Are you suffering from itchy skin, due to your lymphedema? Here are the 7 methods that I found to be working best and might be your favorites, too. Also, you can use these tips for a vast range of skin problems.
My boyfriend (or ouch, my ex, since a couple of days…) used to call me, amongst others, Ms Itchy Feet. Not that much because of the skin on my lower legs would be itching a lot – unlike many other lymphedema people, fortunately this has not been a bad issue for me, just a light one – but because of the constant travel bug bites.
But now let’s just talk about when your skin is indeed itching and what to do with that.
Swollen feet photo: Melinda
When the limbs are swollen, your poor skin suffers, too, it will need to stretch way beyond what would be comfortable. Also, as the circulation is inhibited, the skin will not get enough nourishment from inside and can become very dry, sensitive and itchy. Something like eczema symptoms. It might even crack here and there, or you will notice those not-so-pretty, pearly stretch marks.
I have seen on lymphedema forums that people would use over-the-counter creams, lotions and gels, and have good results with for example Eucerin.
Although there is a selection of such potions and lotions, and no doubt that they work effectively for many, products with lots of chemical components are not my favorite choice. Being more a natural type of girl especially in the past 7 years after my cancer, I try to stick to two thumb rules for my skin care and tend to use products on my skin that
a) I can also swallow without problems – or, if that is not convenient,
b) I can pronounce the ingredients without having to break my tongue.
For a), the explanation is simple: everything that you put on your skin, will be absorbed to some degree and will get into your body. There are cases when one has to resort to External Use Only products, but most of the time Mother Nature will provide us with treatments we need. Or when it fails to do so, Cutting Edge Science can step in, using safe ingredients.
For b), whereas some people will find all those Super Intelligent And Complicated Sounding Scientific Names very attractive and they attribute authority to them, those chemical ingredients with fancy names are no guarantee at all that they are good and safe for your body. Let’s take the gorgeous METHYLCHLOROISOTHIAZOLINONE, an ingredient of Eucerin Original Healing Soothing Repair Creme which is supposed to treat eczema and damaged skin: nevertheless, according to the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database, this product has a HIGH safety concern for irritation. Many lymphedema patients are using Eucerin products for the skin, here you can check all the ingredients of this brand is using, for safety.
Uhm… applying a product that is liable to cause skin irritation, to treat skin irritation? Not sure. We should know better.
Therefore here are the 7 products and other methods that I can safely recommend and that are working great for easing skin itching, redness and other, irritation-like conditions. Some of them will cost you almost nothing, others are a bit pricier – you will see which ones will suit you best.
1. Dry brushing. Before taking a shower when you are still dry, gently brush your entire body with a soft brush. There are a few ways to do it (in circular motions or with long strokes, with or without essential oils on the brush, etc) but the general rule is doing it in the direction of your heart, and avoid sensitive parts, such as face or nipples.
Dry brushing is ridiculously inexpensive and it takes only a few minutes. Doing it every day has lots of benefits, of which later in another post, and for itching,
a) it will give you the instant relief of what scratching does (however, don’t do it in a harsh way, be kind to your skin), and
b) regular dry brushing will generally improve your skin, therefore it will be less and less prone to itching.
After you are done with brushing your body, take a shower as usual.
Beware: it is also not recommended to use certain soaps or other shower detergents, for example you don’t want to have anything with sulfates (SLS, Sodium Laureth Sulfate and similar), because they will dry out the skin and can cause further irritation.
Instead of a shower, take a bath whenever you have time, the natural compression effect of the water surrounding your body feels wonderful for the swollen body parts!
Maybe you can only do a foot or arm bath in a bucket, that should be fantastic, too. In any case, make sure that the temperature is not too warm.
2. Baking soda bath. Put baking soda in the water: for a bath tub, I think 3-400 grams will do it – it was a long time ago when I did it, and I don’t really remember, so just experiment what feels nice for you. Baking soda makes the water soft, cleans your skin (actually, you will perhaps see that you won’t even need to use any soap with this bath), is very soothing and often you can skip smearing yourself with lotion. Another secret from grandmas, that will cost you pennies.
3. Salt bath. Of salt, you have to put much more in the water, at least one cup (2-2.5 deciliter). What kind of salt to use? Simple sea salt from your kitchen will be already good, but if you want to be more effective, Himalayan salt is a better choice, because it is full chock of minerals. Don’t do it for longer than 20 minutes, and best if you just wrap yourself in a towel or bathrobe afterwards and let your skin absorb whatever good nutrients are still there. And in the bed you go!
And of course, this is the ultimate salt bath:
There are other salts as well that I have not tried yet, therefore can’t write much about, like Epsom salt or Celtic salt. Later I probably will, and in the meantime, please let us know in a comment, if you had any experiences with them.
After the shower or bath, pamper your skin with something nice, like oil. The following recommendations are great for this, and also, you can apply them as a first aid solution whenever itching would bother you.
What to put on your skin:
4. Aloe Vera gel. The best is directly from the plant: you cut a piece from the leaf, slice it into half along the edges and smother your skin with the gooey, juicy bit that you find inside.
Aloe vera photo: ER and Jenny
There are as many commercial aloe vera products as stars in the sky, but so far, I have only liked one gel from a Swedish company and unfortunately, it’s quite difficult to find it. If I find out how to buy it, I will update this post with the info.
In the meantime, I would love to get your recommendations, if you know about aloe vera gel in the tube, with ingredients that are really just very basic and very few. By my experience, most of them contain some form of alcohol – which will further dry out and irritate your skin.
5. Coconut oil. This is especially a blessing for dry skin, very rich and nourishing. It might be a surprise to hear that you can use it for itching, but just try it and see for yourself. I must admit that on my travels, I have even used it for bedbug bites as well and it solved that too, within minutes. Right, Ms Itchy Feet, on several levels, haha! And have to tell you: itching caused by lymphedema comes nowhere close to how bedbug bites will torture you, so coconut oil should be great for your lymphie legs or arms. See that it is extra virgin, and even better, if it is organic. I don’t know which brand makes the one that you will like – try it for yourself.
Coconut oil photo: Phu Thinh Co
6. Renu 28 gel. Now this is something very unique, indeed incomparable to any other products out there on the market. Without saying anything more about it right here, please check out this page for more info. While it is not for everyone’s budget, each and every drop of this gel is worth of gold: you can use it for the most various skin problems, don’t need to have a full cupboard of products, it’s all in there in one tube. With Renu 28 in your bathroom or in your purse, you will only ever need to use a few other products, every now and then. So actually, looking at the costs on the long run, you will come out better!
Use Renu 28 on clean skin, before applying anything else on it. Don’t forget to shake the tube before, and gently massage the gel into your skin. You can use it just by itself and very quickly it should give you all the relief from itching that you want, or sometimes you may feel you need something extra, if your skin is very dry – wait a minute or two for the gel to absorb well, then you can put another product on top of it. Again, aloe vera or coconut oil are good options for that. Just go after your instincts, can’t make a mistake.
7. ASEA drink. Yes, it is something that you drink and it has terrific health benefits, renewing the cells of your body from inside (my skin is terrific when I am only drinking it, don’t really need to use any lotions!), but it can be applied also topically: the box comes with a handy spray bottle that you can use on your skin anytime, anywhere. See here what is ASEA.
When your lymphedema affected skin is itching, just spray a little Asea on it, even over the compression garment.
Well, Renu 28 and Asea are of the pricier solutions that you can effectively apply for your skin problems associated with this health condition, but there are options of how you can have them for in the most economical way, beside that you can try both with a 100./. satisfaction guarantee.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know more about it. Yes, I am an Independent Associate for Asea and I only joined because of the wonderful results from the first days on. And please, read my Disclaimer as well.
Recap: When it’s itching, don’t scratch! Try
To Your Health,
Ms Not-So-Itchy Feet 🙂