NHSSkin is our largest organ

So why doesn’t the NHS help us look after it?  I eep on banging on about looking after it, but if we don’t, germs and nasties can enter through the cracks and cause untold harm. So make look after it – pamper with a purpose.

When my cancer treatment bought on skin problems in spades; all the NHS could do was tell me “it’s your age”

This was not so, but only another woman can understand what that mean to me..

The British Association of Dermatologists says “there are only 650 consultant dermatologists in the UK” for a population of over 60 million. France, with about the samepopulation, has over 3,400.

Skin blisters made my life miserable

I didn’t know whether to cry, scratch or scream when blisters appeared three days after I was started on Tamoxifen.  All over my body; bloody, painful, itchy and frightening..  After the diagnosis of ‘age’, I was ashamd I would be accused of making a fuss, so I went to France for proper’ treatment  I didn’t relish being mis-diagnosed again with “it’s your age”.

I consulted the Senior NHS hospital Chaplain (they usually know what’s going on), ;he knew all about this problem, and sent me off to the Medical Spa centre of La Roche Posay, in France, where he knew the eminent specialist. .

The Frenchman took a long time examining my skin;  sent me off for a second opinion, and then arranged multiple blood tests, and more examinations, etc. until eventually I was called back to see the specialist, told it was definitely Tamoxifen that had caused these blisterss, “and this is how we are going to treat it”.

The centre had made its reputation during the time of Napoleon;, when his Army sent soldiers there with skin problems.  During World War II it treated thousands suffering from burns, and still does today.

It is famous for its spa waters, as well as its expetise, and today the water is used to make cliically-trialed skincare specally to help our cancer-drug-hit skin.

What hapened next

My skin went back to normal after using the skincare products – but other skin problems popped up:  itchy scalp (anyone would have thought I had fleas) and nails that split down to the quick, making it painful to even shake hands.  So asked for a list of the members of the British Dermatology Association.

Their list came up with Dr. Fenton’s name, amongst others.  His CV showed he had interests thet covered my problems, and although I was seeing him privately, he also works on the NHS, which might be useful.

He sorted out both my scalp and my nails, was always helpful and full of good advice; sometime later, opening the Daily Mail, there was an article on The big face cream con, written by my dermatologist, Dr. David Fenton.

Taking care of ourselves

Seeing how seriously the French took skincare, in comparison with the cavalier attitude shown by my hospital in London, made me very conscious that in Britain we have to look after ourselves. Cancer treatment plays havoc with our skin, yet all we are given are some ‘creams’, which did nothing for me.

Another story in the Daily Mail commented on how Firefighters are on the front line dealing with the consequences of burning skin.  Recently  London Fire Brigade issued a warning over skincare,  concerns that elderly people have died as a result of using certain NHS prescribed skincare (https://aftercancers.com/prepare-your-skin-for-summer/). OK, OK. I know the NHS is underfunded, but surely it shouldn’t keep prescribing products that aren’t absorbed by the skin, lying on the top and dangerous if an elderl person goes near a cgarette or flame?

c.  This could be drug side effects – even years  after you finished taking these.

Image result for skin images

I am NOT medically qualified, but it’s not rocket science to realise we need help when our skin misbehaves, particularly if the way it behaves comes as a side effect of drugs.  But it’s not only cancer drugs that damage our skin, but many of the tablets we are prescribed for other problems, especially pain killers.

I dread the dismissive sniff we get when we dare to mention anything to do with skin;  guaranteed to make us feel we are making a fuss over nothing.  Skin is our largest organ, so it’s not surprising it reflects all our bodily changes. If you have a good relationship with a CNS, ask them for advice.  But be very careful what you are prescribed, as two of the most popular products currently on the NHS list have caused London Fire Brigade to issue this warning:

“Many commonly used moisturising products, or emollient skin products, contain ingredients like paraffin or petroleum and are highly flammable. These products are widely used by elderly people and those with mobility problems, and help with conditions like eczema, or to prevent bed sores”.

Their Group Manager Mark Hazelton said: “It’s a real issue that people simply don’t realise that these skin products are in fact highly flammable. You’ve got elderly people, or those with mobility problems, using them liberally on their skin, which is fine, until a flame is introduced into the mix. These (products) soak into dressings, clothing and bedding, which makes the fabric flammable. And the problem is, it’s really difficult to wash the product out, even on a hot wash.

We are really concerned about smokers, and those using candles. If a flammable skin product is being used, a small spark can quickly lead to a serious blaze. This is a real concern for elderly people and those less able to escape if a fire takes hold.”  Fire Brigades around the country are concerned, as far too many deaths are caused this way.  See more on http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39308748

and http://metro.co.uk/2017/03/19/skin-creams-with-paraffin-in-them-linked-to-house-fire-deaths-6519276/

I stopped using these creams when I found they didn’t absorb well – how glad I am.

Men. too, suffer from horrible skin problems as side-effects from drugs. So much so that wonderful charity, Look Good eel Better, that provides make-up sessions for cancer survivors, now runs sessions for males.

It can be depressing to think you have cleared things up, only to find months later, your skin flares up again. Research coming out of the States says that cancer drugs are so powerful that ingredients can produce flare-ups years after we thought we had finished.

So don’t throw out skin creams – you may need these to treat another outbreak.  Of course, I can’t give out medical advice on the Wellness Day, but you can come and see what my skin looks like (am I going to regret saying this?)

Luckily other countries take skincare more seriously;  that’s why I recommend products from Iceland, USA, France, Australia, New Zealand etc.  and hopefully will have lots of samples available.