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.
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.
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:
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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?