Monthly Dose > Volume 20 | August 2022

SKIN HEALTH 101

Skin Health 101: 8 top tips from the Inspire Eczema and Psoriasis communities

Most of us have had to deal with dry, flaky, and itchy skin at some point. In Inspire communities and surveys, members share tips that have helped their skin. Try these top tips from the Inspire community to soothe your skin.

  1. Use fragrance-free products. Scented products and fragrances are common skin irritants. Try switching to fragrance-free for products that may come into contact with your skin. This includes shampoo, soaps, lotions, detergents, fabric softeners, perfumes, makeup, and more.

    • “I don’t use anything with fragrance or dye. I’m very careful about what products I buy and use.” —Inspire member

  2. Moisturize regularly. Many Inspire members recommend using unscented moisturizer every day. Don’t be afraid to try new products until you find one that works.

    • “Many skin products offer eczema “relief” but response to each varies from person to person. If you try one and it doesn’t work for you, consider trying another.” —Inspire member

    • “Currently I’ve found Gold Bond for eczema the most helpful. Eventually this will run its course like the others and I will have to change again – that has generally been the pattern.” —Inspire member

  3. Hydrate. Hydrated skin starts from the inside out. Drink at least 64 ounces of water a day. You may need more depending on your body and activity level.

  4. Cover up. The sun is a common skin irritant for many members living with dry skin. If sunscreens bother your skin, wear hats and sun-protective clothing while outside.

    • My daughter suffers with seasonal eczema and is allergic to almost all sunscreens also…We have had success with Unika (found on Amazon) and Amavara. Both companies she can wear without reactions.” —Inspire member

  5. Understand food triggers. Some Inspire members find that foods can cause skin irritation. Seeing an allergist or a dietitian can help you learn about and avoid food triggers. Members report that sugar, gluten, dairy, caffeine, and alcohol among their triggers.

    • “Take a food sensitivity test. By reducing or eliminating certain foods, I was able to reduce the amount of inflammation in my gut….Armed with the knowledge of which foods affect my gut and taking supplements [my doctor] recommended, my eczema is almost entirely controlled. This is amazing considering I’ve gone 40+ years with eczema. It was very severe when I was young…Now with frequent hand washing and hand sanitizers, I still experience eczema on my hands but it’s manageable.” —Inspire member

    • “I’ve been controlling [psoriasis] with diet for the last two years. It’s healing all my other problems, too. So much processed food has crept into our lives, calories with no nourishment. It’s not easy to change what we consume, but the results are so worth it.” —Inspire member

  6. Avoid certain materials and fabrics. Metals, jewelry, and wool can trigger or irritate dry, itchy skin. Inspire members identified cotton as a safe fabric for their skin.

    • “I wear all cotton clothing, including underwear. I use cotton sheets on my bed.” —Inspire member

  7. Manage stress. Stress can impact many aspects of health, including skin health. Try exercise, meditation, yoga, and spending time with loved ones. These activities have helped Inspire members deal with stress.

    • “The biggest thing that helped me was to find my food triggers and to try to avoid stress.”—Inspire member

    • “The first time I had a [psoriasis] breakout (I was 29), it was during a very stressful time in my life…When I get stressed, I have severe breakouts.” —Inspire member

  8. Be mindful about water temperatures. Hot showers or baths can dry out skin. Inspire members recommend using warm water when showering.

Do you have a tip that might help Inspire members manage their health? Start a conversation in your Inspire community today.

Disclaimer

Member comments have been lightly edited for length and clarity. This content is for general informational purposes only and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of any organization or individual. The content should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

FIBROMYALGIA

These diet changes help Inspire members ease fibromyalgia symptoms

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes widespread muscle pain and tenderness. Other common symptoms include fatigue, memory loss, and mood swings. This condition can be physically and mentally draining, but there are ways to manage it. Inspire members have eased their symptoms with lifestyle changes, such as changing their diet.

Eating a balanced diet can help with fibromyalgia

Eating a balanced diet is always a good idea, but it can be especially beneficial for people who suffer from fibromyalgia.

“Eat a rainbow of color on your plate–focus on fruits and vegetables and limit refined sugar and processed foods,” says Melissa Talwar, Executive Director, Support Fibromyalgia Network and Board Certified Functional Medicine Health Coach. “There are many diets out there that can help with fibromyalgia symptoms but there is no one size fits all. Some individuals see improvements with an anti-inflammatory diet, Wahls Protocol, Ketogenic Diet, intermittent fasting, low-FODMAP, and others. Keep a food diary to see if any particular foods are triggering your symptoms.”

You can also view information and videos on nutrition and dietary approaches for improving fibromyalgia symptoms from the Support Fibromyalgia Network here.

What our members had to say

I’ve found that on days that I have a balanced breakfast and a fruit smoothie for lunch, I experience significantly less pain and am a lot more energetic. Reducing processed sugar intake has also helped a lot for me.” – Fibromyalgia Community member

Unfortunately cutting out sugar isn’t as easy as just laying off the cake or sweets as it’s in soooo much including random things like bread and soup! However, reducing carbs will help loads with that plus the obvious sugary naughties. You will feel better but it’s a lifestyle change and not dieting so you have to be prepared for no cheating or not bother really. Good luck with your choice.” –Fibromyalgia Community member

I find the intermittent fasting helpful in overall reducing appetite and cutting cravings. I try to stick to lower carb, low sugar, high fiber and get enough water.” –Fibromyalgia Community member

It took me a lot of years but when I eat sugar I hurt. Much easier to say no to sugar when I’m really saying no to pain. Give yourself grace and make the best choices you can every day.” – Fibromyalgia Community member

I did Paleo for about 20 years but they hide sugar in a lot of things. Fibromyalgia causes some IBS which has just added to the pain. I have been with a dietitian and nutritionist and they all recommend a low-FODMAP diet. Remember 70% of your immune system is in your intestines. Also try to stay away from nightshades if you have Hashimoto’s. Stay on an anti-inflammatory diet. Paleo anti-inflammatory diet is good also and try to stay away from keto and do a food journal to watch which items are worse for you. You may not be celiac but you might be gluten sensitive also” –Fibromyalgia Community member

Lifestyle changes can help manage fibromyalgia symptoms

Despite the fact there is no cure for fibromyalgia, making dietary changes may be a simple way to manage the symptoms and cope with the everyday pain caused by this condition. Be mindful of foods that may trigger your symptoms and aim for a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in sugar and processed foods and you just may find some relief.

Share your story

Have you made any diet or other lifestyle changes to manage your fibromyalgia? Join our Fibromyalgia Community to share with others what you have done to help relieve your symptoms.

DISCLAIMER

Member comments have been lightly edited for length and clarity. This content is for general informational purposes only and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of any organization or individual. The content should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT

For parents of children with PANDAS/PANS, the journey to diagnosis can be the hardest part

“This is a scary illness and it is so treatable if you find help in time” —Diana Pohlman, PANDAS Network Founder

For parents of young children, extreme changes in behavior can be unexpected, shocking, confusing, and overwhelming. For parents of children with PANDAS/PANS, it can take years to find a cause. Parents Micaela and Jarad fought for almost 10 years to find a diagnosis for their children, Kai and Brielle. Stacie and Peter sought answers for 5 years for their children, Collin and Autumn. Even a “quick” diagnosis, like for Katy and her parents, can still take up to a year. Most parents spend countless hours and money on doctor and hospital visits only to be told their children are faking their symptoms or that the cause is purely psychological. Their children are prescribed prescriptions for medications like antidepressants that stop working or never have any effect at all.

“[Kai’s] illness was impossible to figure out. It had so many complexities, pieces, triggers, cascades, and… dozens and dozens of mental and physical manifestations,” says Micaela. “It was discouraging that no doctor could figure out what was wrong with our son, and no test showed anything of major significance for five years after his main onset.”

Brielle, Kai’s sister, who also has PANDAS, had completely different onset symptoms. In March 2017, Brielle developed a flu-like illness. “We were devastated as we watched our daughter lose her abilities to walk, speak, eat, process auditorily and visually, and connect with the world in any way. Worse, in the short and few moments in which she could see and hear, she didn’t recognize us anymore. Her cognition went to zero… Within 27 days of her onset, our daughter was essentially gone,” says Micaela. “She had lost everything about her except for her vital signs of life.”

For other parents like Stacie and Peter, their children’s journey happens more slowly. Stacie says, “Typically with PANDAS, you’ll hear about how they wake up one day and you have a completely different child, but that didn’t happen with us… I think a lot of people miss a PANDAS diagnosis because they are looking for that sudden onset, and because they don’t have it they think it’s not PANDAS—but ours was a slow progression for both kids.”

Both children were able to behave in school. When they came home, things would fall apart. The children would fight with each other, but they were not typical sibling fights. “My husband is a firefighter who works 24-hour shifts at a time, and at first their fights would happen mainly when he was at work.

“Early on, I would sit watching our children going psychotic and call him crying saying, ‘I don’t know what to do anymore.’ He would say, ‘Well, discipline them.’ Discipline didn’t work. Initially, the days he was home, it wouldn’t be as bad. I felt like a complete crazy person because nobody else saw it. My parents are very close with them and witnessed enough to know something was wrong, but nobody saw what I was experiencing alone in front of me on those nights. Autumn would take decorations off the walls to use as a weapon. She would circle the house running, typically with something off the walls, and with dilated pupils saying, ‘Wah wah.’ I almost didn’t believe what I was experiencing.”

What were these children and their parents dealing with? PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections) and PANS (Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome) are two conditions that children can develop after experiencing a strep infection (the most common cause). When this happens, a child’s brain can become inflamed and their immune system can mistakenly attack healthy brain cells, leading to autoimmune issues that affect the functions of the central nervous system. Dramatic changes in personality like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety, tics or other abnormal movements, personality changes, a decline in math and handwriting abilities, sensory sensitivities, restrictive eating, and more can suddenly occur. In some children, these changes seem to happen overnight and in others, there is a slow progression.

If your child has been diagnosed with strep and/or has frequent stomach aches and episodes of nausea, and other symptoms like those mentioned above, it is important to have them seen by a specialist. Strep bacteria can be found in the stomach; it doesn’t always manifest itself as a sore throat. According to the PANDAS Network, rheumatologists are increasingly being consulted for these types of diagnoses since “they focus on more detailed immunological testing.” But many doctors are still unaware of these conditions and parents frequently struggle to get a proper diagnosis.

Micaela says, “There is not enough awareness for these illnesses. So there are likely many other parents out there who are struggling with what they naturally assume are psychiatric issues with their kids—issues that could very well be relieved in some cases with treatments for the immune system.”

The mission of the PANDAS Network is to help parents become aware of this rare and lesser-known disorder. To learn more about PANDAS/PANS, visit the PANDAS Network Discussion Forum on Inspire to hear more from parents or share your story.

ASKED THE EXPERT

Caring for the Caregiver

Caring for a loved one with cancer is challenging. Caregivers often put their own needs and feelings aside to focus on the person they are caring for.

Join our Ask the Expert: Caring for the Caregiver with Dr. Jacobs August 15-19 in our American Brain Tumor Association Connections Support Community, and get answers to your questions about how to better handle your own psychological and physical needs so you can be a better caregiver. Click here

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

– George Bernard Shaw

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