It’s difficult to talk about this – and this is why it has taken me two weeks to write one blog! After just telling my husband the diagnosis, lichen sclerosus, and that I had been prescribed ‘a cream’ for it I hadn’t mentioned it again even to him – and even though, over the course of four or five years, the symptoms got worse and worse.
Back at the end of October, the symptoms had become excruciating – and the ‘cream’ useless. I had been told that as an auto-immune condition there was nothing else medicine could offer apart from suppression of the symptoms by the ‘cream’ – a corticosteroid – classified as a ‘potent steroid’.
So, what is Lichen sclerosus? It is an auto-immune condition that affects mainly children and post-menopausal women. (Yep, tick that last box) As I am sure you know, and auto-immune condition is one in which your own body turns on itself, destroying cells, and in this case making the skin thinner, prone to blistering, swelling, soreness, irritation and inflammation. Though, thank goodness, it isn’t infectious at all.
Lichen sclerosus also has a favourite location for this disruption of the skin – and this is why I (and many other people) don’t generally like to talk about it. It affects the skin between the buttocks and reaching forward to include the skin around the vulva. In people who have had it for decades it can even result in atrophy of the flesh.
By the end of October I was in pain all the time, especially when sitting, and every time I needed to use the toilet I faced the agony of cleaning and drying myself, and the area affected seemed to be extending. Now Corticosteroid must be used sparingly – frequent reapplication is not acceptable – not desirable – as Corticosteroid also THINS the skin!
I positioned a mirror to look – the skin was red, shiny, swollen, cracked and blistered – no wonder it stung to blazes!
This is where I am surprised at, and ashamed of, myself. I have been looking into natural ways of supporting the body and brain by supporting the health of your whole system – but I hadn’t looked for a natural way of dealing with Lichen sclerosus. I had been ambushed by the fact that it was considered an Auto-immune condition – and, therefore, I knew that meant it wasn’t curable.
… or did I?
After all, hadn’t I been reading about other auto-immune conditions that had been helped by natural means – by a rebalancing of the gut-bacteria, specifically. However, I have already gone down this route for the sake of my brain, and I hope my gut-bacteria are now in a good balance and are being ‘fed’ the food-stuffs to keep them happy. I would say that in other ways my body was feeling better tuned and functioning well.
So it was, that feeling desperate, I began to research whether there was a natural way to help the condition . . . and there was!
I read so many pages, so many personal responses. I read of people with this condition who were in a much worse state than I was – whose body had suffered permanent changes that were life-affecting. I also read of those who had found the answer – or an answer. And it involved my new friend Borax – also known as Sodium Tetraborate. I read around the subject – finding out lots more about Borax (especially about uses – click here) and it’s uses, trawling sites for negatives as well as positives – until, convinced it was worth a try, I sent off for some, it was only £5.95 a kilo – link here.
First it said, once you have obtained your borax have a bath – with one tablespoon of borax and one of bicarbonate of soda – just for relief. OH MY! That was SO GOOD, just in itself! That alone was enough to convince me to take the course.
Then there was the taking of borax in solution every day for a fortnight. This was in a specific high dose: One eighth of a level teaspoon of borax to be taken everyday, dissolved in one litre of (warm) spring water – consumed over the day. Followed by a life-time of a much lower dose of borax – every day – forever. AND the mandatory taking of a magnesium supplement always – as the borax needs that to work effectively. Magnesium citrate is easily absorbed but can also act as a laxative so I researched and decided on magnesium glycinate (click here) – which is also easily absorbed but does not have that side effect. (magnesium oxide – often sold in supermarkets – is very poorly absorbed)
(NB. This site I looked at also advised (click here) adding one eighth of a teaspoon of ground Himalayan Pink Salt to the Borax – so I did this too … to begin with, until I had the odd reaction of tingling in my face – that seemed to be caused by an overdose of sodium – so I dropped the pink salt and continued with the borax – the odd reaction faded away.
Himalayan pink salt is often recommended by natural health bloggers for ailments – and I wonder if someone was trying a belt and braces solution that worked for them – but overloaded my system with sodium? My verdict – I believe this works just as well with Borax only)
ANYWAY…. On day 5 – when I was drying myself I thought ‘Oh! What? My skin has gone numb in one small place.’ So I checked with the mirror to see where this numb area was. It turned out it wasn’t numb at all – just healed-up and looking normally pink, surrounded by skin that was still screaming at me – it only seemed numb in comparison.
Over the remaining time of the fortnight this small normal area grew – until all the skin looked pink and healthy and did not hurt any more. The swelling had gone down too – and it was only then I realised how bad that aspect had actually been.
One other thing I used over that fortnight was a simple ‘cream’ I made-up myself. Without the corticosteroid cream there was no slippery barrier to each inner cheek rubbing against the other and causing pain. So I used two rounded tablespoons of coconut oil (which is a solid at room temp) melted it (in a small lidded pyrex bowl in the microwave, watching it carefully) and mixed into it one level teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, one level teaspoon of Borax and 3 drops of lavender oil (essential oil) The dry ingredients are dissolved into the warmed oil and constantly stirred – even as it begins to solidify. The essential oil added before it solidifies but after the oil has cooled a bit. This then sets to a hard ‘cream’ – so I would scrape off a little and it would melt on my skin providing the lubrication on the sore skin with the soothing qualities of the other ingredients.
Three months down the line and there has been no more pain, I still take the 3mg dose of borax each day [1 tsp of borax dissolved in 1 litre of water – kept in fridge and only 1 – 2 teaspoons of this solution taken each day in water] and use a little of my own ‘cream’ especially after showers or baths.
This *borax treatment is such a blessing that, despite the embarrassment, I have to share it – even if only one other person with Lichen sclerosus gets some relief from the symptoms – then it would be worth it.
A good LS support group on FB based in USA, started by Allicia who found and followed this blog post, it has over 3,000 members from all around the world – you see – we are not alone in this.
Comments welcome as always – but …
If you wish to keep it private and just contact me then just reply to the email this arrived on (or if you have found this on the internet then email ann@ annfoweraker .com (closing-up the gaps) – otherwise go to the actual page and click comments to add yours
Best – Ann
*borax etc – as with any chemical – do keep these safely away from children 🙂
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ppps still happy with the new borax and bicarb hair treatment – and my hairdresser said that my hair felt thicker, and yes – this came out of the LS treatment too! See this blog post for info – click here