Dry, itchy skin may seem like an unusual symptom for fibromyalgia sufferers. Never once did it cross my mind that the skin problems that I was experiencing were related to fibromyalgia. It has been noted that around 80% of fibromyalgia sufferers complain of skin conditions associated with their illness. No one knows why we suffer with annoying skin conditions; it's still a mystery in the medical community. But, one thing is certain, it does exist.
Some possibilities for skin complaints in fibromyalgia patients may be related to the pain signals sent from the brain. Fibromyalgia sufferers may feel more itchy than usual because of the brain's interpretation of pain signals. Also, because the body is sensitive to even a normal touch, this tender, sore skin may be the direct result of this dysfunction in the central nervous system.
What are some of the skin problems that have plagued fibromyalgia patients? And what can be done to find relief for this annoying condition? Let's examine a few problems.
Dry, Cracked Skin
Dry skin is common on the lower legs, arms, thighs, and hands. If you notice scaling, flaky skin, cracks in the skin, or itching, you are probably suffering from dry skin. When the skin loses moisture, it may crack, peel and become inflamed. Using harsh soap, shower gels containing sodium laurel sulfate or SLS, bathing frequently, or bathing in hot water all contribute to dry skin.
For relief, take shorter baths, use warm, not hot, water (which is hard for me to do-I love my hot baths!), use cold pressed soap, glycerine, or Castile soap with no harmful fragrances. Most artificial fragrances will cause further skin problems in those who already suffer with skin sensitivities. So opt for unscented or non-irritant essential oil soap. But, remember, some essential oils can also be irritants, so researching the oils in the ingredient list may be necessary. If you use shower gel, use one made with Castile soap or saponified oils. Almost all shower gels contain SLS (sodium laurel sulfate) which is a known skin irritant and a detergent, so you would probably need to visit a health food store or shop online for these shower gels.
Rashes can be described as skin redness or discoloration, or changes in the texture of your skin. So if there is a spot or series of patches on you that weren't there before, then you may have a rash. There are skin conditions that cause chronic rashes such as psoriasis and eczema, and there are some medical conditions that rash is a common symptom of such as Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, and Kawasaki disease. So report any rash or changes to your skin to your doctor.
At the first sign of a rash, try using over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream. Oatmeal and milk baths have been helpful. Also, apply the same techniques suggested for dry skin and avoid harsh soaps and shower gels. Make sure that the area stays moist by applying a gentle, hypo-allergenic moisturizer daily.
When your skin hurts when it is touched is referred to as tender skin. This condition can actually cause bruising, scarring, swelling, and redness. This can definitely have an effect on a fibromyalgia person's daily life and relationships. This condition affects my sleep. So what I have found to be helpful is sleeping wrapped in a comforter. The comforter provides a cushion, and I am able to get comfortable enough to fall asleep. Some have purchased something similar called Cuddle Ewe, but I have found that a comforter works just as good if it has fluffy cushioning.
This condition is self explanatory-your skin itches. But, it may or may not be accompanied by a rash. If it's not accompanied by a rash, then the central nervous system's pain signal may be at work, or perhaps associated medical conditions such as Restless Legs Syndrome or Zoster Sine Herpete (a form of shingles) may cause deep and even painful itchiness in the legs (Restless Legs) or other parts of the body. Itchy skin may also to caused by a reaction to medications. Again, reporting this vital information to your doctor may lead to another discovery. If your doctor does not find anything wrong with the medication you're taking or doesn't find any other condition, then your itchy skin may be caused by one of the above skin conditions.
I have suffered with skin problems most of my life. As a child, I stayed in the emergency room getting steroid shots for some allergic reaction. And even in my pre-fibromyalgia days, I visited dermatologists, used prescription and non prescription medications, avoided certain foods, watched what I washed my clothes in, and was careful about what I put on my skin. Out of all of the products that I have used to care for my skin problems, I have found Shea butter to be the best solution for dry, cracked, itchy skin, rashes, including eczema and psoriasis, and it helps soothe tender skin. And as an added bonus, Shea butter is used in some countries to relieve muscle aches and arthritis. So Shea is the Way.