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Offline Dapper

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B12, UV/tanning, skin thinning, and other random stuff...
« on: Saturday April 11, 2009, 06:16:10 PM »
Hey guys, this post is a sort of round-up of all my latest thoughts and experiences trying to treat my atopic dermatitis.  I guess I'll start with the most positive things first....


Topical Vitamin B12 --

Some of you probably know that there was a promising study a few years ago about using topical vitamin B12 to treat atopic dermatitis [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15149512].  Apparently, the B12 inhibits one of the chemical reactions in the atopic dermatitis itch-rash cycle.  When taken systemically, B12 is rapidly metabolized and excess is flushed from the body, hence the concentrations in the skin never get high enough to have this beneficial effect on the eczema, which is why this is a new discovery in eczema treatment and has not been noticed in the past.  When applied to the skin, the vitamin B12 is rapidly absorbed [resulting in high initial b12 concentrations in the skin cells], and because it is metabolized so well the B12 is considered among the safest vitamins, with virtually no known toxicity at any level of dosage [when taken systemically].  ANYWAYS, in the study they used a .07% vitamin B12 cream, and I haven't been able to find anything like that on the market, but what I did find is a B12 liquid that is made by Douglas Labs [ex seller: http://www.needs.com/product/Douglas_Labs_Methylcobalamin_Liquid_10000_mcg_1/b_Douglas_Labs ] which is basically just glycerine and water with .1% B12 concentration, so it's pretty close to the lotion they used in the study. 

I find that using the B12 on my skin really helps with itching.  I reccomend this to other people as something to try if you are desperate.  The main problems are that vitamin B12 it turns out is quite expensive [I was thinking about making my own cream, so I researched this], and this dropper bottle from Douglas Labs I have found can be backordered by a month or two.  PLEASE NOTE:  The Douglas Labs dropper bottle of B12 that I received contains water, glycerine, methylcobalamin [b12], sodium benzoate, and citric acid[!], because all the websites that I saw selling it say "natural cherry flavor" instead of citric acid, and citric acid is quite harsh on the skin, but I think it is just a tiny amount of it, because so far this stuff has been helpfull to me when I put it on my skin.



Tanning --

A lot of us atopic dermatitis sufferers find that the winter is our worst time of year.  I always thought this was because of the dry inside air and the cold, but perhaps it is the lack of sun that is the problem.  This winter was the worst one for me in a long time, and one day we got a really bright sunny day.  Even though it was pretty cold, I somehow got a craving to go outside and get that sun on my skin, just like an instinct, and so I layed out in the sun in my underwear shivering for an hour or two.  Amazingly, it seemed to really make my skin feel better, adn this affect lasted all day.  My mother suggested, "Why don't you just go to the tanning bed."  Well, duh!  I've been going to the tanning bed for the past few months now and it has helped me enormously!  I'm sure some of you have already discovered the joys that tanning can be for E sufferers, but this is for those who have not thought of it yet, or who have been too skeptical.

I didn't think UV treatment helped me any, because I did UV treatments at the dematologists before and it didn't help at all.  BUT, dermatologists USUALLY use a very narrow band of UV [either a tiny band in the UVA spectrum or in the UVB spectrum, depending], and the tanning beds tend to be more broad spectrum, same with the natural sunlight.  There is some research going on now to find out if vitamin D deficiency plays any role in atopic dermatitis, in which case the UVB radiation on your skin would be very important.  But more than that the UV radiation in general is known to cause an immune suppressive effect on the skin, they think that is why it increases the risk of cancer, and so it makes sense that tanning would help with atopic derm and other rashes.  It also releases natural narcotic chemicals into your blood stream that make you feel great!  I really reccomend if anyone hasn't tried it yet that they go find a good tanning booth [the tanning beds have to be cleaned with harsh chemicals which could irritate your skin, so stand-up is better] and get a tan.

The one unfortunate thing is that most tanning booths/beds are designed for cosmetic purposes, and so many of them do not have a uv spectrum that approximates natural sunlight very well.  Specifically, most tanning beds/booths have only a small amount of UVB spectrum.  So I reccomend for people to research and make sure the tanning booth has at least a bit of UVB [2-3% UVB is above average for these things, so if you can get that much or better you're doing pretty good].  Or else tanning in the natural sun should be even better, and that is my new theory that it is the lack of sunlight in the wintertime with makes the E so very bad, but of course the dry air doesn't help either.



Atopiclair and Mimyx --

I'm sorry to report that both of these helped me for about six months and then stopped having any effect on my skin at all.  I don't know if it was just placebo effect in the first place, or my skin just developed a tolerance for these creams, but I hope other people have been having better luck.



Skin Thinning --

So, since I became allergic to vaseline and haven't been able to use protopic anymore, I started using a lot of cortizone creams again.  When I was growing up my hands would always crack open really bad, like where I would have sometimes like dozens of deep cracks down to the flesh in my fingers and hands in the winter, and of course my hands are all scarred from that, but it stopped happening when I was a teenager.  Well now after using a lot of cortizone again, like I did when I was a child, the cracks came back with a vengeance.  This is caused by a thinning of the skin, which isn't always easy to notice just by looking at your skin.  I find that most dermatologists are not good at recognizing skin thinning either, so they aren't that helpfull.  One of the best ways to recognize skin thinning from cortizone use is the skin becomes pinched up and micro-wrinkled, like cigarette paper.  Anyways, the cracking on my hands was so bad this winter it basically brought my life to a complete standstill, as I was barely able to use my hands and they got all infected, not to mention the hours a day trying to keep them from getting even worse.  I never appreciated until this year that that is caused by the cortizone, but now since I didn't use cortizone for years and it was not a problem, then when I started using a lot of cortizone again my hands cracked apart like crazy, the connection is pretty obvious.  So just a word of warning about that I guess, because I always just blew off the fears of skin thinning as being cosmetic.



Well, that's all.  Damn, I'm itchy today, I wish I could use vaseline and protopic again.  Hope everyone is having good luck with their skin, and hang in there if you're not, because it's just a struggle of ups and downs, so if you're in one of the downs you got to remember that the up is coming along eventually.

-Dapper



« Last Edit: Saturday April 11, 2009, 06:21:27 PM by Dapper »

Offline itchychick

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Re: B12, UV/tanning, skin thinning, and other random stuff...
« Reply #1 on: Monday April 13, 2009, 03:12:25 AM »
Hi Dapper,

Interesting about the b12.  I wonder if that's the same thing as panthenoic acid?  I remember finding a skin cream in Greece that contained panthenoic acid (it is also called panthenol, and it is one of the B vitamins, but don't remember which one.)  The Greeks used this as a multipurpose cream for healing skin - my aunt kept it in the fridge to increase the soothing properties when applied cool.

Tanning DEFINATELY helps me.  My skin always looks better in the summer, and within a week or so of a beach holiday, my active e disappears.  I didn't find the tanning salon to be nearly as helpful, but perhaps this has to do with a specific wavelength.  My sister (a derm) said there is a very specific wavelength of light that can help eczema patients....  but I too, have wondered about the connection to vitamin D.

Great update!  Keep us posted on how you progress!

Offline Dapper

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Re: B12, UV/tanning, skin thinning, and other random stuff...
« Reply #2 on: Saturday April 18, 2009, 04:10:29 AM »
Hey, ya I guess pantothenic acid is B5, but it could be it has a similar effect as the B12, who knows.  Sounds like good cream, though. :)

Offline Wiggly

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Re: B12, UV/tanning, skin thinning, and other random stuff...
« Reply #3 on: Saturday May 02, 2009, 01:44:12 PM »
Dapper - if itching and scratching is one of the main problems you have for your skin than I hope you won't mind me recommending the habit reversal programme from 'The Eczema Solution' by Susan Armstrong Brown. It will stop you from scratching and most of the itchiness, if not all, will go away.

It really is amazing how much it helps - if you'd told me six years ago that I wouldn't be suffering from itchiness anymore, I would have laughed. My skin was so bad. Now I just have to deal with dry skin.

Also I definitely think the sun can help your skin. I had PUVA treatments in the past and saw a lot of improvement but unfortunately because I was still itchy and scratching all the time this did not last for long. However these days and ever since I've stopped scratching, the sunlight seems to even help with the dryness. You could ask your doctor about UV light treatment for your skin. They give you psoralens to make your skin more receptive to the UV light and adjust how long you are exposed for - so especially if you're fair skinned it's potentially safer than using tanning beds.


Offline skinurghs

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Re: B12, UV/tanning, skin thinning, and other random stuff...
« Reply #4 on: Tuesday May 12, 2009, 09:23:09 PM »
Dapper - am with you on the B12 and vit D.  I tried taking lots of cod liver oil this winter with not very much success. There is a vit D synthesis that happens within our skin when exposed to UVB. However don't think this is the same as cod liver oil vit D..........Like you sunlight helps my skin and so go exposing myself when ever it is sunny!!!!

Am trying tablet form vit B..........so hearing you have found positive results with vit B12 is great.
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