Meds and Lifelong Skin Problems

by M. Szymanel
(Painesville, Oh)

I have always struggled with my skin, especially my face, but all over. I was diagnosed bipolar 23 years ago, and had had a history of 'picking' at my arms. This was immediately put up to the BP diagnosis and psych history problems.


I have been to dermatologists for years, with little help. I became quite ill in 2007, and although it took some time, found out all of my meds had gone toxic. My skin had been somewhat clear, but had begun breaking out again at this time.

This past year I have really struggled with psoriasis all over, but especially on my scalp, and what I thought was continuing adult acne. Also, what had been diagnosed years ago as a yeast infection under my breasts had just gone crazy.

I finally took control. While doing my own research, I realized I had always had severe 'chicken skin' and this is what I had been picking at. Couldn't understand how this had never been pointed out to me.

I did have a yeast infection, but I also had inverse psoriasis under my breasts that had probably gone into a secondary infection. My face was covered in contact dermatitis.even though I rarely used cosmetic products because of breakouts. All of this from research on the internet.

I went back to a dermatologist, again, and told them. My breasts were clear in 4 weeks after 8 years. It has taken months for my face to clear, but I know now how to take care of it.

Warm water only; I use a tourmaline, water based cleansing product on my face for sensitive skin, quick on, quick off, once a day. I do rinse my skin once a day with lukewarm water. No exfoliating. I use a tourmaline for sensitive skin moisturizer, and a moisturizer for after laser procedures, both of these twice daily.

Both of these products are considered 'barriers' for sensitive skin, not just moisturizers. They go on differently then a moisturizer, and I had to get used to that, but they have really worked well to clear the dermatitis and allow my skin to heal.

I have started taking salts baths 3X weekly for the psoriasis, followed by peanut oil that contains a very low hydrocortisone percentage, and massage in very well. I mix this with sesame seed oil. I moisturize on top of this with my own body butter made from shea butter, coconut oil and several other products.

Because of my meds, my skin is just incredibly dry and does not 'shed' well on its own. When I give myself a message, this is when my skin softens and will shed. My body moisturizers used to just sit on top of my skin because it was so dry and hard, but now that I take the time to bath and message, and I do lose the dead, dry skin, and my moisturizers leave me soft, and comfortable, not dry and itchy. I actually enjoy moisturizing, and I just don't end up 'greasy'.

My body is totally under control, and I have been able to incorporate treatment for the 'chicken shin' now, and my arms look the best in 30 years. My problem is with my highly reactive scalp that is reacting to every shampoo I've tried. Can't seem to find one that has minimal ingredients, is gentle, leaves my hair manageable and conditioned.

My drs never told me my meds would just ravage my skin with dryness, but a knowledgeable pharmicist finally looked at everything and gave me a great deal of help. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Think I will be able to get off the peanut oil, and will be down to using hydrocortisone on my scalp only. Don't want to be using it at all. That's my goal. I've lost a great deal of hair this year, and I'm sure the psoriasis severity and the hydrocortisone treatment has caused most of this problem.

Thinking of all of us with these problems, and my one daughter who now has my chicken skin. She has the knowledge and that is power. A good dermatologist is very important, but you need to take control and do your own research. Also, there is so much you can do without someone reaching for the prescription pad. I've even found a make up I can use that doesn't set my skin off, and both of my daughters are using it. This one was recommended by my dermatologist. Love having eye shadow on again. If anyone can help me with shampoo, that would be great, don't know if this site works this way, but am ready to give up. M. Szymanel

Comments for Meds and Lifelong Skin Problems

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Jan 26, 2010
Thank you, and ideas about shampoo
by: Mashubi

Thank you so much M. for sharing your journey with us! I am so glad that you have been able to find help for the skin problems you were facing! I know that your story will inspire others to research and learn more about what kinds of approaches are most helpful.

Ah, the whole question of a good shampoo is quite challenging. If you know which ingredients you are reacting to, this may help, but it is very difficult to separate them out to know exactly which one may be causing a problem.

The one ingredient that bothers many people with sensitive skin is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, which is a foaming agent. Finding a shampoo without SLS is more challenging, but more and more companies are choosing gentler options so there are now more options available.

We have several pages on hypoallergenic hair care with additional information which may be helpful to you:

Hypoallergenic Shampoo
Hypoallergenic Hair Care.

The only very low irritation shampoo I'm aware of is Earth Science Shampoo For Sensitive Hair & Scalp
that has no fragrance and contains sodium myreth sulfate instead of SLS. It does contain some botanical ingredients but it has no scent. This shampoo did not work well for my hair, which never looked clean when I used it, but other people like it.

Does anyone else have suggestions for low irritation shampoos? Thanks very much for sharing.

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