Tag Archives: Dermatology

Doctors could be wrong – don’t worry if they can’t help with skin conditions

LP15122_bigCan’t work out why your skin itches?

 

When introduced to Tamoxifen, I woke up one morning to find I was bleeding all over from bloody  blisters.  This had been an extreme reaction to the drug, explained by doctors as “it’s your age”.  Luckily the hospital Chaplain suggested I went off to France, where they admitted this was a common side-effect from Tamoxifen – and gave me superb creams and balms to sort out the problem.

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New Zealand cancer patients benefit from tailored skincare

So why don’t we get similar help?

English: Fern flag of New Zealand Amongst countries whose cancer specialists help their patients, comes New Zealand. Like other countries, patients there can confidently buy – or be prescribed – skincare that tailored towards their needs, which really help with side effects of cancer drugs. So why is it that we can’t get same in UK?  We may think NHS is envy of world – but is it? Continue reading

You are not alone with skin side effects

The layers of the epidermis (left). Melanocyte...

Image via Wikipedia

Helping your skin

We can all feel depressed – particularly when we face yet another skin problem during and after cancer treatment.

Before cancer I wrote about skincare, and realised how important it is to ensure your skin (male or female) is in tip-top condition.  It is our largest organ, and needs looking after.

It’s not vanity – it is common-sense to ensure you skin is as blemish-free as possible, with no cracks or lesions that can make you vulnerable to dirt, infection, etc.

And if you feel good and look good – your survivorship pattern will be improved.

What started this website was the callous indifference I experienced from doctors, particularly those who should have know better and been there to help me, not make me feel I was making a fuss about nothing, when I asked what I could do about massive skin problems.

But when a big bully of a dermatologist at a major cancer centre in London told me blisters and skin lesions that appeared overnight were “due to your age“,  I realised that the tales I had heard from other patients were true, and some doctors seem to delight in making one feel small and that we complain over nothing.  Well, if we don’t look after skin properly we get problems.

So started this website, and found patients all over the world sometimes have to put up with the same indifference.

This video shows we are not alone:

http://www.youtube.com/user/ItsYourCallonCN8#p/a/u/1/YWi966AvHxE

The women in this video are discussing a particular brand of skincare, but what they say can refer to any brand that has been properly developed.  On this website I mention different companies’ products, and those such as La Roche Posay, iS Clinical, Evoskin, Clinique, Dr. Bragi etc. have been developed by dermatologists and doctors specifically for cancer patients, and many products have gone through tough clinical trials.

So don’t think you are being vain when looking after your skin.  If you don’t look after it, you could be laying yourself open to infection, certainly wrinkles and other signs of ageing.

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This says it all!

NHS logo

Image via Wikipedia

Proposed cuts to the National Health Service

 Sent in by a reader:

The British Medical Association has weighed in on Prime Minister David Cameron’s Health Care Proposals.

The Allergists voted to scratch it, but the Dermatologists advised not to make any rash moves.

The Gastroenterologists had a sort of a gut feeling about it, but the Neurologists thought the Administration had a lot of nerve.

The Obstetricians felt they were all labouring under a misconception.

Ophthalmologists considered the idea short-sighted.

Pathologists yelled, “Over my dead body!” while the  Paediatricians said, “Oh, Grow up!”

The Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness, while the Radiologists could see right through it.

The Surgeons were fed up with the cuts and decided to wash their hands of the whole thing.

The ENT specialists smelt “a rat”, didn’t swallow it, and just wouldn’t hear of it.

The Pharmacologists thought it was a bitter pill to swallow, and the Plastic Surgeons said, “This puts a whole new face on the  matter….”

The Podiatrists thought it was a step forward, but the Urologists were pissed off at the whole idea.

The Anaesthetists thought the whole idea was a gas, but the  Cardiologists didn’t have the heart to say no.

In the end, the Proctologists won out, leaving the entire decision up to the arseholes in London!

(With many apologies for the obscenity, but I feel so strongly about the way that the NHS is being mucked around, I couldn’t think of a more polite word).

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What to do when drugs cause skin lesions, dry patches, itching etc.

Skin cells from burn
When this happens to your skin  Flickr

Information on this website is intended for information purposes only. Nothing is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.

DON’T DESPAIR

Our skin is our largest and most important feature – so if you get painful, peeling, dry, itching skin,  during cancer treatment, DON’T think you mustn’t make a fuss.

For those who aren’t having cancer treatment, but have these symptoms – ask if these symptoms could be the result of taking antibiotics, medicinal drugs, etc.

Dermatology (the science of looking after skin) is very badly served in Britain, and far too often there isn’t enough time allocated for patients to discover what causes skin problems, so these are dismissed, or you have to wait months to see a consultant, by which time the condition has driven you nearly mad, or you come off the drugs.  Or doctors blame detergents, pollution, modern life-style or – as in my case “it’s your age”.

DON’T be bullied, or  even think that you are wasting doctor’s time if you have skin problems.   Our skin is our largest organ and needs looking after.

Sadly there are doctors that sniff and murmur “vanity” under their breath when we ask for help.  I came across a horror in my local hospital;  but when I challenged his diagnosis, he swept out defeated.

But it was him and Dr. 30 Second (who didn’t help with my eye problem) that made me start this website – which now has ‘visitors’ from 142 countries – proving that there are others like me who have skin problems!!

So this page is all about nice treatments, well-researched and helpful.  Don’t let nurses put you off.

If you want help with skin problems, don’t let excuses like “we are not allowed to recommend commercial products” put your off.  This is only laziness.  In other countries (with better post-cancer survival rates) it is normal for doctors to prescribe skin products for ‘cancer drug’ skin.  You can ask why is it that the drugs that are possibly causing the problems, are made by the most commercial companies in the world;  if doctors can recommend commercial drugs, then they should be able to recommend commercial products that will help with problems caused by those drugs.

How It all started

About two weeks after starting Tamoxifen, I woke up to find my body was a peeling, bloody mess, covered in lesions.  Cancer side effects had kicked in, and  I really needed a whole lot of advice and TLC.

Peeling off another layer, my (almost never seen) Oncology Nurse said “you do have a problem”, and that was all.  No help from her.

I needed help – fast.  So I went to a Dermatologist – whom I call PD (Pompous Dermatologist).  He was a Professor and in charge at our local Foundation Hospital.  He asked if I minded if he examined me in front of his students – I said I was delighted as I was sure it was drugs that had caused the skin lesions, and therefore students should know the consequences.

After a cursory examination, he told me “it’s your age”.  I started to challenge this – how could my body have erupted with these bloody blisters overnight, if it were age?  I had gone to bed with perfectly normal skin, yet woken up with blood all over me.

He refused to answer – but I could hear the students’ comments, and they were definitely on my side.  He realised this, got up and swept out saying he didn’t have time to answer any more questions.

I since heard that he had treated four friends in exactly the same way.  I HATE BULLIES – and got my own back as I had opted to go privately so I could see him straight away,  and refused to pay his bill.  He never pressed for payment.

After him I went to my private doctor, who spent over an hour talking me through all my symptoms, and eventually put me on a cortisone cream – which cleared everything up – telling me as soon as the skin was healed to come off the cream, start with a good body cream several times a day and go to a Consultant for advice.   I decided to go to France, where I was told they excelled in treating skin problems, but in the meantime would look around for a good body cream.  Having had such a bad experience with a Professor of Dermatology in Britain, I wasn’t going to go back.

What you do

I was lucky – having written articles about skincare, I bombarded the Press Offices of major skincare companies, asking if their research chemists had ever come across cancer skin side effects that might be caused by Tamoxifen.

Back zinged e-mail after e-mail saying they knew all about this.

All the companies mentioned here deserve a big thank you -they saved my skin and helped me stay on drugs.  But I can fully understand and sympathise with the 60% of us who elect to come off these life-prolonging drugs;  after all, who wants painful itching skin day after day, month after month?  With doctors telling you when you ask for help, “its your age”.

But don’t come off drugs – try, try and try recommended skincare products, until you find the one that will sooth and replenish your skin.  And help you stay on the drug.

Doctor’s letter

When I asked companies what they recommended for my skin, quite rightly, none of them would send me anything to help until I could produce a letter from my doctor saying my skin was healed. Once doctors gave me the go-ahead and said I could tolerate creams, etc.

Clinique took over – they make a fabulous Deep Comfort Body Butter. Rubbing that all over my skin three times a day eventually bought my horrible peeling skin under control, and now I only use it once a day (unless I go swimming, and then use again).

I did think I should try to see if the NHS could contribute to the cost, and was given several products to try, including Cetraben and Oilatum Cream; they are OK, but sadly not nearly as effective, so it was back to Clinique!

Daily Routine

Clinique said they were well aware of problems caused by drugs, had developed special creams to help patients and took stands at Dermatology and other medical conferences to tell the medical profession about this – but doctors just weren’t interested. They even have an excellent booklet written for the medical profession which lists every ingredient in their recommended range, so staff can check if anything might produce a reaction to certain drugs.  (I got hold of copies to hand to staff – but they landed in waste paper baskets).

What is it about the British medical profession that it can’t understand that women (and men) today want to keep their skin looking nice? Skin is our largest and one of our most important organs, and if it gets cracked and erupts, this sets up all sorts of problems, not the least germs getting in to the lesions causing havoc.

As I write this, Prof. Sir Magdi Yacoub has written in the The Daily Telegraph “we in the medical profession ……..have to listen more to our patients”.

In France they listen, then you are likely to be prescribed products produced by La Roche Posay (more details in next chapter).  At their medical centre they have a totally different approach, where doctors work WITH the patient, rather than dismissing our concerns.

BME

Sadly, those with dark or black skins tell me they feel left out, and they have even less attention paid to skin problems than we do.  The companies I mention here all make suitable products for BME skin, and their Beauty Consultants (in major stores or chemists) can give advice if you need to use any special creams.

Anthelios (made by La Roche Posay – LRP)  is certainly recommended for people with black skin, those who have vitiligo and is also  for every skin type that is photosensitive or photosensitive as a consequence of photosensitising drugs (chemotherapeutic drugs are known photosensitises).

People with dark or black skin who require camouflage make up post procedure or as a consequence of a skin pathology can use the Unifiance range of make up (available in most countries that stock LRP including Ireland, but not UK, so those in Britain have to order it on the net). They don’t, however, have a range specifically developed for black skin, as Camilla Rummery, their Medical marketing spokeswoman, says “Our range is recommended for all skin colours. We have also done multiethnic studies on the Effaclar range (for acne and oily prone skin) and of course our Lipikar range is suitable for all atopic and dry skin”.

Sadly, when nurses compliment me on my skin, and I start to tell them why it is in such good condition, even though I am on hormonal drugs causing cancer skin side effects – you can see they aren’t paying a blind bit of notice. Their eyes glaze over at the mention of any commercial products – and they live by the NHS mantra “free at the point of delivery”. No matter if you can pay for something that will make your life easier and more comfortable – this dog-in-the-manger attitude is pathetic.

So if you find that nurses just brush aside your questions about what products to use for your skin colour, go to LRP or any of the companies’ Consultants, or go on their websites – you’ll find they are incredibly helpful.

So – unless you are very lucky, if you have peeling skin – blood lesions – itchy skin – etc., it is up to you to sort it out. Or get help from GOOD skincare companies.

Making money

Yes – these companies are in business to make money. But many years ago the major companies realised that if they produced creams that gave customer allergic reactions, consumer groups (particularly in the USA) were so powerful they would be driven out of business by the Courts. So they improved research and development (R & D), employed a whole lot of scientists and doctors who were passionate about skincare – and the result is creams that are almost miracle creams. Not quite – we still can’t believe the ads that promise eternally youthful skin, but if we use good products in the right way, we can do a lot to give ourselves better skin. And women – and men – today realise that good skin makes you feel better.

It is strange that two French and one  US company all launched in Britain in 2008, unless of course they read the Macmillan survey saying we spend so much on ourselves after cancer (upwards of £2,000 – £12,000 pp).

Outdoors

When you go outside, even in winter it makes sense to use a moisturiser of AT LEAST Factor 15 on your face everyday (two lots of Factor 8 are still only Factor 8).

In Summer, the Skin Care Campaign say cancer patients should wear at least Factor 30, and Factor 50 when the sun is bright.

Clarins are another company that takes sun protection very seriously, and make excellent fake tans. They recommend using their exfoliating creams before you apply fake tan for a much more even finish.

And whatever you do – HAVE FUN! I defy anyone to be miserable when there is a gorgeous lavender scent coming from the bathroom, as you slather on a gorgeous cream (and I bet you the men enjoy this too!)

See next posting in this section for more on the Hero Products that help our skin every day.

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