Archive | October 2011

5 Tips to Prevent an Eczema Flare Up During Halloween

Hand made burgers for my Hamburglar costume!

Because most of the weekend was spent prepping my costume at the last minute, at a wicked Halloween party (excuse the pun, I just had to throw it in!) and muchos sleeping in, I’m skipping this week’s Weekend Snapshots. Instead, I thought I’d share some useful tips (that I also used!) to prevent an explosive eczema flare up around this scary and festive day!

1. Make Sure Your Costume Doesn’t Irritate Your Skin

Fabric Choice
You know the drill – 100% cotton is the most commomly recommended fabric for sensitive skin and eczema. A lot of retail costumes, the kind you can buy online or at a costume store) are made from relatively cheap fabrics that can easily irritate the skin. I rented a Poison Ivy costume for a party last year and the dress was made from polyester and acrylic fabric, with a wool-like texture that was really scratchy. By avoiding head-to-toe costumes from the store, you’re making sure s little skin as possible is irritated by these fabrics. If you really need to go head-to-toe, DIY the costume if you have time. That way you ensure you’re choosing cottons or other gentle, non-irritating fabrics. I dressed up as Hamburglar this year, complete with a DIY hamburger tie and an itchy red patch of eczema on my shoulder. I deliberately chose a sleeveless tank dress to avoid fabric coming into contact with my shoulder area. I added a cape, so I could easily cover up my eczema under strong light, or pull back away from my shoulder in the dark.

Sweat can also trigger and irritate eczema, especially if you don’t wipe or wash it off immediately. If you know you’re going somewhere warm or indoors, avoid head-to-toe costumes in non-breathable fabrics like polyester, nylon or acrylic, especially for hand eczema. Avoid costumes that require gloves, or choose cotton or other breathable gloves. Polyester gets me itching every single time.

2. Be Careful with the Face Paint

On Twitter this weekend, someone asked about wearing makeup during a flare up. It’s probably not a good idea, and if makeup is a bad idea then face paint is probably a worse idea. A big nono! Unlike makeup, most face paints are not hypoallergenic so don’t irritate your skin any further by slathering it on. (Not all makeup marked hypoallergenic are guaranteed to be irritant-free either). You might want to rock a ghastly white Casper or bloody Walking Dead face-do, but your skin will be glad if all you put on is an eye mask, Batman and Robin-style. If you insist on makeup, determine if your skin is going through a flare up or major sensitivity and adjust accordingly. Maybe you want to swap your white face paint with a (hypoallergenic!) foundation that’s three shades lighter. A thin line of blood-red lipstick from the corner of your mouth to your chin gives the blood effect for any terrifying zombie look.

3. Control Your Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol can be a major trigger when it comes to eczema and this should be your golden rule at any party. Halloween, Christmas, New Year’s, St. Patrick’s Day – it can get a little crazy at these parties and sometimes there’s a bit of peer pressure to drink, get drunk and go through a terrible hangover together (yep, even when you’re not in high school anymore… I don’t understand why either). If you’re eczema is bad, limit yourself to one or two drinks and keep alternating between alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks throughout the night. My friends are used to me drinking very little, but if I don’t feel like explaining my trick is to go for ginger ale every time; in the glass with ice, it actually looks very similar to a Redbull + Vodka. Always remember to stay hydrated and drink at least 0.5 – 1 Litres of water before you go to bed.

4. Go Easy on the Chocolate

There are a number of studies that show sugar plays no role in atopic dermatitis but it’s still commonly believed to be a factor that affects eczema. I’m all about published scientific research but my personal experience contradicts these findings. Sugar, especially refined sugar, increases my skin inflammation. If you notice the same thing about your eczema, don’t munch on a whole bowl of trick-or-treat goodies at once!

5. Sleep in the Next Morning

Anytime your body is fatigued or stressed, your immune system is compromised. Sleep obviously plays a huge role in this. If you know you’ll be staying out late, be sure to sleep in and get in those much-needed hours of snooze. Reminding you to sleep seems like such a silly tip but it’s one that I overlook all the time (and so end up itching!)

What other tips do you have to share? I’d love to know! Happy Halloween!

I’m a big fan of DIY costumes!


The Weekend, in Snapshots

It wasn’t my plan to but I spent most of the weekend sleeping. I slept lots at night and accidentally napped for hours on both afternoons. I guess my body really was that tired. Miraculously though, my eczema has slowly been clearing up and by today, most of the red patches have dried up (more on that later).

It’s so itchy, I can’t stop scratching and now the worst part? It actually hurts, even when I’m not touching it.

choco muffin
Finally satisfied my muffin craving.

French fries, oh how I’ve missed you!

They took a blood sample for my health check up.

View from garden at Upperhouse. Still trying to figure out this camera.

:: My eczema was pretty bad all of last week so when Friday came along, I was glad to stay home for some much-needed me time. TV takes my mind off itching so there’s nothing like a little couch-potato time when my skin isn’t feeling so good. When I was a kid, my mom used to slather me in steroid creams then Vaseline after showering. I would cry and cry because it stung so bad, and then she would plop me in front of the TV for cartoons and I would forget about the itching. The pic above isn’t great – I would put up more pics but the worst patches now are right at the side of my hips, symmetrically, and I don’t want to violate WordPress rules about inappropriate content.

:: I have been craving muffins for the past 10 days but just haven’t had the time to stop and grab one on my way to work. I couldn’t wait to pick one up on Saturday, creamy chocolate chip ones are the best (and yes, I know the God-awful amount of sugar could not have been good for my eczema but I just couldn’t resist!). I took it a step further and indulged in fries. Fried food and MSG can sometimes lead to crazy flare ups so I usually avoid them altogether, but along with the muffin… you know what I’m saying? I do give in once in a while though, and luckily they don’t always result in crazy itching.

:: I went on Groupon a few months ago to buy my first ever body check as an adult. They took what seemed like a lot of blood and man, that needle hurt a lot more than I remembered from donating blood to Red Cross in high school.

:: The garden at the Upperhouse has been one of my new favourite hangouts this summer.

LeAnn Rimes Talks about Psoriasis in a Video

LeAnn Rimes’ “Stop Hiding. Start Living.” video showed up in my G Reader last week. She talked about how she dealt with and linked me to Comcast, so for some reason I thought it was new. The next day I tried to go back, it was taken down. Boohoo! Luckily, I scoured YouTube for the clip so I could link to it here. It’s so awesome to hear her talk about it – she looks great and she looks confident in talking about psoriasis.

LeAnn Rimes. “Stop Hiding. Start Living” video to raise awareness for Psoriasis.

Here’s an even better one I found while digging for the one above. Each person’s story shared is incredibly thoughtful and inspiring.

Psoriasis sufferers speak out – inspirational!

I think anyone with a skin condition, whether it’s psoriasis, eczema or acne can relate to what these P sufferers are saying. I want to reach out and hug the girl who talked about her swimming pool experience. I haven’t been to a pool in the longest time but I’ve rejected a whole summer’s worth of junk parties this year because I didn’t want to get on the boat and show my skin. (I also don’t really like going on junks, but that’s not my point). Having a skin condition is embarrassing and we all want to hide it. I wake up everyday and spend 5-10 minutes just thinking about what I’m going to wear. I check my scars or angry red rashes and think: Okay I need a cardigan today because I need to cover up this rash on my inner elbow or, No pencil skirt today because the scar on the back of my knee is really prominent. And on the odd occasion that my rashes are exposed, I know I look like a deer caught in the headlights whenever someone says, “What happened to your arm? Are you okay?” or worse, “Oh my GOD! What happened to your arm?! Are you okay?!” I literally freeze in embarrassment and I can feel a shocked expression on my face. How I do even respond to that?

Read More…

Mini Flare Up

eczema arm

It’s been over two months since I reviewed my skin state, yikes. This blogging schedule thing is hard to get down when you have a busy full-time job, and I wonder how other bloggers handle it.

This is what my eczema looks like now. I wore a strapless dress and my colleague immediately expressed concern over the rashes on my forearm. “Did you hurt yourself?” he asked, “it looks like a bad bruise.” Eek. No, that’s my eczema!

Yesterday, our new contractor came to reinstall the cupboard doors our first contractor had botched up. I could smell the paint as soon as I stepped out of the elevator, before I even got to the door of my apartment. I seriously hoped the house smelled better and that no paint fumes had remained to trigger a flare up.

No chance. The fumes were weak but definitely still there and there was dust everywhere.

I walked in and immediately opened every single window in the apartment as wide as I could, and opened all the cupboard doors to air the house. I thought I was smart and would have gotten rid of the smell. Still, three hours later, the mildly itchy dry patches on my arms turned into angry red. I was moderately itchy but more disturbing was that the dry, raw and increasingly red skin was getting painful. I immediately grabbed a wet cloth and began wiping up the dust. Sigh.

Before I went to bed, I popped an antihistamine and just moisturized like crazy, hoping it would be better by morning. It is not!

The paint on wardrobe doors.

My forearm.

back of my knee
Back of my knee

back of my knee
Back of my knee

back of my knee
Back of my knee

My shoulder. You can see the last picture I took of it

The Weekend, in Snapshots

Panda at Ocean Park

This weekend, I finally had the chance to sleep way too much and lounge way too relaxed, so now it’s 1:33am and I’m still not sleepy. Someone is going to be screwed in the office tomorrow. Anyways. The weekend was 50% exhausting and 50% too relaxing, literally. I spent Saturday celebrating a friend’s birthday at Ocean Park and a fancy dinner. I haven’t been to Ocean Park in a while and to be honest, the evening Halloween attraction that started just as we were leaving was a lot more interesting than the actual day. I spent Sunday doing absolutely nothing except half-paying attention to Hell’s Kitchen Season 7 marathon on TV. Way too melt-into-the-couch relaxing. If only there were more of these weekends…

on the cable car
The view from the cable car.

Triple chocolate fudge.

art filter xz-1
I’m still testing out my new camera. This is was taken with one of the in-camera art filters.

Sunday Dinner xz-1 test
Trying out bokeh on my Sunday dinner. Trust me it looks more delish than this pic haha.

The Weekend, in Snapshots

Mini souvenir mahjong tiles

I spent a very busy weekend showing a friend around town. He was literally here for 48 hours so we could only catch what seemed like a stolen moment of sight seeing in Hong Kong. He already had a list of places he wanted to see (or see again), which made things much easier. The trip was timely because I just bought a camera last week (that I’m not really sure how to use yet, I’m still trying to figure out how to adjust manual aperature and shutter speed at the same). I’m still loving my iPhone camera though and even though 4GS is out, I’m not so ready to trade it yet (I did just buy a new camera).

Unfortunately it was raining all weekend, thanks to typhoon season, but we still managed to have a great time. I love being able to see the city as a tourist, there are so many places to go, things to do, and food to eat that usually just seem so out of your way / schedule. It’s nice to pause and really take in the city. Haven’t sorted out all the photos yet, but as always, am still in love with the city’s nightscape.

Hong Kong's nightscape
Still loving Hong Kong’s nightscape!

Fireworks for National Day
Fireworks for National Day. View from a junk. Beautiful.

Pastries and coffee while we rested our feet and avoided the rain!

wonton noodles
Nothing beats wonton noodles with shrimp (except maybe dumpings with pork and chives mmmm!).