A Prescription for Plastic Wrap!?
I recently had a bad flare-up of my atopic dermatitis and was out of my usual medications to treat it. I also wasn't entirely sure if that's what was happening to me. I was getting these strange blistery-type rashes on my hands, and my ring finger was flaring up to the point of my skin splitting open and bleeding! I was so itchy, I was scratching my finger open in my sleep. The doctor confirmed, my atopic dermatitis had decided to take on a new form, and needed to be treated before more fingers were openly bleeding!
Dry skin from washing hands
We talked about my day--was I a clean freak? I immediately said no, my house was a mess. He laughed; that's not what he meant! He rethought his question and asked if I was washing my hands a lot. Well, with two small children in the house, and me a stay-at-home mom, of course I was washing my hands a lot! After every diaper change, before serving meals, after serving meals, washing tons of dishes, mopping up who-knows-what from the floor with a wet paper towel infinite times a day....I could go on! He said this could be part of my problem. If I wasn't applying cream within three minutes after washing my hands (or any of those other activities I mentioned!), then my skin was getting dried out and the atopic dermatitis was free to take over!
Moisturizing creams, not lotions
He told me to stock up on creams (not lotions!!) that would help my skin retain moisture, and that I needed to apply it after EVERY SINGLE TIME I WET MY HANDS. This was no small feat, but I knew if I wanted to have normal looking hands, I would have to do it. He also prescribed a steroid cream and told me to put it only where I really needed it. And that if I was having a really bad flare up, like what he was looking at, I should not only put it on semi-heavily, but to also wrap my hands in plastic wrap as a means of locking the moisture (and the steroid) in.
Moisturizing with plastic wrap
I have to say that this was one of the strangest recommendations I had heard! But I gave it a whirl! I was desperate for relief! I wrapped up my worst hand and let the other one be free with just a small amount of the steroid on it. I had a very strange night. I woke up several times trying to pull the blanket over me, only to be thwarted by my wrapped-together fingers. I didn't sleep especially well, and was pretty certain that I would wake up with the same skin issues I had gone to bed with.
Baby soft skin
Well, let me tell you! When I pulled that plastic wrap off the next morning, my hand was the softest it had ever been! I had a six month old baby at the time, and I believe my skin was softer than hers! And my blisters were GONE! The plastic wrap felt like a miracle! The sleep wasn't great, but if I could undo that much damage in one night, I wouldn't need to do this very often. And I haven't! I've needed to do it maybe three or four times in the last six months, which I find quite reasonable to have baby-soft, gorgeous hands! Especially considering my bleeding, blistery mess I started off with!
I also started using the cream my doctor had recommended after as many hand washes as I could. I definitely can't say I do it EVERY time I wash my hands (or get them wet...) but I do use it after MOST. My hands have thanked me! And I'm no longer scratching my skin open while I sleep!
Have you shared your eczema story with us?