Lichen Sclerosus - There IS Hope!
At 39 our founder, Laura Leclair, was diagnosed with a life changing autoimmune skin disease, Lichen Sclerosus, which is a very personal, miserable condition. Never heard of it? No surprise. It is not a very common condition, and if someone you know has it, they likely don't talk about it openly. This is her story.
To date there is no known cause for the disease, no known cure, and is thought to be irreversible. As Lichen Sclerosus progresses it causes severe itching, the affected skin to have white patches which continue to get larger as the disease progresses, the skin begins to either thin or become thickened, and at more progressive stages parts of the skin can begin to close in on itself and fuse together as well as become atrophied. Sounds great doesn't it? The pictures you see online of the progressed disease are terrifying. By the time I realized something was really wrong, I already had some fairly severe symptoms. By the way, did I mention that once the symptoms appear, the damage it causes is thought to be irreversible? Yes. Irreversible. When the skin begins to fuse together, doctors do not believe it will ever unfuse. You can only imagine all of the ways that this disease can affect you, it’s painful, embarrassing, irreversible, and has a very emotional side to the disease.
Treatment for the condition generally consists of topical steroid creams, hormone creams, and other creams depending on the severity, symptoms, and location of the condition. As normal protocol, my doctor recommended a treatment of topical steroid and hormone creams. I was hesitant because of the side effects of prolonged use of both, however, I didn't know what else to do. I tried looking it up on the internet and found information about the disease, but no other treatments that seemed to really be effective. I began to use the prescription topical creams prescribed by my doctor. After months of use, the condition and symptoms did nothing but worsen. I was very uncomfortable and in pain all of the time. Aside from not helping, the months of use of the steroid cream was causing the side effects that I was concerned about. The skin was beginning to thin to the point that it would tear, split, and bleed easily.
I was at my wits end. No known cure, irreversible very uncomfortable symptoms, and no treatment my doctor could recommend that seemed to work. What should I do?! I once again turned to the internet, and found some information in an online support group that noted that some people have found relief for some symptoms, such as the itching, by using emu oil and/or some essential oils. As I am an avid user of natural products, especially essential oils, I decided to turn to essential oils and see if they would help. I mean, I had nothing to lose right?! Nothing else was working. So I wrapped my head around the knowledge I have gained by using and researching essential oils, an Essential Oil Reference Guide, the prescription medications typically used and what they are used for, the symptoms I had, and dove in to further research. I finally decided to give it a shot. I have to admit, although I have been using essential oils for many things on myself, my children, and my pets for a few years, using them for this condition still seemed a little out there to me.
One month prior to a scheduled follow up appointment with my doctor I quit using the prescribed topical creams, and began my own regimen of natural and essential oils. Yeah I know, crazy. But again, what did I have to lose? I hoped that this blend would MAYBE help. If nothing else, MAYBE give me just a little relief.
After four weeks of daily use, it seemed to me that the affected area “down there” was looking better, and it certainly was feeling better. But the real test would be what my doctor would have to say. During my appointment I informed my doctor that I had stopped the use of the prescribed medications and began a natural and essential oil regimen. I just knew she would think I was crazy. Much to my surprise she didn't . She personally uses them herself for occasional headaches and respiratory support for her family. But now for the real test. The examination of the affected area. My doctor was literally shocked. She told me that the area that had turned white had shrunk, was now almost no longer white, and had begun to turn back to a normal pink color. The skin that had become very thick was beginning to normalize. And most importantly, the skin that had begun to close in and fuse, well it was beginning to reverse and "unfuse" itself. While that is what it had appeared to me, it was a completely different thing altogether to hear my doctor say it! She was amazed at the outcome in just one month of usage.
So where did this leave us? On my visit note she actually noted to "continue with current essential oil regimen". Yes. Seriously. She actually put that in my medical file. If you know much about doctors, you know that typically they stick to medical based treatments and recommendations. After she walked out of the room, I heard the nurses asking her about it. She enthusiastically replied "Hey, if it works, it works!" Score one for natural options!
To me, this was huge! Not only had I found a natural way to help myself deal with a very uncomfortable disease, but it was actually reversing symptoms that are thought to be irreversible! And, by finding natural means of treating the disease, I am now able to avoid all of the dreaded side effects of the typically recommended protocol. I have to admit, I left the doctors office elated for many reasons. Most of all, I now had hope. Hope that a disease that I was told would only continue to worsen, was now getting better. Hope that there is validity (in my experience) to using natural and essential oil products. Hope that I might be able to give someone else in the same shoes hope. And if you have been in these shoes, you know that hope is not something most people with this disease have about it.
I firmly believe that there is a place for both western medicine, and natural treatments. I do use OTC and prescription medications for certain things, but when possible, I like to turn to natural options. I am thrilled that I have found a natural option for dealing with the symptoms of Lichen Sclerosus.
After writing a blog post about my condition and the treatment I had discovered, I had an overwhelming response to the post. It was at that point that I realized how many people were miserable and in need of a better solution. It lit a fire and passion in me to bring this product to others in need. And that's how LifeWorks Skin Essentials was born.