildly. Now I had weeping spots where the whole first layer and part of the second layer of skin was missing. I had scrub scrub scrubbed the skin right off my hands. I looked like I had lost a fight with a hot iron.

For a couple of weeks I had to explain to everyone that my vanity had gotten the better of me and, no, I did not have leprosy. If you know where to look and look closely, I still have scars on my hands from my harebrained idea.

Fast forward to this November.

My routine when I get home from work involves changing out of work clothes and washing my hands and face. For my face, I have several very soft microfiber cloths that I use as a washrag/washcloth (depending on where you are from).

Wednesday, I used a new one from a different brand. It did feel distinctly less soft, but I continued about my business anyway. The cloth has almost 8500 positive reviews on Amazon. Maybe it was actually supposed to feel like 40 grit sandpaper?

Fast forward 2 hours and I wondered why my face was burning. I went to the bathroom mirror and was greeted by bright red, inflamed, swollen cheeks, complete with broken blood vessels.

I had done it again, only this time on my face. I immediately put face cream on. It burned like fire. I added Aquaphor, which is basically fancy Vaseline. I was able to tolerate the greasiness and it helped a little with the burning. 

Still in a panic, I did the only other thing I could think of. I applied a bag of frozen peas to my face.

By the next morning, my face had gone from “I got too close to the planet Mercury” to “spent all day in the wind in Oklahoma.”

Today it is even better, thank goodness.

To recap:

1. I’m so vain, I really thought that song was about me.

2. I do not recommend vigorous exfoliation. Of any body part.

3. Sometimes your purpose in life is not to be an inspiration to others as much as it is to serve as a warning.

• • •

Dr. Nicole Robbins was raised in Roane County, but practiced audiology in Memphis for 19 years before moving to Cumberland County to be closer to family. She writes about her real-life experiences.

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