it puts the lotion on its skin

I hear that phrase in my head every night I put lotion on my foot. Which is a lot of nights.

For those that don’t know, I was involved in a serious car crash in 2008 that crushed my heel bone and resulted in five reconstructive surgeries. Three of those surgeries were to try and save my foot from amputation after I developed several staph infections. What the doctors did to save my foot was to put a muscle from my thigh around my heel, and grafted skin from the same leg to grow over the muscle. What I now, jokingly, call my FrankenFoot.

I have to take very special care of my foot. The graft has no nerve sensation, I wouldn’t know if I stepped on glass or anything sharp, so I have to visually monitor it. Skin is your barrier to the world, which means I also have to make sure my skin is intact to keep any bacteria out. Two years ago I became lax in my maintenance, got a crack in my heel and wound up in the ER with cellulitis and two weeks of IV antibiotics. Whoops.

So it’s in these early Spring months that I have to remember to pay extra attention to the chapping/cracking/skin-splitting weather conditions of March! I’ve come up with a great One-Two Punch of moisturizing that I want to share with you.

At the  2008 Myositis Conference, Stanford dermatologist and TMA board member, Dr. David Fiorentino, lead a session about skin care and Dermatomyositis. Some of his comments have stayed with me. The idea that struck me most was getting over what advertisers commonly call “greasy feeling”. Lotion companies want lotion that absorbs into your skin without a “greasy feeling” because those lotions aren’t barriers. You have to keep putting the lotion on to get the benefit (better for the lotion company’s bottom line, right?) Think of lotion. Now think of ointment. Now think of salve. The thicker the moisturizer, the thicker the barrier for your skin. That “greasy feeling” is like a little suit of armor for your skin.

When I was going through all my graft surgeries my plastic surgeon always recommended I use Aquaphor. Aquaphor Healing Ointment is a skin protectant formula with glycerin, bisabolol (chamomile essence) and provitamin B5, click here to visit their website. Aquaphor is basically a souped up petroleum jelly. A big tub runs about $20 at most grocery and drugstores, a pretty penny but the big tub will last a LONG time (maybe 9-12 months, a little goes a long way.)Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 8.27.26 PM

Now here’s the trick. Dermatologists say that one of the best times to put on lotion is right after a shower or bath to lock in the moisture your skin has absorbed. But I take showers in the morning. Walking around with lubed up feet is tricky at best, dangerous at worst!

So what I do instead is; right before bed I put on a couple layers of Keri lotion, click here for their website, then immediately cover my feet in Aquaphor (or Vaseline if I don’t have Aquaphor around) then I go to bed. Overnight the lotion and ointment keep your feet nice and greasy/happy/moisturized! Warning: if you want your sheets non-greasy, wear a pair of socks.

The rash and skin symptoms that many DMers present is a HUGE challenge to daily life. Click here to read a great article from the HSS (Hospital for Special Surgery) for a complete rundown of the skin challenges facing DM patients.

Lucky for us Mo’s DM skin conditions were not bad and completely vanished with his course of treatment. Dr. Fiorentino mentions frequently that internal medications will correct the external skin symptoms DMers suffer from, and over-the-counter products can help alleviate pain and dryness while finding your correct treatment plan. In the meantime I hope my lotion/ointment combo helps – and remember: “Greasy is the new Beautiful”.


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