Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Let's Get Topical!

WARNING:  This is an IBS-specific post, and may contain TMI - Too Much Information.  

Problems associated with IBS are not limited to the amount of times that you go in one day.  Often, as a result of frequency issues, sufferers encounter other problems such as fissures or hemorrhoids, which can be far more painful than the washroom usage itself.  Either way, many IBSers have a sore bum, both internally and externally; think about when you have the flu and mad diarrhea; this is what many IBSers feel like on a daily basis.  Because of this, they spend their time searching for ways to combat these issues.  With this being said, it is time to get topical – topical remedies, that is. 

There are wide arrays of ointments, creams, foams and powders that can be used to treat these problems.  Many of them are over the counter and many require a prescription.  When you begin waddling because of the pain in your butt, or you try to find a way to do your job standing up, desperation normally sets in and you set yourself on a path to find anything that may bring some relief.  Personally, I have tried most available over the counter and prescription ointments, however, I have extremely fair and sensitive skin, resulting in allergic reactions to all of these products, so I have had to become inventive.  If you were to run into me at the drug store, you would likely think that I have an infant.  This would be because of the Vaseline, zinc oxide, baby wipes and powder that I manage to purchase on a fairly regular basis.  I can assure you, in the event a baby appears at my door, I have everything short of diapers to take care of that little butt. 

I stopped using the stronger stuff once I realized that my butt would actually feel worse after all of the over the counter ointments, instead, I normally use what you use on your baby.  Unfortunately, with both zinc oxide and Vaseline, I can only use them for a day or two before I have an allergic reaction, but that is normally sufficient to give me a bit of relief.  From experience, I would recommend never using the organic Vaseline, for the simple fact that this stuff seeps through everything in sight.  It will seep through the container, it will seep through Ziploc baggies, and pretty soon you will have a slip and slide in your purse.  My recommendation on this one – get the brand name. 

Just as you may think I have a baby, you may also suspect chronic cocaine usage.  This could not be further from the truth.  Two magic words – corn starch.  This is not the kind of topical you use at work.  It gets everywhere.  It looks like I take hits on my bath mat or in my tub; I assure you my desperation has not culminated in drug abuse just yet.  Corn starch is nature’s equivalent to baby powder, without the chemicals or fragrances.  It calms things down, but is a hell of a mess to clean up.  I travel with mini containers full of corn starch, which I have labeled so as not to appear on the drug smuggler list at the airport.  My husband is very mindful to never use the bathroom corn starch.  So, for those of you who have seen it in my loo, nothing quite as exciting as cooking going on in there. 

Baby wipes and Tucks, the best price in town on baby wipes is at Costco!  These can be amazing, and horribly awful.  They will either soothe, or, burn something awful.  In my experience, I cannot always anticipate which one it will be, think of Kevin in Home Alone using the after shave.  Same sensation.  However, baby wipes are extremely useful after using Vaseline or zinc oxide.  Enough said.

In terms of other remedies, not necessarily classified as topical, Advil Liquigels are a gift.  I pop those things all day long when my IBS is acting up, it helps to reduce swelling and relieve pain.  I also use those disposable heat packages, the ones you stick to your neck for relief.  I keep a pack of those in my desk at all times and will put them on my stomach to ease any cramping I may have as a result of the IBS. 

Doughnuts.  Sadly, not the edible ones.  The ones you sit on.  I try to avoid using these at all costs, because, honestly, I do not want to have this conversation at work.  However, it did come to that one year, where, for six months I had to sit on one in order to gain a modicum of relief.  My recommendation would be to put it in a pillowcase and try to pass it off as a cushion. 

As the great Vanilla Ice once said ice, ice baby.  I have spent many nights curled up with ice in a bag where the sun don’t shine.  It is not glamorous, but often it numbs you enough to allow you to function. 

Sitz baths and/or Epsom salt baths.  Sitz baths are not nearly as relaxing as an Epsom salt bath.  The primary difference being that a sitz bath is a device that you fill up with warm water (sometimes with a bit of salt) and place on your toilet.  It is often recommended as a way to promote the healing of fissures or hemorrhoids.  Epsom salt baths are in your actual bath tub and they allow you to step away from the can for a moment.  Personally, I try to limit these, due to my sensitive skin, but they can promote relaxation. 

I hope that you will find some of these recommendations helpful.  If you have any of your own, I would love to hear them! 

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