eczema, miscellaneous

american springs and french homeopathy

so I was reading Susan Herrmann Loomis‘ book…

While I was reading On Rue Tatin, I got to a part where Loomis mentioned how her son’s physician also practiced homeopathy, and instantly my interest was piqued. The U.S. is pretty bi-partisan when it comes to medicine. You usually see either someone follows a conventional/allopathic practitioner pathway OR they go into an alternative medicine profession (homeopath, naturopath, etc). However, in France it seems that many medical doctors are also taught a bit of the more alternative medicines and as a result will prescribe unconventional medications and generally tailor treatments towards individuals more strongly so than in the U.S.

unconventional medicine… like hot springs therapy?

Having had a dermatologist who prescribed me the U.S. version of the Avène line products, I remembered that France also has a hearty healing spring culture and how insurance can cover some of the expenses for treatment at one if one has a prescription. I had researched the Avène springs therapy previously I jogged my memory about how their water comes from the Sainte-Odile spring, after having been naturally filtered through the Cévennes Mountains. I’m still super intrigued by trying this one day, as one can pay to do 3-week stays and the results seem phenomenal. I better keep working on my French though…

but more on homeopathy

In going down the French doctors are homeopaths direction, I ended up stumbling across the recent controversy happening, where the French government is trying to remove government reimbursement for homeopathic medicine prescriptions. Multiple groups andd campaigns have formed fighting on both sides (including SafeMed, FakeMed, MonHomeoMonChoix) Apparently, according to articles I read (in English) from france24 and bloomberg, the debate centers around the following points:

  • the efficacy of homeopathy. On one side we hear that the homeopathic medicines are nothing more than fancy tictacs; they only function as placebos anyway, and studies prove that. On the other side we hear that the homeopathic meds are gentle alternatives to meds with lots of side effects, and they can be used for more acute but non-severe conditions like the common cold and allergies. The studies that deny the efficacy of homeopathy are contested by the argument that homeopathy works by tailoring to each individual patient, and so a large uniform study where are all subjects are prescribed the same medications would not accurately show its effectiveness
  • the French government needs to save money. The French public health sector is looking to save money and this is a viable way to cut back spending, is what Buzyn, which is challenged because it is believed that homeopathy only contributes to 1% of said spending
  • this is the first step towards decreasing prescriptions generally (said by the Minister of Health, Agnès Buzyn). This idea is contested by studies like (this one) which show that the costs depend on the type of insurance used. For their social security (gov reimbursed program, though the consultations for homeopathy may be more expensive, the actual prescription costs are much lower than that of conventional medicines.
  • only 10% of patients seek reimbursement for the homeopathic medications anyway

my two cents

I personally think Buzyn is being short-sighted. If you take away reimbursement for just the homeopathy treatments, I doubt the result will slow ALL prescriptions being given out, but rather France will instead see a shift towards more issuing of medical prescriptions, which will cost the government more overall. I don’t know how the relationship works in France, but if it’s anything like the U.S., the pharmaceutical companies will fill the void of the homeopathic prescriptions by incentivizing doctors to give out more prescriptions. This would make the country by and large more dependent on meds, rather than less, and now these meds are stronger and as a result probably have a greater range of serious side effects, which rebounds into needing more medicine to treat the side effects. But again I’m not well versed in how the French medical system works, so this is all my conjecture.

if you believe it “in your heart of hearts”…

I also feel like people attack the placebo idea all the time but if you have something that is no more harmful than a tictac, as the articles argued, yet it makes the patients who take it feel better, why is that a bad thing? A lot of health is mental (as our brains are a part of our body) and so if feeling cared for, listened to, and treated (even if the treatment plan includes fancy “tictacs”) makes someone feel better, isn’t that in itself still a useful option? Most of the doctors interviewed who are in defense of homeopathy, seem to agree with me. They stated things like obviously you wouldn’t use homeopathy to treat cancer, but you might use it to treat an acute case of insomnia, etc, and that cutting off such an option might hurt lower income patients, as homeopathic medicines are usually cheaper than allopathic ones.

my personal disclaimer

I am openly biased. I’ve always been a fan of complementary systems of medicine, as I grew up drinking homemade ginger, lemon, and honey tea for sore throats and whatnot, and only turning to medication when things were bad. At the same time, having severe food allergies, I did (and do) consume Benadryl and own an Epipen, so it’s not like I was against conventional medicine. It was always just a gradient of severity. I’ve also become decidedly more pro-alternative medicine because years of conventional medicine/treatment has messed up my skin worse than it was in my youth, and as a result, I have fairly strong fear-avoidance (but really only for dermatologists, ha).

but back to alternative medicine and hot springs

Since I obviously won’t be making my way to France anytime soon, I also have been interested to see if there are any hot springs in the U.S. (there are) and in particular if there are any near me (there are much fewer). Apparently there is one in Virginia that multiple presidents have visited at the Omni Homestead Resort. If I make it over there anytime soon, you’ll hear about it in a whole separate post.

all posts, community

my travel wishlist

As the movement of creating more open dialogue around living with eczema grows, more and more events and opportunities are flourishing to help spread the word too.

My top 5 choices of places/events/conferences/camps/programs I would want to attend include:

  • Eczema Expo: Created by the National Eczema Association, this event brings together patients, caregivers, medical professionals, and product makers all to talk and connect over eczema. They even give you an idea of what the trip is like here. It just seems like a Renaissance Faire for sufferers of eczema and I’d love to go next year (hopefully it’s in Maryland or Massachusetts one year though!).

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  • Camp Wonder: This is an amazing program run by the Children’s Skin Disease Foundation that allows children to experience camp despite their skin conditions. I would love to be a counselor one day!

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  • Avène Hydrotherapy Center: First of all, this center is in the south of France, which is a beautiful land I long to re-visit. The spring supposedly was discovered to have healing properties when a Marquis’ horse was cured of pruritus after a few swims.  In time a hydrotherapy center and dermatological lab were built there, and so far, the testimonials of people getting treated there are beyond promising. Plus, like I said before, south of France. Be still my heart. Note: Avène also has US product lines now.

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  • Hannan-Chuo Hospital – A hospital in Japan thats dermatology department is run by Dr. Sato, who does a lot of research and treating of topical steroid withdrawal. You check in as a patient for a few months, and come out cured apparently. Unfortunately his blog is only in Japanese, but I’ll link it here for you multilingual individuals).
  • The Dead Sea – I hear its mud/water has some amazing healing properties due to its salts. It seems like many companies have turned the mud/water into packable salts for medicinal cosmetic lines, for example making bath soaks and other products, but I would love to be able to go there one day and just roll around for myself in the sea.

Other random events and classes that would pique my interest if I came across them and make me want to up and travel would be:

  • yoga retreats for skin sufferers
  • skin herbal remedy classes
  • book chats by writers with eczema
  • eczema in the arts conventions (I’m thinking like a comic con for skin!)
  • eczema spas (which I liken to Korean spas in my head)

 

 

all posts, eczema

review: moisturizers

I think one of the universal aspects of having a skin condition is you get used to using a bunch of different topical creams and lotions and ointments. At this point in my life, I am no stranger to the variety of products in the market (though new ones are always being developed) and I’ve formed my own opinions about what works or doesn’t work for my skin (though that also varies depending on what stage my skin is in at the moment).

A+D – First Aid Ointment: Generally, I use this much like I use Neosporin (mostly for cuts and scratches). This does have lanolin which can cause allergic reactions for people. I think this works fine if you don’t have allergies, though it’s too sticky to apply over the whole body. I think Neosporin generally works a bit better (maybe because it usually has a type of antibacterial in it?).

Aquaphor Advanced Healing Therapy Ointment Skin Protectant: I’ve used this brand and the retail store-brand versions. This feels a bit like applying Neosporin to the skin, but more watery. Generally it didn’t feel bad on the skin, but was a bit sticky. Overall, it didn’t really help me enough to keep moisture in to warrant repurchasing it at the time, though I wouldn’t mind using it again if I had another bottle of it lying around.

AveenoActive Naturals Daily Moisturizing Lotion: I find this type to be a bit watery, and it tends to burn a little bit if the skin is raw. To be fair though, I haven’t tried a lot in their line besides this particular product. Apparently their Aveeno Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream helps improve the diversity of the skin’s biome.

Avène Eau Thermale Avène Skin Recovery Cream: I actually haven’t tried this brand at all yet, but I have heard good things about it, and this cream I would love to try. Avène has a spring called Saint Odile in France that apparently has very lovely healing properties, and so spas and other treatments have developed there using the water, including hydrotherapy. There is also an Avene company in the USA, which I think also uses the water from France.

Burt’s BeesShea Butter Hand Repair: I’ve been using this along my whole body and generally love it. It is a little thick, but as you spread it, it melds well into the skin and is pretty effective as keeping some moisture in so long as I wear layers over the skin. Downsides is the amount isn’t made for someone using it along their whole body (and technically isn’t made for the whole body as it’s a hand cream!).

Cera Ve Moisturizing Cream: I’ve used a variety of their products. While I have no complaints with them, they are generally a bit too pricey for me for the amount I need and don’t offer as good of benefits as other brands. When I did buy it, I usually went for the bulk size one to get the best price per quantity.

CetaphilMoisturizing Cream for Dry/Sensitive Skin: Generally feels like a watered down Cera Ve. I’m not a huge fan of them. Note: A friend recently told me that Cetaphil products contain almond oil- so for those with a nut allergy, this is not the lotion for you!

(NEW!) Chuckling GoatCalm Down Kefir Lotion: I use these for the inflamed days as it seems to help dry out the excess heat and redness. It doesn’t help keep in moisture so I use it early in the day and then apply something stronger to keep in moisture later on. It goes on fairly gently.

(NEW!) Chuckling GoatSoothing Kefir Lotion: This one smells nice but didn’t feel as good as the Calm Down version.

Coconut Oil (pure) –  Vita Coca Organic Virgin Coconut Oil: I’ve heard great things about the benefits of coconut oil for keeping staph infections at bay and helping to reduce a lot of eczema symptoms. Personally I do like using coconut oil but it feels like it doesn’t absorb as well in to the skin, and it doesn’t really provide lasting moisturizing effects throughout the day so I have to use it with something else. It does seem to help with skin redness though.

ConquererSoothing Dry Skin Balm: This is Abby Lai’s brand (of Prime Physique Nutrition) and lately I am loving it. When my skin is cracking, this is one of the few products that can help calm the skin down, though it does take a while. My only complaints would be the size of the container (I’d love a larger tub of it), and that it is somewhat grainy and so it took a lot of rubbing in to get it to melt into the skin. The latter isn’t a deal breaker though- and I’m not sure if it was just my container from heat or cold transportation that caused it to become so granular.

Curél Ultra Healing Lotion: I have used this product a few times but so intermittently that I can’t really accurate review it. It feels nicer on application than Cera Ve and Cetaphil.

DoveDermaseries Eczema Relief: This is Dove’s new line. I generally like it though it is more on the lighter scale. It’s a bit pricey and also doesn’t last as long if applied after a shower/bath as I would like.

(NEW!) Eczema HoneyHoney Natural Healing Cream: This one tends to provide a better barrier and seal in moisture, plus the honey works as a natural antibiotic. The downside is that it separates from the oil in the mixture pretty quickly so I have to stir it a bit before use. Also, as it is mostly honey, it’s sticky!

EucerinAdvanced Repair Cream: This is one of the lighter types of their line. I liked it because the normal Eucerin was just too thick (and also didn’t absorb well into the skin if the skin was wet/damp). This version however, can tend to burn on application.

(NEW!) ExedermEczema Care Daily Lotion: I recently came across this in CVS and gave it a go because it was endorsed by NEA. I found that it really did help relief the intense dry/cracking I have been having, especially with my hands, but it doesn’t last long as a moisturizer (but to be fair, I got the daily lotion, not the daily moisturizer). All together I am using this product almost exclusively now and am pretty happy with it for the dry/cracking/wrinkly skin face (google TSW knee/hand/wrist wrinkles for an idea of what my skin looks like during this phase). The one down side is, this product tends to be hard to find and not in many stores yet (or at least not that I’ve seen).

(NEW!) Exederm Intensive Daily Moisturizer: I’ve been using this product a lot (pretty much exclusively for a few weeks now). It isn’t too watery, and coats my skin nicely and does get absorbed well. I’ve noticed it can cause me a bit of itchiness if I apply it after a hot shower/bath (which I technically should be avoiding anyway).

L’OréalParis Collagen Moisture Filler Day Night Cream: I grabbed this because I was looking for a creme to apply to my skin that contained collagen. This one is okay. It is quite fragrant which I’m not a fan of, and it tends to dry me out after application within a few minutes. Overall I don’t think I’d buy it again, though if I couldn’t find any other collagen-infused creams I might repurchase it.

(NEW!) MG 217 – Eczema Body Cream with 2% Colloidal Oatmeal: This is a newer one I’ve been trying. It has a smell that reminds me a bit of menthol and it feels a bit stickier when it goes on, but it generally doesn’t burn and it dries quickly. I like it because it feels like it coats the skin evenly, but it often is unable to help me stop my drying out when I’m in that aggressive phase of that stage. All things considered I will be getting it again.

NeosporinOriginal First Aid Ointment: I generally only use this for cuts or deeper scratches, and then try to cover them with band-aids to keep in the moisture. Neosporin generally feels good on the skin (no burns or anything- and some types contain pain relievers), but is quite oily and I wouldn’t suggest it for use for the whole body. I do use it overnight a lot when my hands and feet are cracked

Reviva: Collagen Night Creme: I do enjoy this collagen cream, though it only comes in small quantities. It helped reduce a pretty red flare that was starting on my face in two days, which was a great relief. I usually saved it for my face and hands because it does come in so little amounts, but I think it helps overall.

Sunflower Oil (pure) – Spectrum Naturals Organic: Sunflower oil also has studies supporting its use for people with eczema (so long as you don’t develop an allergy to it). It is a bit of a hassle to apply as it is a pure oil, and it does dry pretty quickly, and overall I don’t dislike it. I don’t really use it anymore because I did develop an allergy to it over time.

VanicreamMoisturizing Skin Cream for Sensitive Skin: I received samples of these to try from my phototherapy sessions. They didn’t burn during application which was nice, but they did feel a bit watery and didn’t real help retain moisture.

Vaseline Pure Petroleum Jelly: I have mixed feelings about Vaseline (and in generally petroleum jelly). In general, I hate the feeling of being sticky and having to apply it is a nightmare. When I do use it, I use the pure thick stuff and it used to help keep moisture in my skin but more so when I was on antibiotics and oral steroids. When I’m not on those medications and/or when my skin is not flaring, I find Vaseline to be too much and it often makes me breakout in acne. When my skin is flaring too aggressively, Vaseline tends to trap heat better than it traps moisture. Lately I tried it when my skin was unbearably dry and nothing was working, and Vaseline didn’t help. It just made me feel sticky.

YORO NaturalsOrganic Manuka Skin Soothing Cream: I am loving this product. It feels a little more sticky than the usual culprits (like Exederm), but it keeps my skin hydrated longer. It smells pretty good as well. My only complaint is that it comes in such small amounts.

 

I’ll add more products to this post as I use more (or remember which ones I’ve used in the past).