Infection! (Some kinda-gross pics, too!)

After my last post I was hoping that this winter was going to an easy one on my skin.  Well, hoping didn’t work out very well.  As the title of this post says I ended up with an infection, mostly on the right ring finger but there were smaller infections on many of my fingers.

Here are some pics:

1. The infection starts and no matter what I try it just doesn't cut it. 2. The infection gets IN my finger causing redness, pain and swelling. 3. Look at that swelling.

1. The infection starts and no matter what I try it just doesn’t cut it. (I tried antiseptic solution, antibiotic ointment, eventually peroxide, soaking it in warm water…)
2. The infection gets IN my finger causing redness, pain and swelling.
3. Look at that swelling.

This infection was fast and caught me off guard.  It went from my usually dry, cracked and a bit infected (but manageable) finger to needing a doctors visit literally over night.  I watched the red infection line go down my finger and called my doctors office.  Long story short I was prescribed these to take for 7 days:

7 days of 4 pills a day.... yuck.

7 days of 4 pills a day…. yuck.

The script was written as “Keflex” which after doing an internet search I learned that it is used to treat skin infections.

I am not a person who enjoys pharmaceuticals so agreeing to antibiotics for a silly skin infection always makes me somewhat grumpy.  But, I knew that this was getting bad so I sucked it up and took them.  They made me tired but didn’t mess with my stomach like other antibiotics have in the past.  In the end, they did the trick and slowly my finger started to get better.  Although, I had to add in Fucidin cream into my nightly routine to help out.   I wish I had had this cream when the infection was starting as I have a feeling it would of ended differently.

Here are some pictures of the finger as it was healing:

1. 3 days into the treatment. 2. First day after finishing the medication. 3. Today - 5 days after treatment was finished.

1. 3 days into the treatment.
2. The day I finished the treatment.
3. Today – 5 days after treatment was finished.

So, the big infection is gone and I am much more comfortable however it appears that my nail has been compromised as a result of the infection in the nailbed.  I am not sure what this means but as you can see in pictures 2 and 3 above it isn’t going to be comfortable as the nail grows out.  But, as always I will post an update.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Oh Winter, I really don’t like you!

It’s been awhile since my last post but its for a good reason.  That’s right, I haven’t been having many problems with my skin over the last several months and posting pictures of my normal looking skin just isn’t the point of my blog.

But alas, all is not the same.  Big surprise, eh?  See, I live in Canada where every year old man winter comes and dries out the skin of all Canadians as well as removes our ability to synthesize our own vitamin D through skin exposure (because we are always clothed to keep warm outside).

Anyways, my poor hands are feeling the pain.  They are dry, cracking and extremely painful.  Especially my pinky finger  which looks like this:

My pinky finger with eczema

My pinky finger with eczema.

If you can’t see it there is a cut on the side of the nail and lets just say its making typing this post pretty painful as with each key I press it shoots a painful reminder that I am forever someone with eczema.  I am now sporting a lovely bandage on this finger daily just to make my normal activities hurt less.  I just started using my steroid cream and gloves again to help add some moisture and healing to the mix.  I do see an improvement in the morning but not as much as I would like.

I am still trying to go indoor tanning however my schedule hasn’t allowed for regular visits.  With this new flare up I am going to make a point to go more often.  Luckily for me they just started winter hours and are opened late.

Here are a couple more pictures of my hands which I took yesterday:

Eczema in between my fingers.

Eczema in between my fingers.

My poor sore finger tips.

My poor sore finger tips.

I am hoping that this is all I get this winter.  I’ll keep you posted.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I have pretty nails!!

I never imagined that I would be able to have nice nails.  After all, with eczema all over your nail bed which affects how your nails grow it’s hard to even imagine having nicely manicured nails.

Until now!  Back in December my hands were looking very good with almost no noticeable eczema  (a rare event for me) so I decided to add a manicure to my facial and pedicure appointment at Aphroditi Escape Spa.

I was just happy with having my nails filed and polished (clear polish only!) but Sherry-Lynn mentioned that I should check into “Bio sculpture Nails” when I get home.  No pressure at all but this product would provide extra strength to my nails (something I have always longed for).  I check it out and decided to give it a whirl.

Here are my hands before Bio Sculpture.

Ready for there make over with bio sculpture

Ready for there make over with bio sculpture

The day before I got my bio sculpture nails

The day I got my bio sculpture nails

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They look great, eh?  Here are a couple of my worst nails.  Actually its just my thumbs.

My groovy thumb My split nail

 

 

 

 

 

 

I got my first bio sculpture nails in early January 2013 and was immediately in love with them.  The bio sculpture products contain no acrylic and are painted onto your nail with a brush and cured under UV light.  I have never had nails with such strength before, the nails don’t chip, they shine and continue to look great.  She even managed to fill in the uneven parts of my nails to make them smooth.

Sherry-Lynn did some fancy work on my split thumb nail.  Here is a pic of the nail with its first bio sculpture application:

bio nail thumbYou probably can’t see it too well but compare this picture against the one of the same finger above.  The black arrow is pointing at where the product has extended my natural nail making it longer and MUCH easier to use.  On the left you can really see the two tones of white, that bottom layer is where my natural nail is.  Neat, don’t you think?

These pictures where taken the same day by the way.

I just had my third application of bio sculpture and am in love with what it is doing to my nails.  It lasts about 3 weeks, there is no nail grinding involved as it is a “soak off” product and the nail looks the same when the product comes off (no nail damage!).

Here is what I am currently sporting -> I decided to get the tips painted silver (ooo, shiny!).

My nails with silver tips!

So there you have it.  You can have your eczema ridden hands with rickety nails turned into nice smooth strong nails.  I also think they really take peoples eyes away from the eczema patches which is a great bonus.

Thanks to Sherry-Lynn and Bio Sculpture!

Psst…. if you go see Sherry-Lynn tell her Amie from hatemyskin.com sent you!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

This silly thumb nail…

Somewhere between high school and finishing my degree in university something happened to my thumb nail and its never been the same.    Here is what I am talking about:

Here is my annoying thumb nail whose split at the top just won’t go away.

Yes, there is a split right down the middle which makes it pretty hard to grow it out before it catches on something and rips.  I’ve tried lots of products such as nail glue (krazy glue for nails), fake nails, nail strengthener, nail repair…. just to name a few off the top of my head.  The fake nail was by far the best however because my nails are so fragile the adhesive would also take off a layer of my natural nail when it was removed.

My dermatologist said that the nail bed starts on the finger pretty close to the joint.  He explained that if this area of my finger is experiencing eczema then it will reflect in the nail up to “months” later.  So, I am pretty much doomed to have this nail stay this way unless by some miracle my eczema vanishes and causes my nail bed to fix itself.  For now, its a balancing act of trying to keep it trimmed (sometimes shaped like a heart) and manageable for everyday life.   A girl can always dream about having nice nails, can’t she?

I am opening to hearing solutions for this.  What has worked for you?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Sometimes eczema can be funny

Okay, not quite the title for a post about living with eczema but I got a bit of a chuckle out of my recent outbreaks.  You see every now and then my flare up will resemble things.  Putting cream on my thumb made me notice this…

Eczema, finger eczema, psorasis

Do you see it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, its a smiley face.  Thanks body for the humor, now if only it didn’t hurt so bad.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 7 Comments

A tale of two waterpark visits

We just got back from a great family getaway to the Six Flags Great Escape Lodge located in Queensbury, New York.  This was our second year visiting the lodge in the winter and it doesn’t disappoint.  (Totally off topic but I HIGHLY recommend taking a trip there and having some good old family fun.  Not to mention if you are coming from eastern Ontario it involves an amazing drive though the Adirondack Mountains.)  Anyways, last year I had just started tanning and was starting to clear up and found that this trip really helped my skin get (or at least look) better.  The chlorine in the pool has always had a good effect on my skin (think bleach baths if they have ever been recommended for you).  The chlorine dries my skin out nicely which is actually something I find beneficial to keeping my skin mostly eczema-free, this is of course very different from the typical recommendation of moisturize the heck out of your skin.  So last year I was thankful for my waterpark visit and its effects on my skin.

This year was a bit different.  I keep my skin slightly on the dry side by indoor tanning and found that the extra drying effects of the chlorine in the water caused my eczema to actually flare on my hand and I developed a few area on my arm as well.  For the first time in many months I was scratching again at night… yuck.  Smart me did bring some moisturizer (Glaxal Base = my fav) for the kids so I was able to use it and get some relief from the dry itchy hands.

So, I learned a valuable lesson.  Although my skin prefers to be dry to be eczema-free’ish I need to be cognoscente of what else can dry it out so that I don’t get too dry and cause myself to flare.  The balancing act is a fine art.

eczema, water

Here is my left hand on February 6, 2012 after one day at the waterpark.

On my left hand I am starting to get some “cuts” in the bendable areas of my hand.  This year I have had limited inflammation as well but alas it is back after the chlorine exposure (you can see its worst on my right hand).

 

 

eczema

Here is my right (worst) hand on February 6, 2012 after one day at the waterpark.

 

Check out my thumb, ouch.

eczema

Here is the patch starting on my arm. Itchy.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ode to the cotton glove

Ah yes!  The cotton glove.  A hand saving tool for those of us with eczema on our hands.  Let’s just say that I have a love/hate relationship with my cotton gloves.

hand eczema

My glove stash: Here are all the gloves I could find in a quick search of the house/laundry.

In 2011, when my hands were extremely bad I wore these little beauties 24/7 changing them as many as 5-6 times a day depending on if my hands were oozing or not.  They are fabulous for keeping dry hands moist when combined with a good moisturizing cream.  I used them primarily to keep my hands comfortable as my hands get very painful when they are in full blown eczema mode.  Even before my episode last year I have been wearing a pair of cotton gloves to bed for probably 12 years now.  At first it was a way of “trying” to control my nocturnal scratching.  I say “trying” as it kinda helps but not really as one of two things always happens; 1) I rip them off in my sleep and scratch anyways (finding them somewhere in the bed come morning), or 2)I just scratch with them on anyways creating holes in the ends of the gloves with my nails.  Below are just a few of the many examples I have of #2.

These poor gloves have seen the wrath of my noctural scratching.

I have also purchased a couple pairs of bamboo gloves but for some reason they make my hands REALLY itchy.  This is interesting as I am allergic to grass and bamboo is the largest member of the grass family.  Note to self, stay a way from bamboo.

Cotton gloves are surprisingly pricey.  An average pair costs about $7 or more making my stash worth a fair bit. (I think I counted 26 pairs this morning so at ~$7/pair that is about $180 in gloves)

I haven’t talked much about the mental game you play with yourself as you come to a point where you have to wear gloves all the time.  At first I would take them off when I was around a lot of people but my hands LOOKED awful and I just felt like people were staring at them (not sure how true that was though).   Then I just started to wear them all the time.  I wondered about the general public’s perception of  me, things like was a germaphobe or OCD about cleanliness.  I can’t lie and say that I didn’t care because I did care, very much to be honest.  BUT, I had to get over that and just learn that this was what I was dealt.  So, I just wore them and eventually they essentially become apart of me almost, I felt naked without them sometimes.

There were some days when people’s comments would start to annoy me, mostly people at work just trying to be funny.  I got the old “Hey Michael”, if I was wearing only one glove.  Crap like that seems innocent to the person saying them but after awhile it is just annoying and kinda hurtful.  Other times people would ask and I would just say “Oh, I have eczema on my hands”.  People were and are very sympathetic when they find out its because I have eczema on my hands but I can’t help but think what people say (or think) behind my back.  I think if I saw me I would just think I didn’t want to get my hands dirty (or germy) which in our climate of contagious illnesses might actually be a decent idea.

So there you have it my acknowledgement to the cotton glove.  I hate that I need you but love that you are available to help me deal with my eczema.  We’ll have many more days and nights together I am sure.

eczema

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

Are more doctors “pro-sun”?

I am seriously trying to get off the indoor tanning thing as it wasn’t intended to be the main message on this blog.  However, there are some important things that surround indoor tanning or just tanning in general that I think I need to talk about.

Here is an article from Smart Tan called,  “More Doctors Pro-Sun Today: Poll“:  I like the message in here as it isn’t the old doom and gloom message about the sun we have been so used to hearing in the last several years.  I am alarmed that once again money is a driving factor towards the discouragement of the use of sun to aid skin conditions.  I can relate to why people would choose a tanning salon over a photoderm clinic.  The closest clinic to my home is about a 50 minute drive whereas the tanning salon is about 3 minutes.  The money I save on gas not going to the clinic pays for my minutes at the salon making the economics of my decision very easy.  In the article it does say physicians referred people for therapeutic reasons, I am thinking that many of those people may be using the tanning bed for mental health improvement as well (the vitamin D is a great bonus!).

I just wanted to point out that besides Dr. Y all of the medical professionals I see support my use of UV tanning as a control measure for my eczema.  These include my family doctor, naturopath, allergist, midwife (when I was under her care) and of course Dr. G (the dermatologist at the photoderm clinic).  I have seen all of these professionals in the last year and none of them have said anything but encouraging words about what I have been doing, of course it does help that they (and I) can see the results.

After I started tanning one of my co-workers opened up about her psorasis and said that she had just gone to the dermatologist who actually told her to “get some sun on that!”.  So I guess normal derms do actually recommend sun.

A very telling quote from the above article:

“Professional tanning facilities are trained to deliver non-burning dosages of UV light to create a cosmetic tan, but a side effect is that people are treating all sorts of conditions informally and effectively. What we’re really seeing is dermatology’s anger for the loss of billions of dollars in phototherapy treatments in their offices, as consumers choose a more economical and convenient method of self-care.”

I believe only good things will come from people realizing that a controlled tanning environment may actually help your skin (especially if it has a photo-responsive skin condition).  Living with eczema has its trade offs.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

When you are THIS bad they give you mega sized cream!

I get a good laugh sometimes at the offers I have received from doctors.  For example when I was at the photoderm clinic last year Dr. G offered to write me a script for a larger jar of Betaderm cream and ointment.  I agreed.  I mean why the heck not, right?  I was quite surprised when I picked up my script to see a huge prescription bag containing one 450g jar of the ointment and one 454g jar of the cream.  I am seriously set for quite sometime.  They are apparently the jars the pharmacists use to scoop the cream into the smaller jars I’ve been used to getting.

You may be asking why he would give me both the ointment and cream.  This was actually one of the first times I took the ointment (my whole life I have refused to use ointment as I hate to put greasy stuff on my eczema because it causes sticking to everything), anyways Dr. G explained to me that it is best to use the ointment when my skin is dry and use the cream when it is wet (ie: oozing/weeping).  To my surprise this works quite well as I always put cotton gloves on after I apply them so I never notice the difference.

At the time of my appointment with Dr. G the betaderm wasn’t really working very well when I followed the directions of using it sparingly twice a day.  So, he told me that instead of increasing the cream strength that I should just apply it more often which is also why I got these mega jars.

Here is a picture of the huge jars:

eczema cream

Holy Big Jars!

The jar on the top left is 60g and the top right is 100g, for comparison.

Since I use these only when REALLY needed I have lots left but as Dr. G promised I am certainly not going to the pharmacy on a regular basis for more.  🙂 Small blessings, I guess.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My hands, the journey of grossness.

 

Okay, I think its time for some pictures of my eczema adventure.  I haven’t posted many but I know seeing eczema like yours is  therapeutic as it is generally something we hide and deal with alone.  I am done with being in the closet about this so….

Since my hands seem to be the largest target for my eczema here they are in March 2011 on the day I started tanning (as you can see I started with a 6 minute session):

eczema

Here is my right hands he day I started tanning - March 23, 2011

 

eczema

Left hand the day I started tanning - March 23, 2011

So here are the humble beginnings when  I said enough and took matters into my our hand (ha, no pun intended).  I didn’t think at the time that I would be continuing tanning past the original few minutes that I bought. ( I am not sure why the pictures are slightly yellow but I assume poor lighting.)

These pictures are hard for me to look at as I was in a tremendous amount of pain and discomfort.  I was wearing cotton gloves 24/7 just to feel somewhat normal.  I couldn’t help my children wash themselves in the bath tub and even wore nitrile gloves on top of my cotton gloves to use the bathroom (as washing these raw hands was excruciating).  In case you were wondering I washed the gloves like I would my hands so I could reuse them on the next visit.

Here are my hands 7 days later on March 30, 2011.  I took these with my phone so they are small (even at full size).  I could barely move them at work enough to type and was pretty sure tanning wasn’t helping.

eczemaeczemaSome days my hands were so sore and raw that in order to keep them moving I would have to wear cotton and nitrile gloves to keep the moist.  This of course isn’t particularly recommended as its really easy to get bacteria trapped in the gloves and since they don’t breath well you can get an infection really fast.  However, desperate times call for desperate acts sometimes.

So, I took the next pictures on April 1, 2011.  The photo at the top of this page of my arm was taken that day as well.  It really shows how bad my eczema was in 2011.

eczema

Here is my right arm on April 1, 2011

You will see that my hands look a bit better (less raw?), I probably used some steroid cream the night before to take the edge off (a very desperate measure for me).  But take a look at the extent of the condition.  Yup, all the way up to my elbow.  I wore lots of long sleeve shirts to cover up this nastiness.  I think I took these pictures as a “hey look its getting better” picture, yikes!

eczema

Here is my left hand and arm on April 1, 2011

Believe it or not during this time my arm wasn’t particularly itchy but my hand were exceptionally itchy.  Perhaps I was just focusing on my hands as having the most integral part of your body hurting was horrible.  I was also pregnant at the time in these pictures but have had my eczema flare this bad while not pregnant as well.  (Some people still like to tell me that this was ALL due to the pregnancy hormones which I find rather interesting as I wasn’t pregnant in high school when it was equally as bad.  Food for thought.)

eczema

Here is the back of my right knee, April 1, 2011

Just for fun here is a picture of the back of my leg/knee.  Now this was itchy.  Being in the crease of my knee really sucked as once it was oozy it was very uncomfortable.

I didn’t take many other pictures after this as my skin began to clear up as soon as I went into the tanning bed for 8 minutes.  Yup, that was my magic number.

Okay, so lets take a look at now.  I’ve had my baby and I continue to tan (once or twice a week now).

eczema

Here I am today - Jan 10, 2012

It’s been about 9.5 months since I started tanning.  I use my steroid cream very rarely, try to wear my cotton gloves when my hand start to act up (to keep moisture in) and always wear cotton gloves and nitrile gloves when cleaning and washing dishes.  (That’s right these hands never soak in water, ever.  The most they get is the shower and washing after a trip to the bathroom)

eczema

Here is my right arm - January 10, 2012

You’ll notice that my arm is quite tanned now with freckles and scars as reminders of the eczema battle I face from time to time.  My hands are dry but I have to keep them that way in order to keep my eczema under control.  Of course not too dry as that causes cracking and other issues.

So there you have it my last 10 months or so in picture form.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  There are many words for all of this but thankful that I took a risk and tried something considered unconventional which resulted in getting my tactile life back has no words, its priceless.  Not a cure but definitely a good management strategy for me right now.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments