Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Skin Solutions

I've had eczema since I was a baby.  It affects mainly my legs, although my elbows occasionally get in the mix.  It's not the worst thing in the world but it has been a thorn in my side. I remember many hot days throughout my childhood, in which my mom made me wear pants instead of shorts because my legs were so torn up from scratching.  Some people grow out of eczema but mine has insisted on being a lifelong companion.

I've tried various things over the years and consulted dermatologists.  I was anointed with oil when I was a kid.  I'm not saying faith healings never work, I'm just saying it didn't work in my case.  I've used all manner of creams and ointments.  I use detergent that is free of perfumes and clear of dyes (thank you, ALL!)  I don't use any scented lotions because the perfume dries skin out, although sometimes scent-free lotions are irritating too.  I try not to take long or hot showers.

I expect to have more problems during extreme temperatures.  I try to keep cool in the summer and bundle up in the winter.  I never sleep with "weighty" blankets over my legs, it just guarantees I'll wake up scratching.  If I do scratch, I have a steroid cream I try to put on right away so that the area will heal and not itch more.  You can imagine that any flare ups make shaving especially difficult so I try to work around it or take a lesson from my childhood and wear pants.  This has all been trial and error.

My skin-related frustrations tend to cycle and I was rather aggravated around my birthday.  I added "consult a naturopath" to my 31 Things list.  Then I sent out a query to a friend asking for a recommendation.  Instead of telling me to go see her naturopath, she hooked me up with some helpful articles from a naturopath who has quite an online following.

This gave me something new to think about.  First, it could be a gluten allergy.  I asked my doctor to test me for a gluten allergy but he said I should just cut it out of my diet for a couple of weeks and see if it made a difference. Given how much I love my carbs, I haven't tried it yet.  Surely a baguette is worth a little scratching? There are all kinds of crazy eczema diets I could try but they cut out nearly everything good on this earth- no thanks.  

Staying away from soy products was recommended. Except I really enjoy soy milk. Exposure to sunlight is good for the vitamin D (interesting- sunlight is good for eczema, bad for skin cancer.)   Use saltwater compresses to relieve the itch. Add omega-3 supplements, like fish oil.

Right after I read up on Dr. Mercola's recommendations, and balked at most of them, I decided I could add a supplement.  I mentioned this to a friend and she had started taking Evening Primrose, which was making a marvelous difference with her skin, including acne.  Since Evening Primrose sounds more palatable than fish oil, I picked up a bottle the next time I went to Trader Joe's.  How I love that store!  I took it for a week or two but it's dropped off my radar since I moved.  I'm hoping in writing this that I will be more conscientious in trying these suggestions out.

As if the eczema wasn't enough, I also have sensitive skin and am prone to acne.  Whoever said that you stop having acne once you get through your teenage years should be shot for lying to us all.  I've tried different skincare regimens and have had different prescriptions in the past.  For a few years I've been using Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser and Moisturizer.  I also use salicylic acid wipes for good measure. Nothing seems to eradicate the acne or fully moisturize my dry patches.  That's why I've been so intrigued by the Oil Cleansing Method, as described in Megan's informative post.  It seems so counter-intuitive but people are raving about it.  And after Hollywood Housewife posted on her recent skin care finds, I'm more convinced that I should give oil a chance.

What do you do to care for your skin?  Am I the only one with such skin care woes?  Do I need to make peace with my eczema or should I give radical diets a chance?  I welcome any and all insight you might have.

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