Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tamoxifen is taking its toll on my skin

I've been on Tamoxifen for 15 months.  I only have 45 months to go.  Oh my goodness that looks daunting.  How am I going to survive 45 more months?  I know I have to take Tamoxifen and I know I will survive it, but it's tough.

Today I'm complaining about my skin.  Tamoxifen is changing my skin into "old lady" skin.  My skin is becoming so dry.  It's becoming like tissue paper.  My skin is becoming thin and crinkly on my arms and legs.  It's horrible.  I never used to have to put lotion on my skin.  I've always had the loveliest, most supple skin.  It's always been soft and smooth.  It's been taut and youthful.  Now it is just the opposite of all this.

The skin on my arms is becoming so thin and dry that it can be scratched open with a very minor bump or scratch.  I need to take better care of my skin.  Skin is the largest organ of the body.  It's job is to protect the body, regulate the temperature of the body, store lipids and water, allow the body to feel sensations, and act as a water resistant barrier.  My skin is beginning to fail at many of these functions.

I'm guessing my skin is no longer great at storing the lipids and the water.  I'm guessing lipids and water make skin plump and smooth.  My skin has become crepe-like and, well, not as smooth as it used to be.  I don't have alligator scales yet, but I may be on my way.  My skin has become quite thin.  I remember being a little girl and sitting next to my grandma and holding her hand.  I was fascinated by them.  I could see the veins right through her skin.  And the coolest thing yet, I could move them around under her skin.  I thought this was WONDERFUL.  My hands are turning into my grandma's hands.  Hell, they are turning into my mother's hands.  The view of my veins through the skin on the back of my hands it getting clearer and clearer every day.  AWESOME, not.

My skin is still doing a wonderful job of keeping water out of my body.  I'm pretty sure I'm not absorbing water like a sponge.  After all, as I mentioned before, I'm dry.  Sometimes I wish I could soak some of the wet stuff into my skin.  I'm trying to find the bright side.  So on the plus side, my skin is still acting as a water barrier.  :)

On the subject of regulating my body temp.  Let's just say this, this is probably the reason my skin has become so thin and warn out.  I have so many temperature fluctuations during the day my skin is most likely exhausted.  Hot, cold, hot, cold, hot, cold... it's never ending.  I wake up soaked in sweat.  (on the positive side, sweat glands are working GREAT) Then I immediately begin to freeze as the sweat starts to evaporate from my body.  (another positive, goosebumps still work)  Get in the car and drive to work, hot flash.  (begin sweating)  Turn on AC to ice cold.  (commence shivering)  Repeat throughout the day, as needed.  Fun.

I can still feel sensations with my skin.  Let's put this in the positive column, as well.  (seriously, this is the beauty of blogging.  if you would have asked me if there was anything positive to say about my skin, the answer would have been, NO!

I'm guessing the answer to my dry skin problem is lotion, lotion, lotion.  I'm not used to using a lot of body lotion, but I think this is going to change.  Another thing that's going to change is the love of the hot shower.  I believe I'm going to be leaving this behind, as well.  I've heard of people who quit showering and do a thing called "dry brushing."  I don't know if I can give up showering, altogether, but this may be a solution.  The one thing I know is certain is that I need to stop taking my skin for granted and start taking better care of it.  I'm not sure, but I think drinking more water may help with dry skin.  I'm open to any and all suggestions.  What's blogging for if not free advice.  Thanks guys.  :)

96.  Peppermint scented body lotion
97.  Surprise lunch outing with my husband and son
98.  Trader Joe's portabello stuffed ravioli
99.  A chilled drinking fountain just outside my office door
100.  Being reminded of a weekend getaway I forgot all about
101.  The opportunity to vote for the candidate of my choice
102.  Tamoxifen


  1. i hear you on not taking things for grantd...in your case your skin...for others well...hmm...i hope the lotion helps

  2. For myself personally, I have found that I prefer using baby oil rather than lotion. Applying it just when I get out of the shower while the skin is still wet, it helps trap the moisture, but apparently it is not a moisturizer.  I did a little research first before recommending this and I have read that it might have side effects (weird since they are letting people are use it on babies) because it is petroleum based so you might want to do some research of your own or talk to your doctor first as it might not be for everyone. I have also read that Vaseline and cocoa butter are suitable substitutes as well.  Stay strong, my dear. You are very courageous.

  3.  Thanks Nowhere Man.  Another reader (on fb) recommended jojoba oil.  I got a bottle from TJ's.  I'm going to give that a try first.  I'm glad this issue is not gender specific.  Skin is a universally human issue.  :)

  4. Did you tell us once that that drug makes you go through menopause?  That's kind of what happens to women's skin during menopause - although your experience sounds so much worse.  I can't imagine not showering, but my mother was so wobbly toward the end that she started refusing to shower - she liked these big wipes called Comfort Baths.  Those might potentially dry out the skin, too, though.  I'm no help. 

  5. Positively AleneApril 4, 2012 at 9:38 AM

    Cocoa Butter is awesome. Also massage oils are great - even bath oils. I know this must be aggravating but so glad you can find those things to be thankful for and remind us not to take things for granted. 


  6. Organic coconut oil is THE BEST! the same that you would use for cooking. I buy the Nutiva brand. It works great! Staying at RV parks sometimes the water is not soo good for my skin, but coconut oil makes everything better. Also, if you take a spoon daily will help.

  7. Hi there Happygirl, I just stumbled upon your blog post on Ken Cook's dinner. 
    I enjoyed your post and also noticed your post on dry skin.  If you like I can send you some samples of our natural skin care products. I'm not trying to promote our stuff, but it has helped a lot of folks. e-mail me at mcm@alabu.com com if you are interested

  8. Hi I've been on Tamoxifen for 18 months and just recently have very thin skin, fine scratches draw blood easily and take much longer to heal. Im telling people that my scratched arms are due to my cat!

    I'm going to try the body lotions. Anything perfumed makes me cough so Im looking for unscented.

  9. Im grateful for the post.Really looking forward to read more. Cool.



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