Creating a clean and comfortable environment for healing was one of the 8 effective things I did during my Topical Steroid Withdrawal journey which led to huge improvements in my skin healing . In this blog post I’ll share with you how and why.
5. KEEPING A CLEAN + COMFORTABLE ENVIRONMENT FOR HEALING
What I’m about to share helped my skin improve but keep reading to the end to find out the most important benefit.
Let’s start with keeping the body clean.
During TSW my face, my neck, my body were recovered with raw broken skin and they felt like millions of paper cuts all over with no foreseeable relief for a long time. There was also ooze and my skin was constantly shedding. Taking a shower was painful, it felt like pouring acid on broken skin but I chose to shower at least once a day during TSW – usually twice:
1. To start my day clean, and
2. To go into bed clean.
On the days when it feels too painful to take a shower, I would take a clean and damp cotton wash cloth and gently wipe down.
Here’s my rationale for showering daily: What do you do when you get a cut?
You wash, keep clean and protect it.
This is to reduce the risk of infection and to protect the open wound from further injury or getting dirty. So I treated my TSW skin like open wounds that needed to be cared for and protected. This applies to eczema flare-ups too.
Scratching is inevitable during TSW and when we scratch, our fingers and nails that have touched everything else touch the open wounds. This increases the chances of the skin becoming infected. When the skin gets infected the TSW symptoms worsen which will prolong the overall healing time, sometimes by months.
Showering daily reduces the likelihood of getting my skin infected.
Let’s talk about staying comfortable.
After my body is clean, I moisturize and make sure that the skin fully absorbs the moisturizer so it doesn’t feel uncomfortable or greasy. For me, dry, flaky skin tends to always increase the itch and that is why I moisturize. By the way, I fully recovered from TSW by moisturizing often.
I protect my skin by wearing fresh, soft and comfortable clothing that covers my entire body.
– Not too tight as it may cause chafed skin and
– Not too loose as the fabric may brush against the flaky skin and stimulate itch sensations.
Usually my clothing is thin so I won’t overheat and sweat – which for me is a trigger. I find that when there is soft cotton clothing covering my skin, I’m less likely to itch and when I do itch, it gives a layer of protection between my fingers and my skin. It also gives me a physical barrier of protection against dust mites and other unknown invisible allergens in the environment that could trigger itch and flare-ups. The right type of clothing also protected my skin from rubbing against any fabrics that are scratchy and kept my outer clothing clean.
I cannot tell or control all the invisible allergens in my environment especially when I’m outside but if I start my day clean and have the right clothing to protect my skin I have more control over the unnecessary flare-ups due to environmental factors.
Let’s talk about SPACE. Space in this context refers to the place where I rest and heal.
For me, it’s the bedroom specifically the bed. During TSW, it was very painful to move, so I stayed in bed a lot. It’s important to me that my healing space is clean, clutter-free and comfortable: a place where I look forward to go to every time where my mind can relax. But the problem with TSW is that with the night flare-ups and constant skin shedding, my mind started to associate my place of rest with anxiety, irritation and frustration. I also do not like to see skin flakes – so every day when I wake up, I make sure that I clean up after myself even though it was very painful to move my arms or to walk. I try to make sure that at the very least, I would shower, eat something and then clean my space. That was my basic routine. And as I got the rest that I needed, I was able to do more things then I started to declutter and clean the entire home – at my own pace.
Washing my bed sheets every day was a lot of effort but I did it for two reasons:
1. I have open wounds all over and when my body is clean I want to go into a clean bed.
2. I have a dust mite allergy which triggers itchiness and flare-ups.
Every time when I’m in bed I’ll be itching and flaring and I couldn’t help but to wonder if the skin flakes, ooze and sweat are feeding the dust mites. So to have that peace of mind, I decided to wash my bed sheets every day in a hot water cycle and I also vacuum my bedroom and mattress.
I have two sets of bed sheets which I rotate so i have fresh sheets when one is being washed.
Having fresh, clean bed sheets every day made a huge difference!
My mind started to associate my bed as a place that I look forward to going to. When I get flare-ups or when I’m unable to sleep, I feel at peace because I know with certainty that I am not in an environment where dust mites can’t thrive I know I have reduced the risk of infections with clean sheets touching my skin and the room is clean and tidy, my mind is less cluttered, I’m less stressed and all of that contributed to less itch and more peace.
Taking care of myself even when I’m in pain or feel overwhelmed is a form of self-care and when a health condition starts to affect one’s physical ability to do basic chores it can be discouraging.
I found that by committing myself to this basic routine mentioned in this video I’m able to preserve my dignity during TSW because it reminded me that it doesn’t matter what I look like or how debilitating TSW is, I am still able to take care of myself and not rely on others.
I hope this post is helpful. There are still 3 more things I did during my worst days of TSW which led to huge improvements in my skin so check out Part 4 !