the SKINny girl

living with eczema, allergies and other skin issues

New Meds, Same Old Itch

My acupuncturist gave me some new pills to take, in addition to the Blue Poppy Herbs White Pearl pills I am already popping three times a day. These White Pearl pills are for my deficient spleen qi.

October new medicine

I got some Thorne Super EPA fish gelatin gelcaps. Sounds delicious. I was also given some probiotics — Pure Lactobacillus Sporogenes — to hopefully help me tolerate my allergens a little better.

I found out that I have some iron deficiency. I was given some nettle tea (which looked quite illegal in the little plastic baggie that it came in), which is rich in iron and mineral.

nettle loose leaf tea

Everything else looked good, according to the N.A.E.T. allergy elimination technique that was performed on me. I was coming up strong against most of the allergens that I had originally been weak against.

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Filed under: dealing with eczema, treatment

Stupid Tiny Eczema Flare-ups

First off, congrats to Nadine — she was the only person to post a comment last week, lol. I hope my products help her as much as they help me!

I had a successful camping trip this past weekend — successful meaning no major eczema flare-ups. There was a little itching here and there, but no weeping, no open wounds and it didn’t consume the trip. Loved that.

Still, I have these tiny patches of eczema on my hands.

I want to know why, even after avoiding one of my major allergens — corn — I’m still seeing tiny flare-ups. Why? Is it stress-related? Is it because I haven’t been avoiding everything?

I guess one of my issues with eczema and allergies is balancing an attempt to live an eczema-free life and living a quality life. Does quality need to equal life with tomato, potato and corn products? Can quality be a life without those food products?

I know I can live a really good life without those allergens. It’s just so hard. And another thing is that I don’t know if these are the only things that are causing my rashes. What if I eliminate ALL of these allergens, including derivatives, and still have rashes?

It’s so frustrating.

Filed under: dealing with eczema, , , ,

Products that Don’t Cause Eczema Flare-Ups

I am a product nut. I love learning about new moisturizers, shampoos and conditioners, cleansers, soaps, lotions, makeup and other cosmetics, bath and body products that were created for people with skin sensitivities and allergies like myself.

There’s always something new on the shelf, but I appreciate a product that isn’t all about the packaging (although I am also a design nut and absolutely love a well-packaged item). I appreciate a product that focuses on a person’s needs rather than the type of cute bottle it needs to be packaged in.

When I read labels, I don’t just skim — I really read labels. I could spend half an hour reading labels in the shampoo aisle. Why do I do this? Because I don’t want to accidentally purchase a product that contains something I’m allergic to.

Here are some items that I use on a daily basis:

shampoo and conditioner

Earth Science fragrance free shampoo and conditioner

lotions

EO Everyday Body Lotion for sensitive skin, Juice Beauty Green Apple SPF 20 Antioxidant Body Moisturizer, Sarna, Trader Joe's fragrance free deodorant, Cetaphil fragance free Moisturizing Cream, Depth Hand and Body Lotion in Bay Coconut

I use the following products when I do have a flare-up or some irritation:

Doctor's Defense Zen Fusion Cream

Doctor's Defense Zen Fusion Cream

This Fusion Cream really helps when I have itching and irritation. It softens my skin and eliminates redness. My primary care provider told me about it and I bought it once I got home (amazing what one does in times of desperation). Find out more about this cream here. This definitely helps with inflammation, so if you suffer like I do, I suggest trying it out.

Blue Poppy Herbs Eczema Ointment

Blue Poppy Herbs Eczema Ointment

I love the eczema ointment. My acupuncturist gave me a small tub and it has lasted me over two months. It only takes a little bit to get rid of any itchiness I have. It smells really good, too — almost like honey. Learn more about it here.

None of these products have ever given me any sort of irritation, so I’m sticking to them for now. I also started using olive oil-based soaps. I find them less irritating then typical soaps that contain ingredients that make my skin itch.

Desert Essence Castile Liquid Soap

Desert Essence Castile Liquid Soap with Organic Tea Tree Oil

This doesn’t smell like anything you’ll ever find at Bath & Body Works, but it won’t irritate your hands the way a lot of those lotions at that store will. Have you ever read the labels of any lotion? Do you know what you’re rubbing all over your skin? Probably not. Learn more about this great hand soap here. Not familiar with castile soap? Learn more here.

Kiss My Face pure olive oil soap

Kiss My Face pure olive oil soap

I don’t think I ever had a reaction to the body soap I usually use (Dove Sensitive Skin Unscented Beauty Bar), but I wanted to see if it made any difference to change the one thing that I use all over my skin. So far, so good. Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil soap smells good and makes my body feel really soft and smooth.

I love all of these products — they are great for anyone who has sensitive skin, so long as that person is not allergic to any of the ingredients in the product. One lucky reader will win a handful of my favorite products. I will be giving away one Earth Science fragrance free shampoo and one Earth Science fragrance free conditioner, one Blue Poppy Herbs Eczema Ointment and one Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil soap (total retail value of over $20 US dollars).

To enter the giveaway:

  • Leave a comment between Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009 and Sunday, Sept. 27, 2009 (midnight Pacific time)
  • One entry per reader
  • No anonymous comment will be taken into consideration
  • The giveaway is open to anyone in the world
  • Winner will be randomly picked by me

What products do you use on a daily basis? What works? What doesn’t? Have you come across any products that claim to be natural when in fact they are full of artificial preservatives and chemicals?

Filed under: dealing with eczema, , , , , , , ,

Proof that Acupucture Heals Eczema

It’s been six days since I’ve had an acupuncture appointment. Look at the difference it has made on the hands of my skin. Compare these pictures to last week’s images.

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Filed under: dealing with eczema, treatment, , , ,

Four Ways to Totally Eliminate Eczema

I recently wrote an article on the four main things that have helped me to eliminate eczema. My problem is that I don’t always follow my suggestions, so my eczema always returns.

Eczema Article

What should you do to get rid of your rashes?

  1. Identify your allergens
  2. Get a full night’s rest
  3. Drink a lot of water
  4. Consider acupuncture

I’m not trying to make this sound easy, because it’s not. If it was, my fingers would not be bandaged up right now.

I’m also not contradicting myself — yes, I believe these tips work, but yes, I still have eczema. I just haven’t been as careful the past couple of weeks.

You know that feeling you get when you know you’re recovering from the flu or a cold? You feel better. You’re happy. You’re on your way back to normalcy — maybe a cough here and there, but no more miserable fever. You definitely know you’re on your way to a full recovery.

That’s how I felt this past month. The hand eczema of July ’09 made me desperate — I would do anything to eliminate the pain, itchiness and embarrassment of my rashes. I never realized how conspicuous hands were. It’s obvious, but we never really pay attention to people’s hands. I started to notice how normal everyone’s hands looked compared to mine.

Everything involves the use of hands. I couldn’t open a water bottle. It was difficult to turn doorknobs. Pumping gas was hard. I drove using only my fingertips rather than my entire hand. I held my toothbrush with only my fingertips.  I was embarrassed to pay at stores because it involved using my hands to either pass the cash to the clerk or me signing my name on the credit card swipe machine. My hands were so ugly.

I cried many times.

So back to being desperate. I took the advice of my boyfriend and decided to start sleeping early, which is difficult because I know that I am a night owl. I have a lot of energy up until the late hours of the night. But I noticed that when I slept earlier, not only did my hands started getting better, my mind and body felt better. I was more alert. I felt better altogether. I was getting eight hours of sleep each night.

He also advised me to drink a lot of water. I started drinking several bottles of water each day, plus a couple glasses of green tea.

I had also made an appointment with a dermatologist who then identified the preservative I was allergic to. I spend a lot of time reading labels at stores. I already knew the foods I was allergic to. I avoid my allergens.

Acupuncture released the “toxic heat” from my body.

I think my eczema came back because 1) I became a little lazy when it came to avoiding my food allergens; 2) I hadn’t had acupuncture in a couple of weeks; and 3) I started sleeping late again. Blame it on watching too many episodes of Lost. I’m almost caught up.

Drinking a lot of water has become a habit. I didn’t stop that. I still drink a lot during the day. It has made a big impact on the general appearance and health of my skin. In fact, the skin not affected by my allergies is extremely soft. Why can’t my hands be like that?!

I have another acupuncture appointment on Friday. I had a massage yesterday. I need to sleep early tonight. I’ve been avoiding corn and tomatoes. Let’s hope this works.

Filed under: allergens, dealing with eczema, diet, foods, treatment, treatments that don't work, , ,

Hands Not Looking So Swell

I’ve been extremely vigilant, but I haven’t been avoiding all of my allergens. I’ve also missed about three weeks of acupuncture.

This is the current state of my hands:

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Allergen in Bath & Body Works Product

How sad. You know those cool antibacterial soaps with the tiny exfoliation beads? One of the ingredients is methylisothiazolinone.

Bath & Body Works

Filed under: allergens, dealing with eczema, products, , , , ,

Corn is EVERYWHERE

I remember being a kid who hated vegetables. I hated tomatoes, hated anything green, hated eggplant. I thought corn was a vegetable (it’s really a grain) so when asked “What’s your favorite vegetable?” I would respond with “corn.”

Now, I’m not anti-corn, but I do see that it’s in almost every single food product out there, which makes it difficult for me to eat because I have an allergy to corn. It’s kind of annoying. Like trying to avoid an ex-boyfriend who seems to be everywhere you are.

Corn in Altoids

Altoids

Corn in mochi

mochi frozen dessert

Corn in turkey chili

Trader Joe’s turkey chili in a can

Corn in Very Berry cereal

Trader Joe’s Very Berry Clusters

Is corn bad? I don’t think it is, but I just can’t eat too much of it.

Corn has definitely gotten a bad rap, especially because of ethanol production (the purported “clean” fuel) and the deforestation that occurs as a result, and also because of the weight-gaining, diabetes causing, mercury containing high fructose corn syrup found in so many processed foods.

Maybe I’ve had eczema for so long because everything I’ve ever eaten has contained corn.

Filed under: allergens, dealing with eczema, foods

Wet Wraps

My allergist recommended I do wet wraps on my hands because the eczema had gotten so severe. I no longer use wet wraps because of the skin thinning consequence of using topical steroids. They did work for me, at first. My hands got better, but soon after, the rashes surfaced again.

Soaking hands for eczema

Wet wraps can be a useful tool in the intensive treatment of atopic dermatitis. They serve as an effective barrier to scratching, increase skin hydration and promote more restful sleep. they also act as an occlusive barrier that increases penetration of medications into the skin. Wet wraps should be reserved for severe flares and used only for a few days at a time. If the emollient creams are not used properly under the wraps, skin dryness can actually be increased.

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Filed under: dealing with eczema, treatment

Key Therapy Points for Patients with Atopic Eczema

This is taken from a sheet given to me by my allergist. I personally do not recommend topical steroids because they have not worked for me and they thin the skin. Before using any lotions, creams, moisturizers and cleansers, make sure you are not allergic to any of the ingredients. This will save you further skin irritation.

Steps For Good Daily Skin Care! Soak and Seal!

  1. Take at least one bath or shower per day. Use warm, not hot, water for at least 15-20 minutes. Avoid scrubbing your skin with a washcloth.
  2. Use a gentle cleansing bar or wash such as Dove, Oil of Olay, Eucerin, Basis, Cetaphil, Aveeno or Oilatum. During a severe flare, you may choose to limit the use of cleansers to avoid possible irritation.
  3. Gently pat away excess water (within 3 minutes of a bath or shower). Apply the moisturizer or the special skin medications prescribed for you onto your damp skin. this will seal in the water and make the skin less dry and itchy.
  4. Apply your special skin medications to the areas affected with rash that is red and/or scaly. The most common skin medications used to treat the skin inflammation are topical steroids or topical immunomodulators (TIMS). Used correctly, these medications are safe and effective.
  5. Apply your moisturizer everywhere on your skin which has not received medication. Specific occlusives or moisturizers will be individually recommended for you. Moisturizers are available in many forms. Creams and ointments are more beneficial than lotions. Vaseline is a good occlusive preparation to seal in the water; however, it contains no water so it only works effectively after a soaking bath. Recommended moisturizers include Aquaphor Ointment, Eucerin Creme, Vanicream, Cetaphil Cream or Moisturel Cream.

Filed under: dealing with eczema, treatment

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