Monday, December 16, 2013

7 Month Update - December 16, 2013 Big Flare #2 is ON.

Big flare #2 has come. And it ain't pretty. 

Since the beginning of December, my skin has really started to act up. An extremely dry cold front hit Northern California and it has really affected how my skin has been. 

Current Issues:

  • My skin can't hold any moisture whatsoever. 
  • Increased flaking/shedding (like, if I put a shirt on and take it off immediately, there's flakes)
  • Increased swelling/elephant skin
  • More areas are affected, different than flare #1, listed from worst to less bad:
    • Left ankle - holy guacamole. constant scaling of skin, dry, weeping nonstop (paper towels worn under socks), swollen
    • Wrists - dry, hypershedding, weeping, swollen
    • Back of knees - dry, hypershedding, weeping, swollen
    • Upper chest/upper arms - dry, hypershedding, 
    • Scalp - dry, hyper hyper shedding
    • Groin folds - dry, moderate shedding, discoloration
    • Back/upper legs - dry, light to moderate shedding, red patches
    • Face - dry, light shedding (thank goodness for this)

It's like I have to learn how to cope all over again. For the first week or so of this flare, I was pretty much in denial. I thought to myself, my skin must just be acting up due to the weather and it'll be gone in a few days. 

Well, two weeks later the condition has worsened and I can finally say for sure that I'm in a big flare. Starting to adjust to weep prevention (Domeboro solution, paper napkins and cotton clothes) and itch/flake control by wearing my tight clothes again. 

It's a blessing that my face is not taking the brunt of the flare this time but then again I'm fixated on my ankle which seems to have 2-3 turnovers of skin a day. But the skin doesn't feel very substantial and is so ready to fall off at the lightest scratch. 

And without further ado, some pictures of my misery.

All of my skin now has redness somewhere. Especially concentrated in the wrists and upper chest. Aah so itchy.

Back is least of my worries, only light red splotches but a bit more itchy than normal.

Knees are very bad this time around, often times feeling wet from weeping if I randomly check on them. Gotta spend more time with my legs straight.

And the grand finale. Note the extent of the left foot's elephant skin indicating swelling (pictured right). Left ankle appears larger in diameter. No bueno. Skin does not want to stay intact but instead raises into scales before new skin is ready. Second toe has constant ooze.

Holy edema Batman! This photo is 10 hrs later than the above photo.

I was really starting to feel hopeful after last month's update but this flare is reminding me that healing will be a longer time away than I had hoped. Pretty bummed about the whole thing but I feel like I'm handling it slightly better than before. It may not be long before I have to take pain killers again but I'm trying to avoid it for now. 

Anyway, hope winter is treating you all better than it has for me. 

Until next time,



  1. Hey megs
    Lucky ur face isnt affected that bad.
    My face looks like ur bad foot right now.
    Im super depressed.

    1. Oh no Lisa, I'm so sorry to hear that. Has yours spread at all or still contained to your face?

  2. Megan, I just reviewed your blog and I believe you are having a difficult time at this stage only because you have moisturized continuously. When you have time check out my blog. I believe you could benefit greatly by doing moisturizer withdrawal. Btw, I live north of you in northern Oregon and it's colder here. Doesn't bother my skin a bit. Actually, my skin loves the cold air when I go for walks. Do yourself a favor and stop your hell by learning all about the effects of moisturizers on the skin barrier. I wish you only the best.

    1. Hi Dan,

      Thank you for your suggestion and I really appreciate your comments. I've always taken a very minimal approach to moisturizing. I believe I've even mentioned that moisturizing too much seemed to deteriorate the integrity of my skin. I'd never go moisturizer free b/c I work a full time job where I have to look like I'm not a flake ball and frankly it's just too uncomfortable. I go a day without moisturizer here and there when I can stand it. But I applaud anyone who can bear it and imagine it does help push the skin in the direction of making its own moist barrier again.

      I don't blame the cold primarily for this flare, but the dry cold. In Oregon, the humidity is quite high and here, the humidity has been extremely low in the past month. In fact, when I visited Portland my skin was behaving better than it does at home. If you look back to my 5 or 6 month updates, I was similar to where you are now, feeling like I was almost healed but the winter cold dry front has really thrown a wrench into that.

      Anyway, after all that wordiness, I do feel like my skin is heading in a better direction again so hopefully I'm on the mend again :)

    2. Hi Megan,

      Going without moisturizers is only too uncomfortable for you because you haven't given it a chance. It takes time for your skin to adjust to MW. Up to a month. Having moisturizer free skin is actually far more comfortable, so not sure why you would applaud anyone that can bear not using moisturizers. I think you have it backwards. If you have ever gone over a month 100% moisturizer free you would know this. The truth is, what people are having a difficult time bearing is the effects of moisturizing. That is why I suggested you educate yourself on the subject.

      All longer term moisturizing is known to damage the skin barrier. Your continuous moisturizing is prolonging your healing girl! Your whole blog is a testament to that fact. Any moisturizer used for over a couple months is going to damage the skin barrier. The evidence is everywhere if you look for it. It's not how our bodies are made to function. We aren't born with tubes of moisturizers are we? No, we are born with bodies that provide the moisture we need, if allowed to.

      Check out this study on olive oil:

      Effect of olive on the adult skin barrier

      I understand the need for work, and if you are willing to do the trade off of a longer tsw period to be able to work then that's fine and your choice, but please understand that going through tsw without moisturizers is not the hell you think it is. It's just the opposite.

      I follow the humidity very close here. I have two humidity gauges and haven't seen the humidity above 40 here since the middle of summer when it was running around 70 for quite a while. It has been averaging between 25-35 for the last 2-3 months now. Currently at 40. It will probably rise when the rains set in.

      The low humidity hasn't had any effect on my skin whatsoever. I had a recent flare caused by stress, but the flare was mild and cleared quickly. As in less than two weeks. I really believe your flare is as bad as it is due to moisturizing no matter what caused it. Your skin obviously hasn't healed much at all and is being continuous damaged by moisturizers.

      You can always use a "safe" moisturizer on limited areas for work and wash it off at night with a good 20 minute soak in the bathtub. That would make a tremendous difference for you. I found the organic Spectrum white palm oil shortening to be safe and the least sensitive to my skin.

      I went through your blog again and it appears you started with what looks like a pretty mild case of tsw. The first couple months are usually the worst. It looks like you were getting much better at around month 3, but then worsened until month 5, at which time you improved again. And it's been mostly all downhill since then. Your skin looks worse to me right now than it did in the beginning of your tsw. I really think you could have finished tsw by month 3 or 4 if you had not moisturized.

      I'm just trying to help, which is the only reason I'm spending my time writing this. Good luck!

    3. That paper is certainly interesting and completely supports what I always felt when I used oils directly to my skin: the surface felt compromised after application of olive oil which is why I avoid doing so.

      I'm hesitant to believe that one could say if I had not used moisturizers TSW would be over this much faster, just due to the fact that this can't be proven without a double blind study. Since you are still in the process, I'm eager to see how TSW progresses for you in conjunction with MW.

      It's interesting you say "wash off" moisturizer b/c by the time I go to bed, I don't have moisturizer on anymore. I use moisturizer as more of a barrier between my clothing and skin which is very quickly absorbed by my clothes, after which my skin becomes dry.

      I understand that you're passionate to share things that have worked for you. Just because I applaud people who can suffer through the initial difficulty without moisturizer doesn't mean that I have it backwards but simply that I'm not trying this method for convenience having weighed the pros and cons, but I do share your views about lubricating skin and the fact that it definitely affects the skin's surface negatively which is why I choose to moisturize minimally. Most of the time my skin is dry and bare.

      You've definitely intrigued me to reconsider moisturizer withdrawal, especially since Christmas break is coming up, my jar of cream is almost empty and I'll have some time at home to hide from everyone. I'll let you know if I try!

    4. megan, I apologize for my tone and putting you on the defensive. But think about it, If you wait for a double blind study on this you will be waiting a very long time. I do hope you do MW. It truly makes your tsw go smoother, regardless of what some people say about it. Also, it only is a "hard landing" as Dr. Fukaya puts it, when you do it from the outset of tsw. Doing MW at this point shouldn't be that difficult for you. Dead Sea salt baths can help a lot during the initial stages of MW, and any time the skin is flaring or "acting" up. Let me know if you need any help if you do give it a shot.

    5. Dan, I'm glad you sensed my defensiveness, but you do really use strong words lol XD I've visited your blog and slept on it and been off moisturizing since 4pm yesterday and probably going to try this for the long haul. Wish me luck!

    6. Megan, I know I have the finesse of a bulldog with rabies. Something I've always had to work on. The grueling tsw journey only intensified it :(. I have been extremely frustrated with trying to get my message out for a long time which hasn't helped either. I'm so happy you are giving MW a try Megan! Ruth is someone I have been helping with this and she just posted a positive first week progress report on my blog. I will always be available if you have any questions at all. Please don't hesitate. Good luck!

    7. I found MW through the Japanese links and tried it from the beginning of my withdrawal several months ago. It was hell, did not work for me and I got infected from damaged, open skin. Once I started using moisturizers my skin healed much faster and I was much more comfortable. MW is completely unproven. Promoting it is irresponsible of you.

  3. Tyler, you are definitely the exception to the rule in light of the Japanese findings and the fact that the majority of people who have tried it here have found it to be a success for them. I did 3 separate courses of antibiotics as a precaution during my MW and subsequent flares over the last 7 months. First course was right before starting tsw when my hands were so destroyed my doctors were highly concerned. Last two were for the first MW and then a bad flare where my hands swelled, became red, very warm and painful to the touch. Symptoms of infection but no fever. So not even sure if I needed to take any of them anyway.

    It was hell for me for just 2 weeks but well worth spending the last 5 months in 80-90% more comfort than the first two months when I moisturized. So, tell me honestly, how long of a period did you go without any (zero) moisturizers before you gave up? Maybe it didn't work for you because you didn't do it correctly. I have two MW guides on my blog written by two different people describing two different ways to effective do moisturizer withdrawal. My method is meant mainly for people with moderate to severe skin damage with open wounds. The other guide is mainly for people who have mild to no open wounds. Did you use methods similar to compliment your MW?

    Are you now healed and if so how long has it taken you? If not, how long have you been in tsw? What is your current condition? How much TS did you use and for how long and what strength? A little background would shed some light. If you used a lot of high potent steroids for a very long time I'm all ears to what you have to say. That's a serious accusation. Your accusation that promoting it is irresponsible doesn't make much sense if it's working for so many people here and in Japan where it is becoming standard protocol. That's proof enough isn't it? I'm open minded and willing to stop promoting MW if you can answer all of the questions I asked above, and your answers show some kind of evidence that moisturizing is a better way.