Coping With The Scars of Autoimmune Disease

One of the hardest things those of us with autoimmune disease cope with is the fact that many people can’t see the symptoms we deal with on a daily basis. But, what happens when they can see the effects of our autoimmune disease? What happens when our scars are visible for all to see?

coping with the scars of autoimmune disease by paleo cajun lady
Coping With The Scars of Autoimmune Disease|Paleo Cajun Lady

I have vitiligo, lupus and psoriasis. When my psoriasis is flaring, you will often find me with visible rashes that can be anywhere on my body. Sometimes, they’re in the center of my palms, or on my arm, or on my scalp. They can pop up anywhere! If my lupus is flaring, I often get the well-known butterfly rash, right in the middle of my face. And, of course, whether it’s flaring or not, you can always see the result of my vitiligo, all over my face and right arm.

the scars of vitiligo
The scars of vitiligo

Oh, and let’s not forget the scars from surgeries that were performed because of our autoimmune disease. I have five, across my abdomen from surgeries over the years. I’m not as self-conscious about those because I think they kind of make me look like a bad-ass. Plus, it’s not like a lot of people see those. I tend not to run around in a bikini much.

Anyhoo, these scars, rashes and discolorations can make us feel self-conscious, anxious and downright sad. We can withdraw from social situations and people because we don’t want to have to explain ourselves. We don’t want to see the look of pity in their eyes, or the look of fear, as they wonder if they can catch “it”. It just seems easier to hide.

So, I could use this post to go into this rant about self-acceptance and learning self-love; but, I’m not going to. You see that would make me a hypocrite. And, I’m no hypocrite! Truth is, I hate my rashes and discolorations. I do everything I can to hide and get rid of them. Maybe one day I’ll accept them. Today is not that day. Instead, I’d like to show you how to cope with them.

Change Your Diet!

Over the last year of dealing with my multiple autoimmune diseases, I’ve learned quite a few things. One of the things I learned was that diet really does help to heal many symptoms. Although I still do occasionally experience a psoriasis or lupus flare, I can usually get it under control so much quicker than before. The AIP has truly helped to lessen the duration of my suffering. I’ll be honest with you, sometimes it takes a long time to heal certain symptoms. For me, my lupus butterfly rash went away quickly. But, this new psoriasis flare I’m dealing with right now, has hung on for almost a month now. I’m pretty sure it’s the result of the medication I had to take because of my respiratory infection last month. I also have a recurring rash on the top of my leg. That one flares every time I get overstressed or hormonal. Not all of the healing happens overnight. I would hate to see what would be happening if I didn’t follow the AIP. Yikes!

Hide Them!

video tutorial of how to hide a lupus butterfly rash
How To Hide Your Lupus Butterfly Rash with Makeup Video Tutorial

Another tidbit I learned was how to hide certain rashes and the vitiligo on my face. I did this video to show you how to hide your butterfly rash or vitiligo with makeup. I do this cosmetic process every day, whether I’m going out or not. The reason I do it, even when I’m staying home, is for my own peace of mind. If every time I passed a mirror in my home, I saw the vitiligo on my face, I would get depressed. I cover it for my peace of mind. If you’re not reminded of the thing that causes you to suffer at every minute of the day, you can more easily cope with it. I also hide my rashes with clothing and sometimes, bandages. When the rashes on my palms appear, I cover them with bandages. It’s a lot easier to explain bandages than seeping, peeling sores. In the winter, it’s much easier to hide under clothing. In summer, I wear longer shorts or long pants or skirts made with light, gauzy fabrics. I tend to wear lots of bracelets and use shawls to hide my arm rashes. Hey, it works for me. At the gym, I use elbow sleeves, hand wraps, gloves and a headband to protect myself from infection. Sweat and open wounds do not mix.

hair loss and autoimmune disease
Hair Loss and Autoimmune Disease

I wanted to cover a bit about hair loss here too. When, I was losing a lot of my hair, I cut several inches off, up to my shoulders and had long layers cut into it. I also cut bangs to hide the hair loss at my temples. It’s all about creating some volume in your hair. Thankfully, with diet, I have stopped losing a lot of hair. In fact, my hair is almost back to the length it was before I cut it off.

Try Different Remedies!

I usually try the natural remedies first. For the psoriasis rash on my arm, I’ve been using Kat’s Whipped Psoriasis Body Butter. You can find the recipe here. It’s really worked well for me. My rashes go through a pretty typical system of forming, peeling, fissuring, then healing. By using Kat’s Psoriasis Butter, I have been able to keep the rash from fissuring, which means no bleeding, no seeping. That’s a win in my book!

psoriasis rash on my palm
Psoriasis rash in my palm.

Some rashes can be resistant to everything you try. These may require steroidal creams or lotions. Be sure you only use these for a short amount of time. Prolonged use can actually thin the layers of your skin, making it more susceptible to tears and infection. Some people have found success treating vitiligo with a combination of steroidal cream and UVB light. Check with your doctor to see if it may be right for you.

For my vitiligo, I have tried apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, acid peels, enzyme peels, hydoquinone and steroidal creams. I’ll be trying the UVB light treatment next. If that doesn’t do it, I’m looking into laser therapy. Nothing has worked so far. However, by staying out of the sun, using sunscreen and adding carrots into my daily juice, I have been able to stop the progression of vitiligo and have added a bit more color to my skin. This helps the discoloration to be less noticeable, especially on my arm. The lighter you can keep your skin, the better it will blend together.

I would like to stress the importance of trying to use the most natural products for skincare, cosmetics and haircare. Some of the coverup cosmetics I use are not what you’d consider natural. However, on the EWG’s Skin Deep site, the highest number they score is a 3, which really isn’t that bad. I try to stay at a score of no more than 3 for any of my beauty products. I would never use anything above a 1 on an active rash.

Find Something To Love!

Alright, I’ll talk a little bit about self-love and all that gooeyness. Look, even though it’s not what I would have chosen for myself, coping with these autoimmune diseases and the path of destruction they’ve left behind has made me stronger over the past year. It has made me a true warrior, with an arsenal of weapons to attack it. I have not simply laid down and let it do it’s thing. I have fought and maneuvered to kick it’s ugly butt. So, I have no reason to hang my head low. I may not love the scars, rashes and discolorations; but, I do love the strong woman who has emerged because of them! Now that’s enough of that.

I am a Lupus Warrior

Hopefully, one day, we can all move to a place of acceptance and love of our scars, rashes, discolorations, hair loss, brittle nails, and so on. Until that day, some of us are going to fake it ’til we make it!

As always, I wish you tons of success on your healing journey. Good health to you all!

These are some of my favorite beauty products to help me cope with my autoimmune disease:

* This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase through one of these links, I may receive compensation.  Thank you so much for helping support my blogging efforts at Paleo Cajun Lady.- Tara Perillo*

Tara Perillo

Welcome all. I am Tara Perillo, herbalist, homeopath, yoga and fitness instructor, and healthy foodie . After successfully reaching remission of my lupus symptoms, through changes in my diet, exercise, and lifestyle, I wrote the ebook, Sickness To Fitness Quick Start Guide. I am also honored to have my paleo and AIP recipes featured in Paleo Magazine, Paleo Living Magazine, Shape Magazine Online, 85 Amazing AIP Breakfasts, The Paleo AIP Instant Pot Cookbook, and blogs by The Paleo Mom, Kris Kresser, Whole New Mom and many others. My focus is to help others become stronger in every facet of their lives. Join me to become stronger in health, mind, body, and spirit, together!

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4 Replies to “Coping With The Scars of Autoimmune Disease”

  1. Bleh. {that’s me getting choked up} This post opened up some pretty raw emotions for me. I think I’ve trained myself to brush off and ignore the double takes and not so hushed whispers when out in public about flakes, visible plaque, redness, bald spots, and scars. 29 years worth. I applaud you for writing about this and sharing different ways to cope with the visual components of autoimmunity. I have no doubt it will touch a lot who need to “hear” it. ♥

    1. Oh Erin, you brought tears to my eyes. Okay, I’ll be honest, I was bawling. I think we all pretend not to notice other’s looks and whispers. I’ve had people say to me, “Why do you wear so much makeup? You’d look so much prettier without it.” I just shrug and say I like it that way. Truth is, I’m just trying to hide the “ugliness” of vitiligo. It’s a shame looks play such a part in how other’s perceive us. Our scars do not define us. But in the world today, they do. I’ll pray for you. I think you’re such a beautiful person, inside and out. We are the brave faces of autoimmune!

  2. I wanted to say thanks for linking my body butter recipe. I had no idea that it would help so much. When I originally made it, I thought it was just going to be a nice scented tallow balm, and yet I keep hearing such wonderful things from so many different people. I am glad it’s helping so much.

    Most importantly: I think you are an amazing person for sharing all of this. I don’t think you are wrong for feeling the way you do. But I do know that you have a gorgeous face, skin and all. You’re scars tell more about you then anything else can. They make us unique and in my opinion, the flesh version of kintsukuroi. (If you haven’t heard of this, then check out this link: https://mobile.twitter.com/UnPseudonimo/status/318027927260377090/photo/1 ).

    1. Kat, your comment brought tears to my eyes. I can’t thank you enough for your kind words. Your likening to kintsukuroi, made me feel so special and beautiful. I am speechless.
      Your psoriasis body butter has a permanent place in my AI arsenal. The rash on my arm has almost disappeared! And, the scarring left behind is not nearly as bad as it usually is. I’m hoping they just fade away with continued use of your body butter.
      Thank you again. You really made me smile!

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