I’m so upset, holiday is supposed to be fun and relaxing right? But it never turned out that way. If we actually go for a holiday, I’d end up packing everyone’s bags, planning the itinerary, cleaning up the home and the dirty clothes. That’s still not the worse part. The worse is when we actually stay at home and entertain guests – gosh, my spouse and I would always end up quarreling and tension run sky-high. What’s up with hols, is it just me?
It is so nooorrrrmal (yawn). It happens all the time – my theory?
Theory of Failing Expectations
When we are up to our neck dealing with a regular workday, we don’t have time to quarrel. My guess is no one in the family has had the time to even look (like really look and appreciate the other person, as opposed to Yo, Where are my socks?) at each other, let alone talk. If you don’t have time to talk, you can’t quite quarrel.
But on a holiday, especially one where you stay at home – you’d have started a long weekend with the hope of getting your own stuff done (sorting photos, getting that manicure, baking a new recipe) but by the time you reach the middle of your break, you realized that it’s so not going to happen. Instead, you have to rush to the grocery store to get ready for the home party, clean up the house for the guests (and the thought of cleaning up after is already killing you), cook and then pretend to be the calm hostess while inside, you’re screaming everyone’s head off. Then the quarrel and tension come whenever it’s just you and your spouse – blaming about not doing fair share of work, mostly.
I came across other interesting theories too:
Narcissism of Small Differences (from the Atlantic)
This theory is from Sigmund Freud that small differences among people who are similar lead to them being hostile to each other. So family members who are similar tend to be hostile over a minor difference like which candidate to vote for!
Survey showed that jealousy is the common reason why most couples quarreled during vacation, because the men had wondering eyes for other women! Others were worried over everyday issues (finance) or wanted to be in control of what to do during the vacation.
This is a given. Do not associate holidays with rest. Full-day, 24/7 care for your kids (school and alternative caregivers like your parents are having holidays, remember?) is bound to lead to exhaustion. No afternoon coffee breaks and gym workouts at lunch will upset you more than you think. Exhaustion is one of the key reasons why couples quarrel on holiday and when you think of it, it’s not just physical exhaustion. It’s mental as well – exerting mind control over your eczema child to pleeaaase moisturize and your hubby to just clean that up!
It’s the June/ summer holidays – be mindful of the above, lower your expectations on what can be accomplished during this ‘break’, do less and consider not meeting people who will set you off. No excuses for the men with lustful eyes for other ladies; if you happen to be with one during your vacation, dump him and your baggage be lighter!
Heading off for a coffee break and trying not to let all the bad long weekends and hols get to me,
My husband kept saying that I’m nagging – nagging about my eczema child’s skincare (you know how we have to moisturize within 3 minutes after shower?), nagging about housework, nagging about doing things faster (we have loads of things to do, can’t possibly be doing slower right?). Am I really nagging? I thought I’m just talking – since when my words become ‘nags’?
I totally empathize. and mystified. Why do men keep saying that their wives are nagging, when we’re just talking? So I did a bit of digging to see if there’s any science I can find about nagging.
Nagging is defined as persistent and repeated requests that increases in frequency as the request is not fulfilled.
Nagging is a sign of love – we don’t nag at our boss, our co-workers, maybe not even our parents or kids, only at our spouse.
The nagger is usually the one who feel responsible about the subject – so, that’s why women nag about chores but not about soccer.
Nagging is a sign of not trusting that the requests will be met. It’s no surprise given that nagging turned the guy off and he intentionally didn’t want to do what you want him to do.
There is a lack of science in this area – I researched online and found a study that’s often misreported as men can be nagged to death. Actually, the conclusion was more like both men and women in demanding relationships were associated with increased death risk. This would not be surprising – chronic stress is reflected on our skin so it’s natural to assume it’d affect other parts of our body.
So bottom line, what’s a woman gonna do about her man, her supposed nagging and the negative spill-offs from being thought she’s nagging?
#1 First ask yourself – Do you really want him to do it or is it easier if you just do it? Put aside equality of sexes and fairness, and consider seriously. If you can answer no and yes, just do it yourself. And read on.
#2 Put aside negativity – you want to be appreciated for doing it all, not being hated for nagging you’ve done it all. Decide today to be a smart woman – smart in getting your man to love you, not hate you.
#3 Think of what your man wants – appreciation is my guess. Being made to feel like a man in the home, being admired by his spouse. Heck. I know you want the same from him. Men are dumb – give him what he wants first and the aha moment is more likely to hit him to do the same for you.
#4 Actually give your man what he wants – appreciation, in many forms (including but not limited to!) hugs, kisses, praise, touch, praise in front of your kid, sex, praise in front of his family, surprise gifts, praise in front of his friends/co-workers.
#5 If he hadn’t done something you want (not what you were nagging him about, something else- like a present, a cheesecake, a coffee machine, a iPadAir2), tell him POINT BLANK what you want.
#6 Be delighted by your man – he ‘surprises’ you with the thing you want, you’re ‘surprised’ and delighted. He’s delighted that you’re delighted not remembering it’s not a surprise (or not even crossing his mind that a non-surprise is an issue on the scale of ‘delightedness’).
#7 Witness positive change – 1. You didn’t nag (cos you did it all yourself), 2. You no longer see an annoyed look from him (cos there’s nothing he’s annoyed about), 3. He’s happy (cos you actually did something for him and appreciated him), 4. You’re happy cos finally, your husband is showing his love and appreciation.
Notice how easily the requests you were trying to get him to do fall out of the picture? Notice how kids don’t even come into the picture?
That’s the #SkinishMom way of handling nagging – if anyone has a better way, please do share! Since men are universally the same (o.w. why do books like Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus become best sellers if every man is different), do share with the rest of us women what had worked in your marriage!
You know.. I know you know… I’m a mom of eczema kid, I’m a daughter, I’m an employee, I’m a wife and each of these come with many duties. Some days I feel like I’m doing EVERYTHING – I mean I’ve even bought my in-laws their mother’s day and father’s day gifts (no one bought me anything), I do ALL the housework and I’ve to make my boss and spouse happy. On these ‘some days’, I’m thinking maybe I don’t need a man after all. Quit my job, live frugally just me and my kid. No man, ever. What do you think?
On a more serious note – I get you. Taking care of an eczema child is not easy – the skincare, the struggles with your child (who sometimes stubbornly refuses to moisturize), the conflicts with other family members who don’t get the need for skincare. Plus, yeah.. women these days are doing housework + real work. Some days things are easier when you don’t go to work or you only have to clean up and cook for your child (as opposed to child + man).
But… I can never encourage you to D-I-V-O-R-C-E; Matthew 19:6
So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.
Plus the joy of a marriage takes time to build – the airy fairy, honeymoon period is so over but real love for a lifetime sets in, if both of you work at it. (At least I’m working on mine!). I do however think the solution may be in managing ‘me-time’, ‘man-time’, ‘work-time’ and ‘chore-time’:
1. Take care of your health – you don’t need permission from any man or any kid to take care of yourself. Exercise releases endorphins that trigger positive feelings (same as morphine!) and boost your bone + health.
2. Reduce time at work – if you’re not gunning to crack that glass ceiling, don’t stay back for the sake of staying back.
3. Take lunch break = ‘Me’ time. If you prefer to do it alone, do so. You’d be surprised – once your colleagues figure out that you have your own stuff to do at lunch, you won’t be missed anymore. Of course, if you are a people person and like hanging out with your colleagues, do so.
4. Take coffee break – a must
5. Increase time spent with your man at home – by reducing time on chores, even reducing time with your kid. When you’re old, sick or lonely, there’s only one guy who’s there for you – the one you took the time to know and to love.
Seriously, I’m frustrated. I’m being told that it’s IMPOSSIBLE not to produce enough breast milk for my baby. Every mom has milk, and blah blah blah. But hello? What I’ve been struggling with for the past 3 weeks is not a dream, it’s a nightmare IRL.
Whoa! I hear you and I’m never ever gonna say that U Will Have Enough M-I-L-K. I absolutely certainly understand your frustration, and MarcieMom understands too. See her cartoons on breastmilk production.
Seriously, I have nothing against the lactation consultant in the cartoon (why should I? It’s only a drawing.) But I do have everything against lactation consultants – gosh, I’m being totally undiplomatic but this is my column and I say it as I meant it. I’ve no idea why lactation consultants (or the few I know and heard of) seem to think all mothers will have enough breastmilk. The worse (and worst) part?
It is assumed that it is you (the mom who’s already struggling with caring for a newborn, lack of sleep, totally fatigue in a touchy state of relationships with every other adult human you’re stuck with) who have not done something right.
This is a sad truth – google ‘low breastmilk supply’, instead of getting articles that tell you there’s a medical basis for not producing enough breast milk, you get articles telling you you’ve done something wrong or not done something, that’s why YOU don’t have enough breast milk. Imagine if you google ‘low phone battery’, you’d get articles on what’s wrong with the battery, the technology behind the battery and that’s why it drains juice faster. We’re apparently less sympathetic when it comes to breasts. Low breast milk? It’s the mom, never the breasts.
Here are the common reasons about the mom (for low breast milk supply):
Not feeding immediately in hospital
Not feeding enough (variations of this is not feeding baby at each breast long enough, not feeding frequently enough, not pumping enough)
Not latching-on correctly
Being a wimp and offering formula milk instead of persisting without it
Not eating more, not drinking enough, not enough rest
I’m sure above is medically sound BUT what I understand you’re asking is there’s some reason why you’ve done the above and nothing is working. Maybe there are extenuating circumstances that force you to pump less frequently, how about ‘it’s been only 10ml for every 3 hours I pump my breasts, there’s still no improvement after 3 weeks and I’m already at the point when my breasts are already juiced dry’.
So #SkinishMom investigates and finally, for once, I’ve uncovered some reasons that are linked to the breasts, not the mom.
Milk not expressed within 6 hours of delivery – this one I totally agree. Right after delivery, for whatever reason, your baby may not be taking enough from your breast. The initial delay in stimulating the milk production may really make it much harder to get the milk flowing when you return home. Why didn’t anyone suggest expressing milk when you’re in the hospital? Oh wait, maybe the hospital doesn’t have a facility to store the milk. Next time, get a breast pump and mini fridge and plug into beside your bed.
Hospital-grade pump. We’re talking about those that cost $500, electric and double-breast. Since breast milk production is so important and the delay caused by a lousy pump can have long and devastating impact, why didn’t hospitals at least lend moms the pump so that we can go and buy it before we get home?
Not enough milk ducts, clogged nipples, hormones – It’s strange when I think of it. Because it’s assumed that you should have enough breast milk, no one actually diagnosed why you didn’t have enough breast milk. There could really be something wrong with the breasts or the hormones that stimulate the milk production.
Personally, in my totally bias opinion, I think that if there is a higher acceptance for moms who really don’t have enough breast milk, there will be solutions on how to help them. For instance,
Don’t expect latch-on; just pump and try your best but don’t drain yourself.
Let me see your breasts, it’s possible there’s something to be done about them rather than your fault.
Don’t worry about the low breast milk – you’re not less of a mom than the woman beside you with engorged breasts. Don’t worry about your baby taking formula milk – no one will know whether a breast fed baby or bottle fed baby will win the human race.
So there, I hear you, signing off with a cartoon from Mom NeedyZz series
I came across this ‘harmless’ article that was simply sharing about the closure of a children zoo in Gothenburg (the second largest city in Sweden). What caught me was the headline “Animal ‘eczema’ closes Gothenburg kids’ zoo“. I know that animals get eczema but I’m curious about the inverted commas. So I read on and the writing below both infuriated and saddened me:
A statement on the park’s website added that vets had taken samples from the lambs and goats and were currently waiting for test results. Staff suspect that the animals have contracted a skin disease similar to eczema that can be passed between animals and humans and vice versa.
… one of the vets working at the zoo told the TT news agency that humans symptoms would include “sores and blisters on hands”.
I know the writer of the article was probably saying that the appearance of the rash looked similar to eczema and it was suspected that it could be pass on to humans. However, one could easily misread it as the skin disease was similar to eczema which is contagious.
Eczema is not contagious (PERIOD).
It saddened me because so many children and their parents all over the world are already struggling to manage the eczema in school. Apart from the difficulty of implementing a skincare routine in school, tacking the social impacts of eczema is also an uphill task. Schoolmates may think the eczema rash is contagious especially if the eczema child has rashes on the face, arms or legs, constantly scratching and the rash looks like it’s spreading on some days (flare-ups). Eczema children get shunned because they are feared to infect others. Their parents face a difficult task of explaining eczema to the teachers and getting the school to communicate with the students. We don’t need any news article to possibly further fuel the wrong notion that eczema is contagious, IT’S NOT!
I’ve emailed the online paper to request if they can amend their writing, will update when I hear from them.
If you want to follow a celeb, follow Hugh Jackman’s lead in going for regular skin cancer checkups, especially if you’re at high risk. It’s reported by People that he was first urged by his makeup artist to have a spot on his nose checked in 2013. It turned out to be basal cell carcinoma – the most common type of skin cancer. Subsequently, Hugh Jackman went for regular 3-monthly checkups and had 4 skin cancers removed.
Risk Factors for Skin Cancer
Given that Hugh Jackman hadn’t been using sunscreen and had lots of sun exposure, he’s at increased risk of skin cancer. The risk factors for skin cancer are:
Sun Exposure. A tanned look is viewed as healthy but in fact, it’s quite the opposite! The tanned skin meant that the skin cells exposed to UV radiation had increased the production of melanin (skin pigment) to protect the skin from further damage. It is also often misunderstood that we need vitamin D and have to suntan. While it is true that sunlight helps to provide our body with vitamin D, the exposure should not be so much till you get a tan. Check out sun protection from the American Academy of Dermatology.
Sun Exposure-related Factors. Your age (the longer you’ve lived, the more sun exposure), your gender (male, if work/sports is outdoors) and where you live (warm climate at high altitude).
Fair skin. The less pigment in your skin, the more likely for sun damage, therefore fairer skin is at higher risk. Also at higher risk if you have blonde or red hair, or skin that sunburns or freckles easily.
Moles. When moles take on a different shape, darker color or irregular edges, it may be a sign of skin cancer. According to a previous interview with dermatologist Dr Verallo Rowell in this blog, her advice was that while not all moles become skin cancer, the risk is higher when (i) there are many (more than 50), (ii) ‘ugly duckling’ sign where one mole looks different from the others, (iii) family history of melanoma, (iv) photo aging evidence and (iv) have characteristics of
A for Assymetry
B for border irregularity
C for irregular pigment distribution
D for diameter of 6 mm or more
E for evolving or changing noted in size
Personal or Family History. If you have had skin cancer or immediately family member with history of skin cancer.
Weakened immune system. People with weakened immune systems (HIV) and those taking immunosuppressant drugs.
Exposure to radiation. People who received radiation treatment for cancer or skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne may have an increased risk of basal cell carcinoma.
Exposure to certain substances. Exposure to certain substances, such as arsenic, industrial tar, coal may increase your risk of skin cancer.
If you’re not in the high risk group or prefer to do some self-inspection, here’s the symptoms to look out for:
Symptoms of Skin Cancer
Skin cancers are named after the type of skin cells and basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer.
There were quite a few reports of users getting skin irritation from wearing Apple Watch and this got #SkinishMom into an investigative mode. It’s not news that items we wear can cause skin irritation, for instance, nickel in jewelry is a common irritant. It’s also not news that wrist bands can lead to skin irritation, for instance, there was a voluntary recall for Fitbit Force after news of rashes last year. As for Apple, there was also a reported instance of a child getting skin irritation after using iPad (due to nickel allergy). So what’s with these materials and their contact with our skin?
Suspect #1 – Allergic Contact Dermatitis to Nickel
Allergic contact dermatitis involves the immune system by which a hypersensitive reaction (rash) results from a previous contact with the allergen. Of the metal materials, nickel is one of the most common cited that cause this rash. In 2013, when UK issued new coins containing higher level of nickel, it was reported to pose an allergy risk.
For both Fitbit and Apple, there are nickel in the wristbands. From Apple website,
Apple Watch, the space gray Apple Watch Sport, the stainless steel portions of some Apple Watch bands, and the magnets in the watch and bands contain some nickel. However, they all fall below the strict nickel restrictions set by European REACH regulation.
REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals. It is a regulation of the EU, which is known for setting strict standards on safety. EU had restricted the amount of nickel in jewelry and products that come into contact with skin in the ‘EU Nickel Directive’.
If Nickel is so much trouble, why do jewelry and wristband manufacturers continue to use it? It is usually selected for its corrosion resistance, toughness, strength at high and low temperatures, magnetic and electronic properties that are superior to other metals.
Suspect #2 – Allergic Contact Dermatitis to Methacrylates
Methacrylates is a polymer that is commonly used in adhesives and also in both Fitbit and Apple Watch. From Apple website:
The Apple Watch case, the Milanese Loop, the Modern Buckle, and the Leather Loop contain trace amounts of methacrylates from adhesives. Methacrylates are found in many consumer products that come in contact with the skin, such as adhesive bandages. Some people may be sensitive to them, or may develop sensitivities over time. Apple Watch and its bands are designed so that parts containing methacrylates are not in direct contact with your skin.
Irritant contact dermatitis is a delayed hypersensitive reaction due to prolonged exposure to an irritant. There is a wide range of possibilities that trigger irritant contact dermatitis, almost anything is possible including our sweat. Since Apple Watch and fitness trackers are worn to keep track of heart rate and fitness goals, it is likely that it comes into contact with sweat. From an interview with dermatologist Dr Cheryl Lee, she explained:
The salts from sweat can crystalize and act as an irritant to the skin. If you can see that your baby’s sweat has dried and has a salty residue, then I would recommend rinsing it off with plain water (no soap) to prevent it from becoming an irritant. If the sweat is not crystalized, I wouldn’t worry about it much.
Suspect #4 – Irritant Contact Dermatitis to Soap
Those familiar with eczema skincare know that soap is not recommended as it is drying (alkaline) and often irritate sensitive skin. In fact, soap is seldom patch tested as it is almost a certainty that leaving it on your skin for 2 days (norm period for patch test) will result in a rash. If your Apple Watch happens to trap the soap and you’re wearing it without removing, the soap may be the culprit behind the rash.
Suspect #5 – Heat Rash
If it’s hot and humid weather and your Apple Watch is constantly in contact with your skin, it may result in blocked sweat ducts. Similar to a common baby rash Miliaria (as babies have immature sweat ducts, thus more prone to blockage), your blocked sweat ducts can trigger skin rash.
Suspect #6 – Constant Friction
I couldn’t find a Pubmed article on friction and skin rash but from my understanding, it could be
Constant friction causes chafing that can be painful. Moreover, exposed skin is more vulnerable to irritants.
The sweat residue increases the friction.
Wet (sweaty) skin makes the chafing worse.
So What to Do if You Really WANT AN APPLE WATCH?
If you have not bought the Apple Watch
You can take a patch test to see if your skin will react to materials in Apple Watch, especially nickel. A patch test is quite expensive and take 2-4 days for the patch results to show and require repeat consultations to view how your skin has reacted. I read from WSJ that you can try taping a nickel coin on the inside of your arm for 2 days and see if a rash appear. (I’m not sure if it’s accurate reflection though as the nickel quantity or type of nickel alloy may be different.)
Or decide not to take the risk or take the risk with a later generation of Apple Watch (where possibly nickel and other improvements to apps would have been made!)
If you have bought the Apple Watch > No reaction – Good for you!
If you have bought the Apple Watch > Skin rash – Top 6 tips to Try
Place a barrier between your skin and the wristband – you can put a layer of emollient over but be sure that your skin is clean. Slapping moisturizer on top of sweat and irritant may worsen the rash. Of course, use a moisturizer that will not irritate your skin in the first place (ingredients to avoid).
Clean your sweat off and put on the watch only when your skin is clean and dry.
Make sure to wash soap off or use a gentle non-soap cleanser if you have sensitive skin.
If it’s hot and humid, you may want to take off the watch for a few hours. (Maybe when you’re sitting down and not exercising?)
Not wearing it too tight or too loose – Apple had provided guidelines on this; both too tight and too loose can cause skin rash, think of a waist band that’s too tight or a watch that’s too loose and created friction.
Keep the Apple Watch clean – it somewhat defeat the purpose of cleaning your own skin and then putting on something that has a host of sweat residue and debris for hours a day. Apple also has guidelines on cleaning their watch.
I’m actually glad that I didn’t go out to get an Apple Watch (it’s not available in Singapore anyway!) because I always get skin rash with watches (leather or metal) and a gym mate told me you can’t play all your iTunes songs on the Apple Watch and can’t blue tooth the songs from the watch to the earphone (gasp! That’s the main reason why I want an Apple Watch). Do share your experience in the comments!
Update on 29 June 2015 – Apple Watch is available in Singapore and one reader Nicholas pointed out in the comments below that you can blue tooth your iTunes songs to earphone. (Hmmm.. should I get one?)
Sticking to watch-free (skin rash free) wrist,
p.s. I’m not sure if Apple is reading this post, comments are my own, from understanding of skin, rashes and reading online. But if Apple is reading this, do amend a formatting error on your guideline – REACH, not REACh (sorry, but I kinda get irritated by formatting error!)
Can our skin smell? I don’t mean whether your skin smells, I meant if your skin is able to smell. Apparently, yes. Came across a few studies supporting that and though medical advancements using the skin’s ability to smell are far off, it’s amazing to learn how God designed our body!
Olfactory receptors (that allow us to smell) are also present in our skin and over 20 types of tissue cells, including liver, lungs, prostrate and gut.
Olfactory receptors found in the testicles may be helping the sperm smell its way to the unfertilized egg.
Olfactory receptors in the lungs also help the lungs to switch off airways to limit inhaling poisonous gas.
The skin being the largest organ of our body truly comes into contact with a lot of our environment. Even in food allergy, it is no longer new to recognize that food sensitization (allergy) can come from our skin. In fact, studies support this hypothesis and it is increasingly recognised that we should take care of our skin, strengthen its barrier to protect our body. The next time you itch for a scratch, think about how a defective skin barrier goes beyond a scar.
There was a news article on BBC News in February this year that Skin may help spot Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. It got #SkinishMom into an investigative mood – What can our Skin actually Tell Us? MarcieMom had interviewed dermatologist Dr Verallo-Rowell in the Skin Health series covering how to watch out for skin cancer via skin changes, but our skin can tell beyond skin issues – it’s amazing that there is the potential for our skin to tell us about our brain and heart!
The Connection between Skin and Brain
The connection between the skin and brain starts from our body embryo stage. Subsequent to fertilization of the egg by the sperm, the embryo forms into 3 layers (ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm). The brain, nerves and skin share the sam layer (ectoderm).
The brain and skin are always communicating with each other, to the extent our skin is sometimes termed the ‘diffused brain’. For instance, the brain sends stress signals to our skin (more in this interview with Dr Claudia Aguirre). Essential fatty acids (omega-3) is beneficial for both our skin and our brain. Babies’ brain development is affected by the lack of touch and was reported that for Romanian babies who were orphaned (and lacked touch), there was a black hole in their brains. Babies whose cries are attended to showed lower level of brain toxicity (from US pediatrician Dr Sears’ talk).
So the brain and our skin are intricately linked, which opens up the possibility that our skin can serve as biomarker to tell us about our brain’s health!
What Our Skin Can Tell Us – Biomarkers
Apart from what our skin can tell us about skin disease, our skin can also tell us about our immunity – here’s from Dr Verallo-Rowell where she explained the link between inflammation and our skin.
Look for markers of inflammation: your acne flaring up, rosacea attacks becoming frequent, the eczema bigger, wider spread; those with psoriasis too – the lesions are bigger and persistent; boils recurring more often. These may indicate a lowered immunity from such things as too much exercise.
Here are a few potential diseases that can be uncovered via skin:
Parkinson and Alzheimer – via skin biopsy of skin behind the year to detect presence of an increased in the protein tau and alpha-synuclein. These two protein deposits were found in the brain of sufferers from these two brain disorders.
Oxidative stress to skin – this is part of an interesting prevention biomarkers project where the researchers found out was that people who ate a high flavonoid diet (a category of plant nutrients that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties) do not exhibit genes that get activated by oxidative stress in their skin. Extrapolating this, if there is an easy way to test the impact of our diet on our health (via skin tests), it will make it so much more convincing to get people to change their eating habits! (This reminds me of a bible verse 2 Corinthians 5:7 – We walk by faith, not by sight; even if you don’t see the benefits of healthy eating, you should go by faith and eat healthy!)
Carotid atherosclerosis – Facial pigmentation may be a useful biomarker for carotid atherosclerosis, which is a degenerative disease of the arteries that result in plaques.
Our skin have lipids, proteins, inflammatory mediators, nucleic acids and molecules that serve as a potential to tell us about our health. I wonder if there is the potential of treating our health via our skin too.
Signing off for a bath and full body moisturizing,
p.s. just after I tweeted this out, featured guest Dr Claudia Aguirre shared this article she wrote on HuffPost with me, and here’s more reason to reduce stress!
Scientific evidence has shown us that stress equates to inflammation, and this can cause havoc on the skin. From acne breakouts, to rosacea flushes to eczema flare-ups, stress is the fuel to the fire of inflammation lurking in these conditions. What’s more, stress not only triggers or exacerbates particular skin diseases, it can also lead to dehydration, lines, blotchiness, hair loss and brittle nailsfor those without an inherent condition.
On the flip side, the distress these “stress-related” skin conditions causes is also very real, feeding a vicious cycle. Getting that awful pimple before your date, or the significant hair loss after a traumatic event — these can in turn cause psychological distress, even to the point of creating a psychiatric condition such as depression and anxiety. The statistics are telling: People with the most visible skin conditions (vitiligo, psoriasis) have much higher risk factor for developing anxiety, depressionand even suicidal thoughts.
My child has eczema and our whole family has sensitive skin. I’m trying to read the label of ingredients but gosh, why can’t they be in simple English? I can’t understand why some cheap products have so many ingredients while the more expensive ones have fewer. Then I can’t understand why certain luxury brands have so many ingredients as well. What are these ingredients all saying anyway? I just want to know – To Buy or Not To Buy for my family of sensitive skin!
I totally understand. Why can’t skincare companies just say plainly what their ingredients are, like ‘Sorry, we’ve added some preservatives which aren’t too fab for your skin but if we don’t, your product won’t even make it to the shelf without spoiling.’ So, here are the #SkinishMom Get-Past-the-BS Skincare Product Label tips:
1. Ignore the Picture
Nice looking pictures have no bearing on the contents inside. What I do look for is if the picture is blurred and resolution bad, I would conclude that if they don’t even put in effort into getting the picture right, how can I then trust they’d get the product formulation right.
2. Be warned about ‘Hypoallergenic’, ‘Natural’, ‘Organic’, ‘pH balanced’, ‘Dermatologist-recommended’, ‘Good for Baby’ and ‘Noncomedogenic’
The use of these terms are not regulated and therefore you should take these terms with a pinch of salt.
Natural means more natural ingredients used – there’s usually some reason why certain ingredients are selected, for instance, tea tree oil has antiseptic properties but is also a top allergen. So being natural does not equal no skin rash.
Organic carries weight if it is certified, means the plants have been grown organically without pesticides.
3. The more ingredients, the more likely it’d irritate
The general rule is if with more ingredients in the bottle, the higher chances one of it will irritate your sensitive skin.
When I look at luxury brands, I do notice that they have a long list of ingredients – my guess is to distinguish themselves, they aim for a mix of ingredients to get the fragrance and texture to smell/feel sophisticated with a large number of natural extracts. Personally, I tend to get rash when I use perfume. And when I examine the ingredients in my branded skincare product, I see lots of potential irritants (see below).
4. Don’t get a skincare product with the top irritants
This is the part that gets a bit technical. The easy part is avoid the ingredients below. The tougher part is they have many different names, good news MarcieMom had interviewed a renowned dermatologist (Dr Verallo Rowell) who cares so much about us lot with sensitive skin that she listed the different names in this interview.
5. Don’t buy if you don’t like the first half of ingredients
Ingredients that have the highest percentage have to be listed first. For ingredients of less than 1%, they can be listed in any order. Look for the active ingredients too and see where they fall in the ingredient order. The active ingredients can vary widely, for instance, some focus on vitamin A which is listed as retinol or others have patented names for restoration of skin lipids. Not all have to be higher percentage in order to be effective.
Go for some skincare shopping now, test your knowledge!
The conclusion from most dermatologists though is lack of water is bad for the skin but excess water does not benefit the skin.
What happens to Skin when Drinking Too Little Water?
Our body needs water for its organs to function so it will reduce hydrating cells to channel water for essential body functions. The skin will then look duller and wrinkles and pores will be more apparent. However, there is no change to the underlying skin structure but the wrinkles and pores are ‘temporarily’ more obvious when the body is dehydrated. But prolonged dehydration can speed up aging as the skin is persistently drier and more prone to skin irritation as well.
So, does Drinking Water Help with Hydrating Skin?
Water that we drink does not go straight to the skin – it goes to intestines, bloodstream, filtered by kidneys. If you drink excess water, the body will pass it out – it wouldn’t go specifically to hydrating skin cells although water will hydrate all cells in general. To target skin cells, moisturizing is required and avoid doing a list of things that will actually dry your skin such as:
Yes, some studies indicate evidence of behavioural disturbances for children with severe eczema from a young age (childhood anxiety, withdrawal, depression). Parents of eczema kids would know there’s likely psychological impact without reading research. Why?
No Sleep, Brain can’t function – cranky.
So much stress as an infant, something may just go wrong as the brain is wiring itself loads at that time. (If you’re a parent of a very young baby with eczema, you can visibly see the discomfort and agony caused by the itchy rash. Plain torture.)
Being looked at with curious eyes. Being avoided. Being bullied.
Whole family is stressed and short-fused. No one dare say living in such environment is conducive for health.
So how to reduce the chance of your kid going nuts?
The model answer is:
Control the eczema, seek treatment.
Recognize signs of depression.
Seek a support group.
Try relaxation techniques.
Educate and raise awareness in your child’s school.
#SkinishMom answer is:
Sleep whenever you can.
Love yourself, love your spouse, love your child. The whole family united can take on challenges.
Hey, this may seem like a minor, petty issue but color pencils, markers, crayons, poster colors are overflowing my kid’s play boxes and spilling to dining table tops. But I can’t stop buying them
1. They look so darn nice.
2. They are sometimes on sale.
3. Every new box of coloring keeps my kid occupied longer than an old box, which is VERY GOOD as it keeps the eczema scratching off!
But it’s increasingly becoming a point of contention – are we being materialistic? Is this encouraging hoarding? Is it wasteful? Is this not teaching my kid a sense of responsibility and inculcating frivolous-ism?
What do you think? Give me an honest answer.
Wow, it’s like you read my mind. Have you been spying my daughter’s play boxes? I’ve 3 full boxes of coloring + stamping stuff. Honestly, yes, it’s wrong. No question.
Even more honestly, if you HAVE TO BUY them, buy them. In my usual investigative style, here’s the pros and cons to buying (and keep buying) that color pencil.
1. It makes you, as a mom who likes colors and doodling, happy.
2. It makes your kid happy.
3. It makes you feel like a good mom.
4. It keeps the eczema scratching off double the time with a new set of coloring.
5. It makes you be able to enjoy a restaurant meal with your spouse.
6. It is useful and spikes creativity.
1. It is technically not a good use of money (to spend on stuff you already have loads of).
2. It makes your kid think he/she only uses new stuff.
3. It may make your spouse upset if both don’t see the pros.
4. It clutters your home and creates work when you clean up.
5. The coloring markers may dry up if not used, rendering something useful, useless.
So – 6 pros, 5 cons, go for it.
Checking out the latest cool stationery this weekend,
That’s difficult. Hypocritical to answer if I have not been through the darkest hour. So, I asked MarcieMom:
MarcieMom: There was one night I remembered – one night after many months of waking up in the middle of the night for 2-4 hours to wipe my baby’s skin with chlorhexidine, moisturize again, change new PJs, feed a snack and prep for bedtime all over again. On this one night, the day had been very bad. I had to hold my baby’s hands almost throughout the day, the stress of not taking a second off and feeling alone.
Feeling that God had turned his back on my baby.
Wondering why God had intended for my baby to suffer.
There was no answer.
Yet, in some way, God answered. Within about 2 months, Marcie was tested not allergic to anything and responded well to treatment.
Within 6 months, I started EczemaBlues to help other parents.
Where is God in my darkest hour? He was with me – I did not feel it then but my spouse stood by me and we pulled through.
Bible verses for you to hang onto during dark times:
John 14:1 – Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.
Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 – So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Help! My kid won’t stop scratching and it’s getting impossible to keep him from it. Any ideas?
One tired mom
I know! It does get impossible sometimes to stop scratching, many times I feel like I’ve run out of eyes to watch out for it, ears to listen for it and saliva to remind not to scratch. Here are the ‘crazy’, desperate distraction tips that I’ve come out with over the 5 years. Of course, the eczema ought to be controlled too, otherwise it’s kinda unfair to expect the kid not to scratch. So here goes my quirky anti-scratching tips!
Art – You can’t paint and scratch at the same time, that’s why my bag always has an activity book and my home is stock full of them.
Burst bubble – If you’re wary of the bubble (soap) on your kid, use a long straw to burst the bubble instead.
Cloud imagination – this works if you’re out in the park and your kid starts scratching, start spying shapes in the cloud.
Dance – It’s quite difficult to dance and scratch at the same time!
Eat – this is one fav technique of grandparents, not very ideal but to them, it’s better than scratching. I would choose physical activities to burn off the extra calories after.
Force it – If your child is still a baby, you may have to hold her hands whenever you’re able to limit the scratching. There are very few distraction techniques for baby since they can’t engage in as many activities (except scratching).
Go get it – Sometimes I get my kid to get something which works to stop the scratching for a while.
Hold on to it – Same thing – can’t scratch if you’re holding onto something.
Ice – Anything cold – ice cube (works to distract in a restaurant waiting for food) or ice pad work.
Jello – Making jello takes up time, likewise pizza. I like jello though – eating a chilled one distracts scratching too.
Kiss – Kissing is distracting too! Be careful of your saliva irritating her skin though.
Lie – this one is tricky! But sometimes I tell my kid to look at this or that when there’s nothing special, then think of something special about it.
Monopoly – A board game that requires to keep moving the token, getting title deeds, counting fake money and engages the brain.
Noodles with chopsticks – This one is challenging and maybe the fingers get too tired to scratch after!
On the light, Off the light – Worked for me for a while when my kid was a toddler and amused with the car light.
Play dough – This is fabulous, not too dirty but be sure the child understands not to eat it.
Quit saying stop scratching – At different age, you may want to actually stop saying that and watch if your kid still scratches when you’re not paying attention to it. Read about reinforcing positives, instead of focusing on what not to do here.
Relax – Stress can be ‘caught’ by your kid, so relax and see if it helps.
Sing – Sing a funny noise, skin-related or not. Make up songs of My Little Pony, Frozen or about anything!
Tickle – this one always works!
Unite – whatever distraction tips (somewhat equal parenting style cos there’s so much time devoted to distracting an eczema kid), you and your spouse must be united and agree.
Vacation – many people have improved skin during vacation, we don’t really know why. But hey, with more new things to do, a vacay may just work to snap out of the routine scratching.
Waste some toilet paper – Maybe get lower quality ones for tearing! (Potty training an eczema kid is a whole different ball game.)
Xtreme measures – my own extreme is having to secure, swaddle, tie (is there a more politically correct word?) my baby’s hands for a minute, while I make her milk. It was a very difficult period of time.
You – don’t forget TLC for yourself.
Zzz – Only if prescribed by doctor, you can try antihistamines to help your kid sleep better (not knock him out!).
Coffee. I have a love and fear relationship to it.
Not love and hate. It’s impossible to hate coffee. I would sign off with ‘Chill with (Ice) Latte’, ‘Toast to Latte’ instead of XOXO. I’d rather sit in silence with my coffee than talk to my husband, so it’s totally untrue that women need to speak 20,000 words, maybe if they don’t have coffee to sip.
So on Jan 20, there’s a study published in JNCI (Journal of the National Cancer Institute) that if you drink 4 or more cups of coffee a day, you’re 20% less likely to get malignant melanoma (skin cancer). So does this conclude coffee is good for skin? Not so fast my fellow coffee drinkers, #SkinishMom knows coffee is diuretic and starts fearing when even a well-known doc said she’s cutting coffee. So, #SkinishMom is here to investigate coffee and SKIN.
Top Question – Is Coffee Good for Skin?
No. It’s diuretic, meaning it makes you pee more and takes water from your body, including your skin.
No. It inhibit nutrient absorption, including magnesium, calcium, vitamin B & D, folate, and iron.
No, its effect on cellulite is temporary. If you’ve read about caffeine products making puffy eyes or cellulite go away, it’s mostly due to temporary constriction of fat cells. Nothing has really changed. (this is from Dr Jessica Krant’s interview and read here for her interview with MarcieMom on face washing).
Coffee has so many biologically active compounds, it’s a lot more than just caffeine. There’s polyphenols, antioxidants, chlorogenic acids, caffeol, phytoestrogens and diterpenes. No one yet know how each affects our body.
This brings me to the next question – what Type of Coffee are we talking?
There’s a HUGE difference between espresso coffee and instant 3-in-1 coffee. The latter is likely mostly unknown chemicals with sugar and trans fat (partially hydrogenated oil) topping the ingredient list, promoting inflammation. And given that per cup, instant premix has less coffee than brewed coffee, whatever anti-inflammatory benefits you think you drink from the antioxidants likely get wiped out by the inflammatory sugar, glucose syrup, frutose syrup and trans fat.
Lastly, this one is no-brainer. Just because something may have protective effect doesn’t mean you go out of your way to do something to test its level of ‘protection’. If an insurance agent tells you you’re covered for critical illness, you don’t go out of your way to eat junk food (or do you?). Here’s the sun protection you should take.
Finally, remember. This study is not a clinical trial, meaning not cause and effect. It’s association. Lots of things are associated with other things.
Valentine’s Day is tomorrow!! My husband and I have not had a date night for 4 years (and counting!!). We don’t have a babysitter because it’s too difficult to brief someone (and trust that someone) when my son has eczema and allergies. But I REALLY NEED TO DATE this V-Day! I’m feeling more and more like a mom (and maid) and less and less like a wife! How can I have a date with my husband this V day?
Whoa! If I live near you, I would help you babysit. Come to think of it, moms of eczema kids should seek out each other and form a play date. After all, we are the only ones who know how to take care of our eczema babies.
Back to solving your date issue, you can still have a date even if you can’t find a babysitter. To me, I think bottom-line I want to feel loved by my spouse and that feeling can come in more ways than being out at a restaurant that’s charging exorbitant price for special valentine’s day menu.
To feel loved, first you have to let go of negative feelings. Calm yourself. Don’t be fixated that you have to date on Feb 14th. You can have a wonderful date any day. If you’re anxious over Feb 14th, your husband can be showering you with TLC that you don’t even notice.
Make your man feel special and let him know you like to have a date. This is the part we sometimes skip to our detriment. It’s impossible to have a nice date if things are forced. (Same for sex.) Just because having a date is a must and number 1 on your wish list doesn’t mean your spouse thinks the same way. How would he know? Especially if everything is like everyday and the past years where you just do your work, your housework, your skincare-for-child work. TALK to your husband, let him know you find him very good, supportive, strong for the family despite the eczema, the career workload and say, ‘I think it’s a good idea to have a date.’
With both husband and wife ‘conspiring’ for a date, it’s almost like the date has already started! So here are 8 ideas of dates without finding a babysitter.
1. Choose Friday night, both of you wake up after your child goes to bed and watch a movie at your laptop and get cosy.
2. Order food from your favorite restaurant and serve it like in a restaurant. Get new sets of coloring pencils and toys for your son to play on his own.
3. Choose your child’s nap time to connect with each other. And do so over wine, chips or ice-cream.
4. TV/iPad is a necessary evil (babysitter). An hour of screen time can be just the time you need to date your spouse.
5. Making dates during office lunch hours, when your child is in school.
6. Pay for your child to be in a safe, fun-filled indoor playground while you shop with your husband or sit down for coffee after family meal. Indoor playgrounds can be quite expensive – 20 bucks per hour, cut back on cake and safe 10 bucks already!
7. Make breakfast dates before your son wakes up. It’s a good start to a day to be with your loved one.
8. Ask your parents or nieces/nephews to help out for an hour. It can be an extended family outing but the two of you go off for a coffee while your son is playing with the rest.
Media, restaurants, movies, everything is putting too much focus on making that valentine day special. The more pressure you put on it, the less likely you’ll feel that it’s special. The best dates are the ones that are relaxed, without feeling reaped off and lighting up that love you have for each other. It all starts with the heart.
I came across this study ‘Higher Sweating Rate and Skin Blood Flow during the Luteal Phase of the Menstrual Cycle’. Simply put, sweat and skin blood flow was higher from Day 14 to Day 1 of the next period.
This got #SkinishMom investigating when do we sweat more? Maybe if we can avoid the circumstances when we sweat more, we’d feel more confident about our armpit smell and look more radiant!
Wait, to be sure, our sweat from all the eccrine sweat glands all over our body is odorless. Our sweat from apocrine sweat glands in our scalp, armpit and groin have an odor. But the real ‘body odor’ comes from the sweat mixing with the bacteria on our skin.
Here are when we sweat more:
1. Exercise – Never plan or agree to a jogging date.
2. Fever – It may be cute if your guy takes care of you when you’re sick, but not cute when he smells you!
3. Strong emotions – Here’s when playing cool literally works; too excited, angry or anxious, you’re likely to sweat more.
4. Stress – BFF is for stressful time, so is shopping, ice cream but not having a date (plus chances are you’ll complain of the stressful circumstances, and that’s just not cool!)
5. Alcohol, Caffeine – Sip these if you absolutely have to drink it during your date. Alcohol, soda, coffee, tea stimulates your gustatory sweating.
6. Spicy food – Don’t arrange for a date at Sichuan restaurant or Indian cuisine.
7. Smoking – Nicotine releases your body chemical acetylcholine that stimulates your sweat glands. Quit smoking is good for your health and your pockets.
8. Antidepressants – Causes excessive sweating in about 20%; hopefully your date will help with the depression!
As a safe measure, always use antiperspirant – it works and it’s not a cancer risk (that will be for another post!)
I read last week that we’re right to think that raising eczema kids is tough. But what about parenting them? Seriously, the amount of advice on ‘naughty corner’, helicopter parenting, attachment parenting, spanking, tiger mom is driving me nuts. Can I just forget the whole parenting thing since the skin thing is already such a headache?
The short answer – Yes. You have a right to choose whatever you think best for your child, family and home.
I believe in not parenting too (Shh…) but it’s a taboo to say that out loud.
I imagine if you outright say ‘I Won’t Parent’, responses will be
‘What! You don’t parent! You have a responsibility, you know!’
‘How could you not be bothered with disciplining your kid? They need it to thrive, flourish, grow to their best potential.’
I bet you won’t find one that says ‘You bet. They grow up anyhow. Who picks nose and eat it as an adult?’
Here are my Top 5 reasons to justify not parenting:
#1 – You will turn into a screaming monster if you try to parent.
#2 – You will allow blame, resentment to fester and overwork your in-built calculator on how to divide parenting work between your spouse and you.
#3 – You will spend endless hours deciding on your parenting style and boundaries with your spouse at the risk of a marriage break-up.
#4 – You believe your kid will grow up good and mother’s intuition is never wrong.
If it’s all too much to read up on parenting, here’s an interesting article on Professor’s Scott Napper’s view on how being a booger eater will boost your immunity, so you’re covered even if you can’t parent your kid out of eating boogers.
I feel that it is so tough raising a baby with eczema – the scratching, the sleepless nights… Some days I added comments like ‘I’m not having another child cos raising one with skin problem is so tough’ or ‘Do you know how difficult it is?’ but most of the time, I feel that I get back response like ‘They all grow up’ (from my in-laws) or ‘Yeah, I’m tired too’ (from my husband). I’m starting to wonder if I’m wrong to think I have it tough? Why doesn’t ANYBODY think so?
Now, back to your question on Why Doesn’t Anybody Think So?
My guess is:
1. Your other half knows but it’s not humanly possible for him to respond lovingly for 15 minutes every time you bring this up, especially if you’re bringing it up 3-5 times a day.
2. Your in-laws know nothing if they are not staying with you and part of the ‘village’ that’s raising your kid. So, best advice, ignore.
3. Nobody is thinking about anything. Therefore, they can’t respond thoughtfully.
4. Nobody is able to wrap their brains around what you’re telling them. Therefore, they can’t respond in the manner you hope they would respond. Particularly true if you’ve gone into so much detail about parenting eczema kids that are confounding and a mystery except to those of us with eczema kids AND you’re telling them so many things but hoping all the time they answer with a simple ‘You have it tough, poor thing’.
Best bet? Tell yourself you have it tough and you deserve to chill. Right now.