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Breakouts on back of neck and scalp...possible Cellulitis??? Is this related to vaping?

Discussion in 'Health, Safety and Vaping' started by Patrick.Quenga, Jan 19, 2014.

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  1. Patrick.Quenga

    Patrick.Quenga Full Member

    Aug 18, 2013
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Have to share my experience thus far as I'm trying to figure out if anyone else is/has experienced this.
    I have been vaping since 1 JUN 2013. So that’s about 7 months now. I’ve never really had skin issues with breaking out with acne growing up, and have never really had issues with my scalp (dry scalp, dandruff type stuff). Anyway, my story…About three months into vaping, I started to notice that I was getting these red acne like bumps on the back of my scalp and neck (August 2013 time frame). I have to keep my hair short and clean cut (shaved to fade) as I’m in the US Army. Since August I have been battling bad breakouts on the back of my neck and scalp, very embarrassing. They are not pimples, they are like penny sized boils or cysts, only on the back of my scalp and neck. Because I have to keep my hair short, it is really embarrassing, because they appear red in color and it just plain looks bad.

    I have never had a problem with my skin and have never had a break out like this before, ever, in my life. I’m trying to see if anyone has experienced anything like that, and if so, what did you do? I have been to my doctor a few times already…he just prescribed a topical steroid and some shampoo equivalent to Selsun Blue, but much more powerful. It helped calm the breakouts down, but they are still coming on. I can feel the boils or cysts coming in like 3 days out, before they mature. THEN, they take FOREVER to go away. Like often about 10 days or more.
    I have read a few posts on breakouts here in e-forum and found some good advice (switching to pure PG or pure VG, as I may be allergic to one or the other). I’m debating quitting e-cigs all together, to see if I see results, but I’m nervous to go back to analog smoking, as I still crave that nicotine…lol.

    Has anyone else experienced this? Any experts have advice for me? Thanks…
  2. Papa_Lazarou

    Papa_Lazarou MKUltra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Not an expert by any means, but skin eruptions are quite common after quitting smoking as your body purges itself of toxins. These are know (colourfully) as quit zits. While most say it happens quite quickly after quitting, I actually found I got some boil-like symptoms at about 3 months, lasting for about 2 months.

    The take-aways for you? It's common and not just a "happens in the first few weeks" syndrome, it gets better with time, and it's quite possibly not because of vaping but rather because of your body healing (the irony, I know).

    I would encourage you to sweat it out for a while longer with vaping. The PG/VG adjustments you mention would be a good thing to experiment with.
  3. Patrick.Quenga

    Patrick.Quenga Full Member

    Aug 18, 2013
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Thanks Laz...I'm still working on figuring out what is the issue, and I'll try the PG/VG things. If I had longer hair, it wouldn't be an issue for me, as I could work through it, but my neck and side of my head is shaved (you might be able to tell in my picture) so it is VERY noticeable. I'll see what I can do. Thanks braddah...
  4. Rickajho

    Rickajho ECF Guru Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Apr 23, 2011
    Boston MA

    Ick! lol My thoughts on it from the allergy perspective: If it was an allergic reaction to either PG or VG I would think you would also be experiencing other allergy related symptom in addition to it. Any headaches or bursts of itching on the extremities? The people I know who have had a skin problem in context of a PG allergy had the problem on their face in the "vape zone" - a triangular area from the nose extending down the cheeks to the chin area. When they switched to a 100 VG liquid new acne breakout stopped right away and it cleared.

    It's worth doing "the experiment" to rule in/out: Get two small bottles of unflavored in your regular nic level, one 100 PG the other 100 VG. Vape 'em up and see what you get. You really need to do this in unflavored, in case there is an outside possibility that it's neither PG or VG, but a flavoring ingredient that doesn't like you.

    Not sure what your best options are when it comes to Hawaii shipping costs, but at Mt. Baker you could get those two 15 ml bottles for less than 10 bucks plus shipping. "Unflavored" is a choice in the pulldown menu for flavors.

    P.S. Do you know what the PG/VG ratio is in the liquids you are using now? Keep in mind that the people who have issues with PG fall into two pretty broad categories: The really unfortunate who have a severe allergic reaction to any amount of PG in their liquids. Or people like me who can tolerate the up to 20% PG that a flavoring can contribute to a liquid. Some people can go higher than that. I'm just saying your end PG/VG ratio isn't black & white yet. But to figure out if it's a problem go to the 100PG and 100VG extremes first.
  5. Patrick.Quenga

    Patrick.Quenga Full Member

    Aug 18, 2013
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Thanks Rick. Actually, I am a DIY guy. I make my own liquids. I always make everything 50/50. So I can go into making two different pures and vape them for 2 weeks, each type. See if I notice any difference.

    I will make some tomorrow. What I have noticed is that my facial skin does seem a bit more oily. Do you know if PG or VG would cause that? Oily skin? I just really noticed this today, but yeah, my skin does seem more oily than normal.

    On a side note, I am 40 years old, never had any issues with my skin, except minor blemishes, but I think everyone has those. I smoked for about 10 years, about half-a-pack-a-day smoker.

    I'll be starting my tests tomorrow. I'm going to make some pure mixes tomorrow, let them steep for a few days, then start hitting them up. See if I notice a difference in my skin and my scalp. Thanks again...
  6. Sane Asylum

    Sane Asylum Super Member ECF Veteran

    Sep 20, 2013
    Maryland, USA
    It's possible that it could be an allergy to some ingredient in what you're vaping but I think it's more likely something else. You may want to try anti bacterial or anti fungal shampoo.

    Good luck! And try to keep vaping. Smoking may seem to be a better alternative but you just can't 'see' the damage its doing to you.
  7. Vash

    Vash Unregistered Supplier ECF Veteran

    Oct 21, 2012
    This happened to friend of mine and since switching to high VG juices it has gone away .Good luck !
  8. Patrick.Quenga

    Patrick.Quenga Full Member

    Aug 18, 2013
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Thanks Vash. I was going to do that first, switch to high VG. I hear more people are allergic or have reactions to PG than VG. I do believe it is from vaping though, as this is the first time in my life I started breaking out on my neck and scalp, and it was right around the time I started vaping. I evaluated everything in my life, even looked to see if I changed shampoo, soap, laundry detergent, anything....nothing changed in my life, but vaping (and quitting smoking).

    I will go to full VG tomorrow, I make my own mix, and see how that works. Also Sane, I tried both, anti-fungal to treat Follicitus, if that was what it was, and antibiotics, if it was Cellulitis. Neither worked. I'll report back in a few weeks to see what happens, because I know there HAS to be others that have had or are having this issue, and I want to help out. If anyone has had skin breakouts or anything since the time they changed from smoking to vaping, they have to look into VG and PG and see if they are allergic.

    Thanks again guys...Vash, your comments give me said it happened to a friend of yours...that gives me hope. Was it on his scalp and back of his neck? I don't get it on my "scalp" per say, it is only on the back of my neck, like right where my neck and scalp meet. It 's not all over my head at all, only the back part.
  9. Jonathan Tittle

    Jonathan Tittle Unregistered Supplier ECF Veteran

    Sep 7, 2013
    Johnson City, TN, USA
    When I first started vaping and became 100% dedicated to it (i.e no smoking, just vaping), my face and neck broke out as well, so it is a rather common, yet unsightly, downside to quitting smoking. It has nothing, IMO, to do with picking up vaping it its place.

    As mentioned above, it is most likely your body purging itself of all the "other" chemicals you were smoking along with the tobacco (although I'm not a dermatologist or doctor). Cigarettes carry 4,000+ chemicals, so when you deprive your body of something it's used to getting, it's going to react. In most cases, it starts with expelling chemicals and other foreign bodies. Since the build up and chemicals are inside, they have to find a way out and the only way out is through your skin, short of throwing up and coughing it up (sorry to be graphic).

    It's much like a piercing, you're injecting a foreign object through your skin and the first line of defense is for your body to heal and reject it, which is why so many people have to remove their piercings. Cysts, Boils and other formations of the skin appear because their body simply doesn't want it there; it doesn't know any better, it just knows you're hurt, there's a hole in your body and it's time to kick into gear and do its job so you can get better.

    The same overall thing applies to the lungs, bloodstream etc. There's only two other ways out and chances are, you're not going to remove too much that way since such things don't pass through the digestive system.

    That said, in my case, it occurred on the front and back of my neck; worse on the back near the hairline as I shave my head as well (former Army - injured back and knee). Over time, it gets better, much better. I still, to this day, continue to vape and I vape mainly 50/50 and 60/40 PG/VG. a few spots pop up here and there, even after 8 months of solid vaping, but the body doesn't undo 12 years of smoking in 8 short months, it's going to take some more time.

    I'm not sure how long you actually smoked, but my suggestion would be to test the waters with 100% PG and then 100% VG, see if that helps. If it doesn't, worst case, go to a dermatologist and have them do a skin test to see if either of those affect you immediately using their tools and methods. If you get a negative, chances are you're going to go through the same thing I did and just have to wait it out.

    From there, use something with salicylic acid (used for acne treatments) and always use a wash cloth or something similar, never your hands. That'll help control the break outs and relieve them. Do that 2-3 times a day and that should help control things a bit for you. On the other hand, if you go to a dermatologist and they recommend something else, do what they tell you to do.

    Just letting you know what worked for me.
  10. Sweetab

    Sweetab Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Sep 17, 2013
    Portland, OR
    Definitely see if it's a VG, or PG allergy. Good luck!
  11. Vash

    Vash Unregistered Supplier ECF Veteran

    Oct 21, 2012
    Was on back of his neck and parts of chest and sides.
  12. Patrick.Quenga

    Patrick.Quenga Full Member

    Aug 18, 2013
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Thanks everyone. From what I'm reading in other forums and online sites, it looks like there is a commonality with allergic reactions to PG more than VG. As you may have read from other posts, there does seem to be a mild dehydration from vaping, and this can also lead to skin irritations and other issues/concerns.

    For the time being I have switched to a 100% VG. Going to stay on this for a week or two and see if I notice any change. I'll let you all know how the experiment is coming along.

    Tactical, I smoked for about 9 years, started at 31 in OIF1 and quit last year 1 JUN 2013. I have been vaping since, no smokes at all. I've never had a skin condition in my life, when I went through puberty, joining the Army, my 20s, nothing. I've always had good skin (I know, I'm one of the lucky ones, but do to my Pacific Islander roots, I think I got good skin)...anyway, yeah, never had an issue before smoking, while smoking, but now into vaping. After about 2 months of vaping, I started to notice the breakouts, primarily on the back of my neck. Not so much my face or anything, just totally my neck and lower scalp.

    So, this is just a test to see if I'm having reactions to PG...till next time...
  13. Patrick.Quenga

    Patrick.Quenga Full Member

    Aug 18, 2013
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    One thing that I have noticed, and my friend that vapes too, has noticed, is that my skin does seem more oily. His too. What product in e-liquid could cause this? PG or VG?
  14. skoony

    skoony Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    Jul 31, 2013
    saint paul,mn,usa
    i would go see your medic.
    they are pretty hip to what goes around.
    your condition could be caused by anything,so don't take your advice from this forum
    from non-medical could be a vaping related issue or herpes gotten from an
    improperly cleaned shaver or razor as you get frequent hair cuts.
    we can only speculate here.
    like i said medics are pretty hip to things.
    regard and thanks for your service.
    corporal mike u.s.m.c. retired
  15. Julie W

    Julie W Senior Member ECF Veteran

    Aug 31, 2013
  16. SchmidtyKy

    SchmidtyKy Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Aug 18, 2013
    Anytown, USA
    Hey Patrick, I wanted to know how your experiment was going. I searched the forum for "acne" because I too have been having skin issues. My search brought me to your thread. Here is what's going on with me:

    August 2013-started vaping exclusively. NO SKIN issues. Not even a history of skin issues. Was vaping mostly PG juices.

    January 2014-started breaking out...REALLY bad. Break outs would occur on the apples of my checks and along my hair line up on my forehead. Even going further past the hairline into the scalp. Dandruff shampoo did nothing to help, my normal skin care regime did nothing to help.

    Also in Jan 2014-I started enjoying a couple of juices that are only made at 100% VG. It took me a month to make the connection, since I had no idea vaping or quitting smoking may cause skin issues. But just a couple days ago I stopped vaping the 100% VG juice, and my breakouts are clearing up and I'm starting to look like my old self again.

    Coincidence? Possibly. I'm almost too afraid to start vaping my beloved VG liquids again. Most of my regular juices are now at a 50/50 blend. So maybe it's really high VG causing my breakouts, or the particular flavor of the juice from the vendor I ordered. I don't know...I don't want the breakouts to come back!
  17. Patrick.Quenga

    Patrick.Quenga Full Member

    Aug 18, 2013
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Thanks for writing. Well, from what I have been studying and reading through, people can have reactions to both PG, VG, and the flavoring. Primarily what I have found out so far is, one of the ingredients in my vaping is causing my oil glands to become very active.

    As of right now, I have been clearing up for the last month and a half, but my skin still seems a bit more oilier than before. I'm not oily like a teenager going through puberty, but I can tell when my skin seems a different, I am 40 years

    When I first started, I starting going off a few of the examples here in the thread. From what I'm discovering, I think I am having a reaction to PG. I started vaping pure VG right after my post, and stayed on pure VG (no flavoring for like 2 weeks). I haven't had a breakout or new rise in bumps since then. After about two weeks, I have been switching up my vapes (I used to vape only my one flavor, the one i liked was cinnamon red hots, Jamaican rum, and clove (called Atomic Fireball)). Oh, I have also reducedmy vaping by about 80%. I used to be sucking on this thing all day, like even at work, as we are allowed to vape inside. Now, I treat it like a cigarette, and only go outside to vape, maybe 5 min break, like we used to do. That may also contribute to my getting better.

    Anyway, I made some new liquids about 3 days ago (they are still steeping) with 80%VG/20%PG, same flavoring, and I will see how this goes. Like I said, my skins seems to have stopped breaking out for now, but still working through experiments. with your skin and issues like this, it takes weeks before you can see results, but so far I'm doing OK.

    The only thing I'm still trying to figure out is why my skin is still a bit more oily feeling than before I started vaping.

    But you are right, it could be one of the primary ingredients, VG or PG, or could be one of the specific flavorings you are using. Most of the flavorings are PG based. I'll continue to update this as I go. I'm more concerned about my skin returning to normal now. The breakouts have seemed to stop, but on the scalp, the redness seems to take FOREVER to go away. Remember, mine are not acne, on the back of my neck and back of my scalp, they seem more like follicitis or something. I can't "pop" these like zits (I know, gross), these are just like red bumps that appear, sometimes they get big like the size of a dime, and stay red, for a long time. I haven't had a breakout in like 6 weeks, not one new on pop up, but I still have the redness and minor rise in the skin of the ones on the back of my scalp. They are slowly going away, but just seems to take forever to go down.

    I’ll continue to report back when things change.
  18. patkin

    patkin Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    Nov 6, 2012
    Arizona USA
    If you google and go onto smoking cessation forums, you'll find the condition you have among others. I say that because those forums aren't vaping-related... just stop smoking ones. I recommend, if you can, getting some Closys mouth wash from the drug store and swabbing the area morn and eve to keep any infection from setting in. Closys kills germs like Listerine but more of them so its better and safer for irritated skin.... no more irritating than water as it contains no alcohol. I say this because I've battled those those cysts you speak of on my back... not from smoking cessation though. Doc says some people just get them purging all kinds of systemic toxins. Some have been so bad they had to be cut out because they never came to the surface. Having had problems with them myself is how I discovered Closys. Good luck to you.
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