(Yes, I wanted to make a post that had alliteration, but this is also useful in making headings in the updates to my skin and overall health). 🙂
My skin has been holding relatively steady since the time of my last post (about two weeks ago). I have had a little bit of minor flaring up of some areas (which I’ll talk about shortly), but overall, I’m very appreciative to have entered a realm of consistency with my skin. You really don’t realize how much you take for granted until you don’t have it – I mean, I remember the days of TSW and spending so long to get ready in the morning and to go through the whole skin routine at night, but then after years of “normal” skin post-TSW, it’s easy to forget about that. The best skin is skin you don’t have to think about! I had actually stopped working out in the early morning because I never knew what I would wake up to and if I needed to make more of a lengthy routine to soothe my skin and help it look somewhat human. Now that I have relatively predictable skin every day, I am ready to get back to early-morning wake-ups! (kind of weird, I know :P)
As to the Desonide – I have only used once a week or less with seemingly no ill effects. (Therefore I have only used it a handful of times since tapering off of it’s use regularly). But, keep reading and eventually you’ll hear about how I felt like I HAD to use it the other day as a preventative measure from an allergic reaction!
So, the past few weeks haven’t been without a few interesting bumps in the road. I was still bothered by the fact that my eye rash was unilateral (one eye only) and that I couldn’t track it down to any cause. The GOOD news is that I have not had any episodes of it burning or waking me up in the night, but it pestered me as to why it wouldn’t heal, when the rest of my skin had come along so nicely.
I don’t even know how I stumbled across it, but I think I Googled something like “flaky lower lash line” or “itchy lower eyelashes”. THEN, I dove down the rabbit hole of reading everything I could get my hands on about Demodex.
Demodex to me sounds like some kind of pharmaceutical product, like a dandruff shampoo or something, but it’s actually the name for a tiny mite that can live in your eyelashes. I’ve racked up reading probably two dozen sites/scientific papers/articles about Demodex, so you can search for it on your own (and it’s worth it, cause the magnified view of these mites is actually pretty horrifying), but basically, these are some of the most interesting facts that I gleaned:
- Demodex seems to be implicated in the majority of rosacea cases, and according to some sources, may also be linked to eczema and dermatitis. (i.e., people with these have our lovely compromised skin barrier so Demodex has the potential to irritate us more than the average folk).
- Demodex is very common and is really on most people’s eyelashes and basically if you live long enough, you WILL have Demodex. (However, it may not cause you any concerns).
- Demodex mites have no anus (neat trivia, LOL) and have a life span of 2 weeks. They love to feed on sebum and oils. They aren’t just limited to the eyelashes but can be found in other places on the face and body as well. If you do things like not washing your face, or sleeping in your makeup (ugh I used to be guilty of this…. ashamed face), or not taking off your makeup properly before bed, it’s a ripe target for Demodex to come feed.
- There are various things that have been studied to eradicate Demodex, but the most effective seems to be tea tree oil.
- The basic treatment for Demodex is to apply tea tree oil (DILUTED – not straight!!) to the eyelashes 1-2x a day; it also may be recommended to wash the face with tea tree soap.
When I looked at pictures of eyes with Demodex, I came across all kinds of crusty eyeballs, sad looking lids, gross lashes with little “collarettes” that the tiny mites had formed. (Go Google it for yourself. It’s fine. I’ll wait. 🙂 )
Now – while my left eye was nowhere near as gross looking as the pictures, I found it most peculiar that I would often wake up with crust and flakes along the lash line. And that, though using the Desonide in a taper method had mostly eliminated any outright rash, this strange form of irritation still persisted.
So, I figured I had nothing to lose by trying the tea tree oil method. Truly, if you suspect Demodex, you are apparently supposed to seek out your ophthalmologist and have them pull out one of your eyelashes and then examine it under a microscope to see if the wiggly creatures exist. That is my disclaimer. But having already spent hundreds the other day on the allergen testing, I didn’t choose to go that route. I ALSO knew that tea tree oil did not have any history of irritating my skin, as I have used it in the past on things like bug bites and acne.
However, I was wary about the concentration. How much to dilute it? What kind of carrier oil? Applying tea tree oil right near your delicate eyeballs is a whole different animal than dabbing it on a bug bite on your body.
Ultimately (and one of my Demodex searches led me to this product), I chose to go with this product from hEYEdrate.
Yes, it’s an eye makeup remover oil (and by this point, I wear extremely minimal makeup that I can almost guarantee has nothing to do with my lash line irritation, as I’ve switched products, tested things extensively, done trial periods with no makeup, and come up inconclusive – more on my routine in a future post) – but it can also be used as a topical treatment to swab the eyelids and eyelash line for Demodex, as it contains tea tree but in a diluted enough form where it won’t burn or sting your skin.
What the manufacturers recommend is swabbing the eyes with this, washing your face with their tea tree oil soap (also available for purchase), then using a Lid and Lash cleaner (I did just order this out of curiosity since they gave me a promo code for a free bottle, but haven’t received it yet to try). I figured let me try ONE thing at a time (as is important when you have sensitive skin that is prone to dermatitis) and see what happens. Plus, I didn’t want to switch up my current cleanser or any other steps in my skin routine as it seems they are working overall well.
I have now used the Tea Tree Oil solution for about a week, each night. First I swab it on my eye area with a cotton ball and then wash my face. Then I dab a drop or two of the tea tree oil solution on a Q-tip and swab along each lash line, upper and lower. Then I go on with the rest of my skincare routine for the night.
The first night, I woke up with a LOT of crust along my lash line and in my eye! My left eye was almost crusted shut and I had to put a cool washcloth on it to help it open. However, I wasn’t too alarmed, as I had read that “Demodex die-off” is a thing and your condition can worsen before it gets better. Remember, their lifespan is 2 weeks, so it’s important to adhere to 2 weeks of treatment if you were to do this. Once the crust got smoothed away, my eyes were none the worse for wear. I would venture to say that using it each night for a week has definitely improved the condition and look of my eyes, and lessened the flakiness and dryness.
HOWEVER! Just when I was cruising along well, a bump in the road happened. (Isn’t that how it always is?) Thursday, I actually WENT IN A POOL and WORE GOGGLES and though I did re-moisturize my face and eye area after, my skin was none the worse for wear. Then Saturday (two days ago) I woke up and thought to myself, “Gosh! This is great! This is the best my eyes have looked in some time. I’m having an excellent week! Even if I didn’t have a proliferation of destructive Demodex, everything seems to be really helping!”
Then, some dog allergies happened.
I went to a social event where one dog was there (alright, fine) but then another dog showed up (meh) and yet ANOTHER dog. I have nothing against dogs. I truly love them. And it breaks my heart that I am allergic to them. But I avoid petting them, touching them, or really being around them for any length of time. (There HAS been a hypoallergenic dog I knew who was kept very clean and I was able to pet him all the time with no issues. And I think it does depend on the breed too, and how close in proximity they are to me, and how clean the surrounding environment is. I have definitely made excuses in the past to not attend events at people’s houses if I know they have dogs. It’s just easier to say you have other plans than to be THAT PERSON with the unfortunate allergy to pets).
The one dog – the hugest one – a grayhound that a child could have ridden on – was very curious and ended up plopping down right next to me. Poor thing. He was so miffed as to why I wouldn’t pay attention to him or love on him. Dogs often seem to LOVE trying to make friends with me because I won’t have anything to do with them. “HOOMAN!!! WHY YOU SO ALOOF? I WILL WIN YOU OVER! I WILL OBTAIN YOUR LOVE!”, I imagine them thinking with their bright doggy brains.
I really didn’t think it would be an issue as long as I didn’t touch any of them, but then my left eye started watering and feeling weird. I stayed for a little longer just to be socially acceptable, and then I rushed home. I kept wanting to touch and pull at my left eye, because now it felt like there was something IN it, up underneath the lid. Pretty soon after getting home, I decided just to take a whole shower and go through my whole nighttime skin routine and wash out my eyes and take out my contacts and put on glasses and see if that helped.
My boyfriend (who had come over and kindly brought us some food for dinner) came in to check on me and caught me in a frenzied rubbing at my eyes. “STOP THAT!” he ordered. “RUBBING YOUR EYES WILL JUST MAKE IT WORSE!” “I KNOW, but they ITCH SO MUCH!” I whined. I knew he was right though. I got my hands out of my eyes, took 2 Benadryl, and dabbed some Desonide under my left eye as a preventative measure so I wouldn’t wake up inflamed. Again, by this time I have only been using Desonide 1x a week OR LESS, so this didn’t seem to be an issue.
Thankfully in the morning I wasn’t too much the worse for wear. My left eye still FELT a little strange, like it was still slightly puffy, but I looked okay. Today it looks and feels a little dried out, which is typically what happens for me a day or two after some kind of inflammation. But I think it’s going to keep improving back to where it was relatively quickly… as long as I stay away from dogs!
Coming up soon – the report on my 52 inhaled allergen testing (I’m really eager to get the results and get treatment underway!!!)