When you are going through TSW, the things you can comfortably wear change radically. Some people can’t bear to have clothes touching their skin at all; some people need to be all wrapped up in layers due to wild temperature fluctuations and chills. Some people want to wear minimal clothing and have their skin exposed to the air and sun, some people want to be totally covered so their rashes are exposed as little as possible.
I am one of the types that wanted to be covered up, since I continued to work full-time and attend school part-time and didn’t want people looking and asking questions, plus I’m one of those people who is fine with being too warm, but just detests being too cold.
Here are some miscellaneous clothing tips for those in TSW! Keep in mind these are coming from the perspective of a 20 something female and they are just what worked for me personally, so they may not apply to everyone. Also, the clothing pictured is examples, and not the specific items I wore.
I have a couple cardigans that served me very well in TSW. They are lightweight and breathable, and great for layering. Best part is that I could quickly take them off in the restroom at work to scratch frantically for a bit, and then put them calmly back on when I was done. Many of my cardigans also happened to have extra-long sleeves, so they were great for covering up my rashy hands at the time. Also, since you can easily change the look with a cardigan (different tops underneath, add a scarf, etc)., I could get away with wearing them to work very frequently.
I was also a big fan of the waffle shirt, when it was cooler outside. These thermal tops are lightweight but breathable, making them perfect for the temperature fluctuations of TSW whether you be sweating or shivering. The ones I have are pretty tight fitting to the body, so they also acted as a nice scratching deterrent, since I couldn’t roll up my sleeves enough to fully get at my arms and attack them.
Those funny tops with thumbhole sleeves are another superb invention that I grew to really appreciate with TSW and the time when my hands looked ravaged. I have two tops with these type of sleeves and it was nice to just slip these on and not have to worry that my red hands would be revealed. Plus they are nice at keeping your hands warm when it’s cold out.
Exercise-type material shirts are a MUST for TSW. As soon as I would get home from work, I would shed all my work clothes and put on a long sleeved “tech shirt” from one of my past races. They can be breathable and loose-fitting and oh so comfortable. Then I just looked like a really cool athletic runner girl instead of a miserable itchy being.
Similar to cardigans but a little more casual (I always found typical cardigans with buttons to look a little frumpy sometimes), the cocoon sweater is a magnificent invention to be dressed up or down. I have over a half-dozen in this style and the layering potential is limitless. I can’t wear short sleeves yet due to my scabby, scarred upper arms, which sucks as it’s nearly summer, but the 3/4 sleeve length cocoon sweater is perfect for all seasons, even hot ones. Just layer this over a tank top and you stay cool AND covered up, and no one is the wiser that your arms look like a battlefield.
I think I mentioned before in a post that I developed a huge appreciation for scarves while in the throes of really bad TSW symptoms on my neck (oozing, flaking, red, blotchy, patchy, swollen lymph nodes, the whole bit). I went through a period where I wore a scarf every single day for a good 1-2 months. Plus a well placed scarf that goes well with your outfit always seems to make people look poised and pulled together, rather than the TSW look of “unfortunate red itchy person”.
Socks, to me at least, were sort of a quandry with TSW. If I wore knee high socks like these, I kept warm, but sometimes having that fabric tight against my skin all day would make me want nothing more than to immediately rip them off when I got home from work and attack my legs. However, short socks meant that my legs were easily accessible, and there was many a time at work when I’d be rolling up my pant legs under my desk and scratching away. I guess you have to choose for yourself what kind of socks work for you….especially if you have bad TSW symptoms on your feet, which I was fortunate not to have. You probably want something really light and breathable like bamboo material or athletic socks (not 100% cotton socks).
Loose fitting cropped athletic or yoga type pants were another must have. Really if you have TSW, throw many notions of style out the window and focus on being as comfortable as you can. I promise, no one minds if you look like a slob for a while. I liked sleeping in this type of pant, because it made it a little tougher to get at my thighs and scratch them (Normally I wore shorts to bed and that made it WAYYY too easy to wake up with itches everywhere).
Now we get into the realm of underclothing. I had really obnoxious TSW oozing and itching right in the groin area. And it was right where the seam of bikini-type underwear would hit. I never used TS near my groin, but there are a ton of lymph nodes here and I’d venture to say others of us are probably dealing with similar symptoms near the private areas. I did two things for this – 1. boy short style underwear worked well since it didn’t rub on the oozy itchy areas and thus irritate them more. 2. I recommend getting a few pairs of underwear that are a size too big. This way it won’t constrict or rub. (Or you could go commando, but that was never my preference!)
The last overall thing that I want to emphasize for clothing is that you are probably going to have a bunch of clothing that is ruined after TSW is done, so make sure that you’re not wearing anything that is really important to you. Yes, it’s gross and unfortunate, but your clothes will probably get stained by blood or ooze. They will be full of flakes. They will end up getting smeared with Vaseline or oil, which is very hard to get out. You will end up wearing the same outfits again and again, and completely stop caring what people think. Life becomes “survival mode” with just trying to look reasonably human, rather than caring about style or vanity.
I am now halfway through the 5th month of TSW. Things have been going quite well ever since I passed the first 3 months. I still flare on my limbs, but every subsequent flare is less intense than the one before. I’m pretty much still looking like the pictures in one of my previous posts.
My arms are still my biggest trouble spots. They are full of scars and some scabs and just don’t look good. Sometimes I look down at them and feel like they look okay, and then I see them in the mirror and realize they have a ways to go. My left arm is a lot better than my right, for some reason. They don’t ITCH badly anymore, but they seem to keep developing new scabs which are tempting to pick at. I haven’t worn short sleeves in public since December and it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to any time soon.
But when I AM fully healed, I will celebrate by wearing my VICTORY SHIRT. (It’s motivating to have some kind of “Victory Outfit” to keep in mind through the journey of TSW, similar to how someone with a weight-loss goal might buy a beautiful dress in several sizes smaller and keep that in their closet to look at.) Back in early January, right before I formally stopped all steroids, I was at the mall and found an awesome halter top on clearance. It’s dark grey with small ruffles around the halter part, and little shiny grey sequins sewn onto these ruffles. Very cute and sexy and it fit perfectly. (Tried to find a picture online but could not). At the time I was still married, and my (ex)husband somewhat rudely asked, “And when are you going to wear THAT, with all the rashes you have?” (Mean.) But even though I wasn’t too aware of TSW at the time, I somehow KNEW I would triumph over this damn skin thing, and that one glorious day, I would finally have clear skin and would put on this top, no longer caring that it leaves my upper back, shoulders, and arms exposed to the world. I don’t care if it’s a month from now or a year from now – I am going to beat this topical steroid addiction into the ground, and when I do – my Victory Shirt will be waiting for me! 😀
Do you have a “victory” item of clothing you are looking forward to wearing when TSW is over? Any other clothing suggestions of things that worked for you?