About Me

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I'm a mom, a wife, a best friend. Sick with CFIDS/ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia since 1975 as a result of a nasty flu while still in grad school, it wasn't until the late '80's that I received a diagnosis. Until that flu I'd never really been ill before. With each year I get progressively worse and add to the bucket load of symptoms I'm living with. I've been blessed with an incredible family and best friend who've stayed with me through my struggles as we continue to find a way out of this monstrous illness and its complications. We've tried seemingly every approach to find my way back to health. Often I think our best weapon in this undesirable and unasked-for adventure has been laughter.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Good To Know About Scarred Skin

The Tomboy!
Ever since I put the silicone sheet on my arm, as instructed by my plastic surgeon, in order to minimize the distinctively ugly, and solid 30 inches of scarring - which, incidentally, gives me a rather distinctive resemblance to the bride of Frankenstein - and then had my horrible allergic reaction to the sheet, I've been intrigued by silicone. (Described here: here

And my fascination is not surprising - in my head at least - since most cosmetics out there, as well as a pretty vast majority of skincare, has quite a bit of silicone in it.  Since that unfortunate allergic reaction, I've been in a bit of a quagmire trying to figure out which products with silicone will cause a bad reaction and which ones have formulations which don't appear to give me a problem with the silicone.  It all really reminds me of Bayer's aspirin. The chemicals used by Bayer were basically the same as in all aspirins: it was the bark of a willow and its acetylsalicylic acid.  However, it's the formulation, the "buffered" part - which is a secret - that distinguished it from the rest of the aspirins out there, a formulation which allowed for a larger part of the population to "stomach" the aspirin, by diminishing the side effects of nausea and gastric pain, which made the original owners its vast fortunes.  

So, where am I going with this trivia?  Well, it's just that I can't help wondering why it is that silicone is so successfully carried out in some products while in others, not so much.  Each time I buy a new skincare product or a beauty product, it seems as if I see silicone in almost every product out there.  If you tried to stay away from these silicones, it would be almost impossible, and I do try!  On the other hand, I have products that do contain silicone and they don't seem to bother me.  Is this because the products that don't bother my CFIDS, ME, fibromyalgia skin have a different sort of formulation than the ones that do bother?  Is it a case of what happened to Bayer aspirin is now happening in the generic vs brand name medications? (State secret here: generics do NOT work as well as the brand name and I do get so annoyed with my insurance company when I have to fork out the mucho bucks for the name brand  medication or make a judgement call and go with the generic: it's quite the dilemma, though I realize how trivial it must sound: there are people and children out there who can't eat and I'm complaining about generic vs. brand name meds?  Still, when I take a med and it works sometimes and doesn't at others, I know it's because I've been forced to go onto another (inconsistent) generic.  But don't get me started!)

And so here we are - finally! I know!!! - with the subject at hand:  how to deal with skin that is damaged and that we want to prevent from scarring as much as possible.  And let me tell you, I am much more clumsy now than I was before I became so ill.  Part of that is age, of course, but most of it is that when you have an undependable sense of balance, depth perception (because of eyes that don't function the same hour to hour) and just a general feeling that things are "off" in the world, you had better build yourself what I call a "scarring kit."

One interesting factoid I came across in doing research for this post is that if you have stretch marks or injuries that are still pink, there is still time and a good chance of ridding - or at least vastly diminishing - the appearance of scars.  The pink shows that there is still blood flow in the area and that's crucial.  

I've had my fair share of injuries, be it from small surgical scars due to small things such as my appendix taken out, to the ridiculously big, like my latest with my compartment syndrome surgeries, something so nasty that I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

I've also had nature-made accidents, scrapes from gardening, falls from trees as I was (supposedly) growing up, gravel burns and abrasions.  Just about everything, luckily, healed beautifully and I never minded the appearance of scars...as long as none were on my face.  The face: to me, that's sacred and where my vanity begins and ends. I even missed my smallpox vaccination scrape: how did THAT manage to disappear without my noticing? 

But for those of you who do not have a good relationship with your scars, the following may help.  These are my favorites for fighting these sorts of problems:

  • Essential lavender oil, neat or in a carrier oil, I prefer the organic high-altitude lavender oil.

By "neat" I mean that a drop can be put right on the skin.  I know that a lot of the literature out there says to blend it in a carrier oil (such as jojoba, avocado, olive), but with lavender I find that putting a drop on directly will not do any harm.  This is a very old-time and old-fashioned "fix."  It's even perfect for burns in the kitchen, for example - and putting it on immediately is key so in our household we have little bottles of it stashed around the house at crucial places, like next to the stove.  My kids, who would rather go without eating for a week than admit that I'm right, have secretly borrowed my "extra" bottles from me, even asking for it if desperate enough when leaving home for an extended period of time.

I prefer to buy the organic, high altitude lavender oil sold by Aroma-thyme here .

  • Bio-Oil - a classic that I've only started using since my surgeries for compartment syndrome back in November/December.  
I'm going by the recommendations of others since I'd never even heard of this product before, and my arm/hand is major scarring that will take years to heal, due to both the huge amount of area  and the place affected, so I won't know for years if and what is effective, come what may with my arm and hand.  Bio-Oil is widely available but I happen to buy mine from http://www.drugstore.com/bio-oil-scar-treatment/qxp165709?catid=182889  There are huge fans of it out there, so I use it when I think to.

  • HealGel, invented by a team of dermatologists, is a new product and though I'm a bit skeptical about silicones, I use this off and on.   

HealGel is a relatively new kid on the block and has an incredible pedigree: it was developed by five dermatologist and one surgeon in order to treat post-operative scarring, blemished skin and aged scar tissues, keloid scar, as well as the everyday sunburn, bruising and inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.  I have no hard data for it, only an "eye" for how things appear to work for me.  It's a problem in that I've never cared one way or another as to how I do with scarring - the true sign of a person who doesn't have big issues with healing skin, I now realize. I think it's worth trying, however, because it IS based on science and has such a huge fan base.  Also, my feeling is that if you're desperate enough, you'll give just about anything a try: at least this gel has quite a bit of science to back it up.

  • Creme de la Mer and La Mer: the Concentrate are classics.  
These are the number two products in my arsenal, along with essential lavender oil and  the LaMer's have helped me when nothing else has.  The concentrate may very well contain a bit of silicone, I'm rather sure, but is formulated in a way that it doesn't bother me.  For best results, massage the concentrate onto the scar and then "seal" it in with the Creme de LaMer.   I'm not sure if there's anyone on the planet that hasn't heard the story of how this product was discovered: a physicist had set out to correct the horrible scarring he had sustained in a lab accident and after a few years and thousands of different formulas, he came up with LaMer and the rest was history.  It has algae (and I do so love algae for skincare) and needs to be fermented for a few months.  When a duplication of the elixir was attempted by other companies, the results were never successful and so it had to finally be bought by Estee Lauder.  I have to wonder if EL tried to fudge it on some of the steps (it's a time-intensive process: think scotch!, which is why it costs so much) because I do not think that LaMer is the same as it was when I first started using it back in the '90's.  But this is just one person's opinion and it's still an incredible team that deserves room in your arsenal if you can afford it in any way.  

Happy Monday, everyone!  Here's to all feeling their best: if not better!

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