Sensitive Skin Issues

Why we care about comfy clothes

Everybody -- and we mean, "every body" -- deserves bearable clothes. Clothes that don't hurt your eyes or your budget but that mainly don't hurt your skin. Actually that goes the other way around, of course. Bearable clothes don't hurt your sensitive skin. Bearable clothes don't make lupus flares hurt more or hot flashes more insanely uncomfortable and bearable clothes don't rub on rough or tender spots or drive your poison ivy mad. Bearable clothes are gentle, loose, kind and comfortable. You know; comfy. Bearable clothes are welcoming. Bearable clothes are kind. Bearable clothes are, well, bearable. ;-)

Sensitive skin (also called reactive or hyper-reactive skin by medical professionals) is defined as skin that reacts by reddening and/or with subjective symptoms like pricking, burning, pain, itching, "nerve itching" (pruritus) and so on. The sensitivity seems to come from the skin itself or from external stimuli that are not problem-causing pathogens in themselves (e.g. wind, heat, cold, water, cosmetics, stress).

Sensitive skin, when it appears, is almost always on the face but it can and often does appear on other parts of the body; such as diabetes patients with "itching nerves", lupus patients with flaring rashes and other skin diseases from eczema, scleroderma and psoriasis to poison ivy and sunburn.

Whether it's a temporary problem like a bad sunburn or a permanent condition like lupus, when your skin is sensitive you want -- you need -- clothes that don't rub, chafe, scratch, squeeze, constrict or otherwise just be mean to you.

You know those clothes are around! You're sure that you've seen them from time to time but when you need them they suddenly play hard to find. That's why we've gathered them together here. Loose, soft, warm (if you want) or cool (if you want) and as seamless as possible: "comfy clothes for sensitive skin". We don't make them -- we just wear them! Bearable clothes.

Eczema : red, itchy, ugly, irritating!

Eczema, also called dermatitis, is the name for several different types of skin inflammation or swelling. Eczema not dangerous, but most types cause red, swollen and itchy skin. Factors that can cause eczema include other diseases, allergies and your genetic background and irritating substances in your environment. Eczema is not contagious.

The most common type of eczema is called "atopic dermatitis". It is an allergic condition that makes your skin dry and itchy. It is most common in babies and children but usually clears up as the child gets older.

Eczema cannot be cured, but you can prevent some types of eczema by avoiding irritants, stress and the things to which you are allergic.


Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes itchy or sore patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales. You usually get them on your elbows, knees, scalp, back, face, palms and feet, but they can show up on other parts of your body. A problem with your immune system causes psoriasis. In a process called cell turnover, skin cells that grow deep in your skin rise to the surface. Normally, this takes a month. In psoriasis, it happens in just days because your cells rise too fast.

Psoriasis can last a long time, even a lifetime. Symptoms come and go. Things that make them worse include

  • Infections
  • Stress
  • Dry skin
  • Certain medicines

Psoriasis usually occurs in adults. It sometimes runs in families. Treatments include creams, medications and light therapy.

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.


Another Cancer Drug Turned on Lupus

A research team at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany have found that (yet) another drug designed to fight cancer may also be applicable for lupus.   It makes no difference, of course, but in this case even I can see the logic for the idea.

The drug "Velcade" was developed by U.S. biotech  Millennium Pharmaceuticals to treat patients with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the white blood cells. It happens that as part of it's M.O. the drug, known generically as bortezomib, blocks autoantibody production.  That rings a big bell in the lupus arena.

The research team tested Velcade on two strains of mice with, as they say, "lupus-like disease" and they showed that it did, indeed, block autoantibody production and it prolonged the lives of the mice.  Because of this result the team suggests in the journal Nature Medicine that Velcade may also fight systemic lupus erythematosus and that "careful clinical studies should be initiated."  

Like, duh!   

Posted June 8, 2008 Permalink

Doctors Disconnect on Patients' Reality?

An interesting editorial thought-piece in the Victoria, B.C. Times Colonist last Sunday (June 1, 2008) wonders about what happens when doctors are unable to diagnose a patient's illness.  The gist of the article is that doctors will (my term) loose touch with the patient's reality of life and symptoms and, in turn, the patient is frustrated, fearful and forced to seek expensive resolution elsewhere.

It's a generalization, of course, but personal experience says that it's more likely than not that a doctor will decide what a patient has and treat the patient for that decision but then, if the symptoms aren't resolved, the doctor will be unable to shift or review and may even get into the defensive mantras of "I don't see anything wrong with you" or "you have what I told you that you have and we are treating you for that and your continuing symptoms are irrelevant". 

The view of the article's writer(s) is in the frame of the Canadian national health care system but that's not really relevant. At a time when health insurance or HMOs rule how health care is dispensed -- whether you have insurance or not -- the constraints on doctors and patients are pretty much the same wherever you live.  If a doctor can't figure out what's wrong with you within the rules established by the insurance provider, then it's going to be a battle to figure out what's really wrong with you and to get it treated.

The article has a focus on a lyme disease instance where the lyme is not showing up in standard tests.  So the doctors are telling the patient that she has nothing wrong with her while just looking at her says otherwise.  The health provider won't pay for specialist treatment because the tests don't say that she has the disease.  Having "been there" with this one, we know how incredibly frustrating this can be.  The doctor knows that it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck but their technology only says that it is not positively a duck (as opposed to "it is not a duck") -- so they are frozen with fear and/or regulation.

The article also mentions lupus, of course.  We've all been there with that one!  How long must the frustration go on?  Is there anything that we can do to help the doctors grasp their arts more confidently?

Posted June 2, 2008 Permalink