Dr Raed Alhusayen is a dermatologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center. His areas of interest include autoimmune skin disease and skin lymphoma. His talk was titled "Sjogren's Syndrome and the Skin" so we were on the road to finding out more.
He said "Moisture is the key" and reviewed the main skin manifestations in Sjogren's. They are vasculitis, dry skin and Raynauds. For Raynauds he emphasized the importance of keeping your fingers and toes warm. Two layers is better than one. He also mentioned warm oil massage as being helpful because the oil holds the heat longer. (see ending for details)
Dry skin affects 50% of Sjogren's patients. Here are his tips:
A bath is better than a shower
*Non-soap hydrating cleansers (eg. unscented Dove, Cetaphil, Cliniderm, Cera Ve)
Pat gently, don't rub
Apply moisturizing cream immediately after to trap the moisture
Apply moisturizing cream 2 to 3 times per day
Wear cotton clothing
There are 3 types of moisturizer
1. Oil based which includes ointments. They are water insoluable and more effective
2. Water based products like gels, lotions and creams. They are water soluable and less effective
3. Emulsions which are a mixture. Oil in water or water in oil.
To reduce moisture loss from the skin you can use barrier creams that trap water. They are very effective on dampened skin. This category includes lanolin, mineral oil, lecithin, beeswax and two others new to me called squaline and dimethicone. Barrier creams are the best and petroleum jelly is one that is effective but thick and greasy. You may at some times need medicated cream for better control.
Other ways to preserve moisture are humectants like glycerin, urea, honey, hyaluronic acid and sorbitol that attract water from the dermis or emolliants that repair the skin barrier and replace your natural lipids. Emolliants include ceramide (a natural lipid in the skin), cyclomethicone, jojoba oil, decyl oleate, dimethicone, propylene glycol, shea butter and coconut oil. Now you know what to look for in the ingredient lists.
Dr. Alhusayen recommended some moisturizerrs: Aveeno, Cetaphil, Dove, Eucerin, Lipicort, Lubriderm, Olay and Epicream. (the last one may be covered by insurance).
Some of those mentioned are humectants, some are barrier creams and some have the features of both.
In conclusion he emphasized that supportive skin care is simple and yet essential to improving the quality of life in Sjogren's patients
A few more tips
Warm Oil Massage for Raynauds
Use a natural oil e.g. olive oil. Make sure the heat is low and then rub it on both hands and feet including between the fingers and toes. Put socks and gloves on after this to preserve the warmth.
For skin fissures you can use Crazy Glue.
Facial moisturizers should have an SPF of 30.