Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Exfoliative Keratolysis, update with relief!

I posted on my blog last month that I finally, after much research online, discovered what has plagued my hands (and probably my feet) for years. I have peeling skin on my hands which started on one finger about 15 years ago, and has progressed in the last 5-6 years to several fingers, a couple knuckles, and my thumbs. My feet peel, too, and are usually raw most of the year, with the heels being the worst. I get dry blisters (air filled blisters, as they're described) which then open and result in peeling on and around the blister, often taking skin from most of the area (ie: a whole finger, etc).

Exfoliative keratolysis is the name of the chronic condition, for which there is no cure. It's not contagious, it's not going to shorten my life, it's just annoying and can be very painful as it leave my hands and feet raw when several layers of skin literally shed. Essentially, it stems from a lack of moisture in the 2nd and 3rd layers of skin, causing the skin to blister and peel.

This condition is cyclical, and they say worse in the summer. It comes and goes, and each time the skin peels, new skin grows back, and you can see the areas on my hands which are effected because the skin is lighter, pinker, and generally different color than the rest (esp. in the summer when I'm tan).

My hands were raw and bleeding in June, healed by the end of July, and were fine in August. They have just started to peel again, as of a few days ago.

Two ingredients in topical applications are said to help heal and soften the skin, and keep outbreaks from being as horrible as they can be. They are urea and lactic acid. These two ingredients are found in some over the counter moisturizers, but not all. Urea at 40% is ideal, but that's hard to find. I also find that the %'age is not noted on all products, so while the ingredient is listed, it's not listed by %'age.

For my feet, I have discovered Kerasal. It's OTC, found at most places with a pharmacy or who sell topical creams and lotions (so basically anywhere with a good selection of lotions and moisturizers). It's active ingredient is urea. After a single use on my feet, where I applied it at bed time and wore socks overnight, my feet were noticably softer, and within 5 uses, they were healing. My heels have not felt this good in ages. My mom used it once while she was here and found a difference in her feet, as well, and I am now prepared to buy a tube of it whenever I can. Seriously, if you have any issues with callouses, or anything with the skin on your feet, buy this stuff.

For my hands, it's been more of a challenge. I did find that botanicals are not beneficial to this condition, so my Votre Vu hand creme was basically not doing me any good. Still, moisturizing at all is said to help a little, so I have been using that while I search for another product. AmLactin is a product I found at Walgreen's, but it's really expensive. As evidenced by the name, the active ingredient is lactic acid. While I know it would last me and I'd get my money's worth out of it, the $15-$21 price has held me back from trying it. I check the ingredients on lotions almost every time I go to a store, hoping that I might find one that has what I need and is in a reasonable price range. Finally, last night I was at Meijer and took a chance, and there were some Gold Bond products on sale, so I checked them.

I have checked GB brand stuff before to no avail, but, last night I struck paydirt. Their regular creams and lotions don't contain urea. One of their foot creams does, but, I've got a different solution (above). The GB Ultimate Restorin CoQ10 skin therapy cream lists "hydroxyethel urea" as its second ingredient. It was on sale for $5.69 for the 4.5 oz tube, so I bought it. Lotion isn't something that's going to go unused in my house, so for the price it was worth the gamble.

It doesn't stink, it's not greasy like oil, and it's not pasty or too thick. My hands feel soft but not lotion-y after application, and it doesn't wash off entirely when I wash my hands or get them wet. I reapply after exposure to water anyway, but it is supposed to be used liberally, per the directions, so I don't feel like I'm overapplying it or anything. Overall, I like this stuff very much!

Nothing will eliminate the peeling, but this will help the skin restore itself when it does peel, and the skin that grows new will be healthy and not as leathery and dry. I will probably try cotton gloves for overnight application of the hand lotion, but I'm not sure when I'll get around to that. Still, I was just happy to find this lotion. Down the road I'll try the AmLactin, and the GB I can keep in my purse to use as well. I am really hopeful that I won't have to endure months of raw hands like I have in the past.
So now, with some relief for my skin, I an comforted by the knowledge that my intake of coffee and wine, both of which dehydrate the body and skin, are not the causes of this nasty condition, and I can continue to enjoy both vices without disruption. {insert huge sigh of relief here}

So that's my report for today.