the SKINny girl

living with eczema, allergies and other skin issues

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

Methylisothiazolinone

I went to the dermatologist and had a skin patch test done on my back. No bathing for 48 hours. Basically, you sit tight while the chemicals and preservatives do their thing on your back. If you’re allergic, the 48 hours are hell. My entire back was itchy so I figured I was allergic to everything on that T.R.U.E. Test. My dermatologist said that my skin was irritated by the adhesive she used to tape the test to my back and that I only had a reaction to one preservative: methylisothiazolinone.

T.R.U.E. Allergy Test - my back

It has taken me a couple of weeks to memorize this word and now I look for it in all products I purchase. It’s such a common ingredient — it’s in products such as cosmetics (foundations, powders, concealers, bronzers, self-tanners, makeup removers, moisturizers, sunscreens, eye shadows, and mascaras. It’s also found in shampoos, hair conditioners, gels, bubble baths, soaps, baby wipes, creams, lotions and over-the-counter and prescription medicines. Other sources include detergents, fabric softeners, cleansers, pesticides, polishes and some toilet paper) and is also found in air conditioning, metal working, water cooling and latex emulsions such as paints. In industrial situations, it is called Kathon and is used in curing agents, adhesives and glues, jet fuels, printing inks, radiography and slim control agents in paper mills.

Synonyms for Methylisothiazolinone:

  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI)
  • Kathon
  • 5-Chloro-2-methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one
  • 2-Methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one

I may also react to other isothiazolinones.

Here is a site that lists a bunch of products that contain this preservative: Cosmetics Database.

This is the US Department of Health & Human Services’ page on household products that contain this preservative: Household Products Database for Methylisothiazolinone

This is definitely turning me into a more vigilant consumer, but I’m bummed that one of my favorite hand creams contains this ingredient.

Lollia Hand Cream

Time to toss it out.

Filed under: allergens, products, , , , ,

Progression of Hands

Gross pictures of my hands ahead. You’ve been warned.

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Filed under: dealing with eczema, historic info

Steroid Ointments

Steroid Ointments

I’m not a fan of steroid ointments. I was initially prescribed Triamcinolone Acetonide. I was told to rub this on the eczema on my hands. I got a huge jar of it. It looks like Vaseline.

I was also prescribed Desonide ointment, a less intense steroid ointment that was to be used on more delicate parts of my body, such as my face (are my hands not delicate?).

Both the Triamcinolone Acetonide and the Desonide were prescribed by my allergist.

I had a flare-up recently so I visited my primary care physician and she prescribed me Betamethasone Valerate, another topical steroid.

What is up with all of the steroid prescriptions? The ointments never fully eliminated my problems — they helped for a little bit, but it always took a long time for improvement to be visible.

Another bad thing about steroids is that they thin your skin. Definitely not a good thing.

These ointments were to be applied immediately preceding a wet wrap application. At first, it seemed as though the ointment was working, but in the long run, my rashes came back.

Are you currently using steroid ointments? Are they working?

Filed under: dealing with eczema, treatments that don't work

The Tiny Needle

This is the type of needle that is pinned to me for a couple days after acupuncture. I’ve had it stuck in my ear, in my leg, on my foot and on my arms. It doesn’t hurt when I’m poked, nor does it hurt when I pull them out. It feels more like a tiny pinch. No bloody cleanup either.

acupuncture needle

acupuncture needle 2

Filed under: treatment

Clearing Heat through Needles

I seriously think the acupuncture is working. Sometimes I have to keep the needles in me for several days. Apparently, the heat clears through these needles.

I am not a big fan of needles, but I’m not terrified of them either. It’s helping, so I’m going to continue doing it.

Needle in ear

Filed under: treatment

Hot & Cold Foods — Learning About Chinese Medicine

Not counting temperature and spiciness, I had no idea there was such a thing as hot and cold food.

After I showed my acupuncturist my red hands, she asked to see my tongue. I stuck my tongue out as far as I could and looked off to the side (it’s very awkward to look at someone directly in the eye while she’s looking at the tongue sticking out of your mouth).

“You need to clear some heat,” she said. “It looks like you have a lot of toxic heat in you.” It sounded like this toxic heat was trying to escape through my hands.

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Filed under: diet, , , , ,

Acupuncture

I work in healthcare.

I think doctors are great. Doctors are fabulous. The work they do is miraculous (I am still in awe of the fact that my mom’s kidney is functioning inside of my sister’s body). But I do think there are other ways to solve a problem.

After many attempts to eliminate my eczema with steroids and wet wraps, only to find that the problem still existed, I consulted with my co-worker, who also happens to be an acupuncturist at AcuSport Health Center.

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Filed under: treatment, , , , , ,

The Worst Eczema EVER

My mom, sister and I decided to have a road trip up the California coast. I also knew that I had planned a trip in Vegas immediately after my return, so I tried to eat healthy and keep my eczema under control, especially the ones on my hands.  I had some rashes on both the palm and the top of my hands and was trying to keep them from flaring up by using steroids and applying nightly wet wraps.

It didn’t work.

We reached our campsite in the redwoods past midnight and started setting up our tent. The entire drive to our destination was relatively itch-free, but once we started setting up camp, that all changed. I don’t know if it was the air or the fact that my hands were no longer stuck to a steering wheel, but something triggered an itch on my right hand and I initially unknowingly scratched it. The moment I realized I was scratching, I didn’t stop. I kept scratching. I was holding a flashlight and scratching my right hand with my left hand.

I scratched my right hand until it started bleeding from an open wound I created.

My right hand, now swollen, thick-skinned and oozing blood, was locked open. I couldn’t close my hand — the skin was too thick. I couldn’t hold the flashlight — my hand couldn’t grip it tight enough to maintain the hold.

It was a great trip, but I really couldn’t fully enjoy myself because of my hands. Really, if the eczema were on my back or my arms or my legs, maybe I would have had a better time, but you really don’t realize how much you need your hands. You use them for everything.

I couldn’t even open a water bottle. I couldn’t open a door knob.

I had to brush my teeth with my left hand.

I drove with my fingertips.

I looked at everyone’s hands and saw how normal their hands looked. Soft fingertips, pink palms, flexible fingers. I was jealous and mad and more than anything else, frustrated.

While showering in our boutique hotel in San Francisco, I looked at my fingers. There were minuscule blisters/bubbles under the skin of my fingers. It was so gross. I’ve never seen anything like that before. They were all clustered together, liquid-filled and so tiny. I couldn’t feel them — they weren’t bumpy because they were beneath the surface of my skin. I figured they were the reason why my hands wept when I scratched really hard, but I didn’t understand how they got there.

Sorry to let you down — I didn’t take any photographs of my disgusting hands. It looked so bad it looked fake. Almost as if Hollywood makeup artists came to create a badly burnt hand.

What can I do?

Filed under: dealing with eczema, , , , ,

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