By Lynda Wallas

Your Skin after CFS

There is new talk of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome finally having physical evidence that allows it to be distinguished from other ailments, namely depression, and that evidence can be found in the skin. The study suggests that differences in skin temperature and electrical activity may provide a new way to identify this disabling disorder. CFS causes a variety of common symptoms, such as fever, fatigue, sore throat, headache, muscle weakness, pain, and sleep disturbances. However, now research suggests that skin temperature and electrical activity are measurably different in CFS suffers, thus providing a way to diagnosis it over other ailments that present with similar symptoms.

Great news that might be able to reduce the 6 month wait for a diagnosis!

However, your skin after CFS is what I want to talk about here. I imagine that I started noticing the affects while I was still in the grips of CFS but at that time the plumpness of my skin was the least of my worries. I assumed that spending all that time in bed and being too weak to be applying skin products was taking its toll. All beauty routines went out the window, that’s for sure! But I think it was more than just a lack of moisturiser that was playing a part here; I think CFS causes a drying out from the inside too. I know that’s not exactly a medical theory…. but it felt and looked like the ‘life’ was being sucked out of me, and that showed in my skin. If I pinched my skin together it was dry and wrinkled and lack lustre (not surprising at all). But it was the speed with which it aged that was more surprising. I had always been ‘young’ for my age; a late developer in many ways, I could always pass for 10 years younger. It was just how it was, good or bad. But my skin aged with CFS.

With 6 months or more of ‘bed time’, up to 20 hours sometimes in a 24 hour period, there weren’t a lot of hours for drinking water, when you think about it. A lack of liquid and a very restrictive diet…. combined with feeling hot and feverish much of the time, sweating it out in bed….. combined with a lack of exfoliating and moisturising (just standing in the shower and letting the water run over me was a stretch for my energy and for my body pain much of the time), well, it’s got to be affecting skin plumpness and elasticity from the inside and the outside, right.

It didn’t come good in 5 minutes post CFS either. In fact, if I don’t pay attention to it now, then I will see the signs again pretty quickly. When I hit a low energy patch, start to struggle with sleep, start to feel the sore throat, the leg aches, the memory loss…. then my skin will look dry and saggy too. I wonder if the temperature and electrical activity that is now being spoken of plays a part in what emerges as skin dryness.
I mean, at a time when some of the symptoms of CFS are making themselves known again, I assume the skin symptoms (heat and electrical activity) are also present…. so potentially they are responsible for tired looking old skin as much as anything else. Just a thought.

What would I do differently for my skin while in the midst of the worst of CFS?
I would have a squeeze and squirt type bottle of baby oil in the shower, and I would squeeze it down my body while standing under the water. Very easy to achieve, without taking much effort, but with great results. Baby oil stays on the skin really well, even in water. So long as you just towel dry gently, it will last really well for a couple of days, with noticeable softness. It’s also not as ‘hot’ as a heavy, thick cream type moisturiser, which can make you overheat in bed (due to the layer of it stopping your skin from breathing properly I assume). If you prefer to sit in a bath, then squirting some baby oil into the bath water will work just as well.

What do I do for my skin now, post CFS?
In the shower – I still use baby oil in the shower (as per above) at least once a week. Actually it’s also a really good prep for applying fake tan on legs too, giving a smooth surface that allows the tan to spread evenly.

Daily care – I apply a standard supermarket product – Garnier Intensive 7 Day Nourishing Lotion – every morning before going to work. It’s the perfect every day moisturiser from the perspective of not being too heavy or too oily. Another in the same category is Aveeno Daily Moisturising Lotion. Even in winter, I make sure I moisturise all over in the morning before putting tights on.

Weekly treatments – In addition, I’ve found 2 products that go the extra mile with regards to repair and anti-aging. I use both of these once a week as a special treatment, delivering a boost that plumps, smooths and de-wrinkles skin. I use them on my face and body, usually at night so that they have 8 hours or so to work their magic. I use one at the start of the week and the other later in the week. Along with coconut oil, I also make sure I massage both of these into my finger nails (another area affected greatly by CFS… firstly you will notice they stop growing, then later they will be thinner than before and crack easily).

Glucosamine Body Cream is something I found at my compounding chemist when I was picking up my DHEA prescription during CFS. Glucosamine is a substance found in our bodies that is involved in collagen product – so you don’t really need to know much more than that! It also contains anti-oxidants and skin smoothing substances (vitamin E, green tea, shea butter and vegetable Glycerin) that revitalise the skins appearance. Lather it on (it’s a thick cream) and leave it to sink in for a real hydration boost that you can see!
I buy Aquathera Glucosamine Body Cream in a 500g tub, and it’s really not expensive.

Weleda Skin Food is something that has been around a long time (unchanged since 1926) but I only tried it for the first time recently…. and very glad I did. It takes care of any really dry, rough areas quick smart, especially great for feet, knees, hands and elbows that start to show the signs of aging first. I also find it wonderful for the front and back of my neck, especially during our hot summer here in Australia (even with a hat on, out walking the dog every day does take a toll on the neck and shoulders). I also use it on my face once a week, again usually overnight. My skin is noticeably hydrated and my makeup goes on easily the next morning; it really does seem to deliver a new radiance. Best of all, it’s made from 100% natural ingredients and extracts (organic chamomile, calendula and wild pansy) and enriched with lanolin, sunflower and sweet almond oil. It creates a protective barrier against environmental stresses, something that all CFS suffers will smile about considering how sensitive we are to pollution etc.
The protective barrier means it has an oily feel on the skin; again I let it sink in overnight for best results… and I wouldn’t use it more than once or twice a week on my face due to the oily nature of it. But the rest of your body will soak it up gratefully as often as you want to use it!
I buy my Skin Food from Nourished Life (but you will find many other outlets online) and again, it’s not overly expensive.

You will probably find you need to take extra care of your skin after CFS; you will need to make up for a period of exacerbated skin aging, just how it’s going to be. But it doesn’t need to be an overly expensive or difficult thing to achieve. The right products will give you back hydration and, at mid-life, these routines will only be a positive step towards maintaining soft and supple skin for years to come 🙂

Lynda Wallas
Lynda Wallas
About me

I’ve always been interested in health and fitness…. which turned out to be a good thing when fertility treatment in my 30s took a toll on my health, leading to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and early onset menopause. More about Lynda...

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