Author Topic: Bathing and Laundry tips for Eczema/Atopic Derm sufferers - please share yours!  (Read 4381 times)

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Offline Chris F

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Hi everyone,

I've been having breakouts of what looks like hives for the past 5 years, and have been on methotrexate for the past two. The mtx does a good job of controlling my skin, but it tears up my digestion and makes me a moody troll on the day I take it and the day after, so I'm looking to either get off of it or at least reduce the amount I'm taking. At any rate, since most of my dry rashes are on areas covered by clothing (arms and legs, mostly), I thought I'd try to collect any laundry tips that anyone has to offer. I also have a few questions, which I'll put at the end of the list:

What I think helps with laundry:
 - Wash in cold water with an extra rinse cycle.
 - Use a gentle detergent with no fragrance.
 - Don't overdry the clothing; use a low heat setting in the dryer, then hang clothes while still slightly damp.
 - I wear all cotton when possible with microfiber undershirts (these seem to help keep my arms less irritated). I hear blends are bad for me because of the formaldehyde.

Questions:
 - Would there be any benefit to washing without soap? I've been using All Free & Clear, but it hasn't helped much. Alternately, is there some kind of rinse like vinegar or something else I don't know about that will remove the detergent from the clothes without hurting the skin once they are worn?
 - What kinds of problems in the water supply (hard water, weird ph of water, etc.) can affect skin in a negative way, and is there any way to test for this? We have a real basic filter on the water main, but I don't know how much it helps.
 - Are there other types of fabric that are easy on the skin that don't contain lanolin or formaldehyde (I'm allergic to both)?



What I think helps with bathing:
 - use as little soap as possible.
 - keep the water temp cool, and showers short.
 - moisturize immediatedly afterward.
 - When possible, bathe every other day instead of every day.

Anybody have any bathing tips or products to share? I'm trying to start over with managing my skin, and will be keeping a journal this time to see what seems to work and what doesn't. Thanks in advance. :)
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Offline LIGA girl

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Re: Bathing and Laundry tips for Eczema/Atopic Derm sufferers - please share you
« Reply #1 on: Saturday January 26, 2008, 12:06:06 AM »
Hi Chris F   :)

why don't you keep a journal on here on the journals board? It is a good idea to check back from time to time and to see what has worked and what hasn't worked. Also other members gain the benefit of seeing what has worked for you and how you have gone about treating your skin, they learn from it too.

As far as washing & bathing tips that work for me (and I am also on drugs for my skin problem too) I find some fabrics don't feel good (some synthetic fabrics) so I stay away from them as much as I can, I don't do anything especially different for washing clothes, and my clothes are mostly line dried as we have a good climate where I live and I prefer it. I use as little soap as possible when showering too, and often don't use any at all.

Cheers
LG

Offline Dapper

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Re: Bathing and Laundry tips for Eczema/Atopic Derm sufferers - please share you
« Reply #2 on: Saturday January 26, 2008, 03:08:37 AM »
Hi Chris, are you sure your problem is atopic derm?  It's not usually characterized by hives afaik, although I'm sure the incidence of hives is higher than normal among atopics.  Also, if the methotrexate is not controlling your symptoms, is it helping dramatically?  With a drug like that if it's not doing great things for you, you really have to question why you are on it at all I think.

What is the theory behind not drying the clothes too much?  I usually want to get mine dry as quickly as possible to minimize any potential mildew growth.  Any bit of mildew in my clothes will make my skin go nuts.

The only fabrics I've ever found to be easy on my skin are cotton, and to a lesser extent silk.  Also, nylon doesn't seem to do too bad for me, but polyester or any other kind of synthetic will make me itch a lot.  I think this must have something to do with the fiber structure of the synthetic material, for me at least I think it is more that those little hairs catch in and irritate the skin than being allergic to something on the synthetics.  Just my own speculation, though.

What about a water test like they do to test the safety of well water?  Those give a pretty thorough analysis I think(?).

For bathing, the soap seems to be the biggest factor.  It is so hard to find a really mild soap, and even mild ones could have ingredients to bother people with such extremely sensitive skin.  This is what I've been using lately, it has helped me a lot and you might experiment with it:  http://www.soapsgonebuy.com/Pine_Tar_Soap_p/gp1001.htm  [But I buy it at my grocery store, and know nothing about this particular shop.]  You can see from the ingredients it's quite mild.

If you are getting hives I assume you have worked hard to eliminate the possibility of any food allergies?  An extremely thorough elimination diet seems in order if you have not done one already.

It sounds like you have all your ducks in a row, though.  Thanks for the tips, and keep fighting the good fight!



Offline Chris F

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Re: Bathing and Laundry tips for Eczema/Atopic Derm sufferers - please share you
« Reply #3 on: Saturday January 26, 2008, 10:11:58 PM »
Hi Chris, are you sure your problem is atopic derm?  It's not usually characterized by hives afaik, although I'm sure the incidence of hives is higher than normal among atopics.  Also, if the methotrexate is not controlling your symptoms, is it helping dramatically?  With a drug like that if it's not doing great things for you, you really have to question why you are on it at all I think.

I think my dermatologist uses the "atopic derm/MCS/Excema" label as a catchall phrase, since she's not really sure exactly what the specific problem is. I've been skin tested (found slight allergies to formaldehyde and lanolin), Candida tested (negative on all counts), and food allergy tested (no strong allergies were found other than shellfish). The mtx does a good job of controlling my skin, but is a nasty drug and makes me moody and with horrible digestion. Since my rash only comes where clothes cover the skin, I'd like to see if I can find anything in my laundry process that might be causing all or part of it.

Quote
What is the theory behind not drying the clothes too much?  I usually want to get mine dry as quickly as possible to minimize any potential mildew growth. 


I honestly hadn't thought of mildew at all. I just know that when mine stay too long in the dryer (I'm in the states), they get rough and irritate my skin. Is mildew a common allergy with machine dried clothes?



Quote
What about a water test like they do to test the safety of well water?  Those give a pretty thorough analysis I think(?).

Exactly what I was wondering! But what would I be looking for? Is there a certain PH balance that is bad for skin, or certain chemicals? I'm not even sure what to look for.



Quote
If you are getting hives I assume you have worked hard to eliminate the possibility of any food allergies?  An extremely thorough elimination diet seems in order if you have not done one already.

We've tried several with no luck so far, but may try again. Any ideas for starters of common culprits that are not Candida diets? Thanks for the advice. :)

LIGA girl - I didn't even know there was a journals board. :P I'll go look into that now...


[/quote]
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Offline itchychick

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Re: Bathing and Laundry tips for Eczema/Atopic Derm sufferers - please share yours!
« Reply #4 on: Saturday January 26, 2008, 10:43:43 PM »
Hi Chris,

Your description of hives caught my attention, because my e too, is characterized by tiny, hive like bumps that come to the surface after I get a really intense itchy feeling and the unavoidable urge to scratch.  I then scratch off the surface of the skin and the fun begins.  I was diagnosed with atopic e, but upon seeing an allergist (who did a series of tests), he felt it was a condition called dermographism.  I'm not convinced it is either eczema or dermographism, (I don't really fit the symptoms entirely of either), but I treat it as one would treat e... with topicals (steriods and Protopic), with occasional use of antihistamines (the only treatment for dermographism).  Both approaches work only moderately well at best.

As far as your laundry/bathing questions go, I haven't found that detergents or washing technique make a difference for me.  I do find that taking baths and showers helps relieve the itching, as long as I moisturize immediately afterwards.  Bathing daily doesn't seem to impact me at all (but I usually don't...)   I use absolutely no soap in the tub, and only a very mild, baby wash with no Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate when in the shower, and only on the "stinky" bits... 

As far as diet, I have tried a number of elimination diets to no great avail, but I have found that when I can eat a very healthy diet with lots of fruit and veg and not very much grain product (which is my weakness...), my skin seems to be a bit quieter, but that might be coincidence.   I know that allergies to dairy and gluten tend to be more common in atopic types, so this might be something to think about.

Offline Dapper

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Re: Bathing and Laundry tips for Eczema/Atopic Derm sufferers - please share you
« Reply #5 on: Sunday January 27, 2008, 12:43:44 AM »
You might try running a cloth glove through your laundry and then wearing it on your hand, or just wrapping a t-shirt on your hand for several hours a day, and see if the problem spreads to that area of skin.  Or else you could switch to shorts for a week and see if the spots where your pants aren't touching improve.  This would help to narrow down for sure if the clothes are your big problem [and maybe you already did this].

Mildew is a common allergy in general.  If you have wet clothes sitting in a washer or dryer, you have wet, dark, usually cold and therefore it is a great environment for mildew to grow.  You can usually tell if you're clothes are starting to get a little mildew from the smell when they get wet.  If so, wash with bleach to kill it.

With a suspected food allergy where you have no idea what it might be, you might want to go on an extremely restrictive diet, such as unprocessed beans [kidney beans or pinto beans, not soy beans] and rice for a week, and water to drink, nothing else.  See if your skin starts to improve.  If it does help then it's a good bet you have been reacting to something in your diet.  Then you can gradually start adding foods back in and make sure they don't cause you any problems, and once by one you can narrow it down and figure out where the problem lies.  Annoying process, but even just confirming or eliminating foods as the source of the problem might be worth it.  Also, any ingredient in any pill or vitamin can potentially be part of the problem as well.  If you are going to do something like this then try to minimize those as well, but probably if you are having a reaction and you don't know what it is to, then it is not so sensitive that some very minor amount such as a bit of powder in a vitamin would be the source of your problem.  If it was something you were ever so sensitive to, one would think you would have found out what it was by now because at some point you would be exposed to a lot instead of just a little bit and have a really dramatic reaction.

I did a big elimination diet this summer, ate nothing but beans and rice and potates and green peas and olive oil, all unprocessed, for several weeks.  It was a lot of work, and didn't help me at all, but finding out it doesn't help is almost as useful as finding out it does.  If you're just shooting in the dark, then eliminating one or two foods is missing the vast majority of the target.  So you might have to do the other way around, eliminate everything BUT one or two foods [beans and rice are one you can live healthy on for years, and few people are allergic to] and then see if you get some improvement.  [And you might well have done this already, I know, so I'm just throwing it out there in case you didn't think of it yet.]
« Last Edit: Sunday January 27, 2008, 12:50:24 AM by Dapper »