I wrote a post a few months back about how environment could be one of the factors affecting your flare ups – now I’m 100% certain of it.
I had gone to the Cook Islands last year in desperation after a huge 6 month flare, and even though I wasn’t expecting much, miraculously my skin totally cleared up – no moisturizers, no creams, no special baths or rituals or anything at all. I wasn’t even on a clean diet – I was eating stupid amounts of takeaways and junk food! I was staying in this Airbnb and didn’t want to venture too far since my skin was so bad (I’m sure you all know the feeling) – the street across the road was as far as I’d go, and the only food of substance they had was eggs, bread, butter and ice cream. So that’s what I ate for the first week. Within days all my redness was gone and within weeks my skin was perfect – not just better, but perfect. When I told people about my TSW journey and that I was in the Cook Islands only for my skin, they couldn’t understand because they couldn’t see a single thing wrong with my skin!
When I returned from the Cook Islands in January this year, I was in New Zealand for about 2 weeks and even in that short time I noticed my skin getting upset again. I quickly left for Tanzania where I have some family, and stayed there for the next 6 months. Exactly the same story – perfect skin, other than a few small rashes that showed up for a couple of days and disappeared.
I came back to New Zealand in August. My skin held up pretty well for all of September, but definitely got worse. Then by the middle of October – FLARE. Not a little one either. Full body, and my face was back in TSW conditions (although not like the worst flares, but still enough to keep me in the house).
So after a week or so of that, the PTSD of it was too much, so I booked a flight to Vanuatu.
Vanuatu is a small Pacific Island country about 3 hours from New Zealand. I spent about 10 days there and guess what – skin cleared up.
After 10 days, I had to go to Australia to visit my brother. Within 48 hours in Australia, my skin flared up again, to the same level as it had in New Zealand. Full face flare and elbows and knees.
If you’ve read my book Iron Skin, you’ll remember I talked about how my skin was terrible growing up in New Zealand, and whenever I travelled to Australia to visit my family, it got WORSE.
I’ve now had this conversation with countless people, including my dermatologist, who has confirmed that NZ and Australia are probably the worst places in the world for people with skin issues. My chiropractor said his colleague’s son, who had lived in NZ with terrible skin his entire life, figured out if he went to Taiwan his skin would turn from bright red to normal brown within 48 hours of landing. Nobody can figure out exactly what it is about NZ and Australia that makes it so bad – it could be the water, something in the food, the air, really it could be anything, and quite frankly I don’t care what it is. I just know it’s now a certainty in my eyes that environment plays the biggest role in my skin condition (and very likely yours as well) and NZ and Australia are two of the worst places. You can try every different cream, holistic treatment, natural treatment, exercise, NMT, moisture withdrawal, sea salt baths, aloe vera, acupuncture, bleach baths, or….you can probably fix your skin instantly in a week by simply getting on a plane.
I’m writing this from Australia, where I’m trying to manage a flareup that has got me beaten down. However, I am now in a place where I barely stress at all whenever I see a flare. Even though it sucks, I know at any time I can cure it INSTANTLY with a plane ticket. Go to the Cook Islands, go to Vanuatu, go to Africa, I will have completely normal skin within a week. Even though it’s not an ideal solution (and to be fair it’s not a plausible solution for everyone – it is only possible for me personally because I work online) it still brings me so much mental peace knowing that I can fix my skin any time I wish.
If you’re feeling like you’re at a dead end and at the “willing to try anything” part, give this a go. Go to somewhere far away from your home. “You can’t get well in the environment that made you sick.” It’s truer for this than anything else.