Tuesday, March 25, 2014

REVIEW: Dirt Devil Simpli-Stik Lightweight Corded Bagless Stick Vacuum aka My Skin Flake BUSTER

I don't want to bog everyone down with posts about how depressing my skin is all the time and my flare is dying down! So today, I'll review this product that has really helped me during Topical Steroid Withdrawal.

>>NOTE: I promise I'm not trying to sell it to you but I'd like to share the little things that help me get through the days.

To the review!

We all know that skin flakes are a huge issue during TSW and we are constantly trying to figure out how to keep them at bay. At the time, I was on a budget and needed a vacuum fast because ants were scavenging my flakes (GROSS!) and I found this little guy for under $20 at The Home Depot.

 Dirt Devil Simpli-Stik
click above to purchase!

Why I love it:
  • It's light! - vacuuming 2-3x a day whenever I have an itch attack would be tedious but I keep him plugged in and can get my flakes out of my sight in a second.
  • Enough power to pick up all my flakes 
  • Converts to a handheld dust buster for corners and bedding - I use the attachment a lot when dust (skin) accumulates under my desk, around my power cords etc.
  • It's ridiculously cheap. - I had quite low expectations, was ready to return it but it's become a staple for me. 
Some drawbacks:
  • It does lose suction when there's too much dirt, but I find I can get away with emptying it once every two to three weeks. This will probably depend on your skin shedding rate. 
  • It doesn't work well on carpet -- My room is pergo (faux hardwood), so this is perfect. 
  • It's red -- but tbh, the color has grown on me. 
To speed up the process of emptying it and keep the filter clean, I've adopted this paper towel method as demonstrated in the second half of this youtube video:

Hope you guys found this helpful as I know for myself, seeing my skin flakes can make me feel all the more itchy so having this guy around has certainly helped me deal with having to see them. 

How do you guys deal with your extra "dirt"? 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

FLARE: 10 month update

So... 10 months down and I don't feel much better. 

My sleep is totally F#*34eD! I wake up at least once a night in itch fits, and stay up for an hour or so. The main culprit is my hair, or more specifically, my scalp. It is intensely itchy. I've tried baking soda/vinegar, regular shampoo, tea tree oil/mint shampoo and anti-dandruff shampoo (nizoral). None have really helped. Only nizoral has made my scalp flakes slightly finer, but the itch is still quite bad. 

It's been a month since I started selectively moisturizing. And my overall conclusion is... (drumroll please)... I just don't know anymore. After my experiment last month, I did a couple things. For the most part, I'm still moisturizer free. Here are the exceptions.

  1. Moisturize 1 arm with grape seed oil. Result: No difference so I just stopped due to sheer laziness.
  2. Moisturized one side of face with grape seed oil. Result: No diff. 
  3. Moisturize 1 arm with Eucerine Professional Repair. Result: Bad rash so I stopped.
  4. Moisturized cracked hand with Vaseline. Result: Inflammation seems to have increased so I stopped.
  5. Continue moisturizing right foot with Cetaphil moisturizing lotion (in lieu of vaseline). Result: Slight improvement (maybe?). Continuing this one spot.
  6. Moisturized upper lip where deep crack is. Result: Thick skin peeled off (which is what I wanted). Subsequently going to stop moisturizing.
There's no verdict and it seems to be a case by case basis. So far as I can tell, deep thick cracks can benefit from a short bout of moisturizing.

This month I've definitely been in the throws of a pretty bad flare. Though the past week, it's been settling down again. 

My face, which for months was being reasonable with me, just started shedding pretty badly again. The photo below is today's condition. Much better than this past month. I have a crack down the middle of my upper lip that likes to stay open whenever I eat. This is where I mentioned I briefly vaselined it just to allow the skin to thin out a bit so the crack could actually close. Now the seam is staying closed. 

My hands have been very unhappy. Oddly, from the knuckles to the first digit, all of my fingers became reddened and a bit peely between. My left hand's pinky and ring finger down to the side of my hand are going nuts. This is the best they have looked in weeks. Before this, my whole pinky and ring finger were cracked at the knuckles. I resorted to taping the cracks closed with medical paper tape so the skin would fuse together. For the most part it has helped. Though, who knows what will happen tomorrow...

Left hand, pinky and ring fingers look better though still very scaly and sometimes oozy if I move them too much. 

Outer edge of left hand. It's tore up. What can I say.

Right hand is doing okay. Itchy in between the fingers.

And finally, my lovely feet. They are also looking much better than they have most of the month, though, it appears, worse than last month. They were cracked at the tops and would ooze through my socks and so again, I resorted to taping them with medical tape so they wouldn't open up when I walked. It seems to be working because right now there actually aren't any open cracks on my feet. As you can see, there's not much difference between the left and right, despite the fact that I have been lightly moisturizing (less than once a day) on the right foot.

I should note that I've been peeling the skin off (perhaps not the best idea) when the scabs start to lift. Before, they would ooze like mad when I did that but my skin is able to dry down even after I wear socks! Whaaaaaat?!?! Amazing.

As for the rest of my body, it's just very dry and flaky, shedding more skin than last month but luckily not developing any trouble spots.

So I suppose the most helpful thing for me this month has been this paper tape:
click above!

THOUGH I MUST CAUTION, if your skin is too delicate, it will rip it off. It's best to keep it on for a whole day so that your skin can regenerate a new layer and then remove it really really really slowly.

Also trying out a chinese medicine, ling zhi extract, which my mom is desperate for me to try. Her friend had awful eczema (finger tips so cracked she had to wear gloves) and is now free of it "and can even paint her nails" my mom adds with enthusiasm. In my desperate state, I can't say no.

Anywho, that's all for this month. I'm really hoping I heal up as my best friend's wedding is this year and I don't want to be miserable at it!

Happy healing all.