Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Day 139: Mosturizers

I don't really know how flares are supposed to be defined. I am always red and rashy-looking and itchy. However, some days I am more pink than red and my itching is minorly annoying. I can even manage to ignore most of it. On the other hands, on bad days my skin is red as a lobster and the itching is uncontrollable, even painful somehow. I say those bad days are flares.

Monday night, I had a flare. It started with hives on my arms then bright red itchy all over. Despite taking Atarax, I could not sleep until 4AM. Tuesday I was slightly less red and a little less itchy throughout the day. At night, I took a benadryl since atarax has not been working. I slept okay (still woke up scratching a couple times, but not too bad). Today I am significantly less red in most places and back to my "normal" pink. The itching is not nearly as intense as Monday night.

Moving on!

Next topic: mosturizers. In the past, I have used...EVERYTHING! Well, approximately everything! None of them fixed my "eczema" and actually a lot of them made it worse. It can say "eczema" or "sensitive skin" but that doesn't mean very much. Especially since so many of them are made with chemicals that actually irritate! Before starting TSW, I had already eliminated a ton of mosturizers/lotions/creams that I knew for sure would only make things worse. (Like anything from Bath and Body Works or The Body Shop...sigh...I would love to use those yummy smelling body butters.)

Here is a list of things I have tried after starting TSW:

  • Aloe vera gel
  • Aquaphor Ointment
  • Aveeno Baby Eczema
  • Cocoa butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Episencial Snuggly Lotion
  • Episencial Soothing Cream
  • Eucerin Soothing Repair Cream
  • Lush Celestial
  • Lush Dream Cream
  • Olive oil
  • Palm oil
  • Sarna Lotion
  • Vaseline

The one that has worked consistently is Vaseline. There is some debate about how good Vaseline is for skin, especially super sensitive upset skin like mine. For me, in general, I like to avoid mineral oil. There may not be any sound medical research to back up my avoidance (and to be honest, I have never done extensive research on the topic) but my gut feeling says, "Don't put petroleum byproducts all over yourself." Before TSW I never used Vaseline and actively avoided products with mineral oil/petroleum which is...99% of things sold in the drugstore. The only things at a drugstore that don't have mineral oil are those yellow 100% cocoa butter sticks!

I am trying to stop using Vaseline, both because I don't want to use petroleum and because I hate the texture!! I hate feeling sticky and goopy for hours afterward. Yuck. And it makes my face shiny, too. Also, there's this weird thing that happens...after I Vaseline up before bed or in the morning, I have hot flashes? I am not sure how to describe but it's like I'm being smothered in heat for a few seconds from the inside out. It doesn't burn or sting on the skin surface but I suddenly feel like I'm running a high temperature...then it goes away. I know, it's super weird! And probably not a great testament to Vaseline! 

So I made some of my own. I started with this recipe. I didn't have any Vitamin E oil. I had planned to wait until I had time to run to the drugstore and get some, but with my schedule I have been too busy. But I ended up making my jelly Monday night during my flare. I made just an ounce of it, which is about 25 grams oil and 1.6 grams of beeswax. I liked the texture right when I finished but when it completely cooled, it hardened more than I wanted. It had a tacky texture. After rolling a little piece around in my hands, it softened up enough to spread, though. I used that 1 ounce up in a day! My hands feel much softer and not sticky like Vaseline. There was no burning or stinging or weird hot flashes! 

I also had some calendula oil. Others on the google group have said it's good for itching. So I tested a patch on my burning/stinging. I am not sure if it helped with the itching...I didn't notice any excessive itching on that spot, so I decided to add a little to my jelly recipe in place of the Vitamin E. This morning I made a second 1-oz batch, adding the calendula oil and using a little less beeswax so it wouldn't be as hard when it cooled. I like the texture better. Can't say if the itching was helped by it, since I'm at my normal non-flare itch level. But I used a lot on my hands and neck and neither of those areas are itchy at all, so maybe it helps? I'm not sure. It makes my lips very soft, too!

Making "jelly" is easy and I have found a ton of other recipes I might make. The hardest part is actually finding the ingredients and containers. I ordered it off of a site called The Herbarie since the original site with the recipe is Canadian. As far as costs go, it cost about $20 (incl. shipping) for 1 lb (~500 g) castor oil, 4 oz (~114 g) beeswax, and calendula extract oil 1 oz (~28 g). With the original recipe, this makes 17 oz jelly and I'll have a ton of beeswax (89 g or at least 3 more 17-oz batches) and calendula (23 g which is at least 4 more 17-oz batches) left over for another batch. I can't do anymore math but I think that works out to less than I'd pay for Vaseline! If I'm wrong, I don't care!

I ended up reusing an empty Lush 1.5 oz container. I read on a blog that you can use canning jars so I might get one when I end up making a big 17 oz batch. 

If you want to use something similar but don't want to make it, you could try this Live Clean Non-Petroleum Jelly which seems pretty affordable. MadeOn Skin Care Products also has some good products (and I will probably copy some of their ingredient combos in my own stuff), though I didn't see one that was specifically like Vaseline.

For my own future reference, here is a list of other recipes/ideas for homemade lotions and thingS:

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