Sunday, April 24, 2016

Homemade adult skin protectant cream.

I'm a retired nurse with about 25 years under my belt. Most of my career was spent doing home health. Let's get one thing straight though before we move on. Please do not confuse home health with private duty sitting. I'm sure you've heard of doctors who make house calls. They come to the home, do an assessment, treat whatever is wrong and leave. That's what home health is, but it's nurses. We come in, do an assessment, see what the patient needs are such as teaching about medication, IV fluids, wound care and so on and then leave. A private duty sitter, on the other hand, comes in and stays the day, like a babysitter would.

I've worked with dying patients (such as cancer, AIDS), patients who have had accidents (like a hockey player who hit the ice and became paralyzed or a man whose house caught fire which killed his family but he survived with 1st degree burns over 80% of his body), the elderly (people who need a little direction in the home, or the family needs to learn how to care for them) and even the homeless (who are seen for a variety of reasons, I've visited people in their cars). As you can see, I've had a large number and wide variety of people that I've seen over time.

Now before I go further, while my experience is extensive, I'm not a doctor. Here comes the disclaimer part that any lawyer would tell me to say, so I'm saying it. You should always talk to your doctor first and what I'm telling you may not only not work, but may cause skin problems. After all, I don't know what allergies or skin conditions your "patient" has. For example, someone with psoriasis should definitely avoid this, but not just those people, anyone perhaps because again, I've no idea what problems you or your person has. Use caution and remember, talk to your doctor first.

That said, now my mother is ill. She has advanced dementia, anemia and is rather frail. She had to move in with me and she is incontinent most of the time. She also was in a car accident (she was hit by a drunk driver) that left her coccyx broken (her tailbone) and instead of pointing downward which is the norm, her's sticks outward to a point. Whenever she loses just a little bit of weight, that tailbone pops right through her skin.

Couple that problem with incontinence and you have quite a skin problem. Because I have to stay at home and care for her, money is very tight too. The best creams that I've used for years and years are the following two.

As you can see, these are rather pricey. Calmoseptine has been around for eons and is what the hospitals, rehabs and nursing homes use. Calazyme is new to me, but I found it very close to Calmoseptine and I have no doubt it would work.

What makes these special are the ingredients. In both, the active ingredients are menthol and zinc oxide along with what is considered and inactive ingredient (though I would probably disagree on that) calamine. Before we get to what those are, let's compare the "recipes" for them.

Calmoseptine has 0.44% menthol, zinc oxide 20.6% and the top five inactive ingredients (these are always in order of amounts, so the first one has more in the product than the second one, this makes the top 5 the most helpful) are calamine, chlorothymol, glycerin, lanolin and phenol. 

Calazime has only 0.2% menthol, 20% zinc oxide and calamine is lower down on the list of inactive ingredients at #5. Aloe, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), ascorbyl palmitate, beeswax and calamine.

Okay, so what the heck are all of these things and what do they do? Let's go over them!

Menthol has a cooling effect and is listed as an analgesic. When your bum hurts or when you're wet, a cooling effect is very helpful and soothing. 

Zinc oxide is an amazing compound that is used in a ton of different things. It is the most effective ingredient in diaper rash ointments and skin barrier creams. It is not a natural organic compound but is a chemical element. 

Calamine is also zinc oxide but it's mixed with some iron. Iron is great for oxygenating the blood and when you have skin that can potentially break down into sores, rashes or even bee stings, it is helpful to have as much oxygenation to the skin as possible for healing. 

Chlorothymol is often seen in mouthwashes and is an antiseptic. It's also a compound consisting of several chemicals. Recent medical studies have shown that it's just as effective, if not more, than iodine based scrubs used in surgeries, but that's with a mix of alcohol that is also highly antiseptic. Either way, still considered a good thing.

Glycerin is a natural chemical and is a skin conditioner. It is actually already found in the skin. Animals have it as do plants. It's what provides moisture to the skin as well and prevents the skin from drying out. In skin protectants, it's useful because zinc oxide has a drying effect and glycerin replaces that moisture.

Lanolin is also a natural thing in animals. This one is the oil coming from animals with wool, such as sheep. It is a dense moisturizer and helps in preventing itchy, flaky skin.

Phenol is actually an anesthetic and so an analgesic. That is, it helps block pain. It's often used by prescription as a spray for things such as episiotomies in women or the like. 

Aloe is probably the most recognizable of all the ingredients here, outside of maybe calamine. This is a thick natural moisturizer coming from the famed succulent plant. It is highly effective in aiding the healing process in things such as burns, insect bites and minor rashes. 

Ascorbic acid sounds like a scary chemical, but it really isn't. It's strictly Vitamin C which is necessary for skin healing, or healing of just about anything. Vitamin C is one of the best vitamins you can use because it is closely associated with the skin and fighting of viruses. It's found in all citrus plants.

Ascorbyl palmitate is the oil based form of ascorbic acid. This means that it is also a moisturizer in addition to an antioxidant.

Beeswax is something I probably don't need to explain exactly what it is. I'm not familiar with actual medical studies but herbalists insist that it is a skin protectant, an anti-inflammatory agent and is soothing. 

As you can now see, both of them use both chemicals and natural ingredients for their products, they're just a little different. That said, there are other things that do these tasks, well, for a good number of them. There really is no substitute for zinc oxide and calamine, but there are plenty of other easily found products that do the same tasks as the ones listed above. On the other hand, aloe and ascorbic acid are relatively cheap as they are.

Now some of these are more organic substitutes and I can only say what herbalists claim about them. I've not ready any scientific studies on the reliability of these claims, however that doesn't mean that they don't work. It's just that it also doesn't mean that they do.

Clearly, zinc oxide is necessary. That is the best protectant that you can get and it's used in just about all of the really good diaper rash ointments. You can buy it by the pound in powder form, which is exactly what you would want, online. Amazon carries several brands at a fair price. One pound will last you a very long time, saving you money right away. 

Eucalyptus essential oil provides a cooling effect and would be a great substitute for menthol. What I'm not sure of is its concentration. You may need more eucalyptus for that cooling effect than you would menthol. However, claims made about eucalyptus include antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Those are definitely needed in a skin protectant.

A quick man's recipe to make a Calmoseptine type ointment could be some cheap vapor-rub, mixed with some zinc oxide and calamine lotion, which really isn't a lotion it's more like a suspension. The math needs doing though, doesn't it?

Let's say you have 1/4 cup of vapor-rub. If my math is correct, and believe me, you should double check behind me because I'm mathematically challenged, then 20.6% of 1/4 cup = about 2 1/2 teaspoons, so you'd mix 2 1/2 teaspoons of the zinc oxide with 1/4 cup of vapor rub and then use just enough of the calamine lotion to make it creamy again.

You can also buy glycerin at any drug store. I bought some at CVS. Using that same ratio, you can mix the glycerin (substituted for the vapor rub) and zinc oxide and add the calamine lotion then put in a few drops of menthol or eucalyptus essential oil.

Now, I'm not telling you to run out and start using this. I haven't even tried them (yet). What I'm saying is that there are alternatives to expensive ointments and protectants. I will be testing them on my mother and I'll be journaling about the experience, here.

Do you all have any concoctions that you swear by? Let me know! Stay tuned on my experiments. It may take time because while I've ordered menthol, it won't be here until June. It's coming from overseas. In the meantime, I'm going to play with eucalyptus products in the mean time.

Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals your diseases. 
-- Psalm 103:2-3

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