Warning: I have been writing this post in my head for some time, so this could be a long read. I wanted to put some info up in case someone is searching the web looking for help with Lyme/skin issues because I had trouble finding any info/advice online when I was desperate.
For the last nine or ten months I have been dealing with some pretty awful skin issues. I am only just now making some progress. These issues started after months of Lyme/Bartonella/Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever treatment. The bulk of these issues happened after I got off meds…which is weird…sort of. I went through all kinds of trials before finding a set of things that seems to help.
The dermatologist told me my skin problems were caused by something I was using. So I began eliminating things. At first I thought I had developed a nut or coconut allergy since my rash was concentrated (in the beginning) on my eyebrows, back of my neck and hairline (around my face). I thought it was shampoo related. I went through all kinds of allergy testing which all came back negative. I had eliminated all nut and coconut products from my diet and face/hair products. It was extremely difficult. At one point I couldn’t use any shampoo, soap, cream or detergents (everything contains coconut! I found a coconut allergy blog that helped me figure out what products were coconut free) . I felt disgusting. And it didn’t help. I then decided to go gluten, dairy and sugar free in addition to the no nut/coconut thing. I also went back to eating almost 100% organic, I was drinking Kombucha, taking fish and flax oil and eating all sorts of super foods. But it didn’t help. I became seriously stressed out and depressed. No matter what I did, it didn’t seem to help. The rash/acne just kept moving and changing. At one point it was concentrated on my temples and forehead and then it moved to my cheeks, chest and back. Sometimes it looked like a full on red rash and I felt like I wanted to itch my face off constantly. Other times it looked like a rash with acne on top. And later it just looked like bad acne concentrated in certain areas. My entire face felt like sandpaper and was often so dry that it was painful. I couldn’t find anyone to help me. The dermatologist put me on doxycycline. I had been on it for Lyme and now I was back on it for my skin. I felt like I was going in circles. Then I had a terrible reaction to the doxy. My skin felt like it was on fire and turned bright red for a few days. Doctors were just making things worse.
During this time some of the Lyme/Bartonella/whatever pain returned to my feet, shins and knees. I felt lost. I was afraid to slip back into the terrible pain I had experienced when I first got very sick with Lyme.
Then things slowly began to dawn on me…the one thing I hadn’t changed/stopped was my prescription strength probiotic. After being on meds for an extended period of time I knew how important it was to try and get my system re-balanced (ps I was having a terrible time going to the bathroom too). Skin and BM issues are both signs of toxcicity! I was afraid things would get worse if I stopped the probiotic. I was wrong. About a week after I stopped the probiotic I saw some improvement in my skin and the itching lessened a little bit. I decided to stop everything. I went back to my regular diet (which is pretty healthy) and I saw a trusted acupuncturist that had helped me through a difficult pregnancy (with Liam). She suggested that I might still be having issues with Lyme but also with toxcicity. She recommended a Lyme practitioner that works on detoxing and building up the immune system. I am currently seeing that practitioner for Lyme/detox/immune system repair. Some of my routine I have learned from her and others I have discovered through trial and error on my own. Here it is:
1. Epsom salt baths help immensely. Do them at night for 20 minutes as hot as you can stand. Dry brushing before hand will stimulate the lymphatic system (my Lyme detox lady says that my changing skin conditions are probably from the toxins working their way through my lymphatic system). Do the baths every night if you can. I am doing them about every other day right now. But if I start feeling bad or see my skin looking sketchy again, I go back to once a day.
2. Drink tons of water. Take your weight and divide it by half. That is how many ounces of water you need to drink each day. It flushes the system and helps with detoxing.
3. I now research all my skin/hair products on skin deep. Wash your face, use the toner and cream in the am and before bed. I am a fanatic about this now and it is helping! Unscented Mychelle face products have excellent ratings. It is not cheap. Order it on vitacost.com and you’ll save a bit. I have slowly bought a night cream, a day cream, an everyday sunscreen, a cleanser and a toner. I have had zero problems with them! This is exciting since I am in a hyper sensitive phase and looked for so long for products that I had no reaction to (I have bought and returned countless products to MOM and The Common Market in the last nine months because I keep having reactions to products). I can’t say enough good things about Mychelle! They are every bit worth the investment.
4. I had this mud mask from Dr Hauschka (skin deep rating of 0/the best) for a while and am now using it twice a week or so. If I start to feel any sandpaper areas on my face I use it right away. It works. After I use it I don’t feel any of the bumps. Do the mud mask and then follow with a salt bath. I wish I could find something cheaper…but it is worth it to know that I have no problems with this product.
5. Buy a decent, natural foundation and concealer (I also bought a green base to even out the red tones -of a rash- that you apply under foundation). Here is Alima’s rating on skin deep. It is good stuff and again, not cheap. Buying makeup helped me immensely for two reasons: A. When you properly apply makeup over troubled skin you have some relief and comfort when you have to leave the house. No, I’m not joking, it was that bad for a while. I stopped freaking out every time I saw myself in the mirror when I started wearing make-up. It alleviates stress. period. B. I was having such terrible trouble with my face itching like crazy and turning red/irritated all the time and I still don’t know why. Was it an internal (part of detoxing or an allergy to probiotics?) or external (dust/detergent allergy/sensitivity?) problem? Perhaps both. I am highly sensitive to everything right now. All I know is that using this makeup seems to create somewhat of a protective barrier against my skin. I know it sounds weird but it works. Going to my favorite thrift shop is possible again! I no longer feel like I am going to itch my face off when I go there or Ikea or many other places that were irritating me.
6. Wash your make-up brushes frequently. Use your shampoo for this. Or perhaps spritz with GSE (grape seed extract) a little after each use (haven’t tried it yet, but it is on my list to do so). If you are detoxing through your face, clean everything that touches it frequently. Makes sense, right?
7. Change your pillow case every night. No, I’m not joking. I started doing this less than a week ago after noticing that my remaining skin issues are only on the left side of my face (I have almost no problems remaining on the right side). Guess which side I sleep on? My left!!! I have started to notice a big difference in the recovery of my left cheek since I began this less than a week ago. My natural practitioner suggested I may be sweating on that side at night and toxins are released through sweat. Yep, that’s gross.
8. I am a long time user of Aubrey Organics shampoo and conditioner. I love them for my very straight, fine hair. I checked on Skin Deep to see which Aubrey shampoos and conditioners were rated most natural and I ordered them from vitacost.com. I have no problems/reactions to these products and I love that.
9. Try to keep your stress levels down. Walk, see a movie with your friend, go out to garage sales by yourself, plan a new sewing or house project…anything at all that reminds you why life is fun and not just about being sick. Lyme is so long and difficult to fight, it is sometimes all you can think about. Sometimes getting angry helps me. I think anger reminds me that Lyme hasn’t sucked all the fight out of me. Don’t give up. Doctors may not help you figure this out, but you can figure it out!
If you have a crazy idea that switching out your pillow case every night might help, then do it! Try it. Try everything you can think of and then some. Find a natural health care provider to help give you some new ideas and try their detox treatments. Also, when trying new products, try one thing at a time and wait two weeks in between trying something else new. I know right away if something makes my skin worse and I stop it and wait 2 weeks to try anything else. I still can’t take vitamins or pills but I can use homeopathic meds without reactions.