Monthly Archives: August 2012

Clubbin’ with the Itchies

This past weekend, I was invited to an event taking place at a bar/club.  I do love to dance, but I don’t drink (alcohol is yet another thing that is bad for my eczema, I’ve found), so I’m not a frequent visitor to such establishments.  Pre-event, I was tearing my closet apart deciding WHAT to wear, and the following is my guide for clubbing with the itchies (i.e., how to look and feel good at the bar or club even if you have eczema):

Understand that it is okay to have eczema, it’s not always under your control, and you may need to plan your outfit carefully to conceal/reveal accordingly.  For example, my legs were not really up to par that day and had some eczema breakouts, so I immediately nixed the idea of wearing a skirt or shorts.

Also understand that even if YOU are self-conscious about your eczema, chances are it is something a lot of people won’t even notice.  And it’s dark in bars and clubs, and people are drinking, and have blurry eyesight and all that.  They are probably going to be focused on pounding their next shot or grinding with a hottie, not your skin.

Understand that YES, you can look sexy/cute/hot (I’m writing this mainly for females, being one) and still be rather covered up.  Maybe you wear a nice tight pair of jeans and a long-sleeved shirt if you HAVE to, but say you wear a really sexy high heel and you have some fab jewelry.  I guarantee no one is going to give a second thought to wondering why you’re not in teensy clothing.

And hell, this is the place to show cleavage if you want to.  Maybe you want to cover up your arms but you can rock a plunging neckline – go for it!  Eyes will immediately be drawn away from any eczema.  Not too much cleavage, or you look sleazy.  I’m small chested, so that’s not an accessory I get to utilize, anyhow.

Another tip that I use in daily life, not just at the club or bar, is the visual trick of often wearing patterns/prints/stripes, etc.  They keep the eye moving, making it less likely that attention is drawn to your eczema.  If you wear a single solid color on top (especially with no accessories like earrings or necklace or cleavage), the eye is going to automatically be drawn up to your face.  Now of course, you can use that trick to your advantage if you WANT the attention on your face.  It’s all about balance.  You never want to look too ‘busy’ or overdone (i.e., don’t wear prints, lots of jewelry, AND lots of makeup in the same outfit!)

For makeup – always focus on either the eyes or lips – not both.  I am not a fan of the understated eye yet real glossy, dramatic lip look, but it’s a suggestion if, say, you had eczema near your eyes and did not want to wear a ton of eye makeup.  I personally always like to go for some nice eyeliner and a super-long lash look with mascara, maybe a smoky eye, and just a light natural gloss on the lips.

But for this event, my ARMPITS have been itchy and rashy, so I was annoyed by that and was going to wear a simple, very tight black t-shirt, with expensive jeans and some shiny black snakeskin-print heels and jewelry.

But I decided it was a little too dressy for this place, and last minute I changed to wearing same jeans, but a lacy racerback tank, shiny flat sandals, and bronze/shell jewelry.  It wasn’t really a place where I planned on dancing and raising my arms all about, so no one was going to see my armpit rash.

Best accessory – SMILE!  People always, always, ALWAYS look more attractive when they are smiling and having a good time.  I smiled, I laughed, I had fun, and my eczema did not cross my mind the whole night!

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My Car Causes Eczema (plus, a great fellow eczema blogger!)

I haven’t been posting in a bit due to busy-ness, but I figured out yet another eczema trigger for me, and gosh, what a difference a day or two made.

MY CAR IS GIVING ME ECZEMA (or at least irritating it)!!!

Hard to believe, but.  My vehicle is about 10 years old, the A/C doesn’t work since it has a coolant leak, and it started to smell really chemical-y a couple months ago.  The car guy told us that there was an emissions leak and there could be fumes getting into the cabin.  Whatever, I think, I’m just a poor college student and having a stinky car is okay, what else can I do.

Then, husband and I noticed a pattern.  My eczema got better on the weekends [when I don’t drive my car as much].  We tried trading vehicles this past week and I even biked to work sometimes….anything to not immerse my delicate skin in my Toxin-Mobile.  I’m happy to say that after just DAYS, the eczema on my face almost completely cleared up!!  😀  I was able to go to work with barely a speck of concealer!  Lesson: never underestimate the power of environmental contaminants, even though we can’t see them!

On a different tack, let me introduce you to a fellow eczema blogger that I follow: Is Eczema Contagious.  Check out her latest post here for a giveaway contest!

http://eczemacontagious.net/free-product-giveaway/

 

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Bothersome Bothers

I tried to write a whole big post the other day, but WordPress was being weird and would not upload my photos, and then swallowed my post.

My skin is going kind of haywire lately and I really am not sure what to do.  I have had a few sneaking suspicions ranging from the plausible (I’ve been using a sunscreen moisturizer over the past few months and maybe the sunscreen is just too strong for my skin – even though it’s zinc oxide and titanium dioxide – the sunscreen ingredients recommended for sensitive skin)  to the possible, but perhaps impractical (My car has had a busted A/C system for about a year, and smells funny and chemical-y – wondering if the coolant fumes or whatever they are, are ravaging my skin). 

I have multiple areas that WILL NOT HEAL, and now they are flaring up.  They are super random areas, too.  (Right inner thigh.  Armpits.  Patch on back of neck.  Patch under chin. Patch by left eyebrow.  Patch under nose.  Spot under eye.  Right middle finger knuckles).    In addition to this, I’ve acquired some lovely blotchy red patches that come and go –  on my forehead and around my eyes that are not itchy nor dry, just red and unsightly.  In addition to the other patches on my face, I am certainly looking and feeling very special (sarcasm).

So, there are some things I am going to do or have been doing.

  1. This is the most recent topical skin medication that I was prescribed.  I could write an entire post about skin creams, and I might, but let us just note that Protopic, Desonide, and Momentasone are all creams I have used that are not satisfactory in one way or another.  Elidel, now I can’t really tell a difference if it works or not.  It is supposed to act as an immunosuppressant to stop your skin’s immune reaction, rather than a steroid cream.  Therefore you don’t get the nasty steroid side effects like skin lightening and thinning.  When I use this on itchy patches, it seems to help a little bit, but never really cures anything.  There are also patches on my face that, while red, flaky, and dry, are not usually itchy.  I am theorizing that I should not over-medicate, and therefore I’m only using Elidel on portions that REALLY DO itch.

2. I have been researching naturopathic dermatologists.  There aren’t really any near me, and the ones I found seem to be just overall naturopaths and not necessarily focused on dermatology.  I have been feeling for months like I am ‘imbalanced’- just a gut feeling.  More on that in another post.  I eat an extremely decent, near-vegan diet.  I don’t think it’s my diet, or if it is, something is blocking vitamins and/or minerals from doing their job so my skin can’t heal.  Conventional dermatologists don’t do anything but try and hand out creams, and I am tired of creams.

3. I got some new PSICO creams to try from Drugstore.com, since they are not sold in stores.  I was usin Vanicream, but it has petroleum jelly and I am still on the fence about using that.  Vaniply has dimethicone and no petroleum, but has about the same texture as petroleum jelly, without the long-lasting shine but still moisturization.  I find it very good.  Vitec Vitamin E lotion has a thinner texture and is not as thick.  I also got the sport sunscreen but have not tried it yet.

 

 

 

 

 

4. I’ve stopped using ALL my Paula’s Choice products except for the cleanser, which has always been very mild and nicely cleansing for me.

 

I had a whole routine going with Paula’s Choice a few months ago, having purchased the entire gamut of skincare (cleanser, toner, serum, exfoliant, moisturizer).  For a few weeks, I had the most beautiful skin (for me, at least).  I was writing the company a letter of praise and rejoicing, for goodness sake!  Then, things went south, the exfoliant dried me out, and I started phasing them back out JUST IN CASE it’s these products causing my ballistic skin.  The only other product I was using up until a few days ago was the moisturizer with sunscreen, but I stopped with that.

  • So my current skincare routine is as follows:
  • * Wash face with Paula’s Choice RESIST Optimal Hydrating Cleanser, using washcloth to very gently exfoliate any flaky spots.
  • * Elidel (if needed) over any true, itchy eczema spots.
  • * Rub pure olive oil into any troublesome dry spots as a base for the lotion and extra layer of moisturizing.
    * Layer of Vitec Vitamin E Lotion over face.
    * Layer of Vaniply ointment over trouble spots.
    * If doing this in the morning, utilize concealer (Origins Quick, Hide! Concealer) over any trouble spots.  Now.  It’s a vicious cycle because, I know that wearing makeup over trouble spots is probably not as good as letting them fly free.  This is a very highly rated makeup by Beautypedia and has a simple, paraben-free formula.  I think this is about one of the best working concealers I could use for eczema.  Plus, it covers decently without creasing and lasts a long time.  That being said, I cannot let my face go into the workplace sans concealer at this point, as much as I would like to.  My GOAL is to not need ANY concealer!!

Please, skin.  Get better soon.  I’m tired of obsessing over you!

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Don’t Believe the Hype on Hypoallergenic

There are a ton of products out there touted as being “hypoallergenic” or “for sensitive skin” or “unscented”.  As an eczema sufferer/one with exquisitely sensitive skin, one must be wary of claims so that you can buy things in good faith and have them work for your skin and not irritate it.  For example, you want to look for products that are “fragrance-free” rather than “unscented”.  Unscented may mean that the manufacturer has actually ADDED scent to neutralize other scents.  Fragrance-free simply means that no extra fragrance was added – the product may have a slight natural fragrance.

Below are some examples of products I’ve tried that sounded great for sensitive skin, but in actuality, were a big disaster for me.  Again, the disclaimer – I’m only one person.  I’m not here to demonize any products and I am not saying they’ll be bad for you, necessarily.  My skin may be a lot different from yours even if we both have eczema and sensitive skin.  I’m Caucasian, mid-20s, female, medium skin tone, dry skin in winter and combination skin in summer.  I am usually struggling with some type of dry patch or random little rashy breakout on my face.  To the products!!!!

Cera Ve Moisturizing Lotion:

This started a whole lot of badness for me.  Ok, it was winter, I was desperate, I saw this lotion (with the National Eczema Seal of Approval, yet!!) and figured it had to be awesome.  Tried it for a few weeks, it made my eczema WORSE and gave my face a horrid dry feeling.  Like feeling as if I was wearing a mask and the skin might crack if I smiled or raised my eyebrows.  My skin got so bad I went to the dermy (my personal slang for dermatologist 🙂 ), who said it might be the parabens in this product.  Stopped using it, got better, never looked back to Cera Ve again.  (I had also bought the Face Wash which, incidentally, had parabens as well.)  I hear this works awesome for many people, but not me.

Aveeno Ultra-Calming Moisturizer, Aveeno Skin Relief Body Lotion

Aveeno always seems to project itself as being for people with sensitive skin.  The claims on these looked great – Ultra calming?  Yes!  I need calm!  Skin relief??  Yes Please!  My skin does indeed need relief!  Well.  The facial moisturizers are all pretty heavily fragranced.  I USED to be able to use them years ago, with pretty nice skin.  The last time I put it on, a couple months ago, my cheeks started itching wildly and I couldn’t wash the stuff off fast enough.  With the body lotion, this specific one has shea butter, and I’ve mentioned my trials with that stuff.  It probably would be wonderful if you didn’t have a shea butter sensitivity like me, though, as it really does moisturize all day.

 

 

California Baby Calendula Cream

I really did my research on this one.  I figured, tons of mothers of sensitive-skinned little babies can’t be wrong, can they?  This stuff is also EXPENSIVE so I was hesitant to buy it.  When I put this stuff on, sometimes it would sting so bad I would literally be hopping around the bathroom fanning my face, “Ouch!  Ouch!!!  OUCH!”  I still don’t really know what to think about this one.  On the one hand, it seemed like it may have improved some eczema patches.  On the other hand, it stung, and it contains lavender which, while smelling nice, isn’t an ingredient you want in skin care products.  I also found the natural lavender fragrance to have a gross smell since I used the stuff on my face and had to smell it all day.

 

 

Almay Nearly Naked Cover Up Stick

Excited for the prospect of a new concealer, I gave this a whirl this past winter.  Almay has been a brand that, overall, I have trusted for quite a few years makeup-wise.  They have a great mascara (without parabens!) called Get up and Grow that is waterproof (a must since I love to get my sweat on with exercise) AND makes your lashes look long yet still natural (I go for the cute athletic look, not the drag queen look).  I also use their liquid eyeliner and pencil eyeliner for special occasions.  These eyeliners DO have parabens but I haven’t determined yet if the small amount in them bothers my skin.

Anyhow, this cover-up stick was something awful.  I still don’t know what was in it that made me react, since it was touted (along with the whole brand) as being good for sensitive skin, but it completely rashed me out.  Then it was a vicious cycle of having to cover the rashes with more cover up, which made MORE rashes, until I figured the whole damn thing out in a few days and realized the cover up was bad news.  It DID cover nicely, though, so I was disappointed I had such a reaction to it.

Eczema friends out there, have YOU had any experiences like these with suggestions on what products to avoid?

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Battle of the Jellies

There are some areas on my face that are just maddeningly dry lately, made all the more annoying by the fact that (during the summer, at least), I have kind of an oily forehead that’s prone to breaking out if I use a really thick cream all over my face.  It always boggles my mind how one area of skin can be oily, then literally centimeters away, it’s like the Sahara Desert of Skin.  Combination skin, indeed.

So I take to using some kind of jelly at night over the dry patches.  I have been using Aquaphor for a really long time….

…. then I started doing some research for my own and found out all sorts of bad rap about it, and very conflicting information.  Claims about it’s badness: it’s not ‘natural”, it’s made from the same stuff as gasoline, it is such a thick film that it doesn’t allow your skin to ‘breathe’ and heal, it will give you wrinkles.  And of course we all know the good claims touted: it’s very mild, it will form a protective barrier over skin and let it heal, etc. etc.

I thought critically about Aquaphor and noted, in my personal experience – I can’t really use it around my eyes because they will itch a little bit.  Not a big massive itch, just a here-and-there annoying little sometimes itch.  It’s never really made my skin HEAL, although it hasn’t made it worse.

So, kind of sobered by these claims, I sought out another jelly to try.

The Un-Petroleum Jelly.

How does it compare?  The ‘tackiness’ of it, if that makes sense, doesn’t last nearly as long as Aquaphor or regular Vaseline.  And it has a very, very slight mild scent (probably the beeswax).

BUT, I thought “Oh, this is all natural, this has to be better for me!!”  So I was using it, and it was kind of Eh.  Not great, not bad.  HOWEVER, here comes my lesson in why you should always read ingredients, or go back and RE-read them.  UnPetroleum Jelly has coconut oil.  And I talked about my suspicion with being sensitive to coconut a few blogs back.  [Oh!  Also, the other day, I ate a Larabar that was Coconut flavor.  My mouth began to get a bit itchy and the area under my nose (problem area) flared up a little bit.  Since this happened very soon after bar consumption, I do attribute coconut as being a problem and now I know to GET IT THE HECK OUT of my diet and body care.]

So now I made another connection – the area around my eyes has been really dry and bad looking.  As well as some trouble spots on my neck that just don’t heal.  I was putting UnPetroleum Jelly on them at night AND morning under my moisturizer since those areas are dry… And they were not getting any better, in fact maybe worse!

And now that I think back a few days, the day my skin looked absolutely the best was the day I did not use any UnPetroleum Jelly.  BING!  In the battle of the Jellies, now I know what to avoid.  Let’s see if this clears up my rough patches and takes me a step further toward Eczema Excellence!

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Solving another Food Mystery!

I mentioned in another post that my eczema took a turn for the worse around a year ago in July.  I was using NO DIFFERENT products on my face and had been racking my brain since LAST YEAR trying to figure out what could be different!  And I haven’t come to these revelations until I actually started WRITING THINGS DOWN in THIS BLOG and thinking critically.

Well, if it wasn’t what I put on my face… it must be something that I was putting IN my body.  So here is my food saga since that time last year:

Last July, I attempted to give up dairy in hopes of helping my eczema.  Dairy is a huge allergen and I really don’t think people should be eating it anyway, even if they aren’t allergic or sensitive.  I’d like to make this blog all science-y and backed up by research if I had more time, but suffice to say you can do your own research and find out about all the problems dairy causes.  If nothing else, try giving it up for a couple weeks and see what happens.

 

So I all but gave up dairy (succumbing to a slice of pizza every now and then), and my eczema DID improve, as well as my nasal allergies.  But I still HAD eczema, and it would ebb and flow… I thought there had to be something else.

Oh yeah, around that time, I started phasing out meat as well, moving toward my eventual goal of a totally vegan diet.  I do eat mostly vegan, but I’m not there yet…. I still feel awkward in social situations being “that person” with special food needs, and sometimes wind up eating meat or a tad bit of dairy to save face.  Oh, and I also don’t eat citrus or tomatoes, because I found those seemed to make my eczema worse too and make my mouth itch.  So yea, I have special food needs and going out to eat is a lot of fun with trying to find something that will not contain meat, dairy, citrus, or tomatoes!!

 

But, you can imagine my frustration when I started eating a lot cleaner and my eczema was still in flux!  I started to doubt my diet… .Did I really need meat and dairy after all?  Was eliminating them making my eczema worse?

It wasn’t until the other day when it occurred to me that I may have solved another food mystery!

Following the coffee revelation, my skin was unusually clear and nice.  It dawned upon me that, along with booting out coffee, I had not been eating any foods containing SOY in the past couple days, and I usually do (being quasi-vegan and all).

Wow. That’s a lot of soy food to avoid.

If you google “eczema and soy”, allergies are all over the internet.  It’s definitely something to try giving up if you are at the end of your rope with other food eliminations.

So I did another test.  I had some ”fake meat” (soy bacon) on hand.  Made a little soy bacon sandwich at night, woke up the next day – eczema was a tad worse.  Ate soy bacon sandwiches again for lunch – eczema just a tad worse, more so.

I didn’t start eating more soy foods until eating more vegan – around July last year… BING BING BING!  We may have a winner!  Is soy my dietary ticket to rashiness?  I’m going to completely phase it out for a few weeks and see.

In the meantime, I have a lot of beans to cook…. without soy, it is going to be interesting getting my protein from a vegan source.  Thank goodness I don’t have any nut allergies either!

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Whenever I come across this ad in a magazine, it always strikes me as a cruel jab to us eczema sufferers.  OF COURSE these models all have perfect, silky smooth skin.  They probably wake up that way and have never known eczema.  An ad should be made for eczema awareness saying, “Imagine always wanting to hide”, or “Imagine always having something to hide”.

If you have eczema, perhaps the following statements will resound with you:

* You have a “good side” and a “bad side” to your face, and on bad eczema days, you’ll calculate where you should sit in a social setting, so you can present your best side and hide your bad one.

* You’re that person wearing jeans or pants when everyone else has shorts on, because your legs are just not having a good eczema day and to present them in public would be very self-conscious provoking.

* You buy or choose clothing based on your eczema – for example, say you own a couple turtlenecks if you know you have real sensitive skin on your neck that could easily break out.

* You have scars all over your body, so that even on a GOOD day you’re really imperfect, but you try to suck it up and tell yourself you are beautiful!  (Which you are!  And I am too!  Yay positivity!)

Right now it is summer, and I am having fun, but there are a couple things I DO want to hide.  First, my legs have not been looking so hot lately.  It’s 90 degrees, I’m relatively young, my legs are in shape, and I want to wear shorts to work, but the legs are just not quite presentable.  Good enough for around the house, not so much out in public where I work closely with people.  I thought maybe the coconut oil and natural lotion was making things bad, so I switched to jojoba oil and have been using that for a few days.

Second, my friggin’ ARMPITS have been irritated and rashy for weeks off and on!  Who gets sensitive armpit skin?  One of my next posts is going to be about the wonderful world of deodorants and which ones you should stay away from.

But I must be thankful that lately, my face has been pretty good.  Actually, today I went out wearing barely a spot of cover-up, when last week I had some really red patches.  I’ve given up coffee and there are a couple other food items I am going to try eliminating from my diet.  Another future post will entail what I eat and what I don’t, and my daily skincare routine that seems to be working well for me.

Imagine having LOTS to hide!

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