Thursday, October 23, 2008

Skin Care and MS: Is this Really that Important?

It is very important for those of us who have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis to do all that we can to take good care of our skin. This may not sound that important, but it is very important because healthy skin is our main barrier to protect us against infection. Since the majority of the people, which have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, already have a compromised immune system or weakened immune system, it is especially important for us to do all that we can to minimize or reduce how often we tend to get infections. I realize that we just can’t go around being germ-a-phobic or paranoid about germs, since it is difficult to avoid living conditions that promote the presence or growth of germs, but we need to do what we can to minimize this potential problem for us.

If you have a problem with the skin on your arms, hands, legs or feet drying out and cracking, this sets you up to allow infection to have a direct way through the skin to enter your body and give set you up for frequent infections. Since those that have the symptoms of ms have a weakened immune system, this can set us up for experiencing a vicious cycle of one infection after the other, if we do what we can to take care of our skin.

I don’t know about you and your particular case of Multiple Sclerosis, but I have had a few periods of time where I had one infection after the other for 3 to 6 months at a time and whenever this occurred, I was not able to function enough to be able to do much of anything. What happens with MS is that our immune systems don’t recover very well after each infection we have and if we get a second infection and then a third, one after the other, this sets us up for a “snowball” type of effect that is a horrible vicious cycle that is difficult to break.

Taking antibiotics too often, creates another problem, sice this causes our bodies to become restant to the antibiotics so that they are much less effective in killing the infections. We need to do what we can to minimize infections and find other ways to boost our immune systems so that we don't need to take antibitics as ofen. This is NOT to say that we should avoid taking antibiotics, but I take more of the approach that the use of antibiotics should be more limited (if possible) to use for the more severe infections so that they are effective when we need them the most to come to our aid. I have been fighting against this problem for 12 years and I would like to do what I can to give you a few tips that may help ease this problem, as much as possible -- because it’s no fun when this visicous cycle of one infection after the other occurs.

What can help to reduce this problem of frequent infections?

I have found that first and foremost we need to take care of our skin every day. Washing as much of your skin every day with soap and water is a good start. Pay special attention to thoroughly wash your legs and feet. While doing this thorough cleaning of the skin, pay special attention to any cuts, scrapes or cracks in the skin. If you note any of these, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water, being sure to rinse off the soap, dry the area well and put some type of covering over it (bandage or gauze pads). If you need it, you can also use triple antibiotic ointment on the cut before bandaging it to prevent infection. If the skin around the cut appears to be inflamed or red, wash and dry the area and put the triple antibiotic ointment on it and keep it bandaged for a few days until it heals (make sure you change the bandage each day and clean it off each time and reapply the ointment).

Okay, what if you have dried out skin that is cracking, can anything help to reduce or prevent this from happening? I have tried all kinds of things for this problem, since I tend to have a much bigger problem with the skin on my hands and feet cracking during the winter months. I have tried all kinds of skin creams, lotions, etc. and none of these things helped much. So, try what I found that helps me, to see if it can help to resolve any problems you are experiencing with your skin drying out or cracking.

First, drink at least half a gallon (1.895 Liters - sorry, I don’t think in Liters) of water each day. If you tend to drink more water each day, that’s okay, just keep it less than 1 gallon (3.79 Liters) for each day. If you have any problems with either of your kidneys not functioning very well try to drink half a gallon 1.895 Liters) a day as a maximum. Tea, coffee and soft drinks don’t count, when you are figuring out how much water that you drank for the day. Tea and coffee can actually dehydrate the body, when consumed in larger quantities, and can add extra to the amount of water that your body needs for the day, to make up the difference.

Our public drinking water, where I live, definitely has chemicals in it (like chlorine, iodine, bromine and who knows what else) and it smells like chemicals. Should you drink bottled water? I don’t know that doing this is that much better. A better solution than purchasing bottled water is to get a combination reverse osmosis water filtering system that is called a “whole house” system. This means that where the water supply enters your house if where the filtering system should be installed. If you have well water, instead of public water, it might be a good idea to have your well water tested to see, generally speaking, what may be in your well water that should be removed. The type of filter needed, will be determined, based on the results of the laboratory analysis, to help you to decide what kind of filter that you will need.

Next, add extra virgin coconut oil daily to your food. This is easier to do if the food is hot, since this type of oil tends to be solid at room temperature (unless it’s above 85 degrees Fahrenheit) in the room or outside. I have found that 1 to 2 Tablespoon a day of organic extra virgin coconut oil helps me the best, but you have to determine for you how much it appears that you need to use. Adding extra virgin coconut oil to your diet will help to lubricate the skin from the inside out and as an added benefit, coconut oil helps the body to have an easier time digesting the other fats that you eat. If you have a more severe problem with the skin cracking, I would suggest adding the extra virgin coconut oil to your food, as well as spreading the coconut oil on your legs or where ever your skin is dry before going to bed at night.

I have tried all kinds of creams, lotions and ointments, before, but for me, even the vitamin E oil that was suggested to me a few times, did not help with relieving the problem that I had with my skin on my hands drying out and cracking. The extra virgin coconut oil works much better than anything else than I have tried, but if possible I suggest getting it organic, if you can, and purchasing it with nothing else added to it.

To find out more about what I have learned that has helped reduce the symptoms of MS, go to for information.


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