A long-arse post about my largest organ

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I can already tell I’m going to have some typos here. My fingers can’t move fast enough. Oddly I’m using my middle finger on the left and my index on the right to use the touch-screen, I don’t think I’ve ever noticed that before. Could be something I’ve adopted because my left index finger has, for the first time in my life, decided it wants to grow a proper, decent nail and the sound of it ticking on my iPad screen is completely annoying. It might be okay if both index fingers made a sound but they don’t and that confuses my widdle brain.

But fingernails are actually something I wanted to talk about, sort of. I’ve never mentioned my annoying, weird, skin-thing here. Mostly because I have no idea if I’m making the problems up or not. Hell, I shat blood for years before I realised that wasn’t normal. Okay that really is off-topic. But bear with me, fingernails are related to the skin and hair, that keratin thang, and I’ve got some odd shite going on with all of it. I think.

My hair is done growing and that is that: it won’t get any longer. I’ve never had really long hair, and I believe there is a genetic cut-off that says ‘done!’ at a certain length. Hubby hasn’t reached his limit after over 6 years without a haircut, so I’m a bit jealous. I seem to be finally coming out of a months-long hair loss trend that pissed me off and also worried me a bit. I can now actually stroke the last few inches of my pony-tail and not have dozens of hairs come out in the process. So that’s good – but why was it falling out and why did it stop?

My fingernails (see I said I’d get back to that) have always been really thin and soft and squooshy. A while back (could be years, I have a terrible sense of time) I noticed one or two on my left hand had an odd texture. Heavy ridges, and little bumps like sand dunes on a beach. Google wasn’t any help to figure it out. Then my left index actually started making a real nail that didn’t break when you looked at it funny (and turn into a deadly razor-blade), or rip off below the nail-bed and make me sore and bloody for weeks. So: second question – why is my hair falling out but my nails are improving – but also doing funky patterns?

Last issue is the biggie, and the reason I finally am going to talk to my GP on Monday. I have very dry skin. It looks pretty good, I have to admit that. I don’t physically appear to be over 40 – in the summer, at least (I’ll get back to that in a bit). But, it’s thick skin (maybe why I don’t have the wrinkles I should, considering my childhood in Florida when sun lotion meant putting on baby oil or something else to get a better tan). It’s so thick that it requires, as I get older, an immense effort to exfoliate. I’m talking a lot of damn work that I resent a lot.

I have to use those gloves that are super-scratchy to take off the dead skin. I have to soak myself in hot water – and I have never liked hot showers – first, and then again and again after each scrub. If I run out of hot water, which is bound to happen, I’ve left a layer or three of damp, itchy, dead cells on my entire body that drive me INSANE for the next hour or more until I dry out entirely. Baths are much better, especially if I beg hubby to do my back, but our water tank is small and it takes ages for me to fill a tub, and then another 2 hours for the bath. And…the dead skin floating in there is just…horrible. I have photos that I might share with the doc, if I’m not too embarrassed to do so.

Skin lotion doesn’t help much. All it does is make the un-shed skin still stuck to me stay wet longer and prolong the itchy nightmare. If I really get to do a thorough scrubbing-job I’m always debating if I should use lotion or not. I want to, because I get so damn dry, but I rarely see that it makes a difference. Currently I can do an Ally Sheedy impersonation just by rubbing my leg, arm, or forehead – I’m talking about her fabulous dandruff-snowfall in The Breakfast Club, of course. My forehead annoys me the most right now. The dryness has extended down below my eyebrows. My goddamn eyelids are peeling! Ick. You’re not supposed to use exfoliating gloves on your face, but I can’t get the dead skin off any other way – and if I use face-cream more than once a day, I’m a mass of zits. Quite annoying at my age when I didn’t have a problem as a teen! So, I’m sort of hoping that a professional will be able to help, as I can’t and won’t buy every face-cream on the market to test it out, that shit is crazy expensive.

Well, I’ve been dealing with the skin-issues for years. It’s gotten worse in the last eight but I couldn’t say if is it due to the damp, sunless climate in Ireland, or if it’s just me getting older. I do know that I mentally crave sunshine, and that my face ages five years in the winter. I suspect a vitamin D deficiency, but I’m not going to play around with taking tons of different vitamins and waiting seasons for a result just to experiment on myself.

I finally am going to ask for professional help because since Christmas morning, I seem to have developed a fungus, or something. It started on the sole of my left foot as a clump of tiny blisters that looked like a particularly nasty cold sore and itched like mad. Google told me it was likely athlete’s foot, a fungus. I then caught the local creeping ick after new year’s eve and stayed home for a week taking antibiotics – and the very next week at work I noticed a load of tiny little bumps on the sides of most of my fingers. I thought it was a soap allergy, as I had just used a liquid soap in the bathrooms at work that I usually do not use. However, within two days it had progressed to the palms of my hands. No longer little bumps that didn’t bother me, I have had, since the first week of January, leopard-spots on both palms that itch and refuse to be cured by the miconazole ointment I bought and have used at least once a day since. The hospital-grade antifungal soap at work I prefer, and use about four times a day, also hasn’t helped. The little bumps on my fingers have peeled around the edges, but haven’t gotten smaller. The ones on my palms, and the original spot on my foot, also have a ring of peeling skin but the crud keeps coming back. This also worries me as I am a very fast healer. Sweating and hot water make it itch worse – not very great when I require hot water for the other skin BS, right?

I believe there is a pill I can take to cure the fungus that will have to be prescribed – but the thick-skin issue that seems to have prevented the ointment from working now has to be addressed. It isn’t going away, and if continual fungal infections are my future I Am Not Amused. I’m also not keen on the theory that I might need a sun-bed in the winter months (even if my whole being cries out for sunshine).

If you’ve bothered to read this far: any ideas or advice appreciated, especially as regards what I should ask or tell my GP.

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26 responses »

  1. Oddly, hair does have a point where it just doesn’t get longer
    Sounds like allergy of some sort.
    Sun would probably help, but if no sun available: vitamin D, and the B complex, A and E – all those vitamins have effects on skin.
    Maybe try a very old fashion plain soap – not anti-bacteria ones.(sometimes those cause issues)
    Might have your thyroid level checked – that’s a big issue for women…and it causes dry skin and hair issues.
    Do hope some solution is found soon.

    • Totally belive head-hair length is genetic. I have redheads in my genetic makeup, so I’m not expecting thick or long hair! But even considering that humans shed, I was really concerned about how much hair I was losing.
      I believe I’ve had my thyroid checked in the states, not entirely sure as it’s been a while. I am sensitive to soap – used to have to use Basis when I was little. But it was only my…ahem…tender parts that disliked Ivory or whatnot. I adore American brand lever 2000 as it gives me no troubles, but I can’t get it here! On my last imported bar, and I want to find something in Ireland that will work. Sadly all the lovely home-made soaps do nothing to take off the dead skin and prolong my agony.

  2. I would stuff myself wtih fish oil (I pound about six capsules a day) and Vitamin A. The RDA’s for “A” are often absurdly low, and your body requires it to dump dead cells. Fish oil omega-3s are what brought my fingernails back after they began splitting for the first time in my life, right after a major stress which also turned my skin all bumpy and weird. The blistery fungusy things could be what they like to call “nonspecific dermatitis,” meaning you’re a bit sensitive to something and it’s too complicated to find out what, but I have noticed the right fatty acid balance improves that too.

    Vitamin supplements are pricey, I know. “A” can be found pretty cheaply and of course eating cold-water fish is a help; if you buy fish oil it really is worth going as upscale as you can manage, because the cheap ones could be full of mercury and they give you fish burp.

    My favorite skin wash is sea salt mixed with a light edible oil like safflower.

    Everyone has a sort of preprogrammed length at which their hair starts to break. You can manipulate that some — mine grew longer after I started using saw palmetto. A whole other story. People were asking if I had grown a prostate, but it was about hormone balance. I know, I’m a mad scientist.

    • Yeah, I’ve called bullshit for years on the idea that regular haircuts ‘make’ your hair grow.

      Whoa! That’s a lot of changes, how would I know which one actually makes the difference? I did, of course, also eat more seafood in Florida. Mostly shrimp, however. I also crave any good shellfish (hard to get here, too). What would you recommend to try first, as an experienced mad scientist?

      Can that dermatitis just poof start? I’ve had a pretty regular routine for a year now, and have used that ‘other’ soap before with no issues. I just preferred the other as it didn’t stink so much and had more germ-killing credentials. And as above, any soap-sensitivity was soft-tissue specific in my past.

      • Huh. Looks like the reply I thought I had posted never “took.”

        I would start with Omega-3 fish oil first as it’s so involved in so MANY metabolic processes, especially those which show up on your skin. (People who have “thyroid” issues often see them moderate when they pack in fish oil, I’m told.) As for “poof” starting, I’ve got the most sensitive skin in the world — it’s a barometer for what my massage clients will be able to tolerate — and I’ve had reactions to creams that I’ve used for years, just from some small adjustment in the proprietary formula perhaps, or maybe no change at all. My favorite gommage is safflower oil and sea salt — sounds awful, but the salt exfoliates and the oil penetrates after the salt has leached water and, with it, irritants out from your skin. I always use it after yard work.

        If you go in for extra seafood, oily cold water fish like flounder and turbot are tops.

        • I think that’s my fault. I’m getting so much spam I’m not doing a great job of checking for accidental mis-categorisations, sorry. Will do better.
          Doc thinks what’s on my hands and feet is eczema. He took a swab but need a week for results if it is fungal, or ‘other.’ As I expected, I didn’t get much interest in the litany of other issues. Sigh. And I forgot to show him my fingernails, dammit! He also said it could have been the soap that kicked it off, even though I’ve not used it since. Doesn’t explain how it started on my foot, I’m not in the habit of washing my feet at work.

          I’ll have to try supplements, fish here is expensive and while flounder was my favourite in FL, I haven’t seen it here ever. I can’t choke down frozen fish, I really would rather just not eat than eat something I don’t want, no matter how hard hubby tries. Not a huge fan of salmon. Actually, we’ve been ‘off’ eating fish for a few years now. Hmm.

  3. hmmm… antibiotics, then skin bumps makes me wonder about hives–which is an allergic reaction. ?

    I have a friend who in the last month, took antibiotics for bronchitis, then got a fungal thingie. She is treating it partially through diet….

    can you pinpoint any relationships between the various skin difficulties and changes in your life? like finally being employed again… ?? If it were a matter of stress reactions, perhaps that could save you from a long road of searching and feeling beaten up while seeking cures.

    I KNOW this is extraordinarily stressful, girl, and I’m so sorry for that.

    • I don’t think hives – the bumps are very small and only along the sides of my fingers. The crud in my palms didn’t start until a few days later. I’d had this antibiotic before, no issues, and I’d finished the full course by the time the bumps appeared. The foot thing started before I had the anti-b’s! I’ve had the dry skin my whole life, and sensitivity to soap, too. I used to take more baths when I didn’t have a job, as they take most of a day, so now it’s showers or… washing my hair in the sink and using a washcloth on the smelly bits because I can’t face the misery of a shower. I am VERY stressed at work. I know that stress creates odd reactions in me, but I don’t think this is one of them. I could be wrong, easily!

  4. What you’re describing sounds a lot like psoriasis to me–especially the nail thing, the needing to exfoliate the dead skin (as your body is basically creating way too many skin cells, an autoimmune response as I understand it), the length this has been going on, etc. Maybe worth looking into? psoriasis

    It sounds a lot like the symptoms of it from what someone I know who was recently diagnosed with it told me!

  5. I’ve looked into that, but it didn’t match up with all my symptoms. I look fine, but feel like shit! Hahah. Except for right now when my face is peeling off and the backs of my hands are so dry they are going to crack and bleed without some help. Bath is on the schedule for tomorrow. Baths used to be relaxing. Now I have to take a shower after the bath and wash the dead skin out of my hair. It’s…gross. There might be an unusual form of psoriasis that matches up, it does come close. Oh and I do get a visible, non-itchy, rash just from plain water. Sometimes. Sorry this is icky but I’m trying to list all the weirdness so it is in my head for the doctor visit!

    • The person I mentioned was actually diagnosed with the arthritic variety of psoriasis–and for her it didn’t manifest quite as obviously in the skin so much as in her joints. But when she talked to an autoimmune specialist, the specialist asked her if she had any skin problems whatsoever….and she could point to a few that she hadn’t really noticed as being real big issues before…that turned out to be the psoriasis. She mentioned a few of the main, obvious skin symptoms that she didn’t have, such as the nail denting and pitting thing, the scaly shiny skin patches, etc. That’s why neither she nor the doctors ever thought to look there.

      I dunno. Is it normal for anyone to have to slough off that much dead skin? I don’t exfoliate my body (besides my face) at all, besides the use of one of those scrunchy wash ball things…I guess those provide some texture. My skin (except for my face, ugh ugh ugh!) is super dry at times and my hands will crack and bleed if I’m not careful (erm…the handwashing, lol). But I’ve never noticed a need to slough off any dead skin on my body really. Is that normal to some extent to have to do so regularly, in reasonable amounts, for other people?

      • Ah, back in the days when I had good, American insurance I had terrible unexplained joint pain. I ended up being diagnosed with fibromyalgia. As soon as I got myself fired from my horrible job and left my horrible fiancée, I the pain went away. I sort of called bullshit on the whole diagnosis and l haven’t bothered with it since. I probably wasn’t asked about skin issues as I have nothing visible, and it wasn’t so bad then.
        I always thought exfoliation was one of those things they made up to sell women more ‘beauty’ tools, creams, etc. Until I itched so bad that I used one of those big emery boards for filing calluses off your feet on my arms, and actually took the tops off of all the bumps and ended up looking like I had road-rash (probably the bumps are ingrown hairs, with skin this thick I have to have a lot, never thought about it much). I don’t think it’s normal, as it didn’t used to be normal for me.

        What do you use for the dry hands? I’m feeling diseased so I’m washing more, and making the backs of my hands really dry 😦

        • I had to buy some Aquaphor recently, with petrolatum and lanolin and all that, put it on my hands in a huge glob before bed, and then wear gloves to sleep until the worst of the dryness cleared up. In California where I’m at the air is moist so they don’t get as bad as they did when I lived in drier states. But I hate lotion and only put it on if I have to, hence why they get as bad as they do in the first place. 😦

          • That sounds terrible! How long does it take to heal up? I’m just using Aveeno, the super dry ultra sensitive blah blah blah oatmeal kind. But the best ever, ever – is Aveda ‘hand relief’ (snickers for a few minutes). It’s costs a fortune but not too greasy and works really well. I don’t like lotion on my fingers and palms, either, so just do the backs usually.

  6. I only have skin issues on my face. It fee;ls oly and dry at the same time. And sometimes it looks like i had a sunburn and changing skin or something.
    hope you and your doctor are able to find out what it is! It sounds creepy. 😦

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