Six Things That Help TSW and Eczema

Warning!!!  Two more photos of eczema/rash/TSW ahead.  If you don’t like looking at this stuff, then don’t.  Many people have said incredibly kind words commending me for posting photos.  To be honest, it was seeing photos from OTHER people that really helped ME, so hopefully this will help others going through it too.

The flaking and peeling and oozing is a pretty typical sign of TSW.  This picture really seems to demonstrate that this is probably what I have.  It’s very prominent here under my nose and under my lip.  By the end of the day, my skin in some places is so dry and tight that the top layer begins to crack and flake.  Then these flakes, if they are peeled off carefully, reveal new red skin underneath.  And then the next day, the cycle starts all over again.  It’s like I have a friggin’ dandruff mustache and beard!

You can call me Little Miss Frosted Flakes.  Except the flakes around my mouth are unfortunately not delicious and made of sugary goodness.

You can call me Little Miss Frosted Flakes. Except the flakes around my mouth are unfortunately not delicious and made of sugary goodness.

Then when I posted all my photos yesterday, I realized I didn’t take any body pictures, only my face mostly.  I took a couple of my legs, but they didn’t really turn out well, so here is one of my arm.

Left elbow crease.  Hurts like heck.  Trying not to pick at it.  Now I know what other TSW people mean when they said your skin feels like it's been sunburned and is horribly uncomfortable.

Left elbow crease. Hurts like heck. Trying not to pick at it. Now I know what other TSW people mean when they said your skin feels like it’s been sunburned and is horribly uncomfortable.

Now…. SIX THINGS THAT HELP ME, PERSONALLY.  Disclaimer that maybe these things wouldn’t work for everyone, but I’ve found them worthwhile enough to share.  In no particular order:

Avene tolerance extreme

Avène Thermal Spring Water (57%). Avene Thermal Spring Water (Avene Aqua), Glycerin, Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum), Squalane, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil (Carthamus Tinctorius Oil), Cyclomethicone, Glyceryl Stearate, Sodium Carbomer, Titanium Dioxide.

1. Avene Tolerance Extreme Cream.

I don’t remember the kind blogger that told me about this one, so forgive me if that’s you reading this (shout out to you if so!!), but I took your recommendation and I’m glad I did!  This stuff is NOT CHEAP but after seeing that almost every single person that reviewed it on Dermstore.com gave it a full 5 stars, with some of them saying their face was a red mess and this cream was their savior, and seeing that it had only 9 ingredients (and no crazy long chemical names or bad stuff like fragrance, parabens, etc)., I decided to spring for it.

While I’ve read conflicting things about mineral oil (some people believe you shouldn’t use it, as it isn’t “natural”, and others say that it’s very mild and the skin is quite unlikely to react to it), I figured this product was worth trying.  After all, many TSW and eczema sufferers (myself included) use stuff like Vaseline in huge quantities, and that isn’t “natural” either.  (I would love to switch to purely some kind of natural oil, but an oil by itself isn’t moisturizing enough right now).

Right now it is rare to find a product that doesn’t feel irritating or sting-y going on.  This glided on, helped my skin feel moisturized, and my skin actually looked better the next day!  I’ve only been using it for 2 days so far since it had just come in the mail, but I am really liking it.

 

 

2. Eucerin calming body wash EUCERIN CALMING BODY WASH.

This product contains omega oils and is made for
sensitive skin.  My bathtime routine includes soaking in either dead sea salt, baking soda, or oatmeal (to
soothe and stop itching) and then I use this wash over
any really itchy spots.  It isn’t drastic, but it does seem
to help calm my skin a little and lock in some extra
moisture when I get out of the tub.

 

 

 

3. VANICREAM SHAVE CREAM.

I could be the Vanicream poster child, I’ve purchased and/or used at least 7 or 8 of the products they make (not all of them worked well for me, though).  I use their Free and Clear shampoo religiously, and somewhat recently I sprung for their Shave Cream.Vanicream shave cream  Again, it’s not very cheap (about $8-10 a tube) but it lives up to its claims as being made for sensitive skin.

If you’re expecting the huge foamy stuff that sprays out of a can, that’s not what you get with this – it’s literally a cream, kind of the same consistency as conditioner maybe, but not as slick.  I would love to just let my legs go and grow hair, but I don’t like feeling like Sasquatch.  It’s not the most ideal thing to be scraping my already-irritated legs with a razor, but if it has to be done, the Vanicream shave cream leaves them feeling soft and smooth.

4. RUNNING TIGHTS.

Running tights Normally I was always one to sleep in shorts.  I didn’t like typical “sleep pants”, as they would either make me too hot at night or wind up all twisted and bunched up around my legs.  I wouldn’t have changed my shorts-wearing habit, except I discovered that I tend to claw at my legs at night while I sleep, and shorts leave them bare and accessible to this damage.

So one day I got the bright idea to don an old pair of running tights instead.  This was a great idea – they’re tight enough where I cannot get at my legs and breathable enough where I stay warm but not TOO warm.

 

5. ANTIHISTAMINES.

Antihistamines have been mentioned by many, many people, but I didn’t develop a unique appreciation for them until the last few weeks when taking them provided me a blissful, nearly scratch-free, zonked out slumber.  In the throes of feeling like you cannot stop itching and feeling like your skin hurts all over, they are a godsend.  I try to take them sparingly though, as I don’t want to develop a tolerance if that is possible.  And the great thing is that they’re cheap!  I bought a store brand and I think I spent about $3.

6. EXERCISE

Yesterday, I was being a big whiny baby, internally.  My legs hurt so very badly that it was uncomfortable to change positions and walk.  One of the symptoms posted on ITSAN is that the skin can be raw and painful, feel like a bad sunburn and be sensitive to the slightest touch.  Yep, I’ve got that!  It’s particularly exquisitely painful because the worst parts are in the creases of my knees – areas that need to bend anytime you want to stand, sit, or walk.  I’m over here hobbling around and lowering myself into chairs and toilet seats with the slow deliberation of a senior citizen.  So today, it feels about the same, but I decided I must stop feeling bad for myself and try a bit of exercise at the gym.

Exercise habits are one thing that TSW has “robbed” me of.  I used to be a pretty avid runner – now I haven’t ran a single step in over a month.  I used to love high-impact, sweaty exercise – now I’m reticent to sweat and move that vigorously.  I’ve been just doing varied incline treadmill walking now a few times a week, and sometimes some weight training.  One day I will get back into my beloved running and Zumba and kickboxing.  So anyway, once I actually got on the treadmill today, I was pleased to find that the very act of walking and listening to music was enough to distract me from most of the itchy and painful bodily sensations.  Even though I was reluctant to do it at first, I’m glad I did, and I have to remember to keep doing it regularly!

What other things would you add to this list as “must haves” for eczema and TSW?

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26 thoughts on “Six Things That Help TSW and Eczema

  1. Thank you for the product recs! I used the Eucerin body wash in the past but really disliked the off-smell. I might give it another try. As for the perioral issue… Are you oozing in that area? Mine oozes ever so slightly and flakes/crusts the way your’s appears. It’s diminished over the last couple weeks with the use of an home-made astringent to keep it at bay.

    Just wanna say kudos to you for keeping up the physical activity. I wouldn’t dare walk faster than I need to in fear of sweating. Sweating always means flaring for me. And I sweat VERY easily. Exercising at a time like this is a brave thing, in my eyes. Kudos!

  2. Amanda says:

    I saw that person recommend Avene cream because i read up on it. Does it seem to be healing? the only place i could really use it right now is my hands and feet, but I’d be interested to try it.

  3. Amanda says:

    Oh, and you can definitely develop a tolerance to the antihistamines. Benadry doesn’t work for me as well when i take out every night. Glad they’re helping though and really glad you were able to exercise. As an active person, i know how tough it can be to not be able to exercise for whatever reason.

  4. The leggings are a great idea! I never thought of that. I have pajama pants that tie at the bottom, luckily.

  5. @ Leizel – Yea, I know the Eucerin wash has kind of a funny smell. It almost reminds me of the “fishy” smell that fish oil capsules sometimes have, since they contain Omega 3 oils. However, the good thing is that we know it doesn’t have masking fragrance to cover that up! And the smell doesn’t seem to linger on skin. Yes, the area under my nose was oozing a bit last week (or maybe the week before, can’t quite remember) but it has since stopped. What is your homemade astringent made of?? Re: exercise and sweating, I just walk briskly enough to work up a very LIGHT sweat… because like you, if I sweat too much right now, I will get itchy!

    @ Amanda – The Avene cream just seems to be overall helping to even out my skin tone and keeping it more moisturized. It isn’t super drastic but it feels good going on my face. Because it cost around $36 (!!!!) I don’t know if you want to spring for that on your feet and hands?!

    @TheAllergista – Yes, I couldn’t believe it took me this long to think about wearing leggings to bed! I also used to tie on soft gloves before bed, but I would usually manage to rip them off during the course of the night. Really I just need to be encased in a soft straitjacket or something, LOL.

    • Ah yes, it did smell very much like fish oils! I might give it another go. I’ve been just washing myself with plain ol’ water mixed with epsom salts and Dove sensitive bar soap where I need it. The astringent use is a mixture of unfragranced witch hazel, apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil. The ratio goes something like this – 7 to 2.9 to 0.1 respectively. I put it in a glass dropper and use q-tips to clean the area. I use it daily twice a day to keep on top of it. Do you find that area below your nose to be extremely sensitive? It’s been very sensitive for as long as I can remember (age 10) and had gradually gotten worse to the point where I need to avoid anything fro touching it. I can only use foundation makeup around the area. There seems to be tiny little wounds that never heal there. Do you experience anything like that?

      • I use Dove sensitive soap too…. it is the best! Does your astringent just stop the oozing, or does it help with flaking too? ‘Cause I always thought astringents were to dry things up…. I don’t have an issue anymore with oozing under my nose (it only did that for a few days so far) and it’s really dry, I don’t want to dry it out more with an astringent. That’s a great idea though to make your own though. YES! The area under my nose has always been very sensitive. At least for the past, ehh, 6-7 years, so around when I was 20. Come to think of it, this was around the time I first had topical steroids so maybe it was connected that it got red there. I try to use concealer on it too, but sometimes it’s so dry and flaky that concealer looks worse than leaving it alone. But sometimes it looks okay. This is an area where I used topical steroids most frequently, though, and yes, it seems to have tiny wounds that don’t heal… just like you! Feel free to email me if you want to talk more: nubtorious@yahoo.com.

      • As strange as it is, it’s encouraging to hear that you’re going through the same thing with the thing under your nose because this totally means that it could very well heal in a matter of months! It’s always been so friggin’ tender and red and cracked for at least the last 10 years and has grown worse with increased steroid use. I used to think that I’d have to be stuck with it forever because it was “eczema” but knowing that I could actually mack out with someone one day makes me hopeful. It’s made the whole intimacy an obstacle. Bullocks. Also, I’ll email you my email address and maybe we can chat?

  6. Have you tried Atarax/hydroxizine? I can’t remember if I have asked you this yet. Most helpful for itching. If I take zyrtec, I need 3 or 4 in each dose. Atarax I only need two. It does make me a little drowsy but I have a pretty high tolerance now. Ibuprofen can help too as it is anti-inflammatory.

    I feel you about the exercise. But, as you read on my blog… I finally got some exercise and it felt great! You just have to give it a few months. And if you were in good shape before, it should come back pretty fast. If you can, go on walks. Thats the best way to start. Its good to get the lymph flowing too. While I’m walking or whatever, the itch actually seems to subside. But then be prepared for it to rear its ugly head.

    • I have never tried Atarax. Amanda (above, from Celiac and Allergy Adventures) has mentioned it to me too. I’m reticent to take a lot of stuff or take something frequently, so I get by with generic antihistamines here and there, but if my flares and itches worsen, you bet I will give Atarax a try! Today at work I suddenly felt itchy and I just HAD to get up and sequester myself in the bathroom stall for a good 5-10 minutes and just ITCH! I didn’t do much damage since I clipped my fingernails super short, but Atarax would have been a real help there.

      Thanks for the encouragement on the exercise. I always feel so much better after, I just have to remember to get up and DO IT even if I don’t initially feel like it. I”m glad you were able to get in some exercise and sun the other day!

  7. That sounds like PROGRESS to me!! I feel like that’s how it is with TSW from everything i’ve read. Since it’s so gradual, one day people just realize stuff like, “Hey, I didn’t have to rush home and rip all my clothes off and itch”!!

  8. Brittany says:

    I’ve also slept in running tights — well, leggings, since I don’t do any running in them!! — and it really helped me from clawing at my legs while also needing warmth but not too much warmth. I wear tights most days to work and that also helps me from too much scratching.

    • So YOU’RE the author of A Little Itchy! I love your blog 🙂 Thanks for visiting mine. I just saw your before and after rash pics and it’s amazing and encouraging. Did you use even any moisturizer on it, or use truly absolutely NOTHING? My stomach is healing pretty well and I also use NOTHING on it….I can’t see using nothing on most of my skin as it would get too dry, but I agree that sometimes nothing is the best… just let the skin heal and do its thing.

  9. Trish says:

    Hi again!
    It was me who recommended the Avene cream–and I am so happy to read that you like it! I still use it and have been for several weeks with no adverse reactions. I agree that it is expensive, but to finally find a cream that doesn’t burn? I was so happy.
    Thank you for posting photos. I was shocked to see how similar your symptoms are to mine. I have the same face and neck thing and the armpit/upper arm thing. Seems worst at night and usually associated with a lot of heat. Do you get this? Where your skin feels hot to the touch? My neck is the worst. Currently my upper lip is under control (it’s usually peeling and scaly like yours) but my face is still really red. I actually thought I had lupus one week because of the prominent rash across my cheeks. The Derm struck that down and said it was just part of my “overall condition”–meaning my eczema reality. Sigh.
    I wanted to say that I also went through a terrible phase with my eyes. So itchy I would rub until eyelashes would come out! I finally found a product that is an antihistamine eye drop which I would use at night when my contacts were out, then by day I’d use just plain tears with my contacts. Apparently keeping the eyes moist can help with itching. The key is that these drops all come in individual doses because they are preservative free and therefore non irritating. Once I got into this ritual I managed to beat the itch-scratch cycle of my eyes and the puffy mornings subsided. I also take reactine once every 2-3 days jus as a stop gap measure in the event I am allergic to something in my everyday environment.
    Anyway, that’s all from me for now. I will email you one of these days! It’s been a busy couple of weeks but I’d love to talk more. Hope you see some improvement with your skin soon!
    Trish

    • Hey there! Yes, now that I’ve used the Avene cream for a few days, I am still happy with it. I agree with you that the greatest thing is that it feels good going on and does not burn! By itself right now it isn’t moisturizing enough to just use alone, so I usually end up using vaseline or an oil too, but it’s still very nice. Thanks again for mentioning that to me.

      Like you, my symptoms also seem to get worse at night. It’s like my skin has a “curfew” where around evening-time, I always get the most itchy! My skin does not feel hot to the touch though, but if I get overheated in bed, I will get more itchy. I don’t have the armpit rash anymore, thankfully, but my neck is also really bad, like you said yours was. I have to wonder if this is because there are a lot of lymph nodes in the neck and our body is clearing out the toxins.

      Wow, sorry to hear that your eyes were so itchy!! That is the absolute worst. I think that I itch and rub my eyes in the night, because sometimes I wake up and I’m rubbing at them, but they don’t feel itchy during the day. Eyedrops might be something I should look into. Do you have a brand name for the antihistamine eye drop you used so I can read more about it?

  10. Trish says:

    Hi there,

    Me again! On a research roll this week apparently, as I found another thing I wanted to share with you.

    As I have been dealing with a random face reddening episode that began in December and has become progressively worse, I have been on the hunt for treatments. I neglected to mention in my previous post that I also have had a problem with a flaky scalp, often very itchy. Over the past month or more I got a handle on the itch, but the scaling and flaking continues.

    Tonight I came across some information that suggests what I have on my scalp is seborrheic dermatitis, triggered by a fungus. For a long time I didn’t believe that to be my issue since I already had such widespread eczema, I figured it was just classic eczema on my scalp. Plus, in the past I had treated with Nizoral (anti-fungal) and found that it only irritated it more and made it worse.

    Anyway, tonight I have come back to seborrheic dermatitis because as it turns out you can get it on your face as well. And many of the photos look exactly like my red face–both cheeks, across the bridge of the nose and into the forehead and chin.

    Further searches turned up the link below, a dermatologist in California. Normally I would be dubious of a derm selling products and what not, but interestingly, most of the products she sells are more cosmetic oriented for acne and aging. In her section on Seborrheic dermatitis, she recommends only one of her own products (a $10 bar of pyrithione zinc soap) and mostly other products that are not her own (as far as I can tell). Anyway the point for me is her information about the treatment approach.

    So I am considering tracking down some anti-fungal topical cream now and applying it to my face to see what happens over the next while. I am way more comfortable with that than applying cortisones (which I have resisted using on my face in exchange for being red, peeling, and itchy).

    Here is the link:
    http://www.drbaileyskincare.com/blog/tips-for-facial-seborrheic-dermatitis-control/

    And I will be in touch about anything else I find.
    Hope you are doing well.
    Trish

    • Thank you for sharing all your research with me, Trish! I read more about the products on the link and this looks like a really helpful site overall. (I was reading more in depth especially about her sunscreen recommendations).

      I also wondered if my rash was seb derm for a while. I tried using diluted apple cider vinegar as that’s supposed to help, and I got one of the topical ointments for seb derm that contains coal tar. Neither really seemed to help though. Honestly I don’t think that I have seb derm as my face only flakes and itches at the end of the day when it gets dry, and I think that’s just more simply because it is very dry. Right now I SEEM to be making some progress…. my face is mostly soft to the touch, but it’s just really, really red.

      When I went to a holistic doctor a few months ago, I asked her if my rash could be a fungus (or staph, or something like that) and if she could test me for such. She basically shot me down saying, “EVERYONE’S skin will have some fungus on it and so the test won’t really show anything”.

      But anyway – Definitely keep me posted on the anti-fungal cream and your pursuit of seeing if your rash is seb derm. In a way, it will probably feel like a relief if it IS seb derm because then you have a better plan of attack on how to treat it!

  11. Clinidirect says:

    Hi guys, I came across your website when reading about natural eczema treatments. As you may or may not know diet is an important factor in ezcema prevention. We’ve been investing a lot of time into understanding the link between fast food and eczema flair ups. I recommend you read this article! :
    http://clinidirect.co.uk/knowledge-center/45/eczema-and-asthma-the-link-to-junk-food/0/13/wound-care

    Informative stuff!

    • Hello! I definitely agree that diet can be a crucial part of eczema prevention, especially for kids. I never had any food allergies or intolerances until I started using topical steroids in adulthood, so for me personally diet doesn’t seem to be a big factor, but I still strive to eat mostly “whole food” and vegan as I just feel better (and it probably does help my skin too). Diet is only one piece of the puzzle, but can be a very big piece! And it’s good to avoid fast food as much as possible even if one doesn’t have eczema. Thanks so much for stopping by and giving your insight!

  12. Megan says:

    My life saver has been using decleor rose night balm. It is all natural. I use this on my face and it has transformed my skin. My rashes we’re so bad I looked like I was grazed, aggravated by scratching of course. I was also aware that this was making scars. Also so many creams would make me break out, so then

  13. Megan says:

    My life saver has been using decleor rose night balm. It is all natural. I use this on my face and it has transformed my skin. My rashes we’re so bad I looked like I was grazed, aggravated by scratching of course. I was also aware that this was making scars. Also so many creams would make me break out, so then I would be rashy and have pimples. The decleor balm really has worked wonders on my face.

    • Good to know! I always like hearing recommendations about what worked for other people. I am so glad it worked for you, sounds like your face had a really rough time of it! Thankfully, by now my face is virtually healed from having eczema/topical steroid redness/dryness and doesn’t get rashes, although my skin care routine probably could use some tweaking as I do now get a few pimples here and there, so it sounds like this would be a great thing to look into. Appreciate you stopping by and sharing that, Megan!

  14. Daphne says:

    Calendula!

  15. Amelia says:

    Hi,.
    i am just going through TSW did you have any of the other symptoms people had? like swelling? having to lie in a bath just to soothe? also how long does it take the flaking to go away?

    • Hi Amelia,
      Yes, I had similar symptoms to other people, but probably not quite as severe as many as I did not use topical steroids for a super long time nor over extensive areas of my body. I did have puffy eyes sometimes but no other swelling. Definitely had to rely on lying in a bath every night to soothe my skin (oatmeal helped, and this Eucerin body wash that has omega-3 oils). It took a few months (for my experience) for the flaking to go away. It seemed worst on my neck and I could peel flakes off. It was probably the worst for me around months 2 through 4. Stay strong and hang in there, I promise it does get better until one day you are fully healed! I have been recovered from TSW now for over 4 years and I am loving life with smooth skin that never has eczema flares. Of course I do still take care of it and use gentle products on it but once I got through, that was it! Best to you!

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