Monthly Archives: September 2012

Giving In and Giving Up

I said I wasn’t posting pictures of myself, but I think this one is edited enough, and I wanted to demonstrate how red and irritated my face was earlier this week.

I don’t think this picture even did justice to how BRIGHT red, inflamed, and irritated everything was.  Note puffy eyelid too.  Now picture the entire left side of my face this red, in blotchy dry patches, and also on my neck.  Same redness and puffy eyelid around other eye, but not quite as bad.  Extremely hard to cover up and requiring an elaborate routine to do so.  I realize that makeup isn’t the best thing to put on eczema, but I’ve tested a lot of concealers, found some that don’t irritate my skin, plus I don’t feel I have a choice if I want to look somewhat human out in public!

Oh yes.  Also, patches on my arms, back of neck, behind knees, on legs, on back, and ARMPITS (the pits especially were crazy red and itchy and rashy… I was waking up at night because I kept clawing at them).  No pictures of those.

Thursday night I was SO LOW.  I am not a crier or an emotional person, but eczema finally brought me to tears.  I just wanted the person on the INSIDE to match the person on the OUTSIDE!

Today is Saturday night and I am very happy to report that I look MUCH better and was able to get by with pretty comfortable skin and greatly reduced amounts of concealer!

How, you ask?  I did two things… GIVING IN and GIVING UP.

GIVING IN – I said I was not going to go back to prescription creams (I was prescribed Elidel as my most recent cream – it didn’t do a damn thing and it’s got a friggin BLACK BOX warning that says it might give you cancer, for pete’s sake).  BUT.  Thursday, I waffled and I wavered.  I looked longingly at my prescription creams nestled in the bathroom drawer, knowing that they could help me feel better.  I looked at my red and miserable face.  Looked back at creams.  Decided to use them ONCE this night and see what happens.

This was my cream of choice on my face – Desonide cream.  It DOES work, but it has very attractive side effects like bleaching of the skin and thinning the skin.  (I have subtly wrinkled areas above my eyelids but under my eyebrows from a longer-term bout with Desonide years ago where the skin got thinned, and I have experienced the bleaching on my face too, although thankfully it eventually goes away).

I put Desonide over the bad areas and Aquaphor over that.  I just wanted to get a good night’s sleep without waking up in the middle of the night feeling all dry and worrying about my skin.  And I was sick of getting up early in order to ice my eyelids.

When I woke up – I looked much better already!  I didn’t feel the need to hide at work and I was able to feel good about myself again!  THANK GOD.  Yeah, things weren’t completely clear, and I still had to wear concealer, but an actual noticeable improvement was wonderful.

GIVING UP – I started thinking very critically about this month.  I remember vividly on September 7 that my skin was pretty haywire out of nowhere.  Then it cleared up for a couple days, then got really bad again.

BING!  Lightbulb went on in my head.  It all coincided with something I did NOT expect!

MY ASTHMA MEDICATION.

See, I take a daily medication for asthma (Singulair).  The pharmacy had unwittingly switched my medication to the generic thing (Montelukast sodium), I guess ’cause it was cheaper (Ya know, only $12 a pill rather than $30 a pill, lol).

I started taking the generic thing right around September 7.  Then a few days later, I ran out of the medicine because I had only bought a few pills so I didn’t take it for a couple days.  This was right around the time my skin was pretty clear and I was feeling good.

Well then, I got more medicine, and BAM, the eczema or dermatitis as I should probably term it, was back.

Thursday and yesterday night, I skipped taking it, and with that plus the Desonide application on Thursday, my skin is far better than 48 hours ago!

When I figured this out, I called the pharmacist to ask if there was a difference.  The active ingredient in both pills is the same, but the other ingredients, like the fillers or whatever, could differ, and therefore cause a reaction.

Now I need to know what the heck is in that generic evil pill!

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Hormonal Imbalance?

Okay, okay, I don’t want it to seem like I’m grasping at straws and eager to throw anything I can at my eczema.  The worst thing you can do is try a bunch of new things, because then if one thing makes it worse (or better), you have to go through and tease out exactly what it was.

HOWEVER.  I stumbled across something very, very interesting last night on the internet.  Link: http://www.gaiascouts.com/skin2/  This girl was blogging about how birth control caused a hormonal imbalance in her body.  She was getting acne all the time that was out of control and would not respond to anything.  There were some big similarities between her case and mine besides the acne versus eczema.

– She had a compromised immune system so the hormonal imbalance was made worse.  (Check… I don’t get sick much because I take very good care of myself by eating clean and exercising, but due to asthma and past mononucleosis, I definitely have a weakened immune system.  When I get sick now, like a cold, I get REALLY REALLY SICK for about 2 days, then things clear up, whereas most people are just kinda sick for like a whole week).

– She had a buildup of yeast in the body (candida) that got worse when she ate sugar.  Gross, yea, I don’t mean like a yeast infection or that kind of sick stuff, I wouldn’t be sharing that if I had those going on, which I don’t.  But I do get weird like tonsil stone things because ever since having mono, my tonsils are scarred and they have pits and they start to collect junk.  And it does get worse when I eat lots of sugar.  Sorry for the gross detail there.

– She was eating a very clean (vegan-ish) diet but this meant there was not enough fat for the hormones to do their thing.  Just like my current diet.

NOW.  Like I said in previous post about BC, everything started months after I started taking it.  Not like immediately, but after enough time where the BC built up in my body and probably threw the hormones all out of wack.  Eczema also got worse around the time I started eating cleaner, which completely puzzled me, and made me think I had to eat even MORE clean.  I was eating like raw kale and beans and stuff (still do) but of course I craved sugar and every single day I have oatmeal with flax seeds and a nice big dose of agave nectar to feed my sugar fix.  And I do give in to having candies and chocolate here and there.

Read her post.  It’s really interesting and because it has so many parallels to mine, I want to pursue this a little further.  I am convinced that my skin rashes have to stem from something being amiss INSIDE my body, because I’ve tried so many things topically on it.

If I have to eat meat again (which I don’t like, and which is gross), I will do it.  I’ll eat friggin liver at every meal and choke it down with a smile if this means that I can have beautiful glowing skin again.

My first step is going to be seeing a holistic health practitioner that will be able to provide insight into if I have a hormone imbalance or not, and what to do.  I know, I know… more doctors and more money spent on them, since I already paid the naturopath bill earlier this month.  Ya know though, you have to go with your intuition.  I remember last YEAR telling my gyno that I wondered if the BC was messing up my system, and she dismissed it.  When you have a gut feeling about something, you have to go with it.

Phone call to the holistic practitioners will be made tomorrow.  I am praying I can get in quickly with an appointment so I can start healing this thing the sooner the better.  My eczema always get worse in the winter what with the cold dry air outside and then the hot air inside from heaters and stuff, so if I can get it under control and have nice skin even in the winter… that will be the true test!  Please God… help the healing process begin!

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Visual Display of Futility

A sampling of some of the products I’ve used to try and get my face and/or body skin under control.  This doesn’t even include products that I used up, or that I returned because they didn’t work for me (I’m looking at you, shea butter).  Most of them didn’t work, so they sit in my cabinet because I can’t return them and I don’t know what to do with them.  Free skincare, anyone?

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Naturopath Part II – Remedies

I found out what was in this horrible remedy that seems to coincide with my flare lately.

It COULD not be the remedy’s fault at all.  It could be going to work, the change of seasons, etc etc.

But the remedy was Psorinum.  The naturopath said it was like the ‘mother remedy’ which is why she was trying it first.

After I took some pics of my flare  and emailed them to her, she wanted to try another remedy to see if that will calm the flare down.  I guess it’s going to arrive at my home in a few days.

This remedy apparently contains Rhus Tox.  In the homeopathic philosophy of ‘like cures like’, it’s from poison ivy.

The naturopath also said she would give another remedy (Mezerium) if this new remedy didn’t work.

I’m kind of skeptical now, because if the NEW remedy makes it even worse, I don’t know what I’ll do.  😦

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Eczema Stole My Smile

I’m not posting any pictures of myself, because I want to keep this blog anonymous.  But let me just tell you that without eczema, I personally think I am a reasonably cute girl.  Not gorgeous, not striking, not even really that sexy (although I guess my husband would say yes to all the above, and that’s why I love him), but cute enough.  Short of any shameless self-promotion, I would say my best facial feature is my smile.

Then a terrible thing happened.

ECZEMA STOLE MY SMILE.

Since the last post, my eczema was kinda okay on the weekend, and as soon as the week started, it was back to its special unsightly self.  Ever since that damn remedy, and going back to work really, I have these really red, dry patches.  The skin around my eyes is puffy in the morning (like my eyelids) and the skin around and under the eye is dry, so of course it’s picking up every darn wrinkle.  As I work in my fluorescent lit office environment, my skin feels tighter and drier and TIGHTER and DRIER as the day wears on.

Today, I also had allergies really bad, i.e. my nose was running like a faucet.  This of course began to irritate the already dry and sensitive skin under my nose, so that by the end of the day it was red, dry, and flaking.

When your face is feeling tight and uncomfortable, do you want to smile?  HELLZ NO!  You want to just slump into your chair, adopt a neutral expression, do your work for the day, pray no one comments, and rush home as soon as it’s quittin’ time.  Laughing or smiling anymore than a halfway grin makes the dry patches on my face wrinkle up in weird and unsightly manners… so I didn’t adopt any of my normal animated and mirthful expressions.

I began to go out of my way to avoid people this week.  I didn’t smile or talk much.  I skipped school.  I didn’t feel like exercising.  THIS IS NOT ME!  THE CUTE GIRL UNDER ALL THIS ECZEMA WANTS TO COME OUT AND PLAY AND FEEL CAREFREE AGAIN!

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Eczema and…. SEX

What in the world does sex have to do with eczema?  (Other than the fact that when you have eczema really bad, you probably don’t feel too attractive and thus you’re probably not having a ton of sex).

I admit this was kind of a shameless tactic (titling the post provocatively thus making it more sensational and more likely to be read).  But I do have a point.  What I’m really going to talk about related to sex and eczema is…..

BIRTH CONTROL.

Like many women of child bearing age, I went on birth control a few years ago because I wanted to be able to, you know, copulate without procreating (and without having to hassle with the other forms of less reliable contraceptives).  Birth control is one of those pieces in my eczema puzzle that I am considering.  It strangely seemed to coincide with some of my eczema issues.

Before I started taking BC, I ALMOST NEVER had any issues with eczema on my face.  If my fuzzy memory serves me, I would just get a couple manageable spots here and there on my limbs.  Now, it would be a simple thing to blame BC if I started getting face eczema and worse eczema soon after taking it.

But…. I didn’t.  I don’t remember actually having to pay attention to the eczema on my face until last summer.  But if BC is any contributor to the cause, my theory with that would be that it took a while for the stuff to build up in my system and cause issues.  I also read during my research that BC can deplete the B vitamins in your body.  Such a thing would also take months to manifest.  And I probably don’t consume as many B vitamins as the average woman because I’ve been eating a mostly vegan diet for about the past year.  Ad there are tons and tons of women on the internet that will claim BC made their eczema worse.

Months ago, I abruptly stopped taking the stuff.  It was a dark day, my face was rashed, I was sick of eczema, and I was hoping that ridding my system of BC would produce immediate and wonderful results.  (Haha, oh the optimism of the eczema sufferer.  Hope always springs eternal for us but never really materializes).  Did I notice a difference after a few days?  Weeks?  Months?  Not really.  BUT.  If it really was this stuff, it took many months for it to affect my skin, and would assumably take many months to rid my system of it and produce an improvement.

 

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Riding the Eczema Roller Coaster

 

This pretty much describes my eczema in the last few weeks.  The last post I wrote was around Sept. 7 – On that day, I awoke with terribly dry, irritated, red skin on my face.  By Wednesday, I remember heading out feeling good and looking just fine and my eczema had pretty much cleared up!

Thursday, Sept. 13, I visited the Naturopath.  The great irony of being an eczema sufferer (at least for me) is that my eczema is ALWAYS doing pretty well whenever I see doctors, for whatever reason.  That day was no exception.  I wanted her to see it all flared up and red and nasty, but no dice.

What did the naturopath do, you might ask?  Of course we went through the normal stuff, why I was there, what I’ve tried so far for my symptoms, when it started getting bad, etc.  Then she asked me a bunch of other questions.  She then took pictures of my face from front view and side view, then front view smiling. (she said this was to see any asymmetry).  Well I can tell you right there, my left side of my face is always the worst.  She had the photos on her camera and looked at them for a while.  Then, she got out her case of remedies.  Bottles upon bottles of tiny containers with stuff in them.  There must have been a couple hundred!  So I was starting to get hope – after the money I paid and the questions I answered, SOMEWHERE in that case may be a cure to help me.

She took out one and said we would start with this one, that it was the ‘mother remedy’.  I remember asking her exactly WHAT it was… something starting with an S.  She seemed to mumble it’s name and avoid the subject which made me a little suspicious.  Then she left to go ‘mix’ the remedy with distilled water, and  came back and gave it to me in a glass bottle.  I got very detailed instructions with how to take it and I headed home, eager to try it out.

When I took it later that day, I followed the instructions to the tee.  The remedy did not taste like anything.  I started worrying that what if she gypped me and I am a big sucker that just paid a big fee for a glass bottle full of regular water.  Then I thought I detected a faint aftertaste, and it made me feel a little better that hopefully this whole thing might work for me.

I didn’t notice any difference over the next few days.  Then….

WHAM!  Wednesday was a terrible day for the skin. I woke up with the PUFFIEST-ASS EYE (left eye, ‘problem eye’ as far as skin).  Oh it looked so horrible.  I hurriedly iced it before getting ready for work, but it was still really bad.  I felt like everyone at work was noticing.  And the rest of my skin wasn’t too hot either.  I emailed the naturopath and told her about my adverse effects.  She said maybe the remedy is too strong and that I should stop taking it immediately, and let her know in a few days how I am.

I stopped the remedy!  It has been about 5 days now.  Thurs, I still had a bit of a puffy eye.  Friday was great, no puffy.  Saturday also good.  Today – I did have to ice my eye a little bit and the area around it was really red.

In the meantime, my husband came up with the bright idea that maybe my pillow was aggravating my eczema.  (This was the day I woke up with the puffy eye and was moping around being a general grump and downer and trying to hide from everyone.  He gets tired of his sweet wife turning into such a jerk when she has a flare, lol).  I got this pricy new pillow last Christmas that’s like a memory foam, but it did have a weird smell when I opened it up at first.  His theory was that it was leaching chemicals.  I switched to all-cotton pillows, and yes, I’ve been overall better since puff-day.

Is it THE answer?  I don’t know, but it’s another thing to try!

And hey eczema… can you please let me off the roller coaster?

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Sniff, Snuffle, Itch, Whine

That was me today.  Blargh… seasonal allergies strike again.

I’ve had seasonal allergies for YEARS, but I do not ever remember them really affecting my eczema.  Until recently. 😦

Patches of my face have been RIDICULOUSLY dry lately… so dry they were cracking and flaking.  It was maddening, because just a few weeks ago I was doing really good with eczema.

Today, if I wasn’t sniffing, sneezing, and blowing my nose, I was moisturizing my face like mad.  The under-nose area has always been a nemesis of mine, and it doesn’t do it any favors to be constantly wiping my nose either.  Super dry, super parched, my face feels like a desert.  Especially around my eyes.  Which makes me look really special and probably way older than my actual mid-20s age.  I’ve got eyebrow dandruff going on from all the dry skin, for goodness sake!

I remember last fall when I got a cold, and my face got VERRRY dry then as well.  I couldn’t even THINK of leaving the house as my skin was such a flaky wreck, but as I recall it cleared up in a few days.

I’m doing everything I can… good moisturizers, eating healthy foods, drinking water…

Next week I go see a naturopathic doctor.  I’m hoping she will help me shed some more light on eczema.  It’s not right that I have patches that won’t heal, and I don’t want to use any more steroid creams or Elidel which doesn’t work for me anyway.

 

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