Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Trial and Error of Body Lotions/Oils

I am ALWAYS on the search for the perfect body lotion or oil for my legs.  Through trial, error, and educating myself about eczema, I know some things my ideal body moisturizer must NOT contain:

  • Parabens (A preservative that is in a whole hella lot of toiletries.  I had a very negative reaction to CeraVe lotion on my face, and my derm said parabens might be at fault.)
  • Fragrance/color (I mean, really.  If you have sensitive skin anyway, no need to subject it to irritating fragrance.)
  • Certain ‘natural’ oils.  (Thanks to Paula’s Choice and her site Beautypedia.com, I now know that ‘natural’ doesn’t always mean skin friendly.  Things like orange oil, ylang-ylang, lavender… not things that should be going on the skin.  More on that in another post).
  • Shea butter:

 I wanted to like Shea Butter.  Really, I did.  I bought a nice big tub a few months back after reading about all its wonders – moisturizing without clogging pores, mild wrinkle protectant, even a mild sunscreen effect.  And I loved that it was 100% natural.  Started using it on my legs and face, and for a few days, I had the most beautiful leg skin (for me, that is).

Then things started going south – I woke up with red, dry, irritated facial skin.  😦  It started making me itch when I put it on my legs.  But why???  I thought this stuff would be my magic bullet!  GUESS WHAT – If you have any sort of latex allergy (which I do – a mild one), you might react to shea butter because their chemistry is somehow related.

And there are SO MANY LOTIONS out there with Shea Butter.  It is very hard to avoid.

Next, I turned to some different kinds of oils.

  OLIVE OIL.  This is a decent moisturizer for legs, but the problems are twofold.  One, it takes forever to sink in, leaving you with extremely shiny legs that will rub off on anything they touch.  Two, you wind up smelling like an Italian salad bar.  I haven’t been using it on my legs for virtue of those facts.  I WILL use a little bit on my face over any dry spots, and then rub moisturizer over that, and I have to say it does well at keeping skin moist.

  COCONUT OIL.  This isn’t too expensive and you can get it at Whole Foods or similar stores in the baking aisle.  I also bought a coconut oil body lotion from Whole Foods that is completely natural, just having coconut oil and a few other ingredients.  I can’t tell if this stuff is helping or hurting, to be honest.  It smells great and has a fun consistency – just dig it out of the jar as a solid, and it melts right onto your skin, turning into a liquid.  It WILL leave your legs very shiny and doesn’t absorb quickly, just like olive oil.  I haven’t seen any radical improvements with using this, but my legs do often break out into little raised bumps here and there…kind of like little pimples but with no head.  And I don’t remember this happening a few months ago, so maybe it is time to discontinue the coconut oil and see what happens.

  Last but not least, Jojoba oil.  This is my favorite of all three.  Unfortunately, it’s also the most expensive.  I’ve read that this oil has the chemical consistency that is most similar to skin.  It’s a light oil that soaks in very well and I haven’t noticed any adverse effects.  I also use this on my face with dry spots.  There, I can’t tell if it is helping, but the dry spots are not getting any worse.

There are some other oils that I want to look into – grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil, and argan oil.  Any thoughts on which oils I should try?

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Coffee Revelation

Steamy cup of brew…very tasty.

Steamy cup of brew…. bad for me and you?

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Maybe so if you have eczema.

Okay, so around this time last year, in early July, my eczema took a turn for the worse.  Not a drastic turn, mind you, but an annoying little worsening that would fluctuate and never really get totally better.  I combed my brain for thinking of what might have changed… diet?  nope.  Facial products?  nope.  Environment?  same.

As background, you should know that coffee and I have had an on-off relationship ever since about last December, when we got a magical Keurig as a gift and I started slugging the brewski every morning, more for the delicious ritual than the wake-up juice.  I would go through periods where I would try to completely give it up or really, really reduce it, then get back on the coffee wagon.

I never made a connection with eczema until a few weeks ago.  I had only been drinking coffee minimally, but I started a new work environment and I craved the comfort of coffee, drinking a cup a day for a week straight.  By the end of the work week, my eczema was bad.  My beloved husband even said to me, “WHAT is WRONG with your FACE?” not knowing such things are a dagger blow to an eczema sufferer’s feelings (I didn’t think it was THAT bad if you didn’t look at me real closely and probably had blurry vision).

I didn’t make any connection with coffee and eczema yet, but I went cold turkey on it since I didn’t want a chemical dependency.  10 days without coffee, and my eczema got a little better each day!!!!  Then as a test, I had coffee yesterday.  Oh yes, eczema got a little worse.

And here I thought I had Googled just about everything about eczema and knew what to avoid… coffee never crossed my mind.  I’m going to keep up the coffee abstinence and see what happens.  I don’t think it’s the cure-all, of course, since so many factors go into eczema, but this is a simple thing I can stay away from.

Try it if you’re suffering!  It is much harder for me to drag my sorry, tired, ass out of bed each morning without the promise of coffee, but at least I know I’m working toward healing my skin.

I need this coffee mug… too bad now I can only fill it with tea or hot water.Image

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Welcome to Itchyland

Welcome, fellow eczema sufferers.  Here you are greeted, embraced, and never judged.  Here you can read about my journey with eczema and what has worked/what has not worked for me.   Here you might learn about some different triggers, irritants, and healers.  Obligatory disclaimer that I am not a physician nor do I have any dermatological background, so what has worked for me may not work for you.

Eczema is such a fluctuating disease.  One day I might feel awesomely, almost, blemish-free and go out in summer clothing feeling vibrant and youthful, the next day I might be covered in little bumps and sores, feeling ugly and like I need to hide.  Not to mention that it often seems completely random – for example, one of my eyes has a little rashy patch under it, the other eye is perfectly smooth and clear.  One of my legs has weird little irritations, the other one is looking fine.  BUT I PUT THE SAME PRODUCTS ON BOTH?!?!  Why does this happen?  Why is eczema so nonsensical?  I hope to make a little sense of the madness on this blog and keep track of what irritates my eczema and what helps it.

In my early years of eczema, as a child, I remember getting the itchy scabs on the inside of my wrists, inside of elbows, back of knees, and crease under buttocks.  My mother would tie socks around my hands at night in hopes of getting me not to itch – and the most glorious feeling (like eating foods that are bad for you – you know they’re bad, but it feels so GOOD to be bad – ) was finagling the knotted string off my wrists and being able to ITCH!

I don’t remember having any issues with eczema in puberty.  God bless puberty – oily skin and all.  I could eat like crap, don’t remember wearing any special moisturizers or creams, and had skin that now, I would probably swoon over with envy.

Now I am in my mid-20s.  In the grand scheme of things, my eczema is not really that bad.  I’m not covered head to toe, nor do I itch myself into a bloody, scabby mess at night.  My heart goes out to all of those that do.  There are people out there with very, VERY severe dermatological problems.  I’m just trying to make sense of my own mild ones.  I have some chronic problem areas that are very stubborn and go away, then come back.  I’ve become very stringent about what I eat and put on my body.  I learned in a mind-body class that you have come full circle of acceptance and maturity with a disease when you acknowledge maybe there is a reason it was given to you and it is up to you to do something good with it.  That’s why I am here – eczema never fails to keep me humble, and in that, I can hopefully help others as well.

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