Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Irritation On Awareness Day

Wow it's been some time since my last post! I'm truly sorry about that. I try to post for all of you at least once a week no matter how I feel because I think it's important to help people as much as I can with this debilitating disease. I know that I may not know as much as some people, but I try to help with what I can.

April was a tough month for me because of a flare. My fibro can be a bit wacky when it comes to flares because some times I will only get pain and other times I will have a slue of problems all at once. This flare has a slue of problems with it from insomnia, fibro fog, pain, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and eczema and seborrheic dermatitis skin irritations. I'm still having problems, but I am feeling a little better with the fatigue-- hence the post.

This post is going to be about skin irritations because they are really bugging me today so I thought it'd be a good one to discuss. About half of fibro patients suffer from some kind of skin irritation, disorder, or disease. There are many different kinds and one in particular is called eczema.

Eczema has different levels of severity to it. They range from topical dermitis, something generally diagnosed with people who show reactions to some type of soap or detergents, to seborrheic dermatitis which is an oil gland disorder. It is typically diagnosed in people that have eczema around the eye(s). I was born with this type and it is never fun when you have this kind of skin flare.

Way back when, some now 36 years ago, there was nothing that could be put on the eye for relief because topical medications were not meant for the eyes. Over the counter anti-itch treatments like cortizone are usually not recommended either because they can cause blindness if they get into the eyes.

When I was little, my eyes didn't bother me so much, but once I got into my twenties, this seborrheic dermatitis would reek havoc on my eyes. I tried some eye creams out on the market and got a little bit of relief. I would have to switch brands every once in a while if one in particular stopped working, but all-in-all, they generally worked for several years. Eventually though, I would find that the annoyance would come back harder and stronger. By my late twenties I stopped using makeup to elevate irritation.

The elimination of makeup helped greatly, until now. So far I have eliminated every cleaning product, detergent, and soap that had any type of scent to it from my daily routines. I started to wear gloves when cleaning or doing the dishes and I dust and run the vacuum two to three times a week to relieve any other irritants that may be causing this flare.

I don't wear makeup anymore, and as of late, I have limited my wheat and cheese intake from my diet just to see if I'm all of the sudden allergic to that. So far nothing right now seems to be working.

Showering has become very painful and I often wish I didn't have to bathe at all, but that of course, isn't really an option when you live with others. It probably isn't a good idea period since every one of us has to be in contact with another human being every once in a while. And somehow, being a recluse doesn't sound appealing either.

So what does one do at this point? Well, I guess I'll be taking yet another trip to the doctor, but at least this time I'll be seeing a dermatologist instead of a rheumotolgist. I hope that we can get to the bottom of this and find out exactly what is bothering me instead of just treating the problem. I of course will keep you updated on the progress, but until then, I'd like to give you all some info I've come across while trying to help myself, hopefully, it can help some of you.

Milk and wheat can be triggers for eczema, as well as, perfumed soaps, detergents, and shampoos and conditioners. Other allergen triggers that may cause problems are cigarette smoke, makeup products, cleaning products, mold, mildew, and pet dander.

Some things that may help alleviate your skin symptoms are stress relief techniques, like deep breathing or even yoga, moisturizers that are perfume and dye free, herbal supplements like evening primrose oil, st john's wart, and vitamin b-12, drinking plenty of water, ultra violet light from either the sun or tanning beds, and bathing in baking soda may also help too.

A couple of sites to look at for further information are the National Eczema Association and Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Reviews. Both will give you helpful information. The National Eczema Association offers a free news letter that is sent to your email on useful info for eczema sufferers.

Skin Deep will tell you the severity of chemicals and irritants a product has. It is a pretty extensive site and some of the products that are severely irritating to the skin may surprise you because there are supposed "all-natural" products with a questionable label. Some of them have a high rating of chemicals and skin irritants in them. The ratings go from 1 to 10, 10 being the most severe.

The FDA does not regulate makeup and other health and beauty aid products and this makes it hard for a consumer to know what they are really buying. Skin Deep is a non-profit organization that tests a good majority of the popular products out there and will let you know what's in it. They don't have every product that's out there on the market today, but they have a lot.

I hope some of this helps you all out there on this wonderful Fibro Awareness Day. Take care of yourselves, be fabulous, and don't scratch lol!

Stay fabulous,
Love and friendship,
Kimberley

P.S. Don't forget about the comment contest! We are really close to having a winner so keep the comments coming!

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