Skin care and topical treatments for common symptoms of scleroderma

Date: Tue 7th January 2020

For patients with scleroderma and Raynaud's, the winter season can be tricky to navigate with dry and sensitive skin. When the cold weather starts to ravage joints, skin and more, maintaining a high quality of life is important for keeping us grounded!

To give you some guidance on how to manage your conditions during the colder months, our Press Officer Hannah Stevens, who has scleroderma, had a chat with Georgina Pantano, who lives with scleroderma and Raynaud's phenomenon, about the ways they keep their skin moisturised and crack free during the coldest months of the year.

Both Hannah and Georgina struggle with itchy and dry scalps throughout the year, which get worse the colder it gets, so they have shared their best tricks for managing the itchy nightmare!

  • Georgina swears by Aloe-Jojoba Shampoo and Conditioner. It's a lightweight, pH balanced product that is sulfate free – perfect for those over us with ultra sensitive scalps.
  • For an extra kick, she uses Eucerin Dermo Capillaire as a scalp tonic. The product is non-greasy and helps treat an itchy scalp.
  • Georgina also sporadically uses a cheaper alternative called Re-Balancing Scalp Tonic by Trichology.
  • But Georgina's ultimate trick is an overhaul of the water she uses to wash her hair. Instead of relying on the harsh water from her shower, Georgina boils tap water, freezes it and then sterilises it one more time by melting it on the boil.
  • After using a range of products, Hannah has settled on a routine of regular olive oil or coconut oil scalp baths to moisturise her scalp, followed by shampooing with Johnson's baby shampoo, which is perfect for people with very sensitive skin.

When you have Scleroderma and/or Raynaud's phenomenon, dry skin becomes part of your daily routine, so Georgina has shared her top tips for managing your delicate skin.

  • Keep away from any moisturisers that are packed with perfumes or scents. You never know what could set your skin off, so try to keep to natural products.
  • Georgina's main moisturiser is E45's Rich 24hr Cream. It keeps moisture all day and isn't too greasy either.
  • For a lighter option, try using E45's Derma Protect Moisturising Lotion or some Aqueous cream.
  • After finding most exfoliators too harsh for her skin, Georgina found Body Shop's Drops of Light Pure Resurfacing Liquid Peel, which is soft enough to protect her skin but also strong enough to shed extra dead skin.
  • Most body washes are packed with perfumes and scents, so to avoid any extra irritation; Georgina uses Aloe Hand Soap as a full body wash. You can also use Aqueous Cream as a body wash.
  • To care for her hands, Georgina has a regular paraffin wax bath. Firstly, she slathers her hands in E45 moisturiser while the paraffin wax bath heats up, then she dips her hands into the warm wax. Once her hands are covered in the wax, she puts on some plastic gloves, followed by oven mitts to keep it packed in, and then she keeps it on for between ten and twenty minutes. This routine keeps the skin loose and soothes any sores.

Extra Tips:

As the winter months get colder and colder, it's important to remember to carry a kit with you everywhere to manage that dry skin and those aching joints. Here are some of Hannah's essentials:

  • Hand cream: in the winter months I'll use this up to 20 times a day to keep my hands supple. I deposit E45 cream into a smaller container, which can be bought at your local Boots or Primark for a couple of pounds.
  • Hand warmers: the colder your hands get, the more likely they are to crack and get sore. Keep them warm 24/7 with a packet of reusable hand warmers!
  • Gloves: always keep a pair of these handy and try popping hand warmers inside to keep your fingers extra toasty.
  • Deep Heat Pads: if your joints get sorer as the weather gets colder, then try investing in a batch of deep heat pads. I stick these to my hips whenever I go out in the colder to reduce any pain.
  • Hand Grip Strengtheners: as my hands become more painful in the winter, I carry one of these around with me to exercise my hands whenever they get stiff.

If you are interested in helping SRUK to fund work that will help to improve the quality of life of our community, then please <donate today. We rely on the generosity of the community to continue to support groundbreaking research in both scleroderma and Raynaud's.

If you would like information on how scleroderma affects different parts of the body, please visit: Scleroderma and your body

Information and advice for managing scleroderma can be found here: 6 tips for self-management