Bath and Shower Hints
you have ichthyosis, one of the best things that you can do for your skin (and
it's cheap!) is take a bath. Long showers are okay, but actually
soaking in a bath is even better.
people with ichthyosis swear by water filters. All the time that they
spend showering and bathing is made more effective by using "soft
water." Both in a conservation effort and to preserve the
normal taste of drinking water, some people arrange their water filter to
only filter hot water.
Soaking and Scrubbing
first part of your bath is well spent by just soaking, letting the water
soften and loosen the skin. I like to do this for about an
hour. Then comes the work part! After the skin is
soft and loose is the ideal time to scrub some of it off. How
hard you scrub, and what you use to scrub with, can depend on your age and
the type of ichthyosis you have. I personally prefer using a natural
pumice or terra cotta stone (see what they look like and where to get them
in the Products section.
These would be on the severe side of the scale...you could also use other
products designed to remove skin (like certain sponges, or other synthetic
products....or just a soft washcloth). I get the best results from a
pumice. It's important that this is a real, natural stone not an
artificial one. Artificial pumice stones, for use on the feet, are
commonly stocked in drugstores; these tend to leave tiny scratches all
over my body, as tiny grains of the artificial stone fall away as I use
it. So again, a natural stone is a must for me.
I also like to
use a scrubbing gel (exfoliating gel). I put the gel on one
part of my body at a time (just one arm, or half of a leg), and then scrub
with the pumice stone on top of the gel. This speeds up the process
of removing my skin and makes the pumice even more effective. Exfoliating
gels are meant for the "rest of the world" to use alone; you rub
the gel on (body or face, there are products specially made for each), rub
lightly with your hand, and rinse off. Instead of using my
hand, I use a pumice stone. If you don't have ichthyosis, this would
sound crazy...if you do, however, this probably sounds more reasonable.
I have several exfoliating gel products that I like, and alternate them.
I approach pumice stones and
exfoliating gels a bit like I would approach refinishing wood--I
have several stones and gels, some more coarse and others more fine,
that I use at different times. The thicker the scaling, the
coarser and more harsh the pumice and gel that I select; as my
scales get thinner, I select pumice stones and gels that are finer
and, therefore, gentler.
you're soaking, I've found several bath additives help make the
process more effective. My latest favorite is Arm and
Hammer baking soda and Epsom Salts.
I've also used dead sea
salts. They're becoming very popular; you can find them now in
most larger, nicer, drug stores with the rest of the bath
bubbles/salts, or in one of the specialty bath shops like Bath and
Body. Dead sea salts are meant to be very relaxing (and they
are!). However, I've found that my skin doesn't burn as much
in the water (either when I first get in the bath, because my skin
is really dry and cracked, or when I'm scrubbing with my pumice) and
also doesn't itch as much for the next several hours (maybe up to
24) when I've bathed in it. For a less exotic option (and
certainly cheaper), some people add regular table salt to their bath
water, with much the same result.
additives that I occasionally use (never in combination, but I rotate between them):
a couple of tablespoons of boric acid powder, oatmeal-type additives
like Aveeno, various types of oils (bath and body oils sold at any
of the bath specialty shops, Hermal Dermatological Bath Oil, etc.),
and anything packaged as "moisturizing" from the bath
gels. Some people prefer a small amount of bleach, or
antibacterial soap, if they have trouble with body odor or
a place on your skin that's sore or cracked and that you know will
sting when it comes into contact with water? You can always "grin
and bear it", but you can also try covering the sore spot with a dab
petroleum jelly, like Vaseline, that can help protect the spot.
The most important part of your bath
routine is being sure to cream up as soon as you get out!
I usually shower off, after my bath, and then get out. I then
pat myself dry, so my body is still moist, and then cream up my whole body! See the section on
for suggestions of which particular cream to use, but it's critical that
you use some kind of cream. Other people with mild-to-moderate forms of
ichthyosis prefer to use a mixture of glycerin and water after the bath
rather than cream.
How Often Do You Do This?
skin would look better if I took a long bath everyday. But I have
too much going on in my life to be able to devote that much time to
bathing. I usually take a bath once a week, and take long
showers (using the pumice as best I can all over in the shower, but
focusing on face, hands and arms) every day. How often you take a
bath is again a matter of personal choice: how much benefit do you get,
how important is it to you, how many other activities are competing for
your time, etc.
I was reading your
sight and wanted to give you some of the things that I have used
to help with my ichthyosis. I would soak in polytar, which
can be bought over the counter at any pharmacy, for about 20
minutes and then use also a polytar soap. I have found that
this works much better than soaking in the oatmeal product.
This is what my doctor recommended and that I do and it works.
Over my 34 years I've learned a lot
about dealing with this. As far as bathing goes, I've found the
synthetic green scouring pads to be very effective after a (even brief)
shower. I scrub like hell. Then I use Lubriderm liberally at least twice
I have found that for my 7
year old son with EHK that the vaseline does not adequately protect his
open sores from stinging. We have discovered that Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour
Cream dabbed onto open sores prevents nearly all stinging in the tub.
I have found that using neosporin with
the pain relief formula (ointment not cream) works just the same as
petrolium jelly plus the fact it is antibacterial formula at the same
time. I have also found that although scouring pads work great nothing
works better than my hands and fingers for scruubing off
"loose" skin. Your fingers can feel the contours better and
you can tell how hard to scrub before you tear your skin as opposed to a
scouring pad which I sometimes rub myself raw with and
don't realize until it's too late.
I have used honey,
and maple syrup (strongest) as an exfoliate. The prosess is as
follows: I rub it on one area at a time as the process takes about 20
minutes at a time. I rub until it becomes tacky or hard to rub.
Then I begin to pat the skin until lesions begun to peel off. They come
off in a manner similar to when you peel off a band aid. I have also had
good to exellent results buy using the three above items in the
bath as a soak (within days).
use super fatted soaps (basis soap is the best and it's on the drug
store shelf) before turning off the shower, apply vaseline to your
affected areas and lower water temp just at luke warm or cooler and
stand back under the shower. before opening shower curtain or stall pat
skin lightly, cause as soon as your skin hits a drastic air temp change
your pours will shut tight. this has made my winters here in new
hampshire a little easier and hopefully it will help others live a
little easier with this condition
In my experience,
water is the absolute enemy of my skin. I love to take a long hot
bath but I can suffer for days afterward. Various medical manuals and
physician resources state that bathing and showering time should be as
seldom and as short as possible. I can't just not shower every
day, but when I do, it usually 5 minutes or less and with lukewarm
water. (I treat myself to a long, lovely hot shower
occasionally, too, but again I suffer for it. I have found many
things that help, that don't cost much and don't take a lot of time or
energy to do...
1. I NEVER,
EVER, use soap on my face, (not even beauty bars or liquid facial
cleansers). I use Wet Ones to clean my face and immediately
use a moisturizer while my face is still damp. It may not be what
the rest of the icthyosis community would prescribe, but it works for
me. I am now 40 years old and my facial skin is as close to normal
as it will ever get. Most people think that I'm in my late 20's or
early 30's so I have done far less damage to my face with this regimen
that most people with normal skin.
I have also found
that when an area of my body becomes particularly dry and is about to
start breaking apart, I will put on some of Band-Aids advanced healing
bandages over it for just a couple of hours. When I take the
bandage off, the dead skin comes away with the bandage and the skin
underneath is much better and more able to absorb moisturizers.
I've put a call in to the Johnson & Johnson Co. to see if they can
make these bandages available in larger sizes or in sheets, but they
won't unless they get a lot of requests. Maybe others could try
this and if it works, call in! In my trials, this works best on my
shins, where I seem to have the most trouble (besides my heels) with my
skin cracking, splitting and bleeding all over the place.
I am concerned
about everyone's calling for the use of heavy scrubbing, pumice stones,
and the like. When I have gone that route, it had the unfortunate
effect of making the skin tougher and more prone to injury. I am
VERY gentle in washing now, and have actually seen great
improvement in my skin. Also, the more I stay away from water the better
off I am.
I have a wonderful
thing I do for my feet as often as I can... I put baby oil or mineral
oil in my hand and add regular table sugar to make it good and
gritty. I then give my feet a thorough massage. This not
only helps to exfoliate but it is an absolute luxury. When
my feet are tired or just plain ache, I give them this treatment and
it's like getting a whole new set of feet!
is my daily face washing routine. It leaves my face very soft and
smooth. Splash with warm (not hot) water to moisten the skin. Scrub with
wet washcloth. This allows me to scrub the eye area and > around
the nose really well. Wash with Burts Bees Orange Orange Essence Facial
Cleanser. It contains olive oil, lanolin, oat protein and glycerin
so it's really moisturizing. I rinse gently with warm water, but not so
much that the oils from the cleaner come off and then moisturize. To get
eye makeup off, put sweet almond oil on a cotton ball and wipe. Also,
scrubbing with baking soda mixed with water and a few drops of lavender
essential oil a few times a week works wonders as an exfoliating mask.
I follow that with a coat of evening primrose oil or sweet almond oil and
let it soak in overnight. And, if you put either one of those oils on the
eye area before you go to bed every night, it keeps that area really soft.
In order to exfoliate my
skin, I prefer to use a pumice stone, almost all days during the shower.
It's pretty simple, but works :) I've been using this simple treatment
during a decade and my skin looks normal. Almost nobody notices that I
have ichthyosis, although is severe.
doctor suggested a weekly bath with deep tub and one cup of bleach to
help with bacterial growth. This really seems to help all of us.
Controls itch and redness. Prevents
After the bath use lots of lotion!