She hadn’t seen me in six months. The smile in her eyes died as she glanced down at my hands. Her eyes grew as round as pizza pies, as she took my hands and cradled them in hers. She held them gently, as if they were fragile porcelain art objects. In fact, my hands look as if they are covered in old cracked vinyl. The skin is withered, shriveled, peeling off in sheets, and the surface is shiny.
“Oh, My God, Shelly,” she whispered. “What in the world happened? Your hands look like an old woman’s! They look twenty years older than you — it’s like you have one of those diseases that make you age, but it only hit your hands. What is it?”
“It’s the hand lotion,” I replied. “If you have had lotion that has been open for six months, take a lesson from me and throw it away!
I told y’all several days ago that I was having some very strange symptoms. My hands and feet were tingling and numb. I had no sense of feeling at all. Several trips to different doctors, and many medical tests ruled out neurological disease, diabetes, or auto-immune responses. My blood was tested for everything under the sun. The good news is that I don’t have any of those diseases.
The bad news, is that I destroyed the top layer of skin on my hands and feet by using old hand lotion. I don’t know the brand — it was some nameless lotion that I picked up on sale because it contained Vitamin E. I had used it when I first bought it, and then set it aside (for several years).
A few weeks ago, I pulled that lotion off the shelf to use on my skin, which was dry from the winter weather. I thought I was being frugal. I didn’t want to waste it, so I decided to use it up. But, it had an “icky” feel to it, so I used it three times and then tossed it in the trash. Shortly after that, my skin began to feel strange, but other medical problems were happening, so it seemed like something more. That’s why I was tested for so many things.
When finally the connection was made to that hand lotion, my family doctor’s advice was to use Neutrogena hand cream–which is very expensive and would not even soak into my skin. After many days of no change in the condition, I went to a dermatologist. That should have been my first move.
The dermatologist told me that this type of reaction is not unusual. It has happened to people using old skin care products or skin medications that have expired. The tingling sensation I was having was because I was trying to “molt.” The numbness was because my skin was dead.
The Neutrogena had cream had too many chemicals, she told me. Instead, she gave me a foam that will help exfoliate the dead skin, and a very thick ointment that will actually soak into the skin. She said it may take weeks or months for my skin to get back to “normal.” She didn’t promise that my hands would go back to the way they were.
By being “frugal,” and not buying a new $10 bottle of hand cream, I spent hundreds of dollars on medical bills, tests, and medicines. That’s after my health insurance paid it’s portion.
If you are reading this, I want you to stop right now and go through your skin care products. My dermatologist told me that if a bottle of lotion or make-up has been opened for six months it can get contaminated with bacteria. Exposure to the air can cause its chemical components to change. She told me that if I had any skin care product that had been opened for six months, I should throw it away.
You go do that NOW! And, tell everyone you know to do it. This has been one of the most miserable experiences of my life, and I don’t want anybody else to go through it. Though it hasn’t actually hurt, except when the skin was so dry that it bled, I have been unable to use my hands properly. Walking feels awkward, because I don’t really feel a sensation when my feet touch the ground. YOU don’t want to EVER experience this!
“Shelly,” my friend asked. “will your hands ever look right again?
“I don’t know, ” I said.
“Are you going to blog about this?” she asked. “People need to know.”
“Of course I’m going to blog it,” I replied with a grin. “My life is an open book. Everything is fodder for the blog…well, almost.”
She laughed and patted my cheek. “I’m so glad you didn’t smear that stuff on your face!”