Saving my ten little fingers


I have always been prone to eczema and skin problems on my hands and fingers.  And everytime the problem presented itself, I tried many methods to heal it.  Creams, band-aids, abstinence from washing detergents, changing my diet, …you name it, I’ve done it before.

Several months ago, my hands and fingers started to crack very badly again.  Sometimes my skin would crack till it bled, and I had to use a band-aid to make the pain more bearable.  Many a time, you would see me with almost all fingers covered in band-aids.  Not a very sightly thing indeed.  Over-the-counter creams worked for a while, but it was only a temporary measure, because soon after, the problem recurred.  Strangely enough, the only finger unaffected was my ring finger on my left hand…which led me to believe that I should probably wear rings on all my fingers. 🙂

In addition, I sometimes had to do away with cooking for a few days in a row, to minimize my hands’ contact with water and detergents, resulting in the need to “tarpow” food for our meals.  I was also very sad that I had to resort to using disposable diapers instead of cloth diapers, for fear of aggravating the condition of my hands.

Well, anyway…when I was in Ipoh for a holiday about a month or so back, the problem became so unbearable that I was forced to go see a skin specialist.  The skin specialist took one look at my skin’s condition, and proclaimed it was contact dermatitis, which meant it was the detergents I was using that was causing the problem.  Using rubber gloves did not help much too, because according to the specialist, I might be allergic to rubber gloves.  So I was told to get cotton gloves and THEN put the rubber gloves on over the cotton ones.

The visit to the skin specialist in Ipoh cost RM175, and included a whole array of medicine!  Twice a day, I had to soak my hands in a dilluted solution of water and Potassium Permanganate (the purple solution used to oxidize wounds), which acted as a very mild astringent.

Then, there were three different types of cream and ointment to apply on the affected areas: one each for morning, noon and night.  On top of that, I was to apply vaseline as often as I could throughout the day, to maintain the moisture in my skin and prevent cracking.

To stop itchiness when necessary, the doc prescribed tablets; two different kinds to be taken morning or night, depending when the itch happens.

She also wanted to prescribe oral antibiotics, but changed her mind when I told her I was still breastfeeding.

Oh yeah, I’m not supposed to eat any beef, eggs or seafood too.  SIGH.  So no more steak and beef koay teow for me.  I’ve still been taking eggs though, but only the ones from free-range chickens.  As for seafood, I am only steering away from shellfish.

So how did all this medication fare?  Well, after a week of diligently following doc’s orders, my skin has shown marked improvement.  At least some semblance of my original skin is showing…But often times, I have forgotten to follow the regiment, and so sometimes I do find my fingers slightly dry.  Thankfully, I can now resume my use of cloth diapers little by little and I truly pray my hands and fingers would be back to normal soon, but sometimes it’s very difficult especially since I need to cook, clean and look after kids too.

So here are a few pointers I keep in mind and practise:

  • Carry and hand cream/lotion in my handbag, and apply it when I am in the car, either waiting for the lights to turn green or whenever I have my hands free.  I need a recommendation for a good hand cream/lotion that is not too greasy though.
  • Wear gloves when washing up, but in view of time constraints, I only do this when I know I have loads of stuff to wash.  In my case, I need to wear cotton gloves first and then rubber gloves.
  • Use Vaseline liberally.  It’s safe for babies’ bums, so it’s the perfect solution for me since I need to be with the kids all the time.  I’m paranoid about touching my kids with hands that have steroid creams on them, so Vaseline is definitely the best solution.
  • *IMPORTANT*: Get hubby to help with the dishes 🙂
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1 Response to Saving my ten little fingers

  1. MieVee @ says:

    My mum and I have the same problem: contact dermatitis at hands & fingers. Gloves is a must for my mum. I wear gloves when sorting out soiled cloth diapers and doing wiping since dust gives me rashes too.

    My eczema condition has improved greatly after doing these:
    – use gentle (preferably organic) detergent, shampoo, shower foam, handwashibg liquid. E.g. Dr Bronner’s magic soap, soapnuts

    – moisturizing frequently. E.g. Physiogel A.I. (Anti-Inflammatory)

    – eliminate certain foods from diet (Interestingly, my eczema almost disappeared completely after I turned vegetarian 2+ years ago. I suspect it is due to chicken since I still take eggs, dairy and recently, fish.)

    My boy has eczema too and Elomet works well on him. Take care. 🙂

    The Giddy Tigress says: Thanks for the advice and suggestions! Elomet is a steroidal cream that thins the skin, so I read that we really need to use it sparingly, especially on kids and babies.

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