Category Archives: Hair, Hands and Feet

Care for Hands and Nails after cancer

Drugs play havoc with hands and nails

An example of a French Manicure, acrylic nails...
Image via Wikipedia

Drugs can make hands rough, red and sore

Nails catch in clothing, and getting dressed is painful.

When I avoided shaking hands as being too painful – it was time to seek help.

But where?

 

If your nails keep catching in your clothes, and you find it is painful to get dressed, shake hands, etc. you are not alone.

Or you get nasty cracks opening up amongst your skin on your hands-

it is almost certainly the cancer drugs and their nasty side effect, causing this.
You may even develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), a side effect of the Anastrazole drug, Aramidex. (more below).Getting HelpWe can feel stupid asking for help;  nail problems are seen as minor, and we are made to feel vain if we complain about rough, sore hands.

But Nails are an important part of our body, are there to protect our hands, and not just for decoration.And nasty cracks in hands can harbour germs at the least.

Of course you WILL use rubber glovers – won’t you? !!! That is probably the single most important facet of hand care.  Having said that, you will find that drugs make your hands incredibly rough – but there are products that helped me:

Clarins Hand Cream – This was first introduced in 1979, and it’s still going strong.  It’s formula was incredibly well-researched, hence why it has lasted so long and is still effective,

There is a lovely story about their hand cream.  After her last visit to Australia, H. M. The Queen insisted she had to get off the plane at Singapore as one of her Ladies in Waiting had told her to buy this wonderful hand cream made by Clarins.

At the Duty Free Shop, Her Majesty, who believes in being thrifty,  and bought her own tube.  The shop assistant was very happy to give it to her, but she insisted that it was paid for – by her Lady in Waiting (The Queen never carries money).

£21 100ml tube.   www.clarins.com

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

When I developed CTS doctors told me this was caused by RSI (repetitive strain injury) and to stop using my computer.  I couldn’t work for three months, but it was still as bad.  So I had a procedure which sounds horrible – they inject you in your wrist with a long needle – but was actually genuinely painless for me.

This cleared it up, but it wasn’t until a year later I discovered that CTS was a side effect of Aramidex, and got the makers to include this information in the information sheet.  I was also very annoyed that I missed out on three month’s work, all because the doctors hadn’t know that the drug they had put me on could cause CTS.

I have now found a local manicurist who understands ‘cancer nails’, and gives me gentle manicures.  She ues OPI roducts, which we can buy in stores.

OPI produces gorgeous cheerful colours that make your hands look so much better, and it has been lovely having bright coral fingertips to cheer me up!  I look at the trendy blues and blacks – but they are too gloomy and remind me of medicine lines!

If you are lucky enough to have a sympathetic CNS ask them for contscts – otherwise it is asking around support groups etc. to ask for a good manicurist.

Helpful Doctor

I contacted Guys Hospital;  yes, they had a Consultant who knew about nails – but I would have to wait six months for an NHS referral.  So got his name, looked hm up on Google, and phoned his private Secretary for an appointment.  A week later he was giving me his full attention in his private consulting rooms;  going through my drugs, examining my hands and nails, and giving me good advice. This was worth every penny I paid – he even said that once my nails had grown long enough, “have a French manicure”. Apparently this adds a layer of strength.

But the best thing was advising me to go on Solvazinc tablets (your GP csn put this on your prescription list).

Six months later – some of my nails are now a respectable length.  Only about one split nail a month, no painful handshakes, and I am proud of my nails and hands.

My tips

Keep a tube of hand cream wherever you wash your hands.

Apply a snall amount of SPF cream to the backs of hands – they are magnets for the sun! And brown skin doesn’t enhance hand’s appearance!

verite@greenbee.net

Continue reading

Caring for hair – particularly with cancer

These tips might help prevent loss


Sent by another patient –https://aftercanceruk.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/1.gif

Continue reading

New Year – New treatment for winter-worn Hands

We all know about serums for the face

but did you know there is now one for Hands?

Beautiful hands anti-ageing serum

And it is made by the award-winning company Botanicals Continue reading

Help for Bad Hair Days

Christine K. CliffordJason to the rescue

What is it about the drugs ‘they’ put us on, that gives us straw hair?  I was getting fed up with my thatch (It’s all right for Boris, but not for me thank you).  Then a friend told me about Jãsön.

It’s a shampoo and matching conditioner – and it’s working a treat!  At last I can brush my hair, without despairing of the way it won’t settle down.  I can even bear to look in the mirror and actually see a shine – unexpected bliss! Continue reading

Oil helps sun-dried Hair

New ‘magic oil’ helps cancer-straw hair

Dontcha just loooove those pompous Consultants we have to put up with!!!

Flowering (sweet) almond tree

almond blossom Wikipedia

One gave me the invaluable tip to use Conditioner on my hair – didn’t like to tell him that ordinary commercial products are useless in the fight against what drugs does to our hair.

What works

No, what my cancer-drug stricken straw hair needs to restore its shine is one of the oils that have recently Continue reading

The Aladdin's cave at the top of Harrods

Wig heaven 

 

Anyone who has cancer knows the puffed-up blobby feeling you get as a side effect from drugs.  You look in the mirror, and all you can see is a lumpy face and blotchy skin.

And if you need a wig, NOTHING looks good. You end up in a cupboard, trying to see what different wigs look like on you in a tiny mirror.  Or worse, the nurse shows you a small selection, tells you to choose, but won’t allow you to try one on.

So you give up in despair.

Unless you are lucky enough like me to be let loose in Urban Retreat, at the top of Harrods!

And this photo shows you the end result of my visit to Aladdin’s cave when I visited.  Normally I hate my photo – I have lost all idea of glamour whilst undergoing treatment, but I was so delighted with the end result that I went round the corner with my new wig and had Siyrah at Daniel Sandler give me a professional make-up, all ready for a party that evening.

Then when I arrived at the party everyone said how well I looked!

Urban Retreat knows how to treat us

I met the girls from Urban Retreat at the Kensington and Chelsea LINk Wellbeing Event, and Pamela Roberts persuaded me to come to Harrods and see what they could do for me.   I was feeling decidedly non-glamorous, so thought I would try on a few wigs and then make my escape.

Two hours later I floated out, and could actually enjoy looking at myself in the mirror.

Talking about their wig boutique, Pamela says, “from the beginning we have tried to provide the most innovative techniques, progressive therapies, excellent customer service, and worlds’ finest salon brands”, at the same time as offering a sympathetic and helpful attitude to those of us who are less than perfect.

She told me that they are gradually increasing what they can offer at Urban Retreat, from a MinX manicure, a luxurious Crème de La Mer Ultimate Experience, a Daniel Sandler evening makeup, and a ‘new kid on the block’, Antonia Burrell skincare.

Vikki Ullah Wigs

After experience working in the industry, Vikki  started her own wig business. She wanted to ensure that at the core of her business was a nurturing environment, where clients who had lost or were losing their hair for medical reasons, could feel at ease and positive about changes in their life.

At the same time she was intent on dragging wigs from their dusty, old-fashioned image into their rightful place at the forefront of glamour.

Talking over hair problems, I find that different NHS areas have different rules about funding wigs.  Annabelle and Pamela say some will allow a voucher for £60 which can go towards the cost of a wig.  Others won’t allow patients to top up the cost – you have to find a wig that sells for £60 (I have seen these and no wonder they lie are never worn) and that’s it.  It doesn’t surprise me many fellow patients never bother to take their wig out of the box.

If you can actually get your GP to apply to Macmillan on your behalf, you have to go through the GP to get the voucher – but Macmillan say you aren’t allowed to apply yourself.  So with many GPs your application waits at the bottom of the pile and you wait and you wait.  With GPs dependent on a patheric QOF allocation of funds to pay for ‘handling’ cancer patients, it’s not surprising that we are pushed to the back of the queue when our letters go out.

So being an action-kid, I get on to Macmillan, and have suggested that we all work together to get the Dept. Health/NHS to give guide-lines for wigs that are the same across the country, and patient-friendly.  And surely it should be the patient who applies for the wig?

Cost

Annabelle spent ages fitting me with different designs, then we finally settled on a gamin style that really made me feel super glamorous.  The one I chose was one of the more expensive, selling at £198, but they ranged in price from £100 to £200.

Make-up

A glamorous wig deserved proper make-up, so I skipped around the Retreat, looking for someone to give me a make-over to go with my glamorous hair, and Syrah of Daniel Sandler made me feel and look fantastic.  I had been using old-fashioned blue eye shadow, but she showed me how a combination of beige and brown was more up-to-date, and opened up my eyes so you could see them.

A very light touch with foundation and blusher, lots of gorgeous mascara (which she was careful not to get near my eyes) and finally a reallyglamorous reddish lipstick – and I was laughing I was so pleased.  A friend was getting married, and I discovered Syrah also goes out to do special make-ups,  so am going to suggest that she asks for her to do her make-up for her wedding day.

Skincare

Then I was introduced to Antonia Burrell.  She has just developed her own, very small skincare line, and was there amongst all the ‘big boys’ as Urban Retreat knew she had something to offer

Antonia showed me a product that seemed tailor-made for problem skin:  the worlds first 100% natural, emulsifying Cleansing Oil! Refreshing, luxurious and water-soluble, this glorious fresh, zesty oil cleanser transforms into a consistency of a milk. Infused with Cypress and Petitgrain, it heals, brightens and purifies the skin while calming and soothing irritation. Natural glow also respects the natural pH of the skin and does not strip or dry out the skin after cleansing, and helps protect skin from free-radical damage, which also causes accelerated skin ageing, and gives you the deepest, most luxurious cleanse yet.  I bought a bottle home, and am so glad I did as it is turning into a Hero Product. info@antoniaburrell.com

 

Macmillan Information

Macmillan say they are going to revise this information on wigs this year – and about time!

They say you may qualify for free wigs or fabric supports if:

  • you are under 16, or under 19 and in full-time education
  • you are included in an award of:  Income Support; the guarantee credit of Pension Credit; income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance; income-related Employment and Support Allowance; Working Tax Credit with a disability element; or Child Tax Credit and your income for tax credit purposes is £15,276 or less
  •  you receive a War Disablement Pension and need the items for your war disability
  •  you are a hospital inpatient when the wig or fabric support is supplied
  • your weekly income is low enough (see details of the Low Income Scheme)

Wigs and fabric supports in Wales and Scotland are free for everyone.

The HM Revenue and Customs National Advice Service can tell you how to claim back VAT on wigs and other items related to your treatment. Phone them on 0845 010 9000 or see hmrc.gov.uk.

You will need to tell the person who fits your wig or fabric support that you can get it free. You will need to show proof that you qualify, for example, the letter showing which benefits you receive.

So there is plenty there to get sorted out!  So everone can get a wig if they need it.  It shouldn’t depend on factors such as where you live.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Rescue remedies for hair

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 30: Prince Willi...

Oh! That glossy hair! daylife

What to do when ‘straw’

hair strikes

 

Watching the Middleton sisters with their glossy hair has made me insanely jealous!  Each time I get put on another drug, my hair rebels and loses all its sheen.

So not only do I end up with dull, lifeless dry ‘straw’ hair, but have also discovered that the colour is leaching out.

Sometimes I am a good girl, and actually read those leaflets they pop into tablet boxes, telling you all the side effects you are going to have.  Pfizer are possibly more honest than some drug companies, and reading the leaftlet that came with the latest batch of their pills, I realised why my hair has gone a ‘colourless’ colour.

At first I thought it was grey hairs creeping up; but it’s not – it’s just my usual colour is going paler, and according to Pfizer this is a side effect.  Heigh Ho! – another side effect that will make my male doctors think I am complaining over nothing – again!

Oils

Hairdressers  tell me that they can give me oil treatments, and when they do this does make a difference for a short time.  But day in and day out this is expensive, so I have been investigating what our ancestors did.  And of course they used olive oil and treated their hair at home.    Which is fine, but hair tends to get in a sticky mess and  leave marks everywhere.

However, there are companies that make oils for the body, and some for hair.  And these make an easy-to-use treatments, which are inexpensive and easy to use – and as oils today are much lighter, they don’t leave greasy marks.

Amazon Series Acai Oil

 

This is made from acai berries, with long claim to fame.  It’s light and a little goes a long way.

I drop a small amount on my hand, rub palms together and spread it on my hair, and it does a fantastic job of smoothing down all those fly-away split ends, without making my hair greasy.

It’s also wonderful for getting rid of frizz.  I have tried several preparations, but this is by far the best.

And thanks to the photo, I now know what an Acai berry looks like – who would have guessed they have such wonderful properties?

£16.99 for a two ounce bottle, which has lasted me a long time.

 

Elemis

This company makes a range of oils, which I had used as body oils – until one day I thought they might help my hair – and they do.

They have lots and lots of fragrances, but none of them are obtrusive, and as they are based on plants it is unlikely they will cause an reaction.  But if you are worried do a patch test;  spread a tiny amount on your arm and wait 24 hours.

So I still use these as body oils, but now carry the good work up and over my hair.

£27 – £30 100 ml

 

Kneipp

Sebastian Kneipp revolutionised naturopathic medicine in the 19th century, and became a pioneer in the field of holistic healing and teaching in Germany;  today the brand he founded has a massive international cult following.

I tried out the Kneipp NaturRenew Organic Body Oil (the Germans are strong on organic products) and this is, again, something that works on my hair and my body.  Very useful when packing for a weekend away.

Incidentally, being plant based and organic it must be suitable for most skin types, and because it is so light I used it as a body moisturiser when we had that hot but short summer (anyone remember that?).  It absorbed immediately, whereas some creams take time to absorb.

Neom

This has been my favourite ‘pick-me-up’ this summer.  I like its light fresh scent, and the oil just sinks in.

I was using this as a body oil, and lots of people commented how nice I smelt!  Then thought I would try it on my hair – and bingo!  It worked a treat.

Yes, it is fairly expensive, but my bottle has lasted and lasted, as you only need a little.  A bonus is that if I use it in a warm bathroom, I don’t need room scents as my flat is filled with a subtle perfume for ages afterwards.

I am not surprised that it has been selected as best buy and won awards, and this is what I chose for the last cheering up present I gave a friend.  Needless to say she was delighted and keeps on referring to it.

And it makes a lovely pick-me-up when I have to face yet another doctor’s appointment.  Give the old boys a treat – I feel!  And their nurses sniff the air when I pass by!

And it is excellent for my hair.  £32 for 100 ml

N.B.  These oils are not as strong as the oil treatments you would have in a salon, but they take seconds to apply, rather than a couple of hours.  And for the cost of a salon treatment you could buy a bottle of each and have money left over!

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Pay attention to Hands and Nails in Winter

An example of a French Manicure, acrylic nails...
Image via Wikipedia

HANDS

If your nails keep catching in your clothes, and you find it is painful to get dressed, shake hands, etc. you are not alone. And winter winds just leach moisture out of your hands.

After Chemo or radiotherapy, or when you start on hormonal drugs, you might suddenly find your hands and feet develop horrid horny nails, and / or splitting skin, and you can almost see your fingernails disintegrating as you use them.

You may even develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), a side effect of the Anastrazole drug, Aramidex.

When I developed CTS doctors told me this was caused by RSI (repetitive strain injury) and to stop using my computer.  I couldn’t work for three months, but it was still as bad.  So I had a procedure which sounds horrible – they inject you in your wrist with a long needle – but was actually genuinely painless for me.

This cleared it up, but it wasn’t until a year later I discovered that CTS was a side effect of Aramidex, and got the makers to include this information in the information sheet.  I was also very annoyed that I missed out on three month’s work, all because the doctors hadn’t know that the drug they had put me on could cause CTS.

We can feel stupid asking for help;  we see nail problems as minor, and believe doctors will think we are vain if we ask for assistance.   Well don’t.  Nails are an  important part of our body, are there to protect our hands, and wouldn’t be there if they were just for decoration.

Of course you WILL use rubber glovers – won’t you? !!! That is probably the single most important facet of hand care.  Having said that, you will find that drugs make your hands incredibly rough – but products that are really helpful are:

Clarins Hand Cream – There is a lovely story about their hand cream.  After her last visit to Australia, H. M. The Queen insisted she had to get off the plane at Singapore as one of her Ladies in Waiting had told her to buy this wonderful hand cream made by Clarins.

At the Duty Free Shop, Her Majesty, unlike a certain ex-Prime Minister’s wife, believes it is sensible to save money where you can, and bought her own.  The shop assistant was very happy to give it to her, but she insisted that it was paid for – by her Lady in Waiting (The Queen never carries money).  So even The Queen agrees that Clarins hand cream is one of the best on the market!

After radiotherapy I noticed that age spots on my hands were much more noticeable, so recently I have been using Clinique’s Dark Spot Corrector.  It hasn’t got rid of them, but they are much less noticeable – on one hand they have almost disappeared, and on the other hand some of the bigger spots have faded away.

Nails You may find your nails have split down to the bed, and you are having to file them three times a day; this is because the hormonal drugs have removed the top layer of your nail. Cancer drugs often cause the top layer of nails to flake off, which can be painful as nails catch in clothes.

The Royal Marsden Hospital used to have a manicurist, Francesca Manning, who was very helpful and supportive, and made me realise that many others suffer – usually in silence. One thing Francesca recommended was NailTek products, made in the States for cancer patients. They have Crystal Glass Files, soft and gentle and so good I have one by the bed, in my handbag and on my desk – all places where the horrid little hangnails catch. They are also coming into shops, so look out for them at chemists.

NailTek make special base coats; best one for splitting and hang nails is Hydration Therapy II (a nail varnish). If you have horrid thick, horny nails (rather like horses) then their Hydration Therapy III is the right product. They also make a cuticle cream and an oil:  products which feed the nails, and really help them grow again.  Use the oil or cream every day on the nail bed and around the edge, then every day re-apply another coat of the Hydration Therapy, taking it off once a week.

Use their Hydration Therapy clear nail varnish every day, and their cuticle creams at night, and this will help nails develop a white edge – before they become like a serrated saw.

In France they take nail care seriously, and at a recent conference for Oncologists I heard a brilliant dermatologist discuss how effective Evonail was at treating cancer patients’ nail problems.  If you go to article on How the French treat nail problems, this gives more details.  You can order in UK from contact@feelbetterduringchemo.com

You may find that due to a low immune system, you develop a fungal infection under your nails. SkinSure Plus is recommended for this; put a large drop into the palm of your hand, rub palms together then scrape nails across the palms so the lotion gets under the nails. 0800 107 1053. However, my fungal infection was so gross that the only thing that finally worked was Loceryl. This costs around £40 a tiny bottle, but thanks to Dr. Nerys Roberts at my local hospital, I managed to get this on the NHS.

And you are not alone.  In the USA they take these nail problems seriously, and an article in Supportive Oncology March/April 2009 issue on Dermatotoxicity linked to targeted Biological Agents tells you lots more – and proves you are not making a fuss.  See rest of article

http://www.lindiskin.com/v/vspfiles/pdf/SupportiveOncology_Dermatotocicity.pdf

Now I am on Omeprazole (don’t ask – it is to treat after effects from one of the drugs).  However, side effects – split nails, blood blisters, chalky surface, etc. are so painful I am off to see Prof. Johnston to get it changed.  I had almost given up, and was resigned to having split, flaking nails for ever – but had Wahanda MobDeal at Saasha Hair and Beauty Clinic, 59b Crawford Street, London W1.   020 7723 1985.  I bought this for the massage, which was brilliant, but included in the deal was a manicure – so thought I might as well take advantage.

At Saasha, Nishta took my hands in hers, filed the nails right down, and pampered them and painted the nails carefuly so that they looked really glam.

Then she sat me down under a special table lamp, and made me sit there for 15 minutes drying the nails.  I don’t know what was in the lamp’s rays, but my nails stayed ‘put’ for seven days – no flaking – no bits coming off – no nail polish peeling.  They were really brilliant.  I shall definitely be back when I need glam nails for a special occasion.

Now, I feel confident enough to actually give myself a weekly manicure, and a kind friend has given me a box of gorgeous nail colours.  Looking round in waiting rooms, blue, black and dark burgundy colours seem a no-no.  They look gloomy, and when it’s cold make your hands look really ‘grey’.  This friends said what I needed was Flame, coral and bright pink and red colours – and up came a box filled with gorgeous colours such as Orange Squash (a zingy coral), Hot Pink (does what is says on label), etc., made by GLEE and Famous Nails.                                                                                      ..
I like  their colours because they are bright and happy – just the boost we need.  And don’t forget to paint your toe-nails to match – it is a tremendous morale booster! Even the nurses have commented, and although my nails are still short, having such lovely colours with a bright gloss top coat makes me feel so much more glam!

Famous by Sue Moxley Nail Varnishes, £4.50 at superdrugs nationwide

Glee Diva’s Free Your Glee Nail Set is £4.99 at Sainsbury’s

More Tips

QVC, the shopping TVchannel, invited me along one day to view their winter promotions, and incidentally, “would I like a manicure?”  Lovely people!  And Sue gave me a lovely manicure, using OPI products.  Five days, later, even with my horrible flaking nails, only one nail has a tiny chip.

Sue gave me a tip – WAIT and let your nails dry.  At the QVC day they had a clever set-up;  Sue gave one a superb manicure, then passed you over immediately to Louise from Elemis, who sat me down in an Elemis massage chair, and gave me a lovely long facial.  So I lay there with my nails drying harder and harder – and made a vow that I would really make sure I let my nails dry next time I gave myself a manicure – no ‘fiddling’ around!

OPI produces gorgeous cheerful colours that make your hands look so much better, and it has been lovely having bright coral fingertips to cheer me up!  Incidentally, I know many people can’t face going out shopping when having treatment, or when fatigue rears its ugly head, so I will ask QVC to let us know when they have special promotions of suitable things.

Red hands caused by 5FU or Capecatibine

What patients say when they are on these drugs

A thread from a forum produced lots of information –                                                                                                                                              and a Warning about what can happen when you visit the USA!

One friend reported, “I was on 5FU combined with folinic acid.  A side effect of this chemo                               is rawness of the skin where it’s thin and membranous – such as in the mouth and nose.

Any extremities, such as fingers, toes – and the skin on the palms and soles of the feet – became  really shiny and very red – not red raw, and it did not hurt (but then I never had it on the soles of my feet).

I was given corsodyl mouthwash for the ulcers/rawness in my mouth.

But it wasn’t painful, and didn’t throb, and I didn’t notice anything until one day I saw a sales assistant’s expression when she saw my hands!!

I think if you are given 5FU for a long time then the redness is a more common side effect. I think 5FU causes the cells to renew really quickly, hence the shineness to the palms – but have to say – it made the skin on my face and my hair….fantastic – the one good thing!

They prescribed B6 for the redness – but I didn’t take it, as i felt I could cope with it ok. I’m looking at my fingers now, and I can see they’re slightly red – I can feel it a bit – it’s an odd thing in the fact that the fingers would be really red, you could see clearly where it started from the knuckles.

As the drug accumulated I became very intolerant of it – a good sign because it meant it was working if I had such bad effects from it! My having such profound side effects meant it was working.

Basically you read that soreness and redness of the palms of the hands and soles of the feet  (Sometimes known as palmar plantar or hand and foot syndrome), can happen when 5FU is given continuously or over a long time. It is temporary and improves when the treatment is finished. You may be prescribed vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), which may help to reduce this”.

Another Forum visitor says, “I was on Capecitabine, which I understand is a sort of oral version of 5FU.  I had hand and foot syndrome and was eventually put on vitamin B6.  There was a lot of redness and I lost quite a lot of skin from my feet, making walking (of which I do a lot) very painful and also lost the skin from the tips of my fingers.

However, my treatment finished in January and everything has now healed up and I still have fingerprints”.

Warning! However, others say they have ‘lost’ their fingerprints, so if you are visiting the States, or other countries with less-than-helpful Immigration officials, see the Travel and Insurance category.

Toni and Guy get out scissors to help cancer survivors

39/365: New Hair Cut!
Image by jpre86 via Flickr

Strength and Style

Macmillan have teemed up with Toni and Guy hair salons to help people with cancer affected by hair loss.

Together, they have developed a programme called Strength in Style, to give patients the chance to get expert support in their hair salons.

There, you will receive top tips on hair care, together with wig cutting, and styling from specially-trained consultants;  Macmilllan will have been involved in the training.

As Tony Mascolo, CEO of Toni and Guy says, “providing expert care for people undergoing cancer treatment is something the entire company is passionate about supporting”.

Their salons are spread around the world, from Aberdeen to Amman, in Jordan.

www.toniandguy.com

Enhanced by Zemanta