Skin concerns - Skincare

Spoonie Skin Concerns and Treatment Tips

Chronic illness and disability can bring unique challenges. Sometimes, these seem entirely unrelated to the condition a person has been diagnosed with. 

One of the most common concerns that come along with numerous chronic conditions is problems with the skin. This can range from dry or oily skin to rashes, blemishes, itching, and more. This can make creating a skincare routine that works for a chronically ill person is even more complicated than it would be for a healthy person. 

Thankfully, there are plenty of people with the same concerns out there – and plenty of products created to address them. Finding the right combination of products and approaches to treat your skincare concerns usually just takes research and trial and error.

Don’t have time for all of that research? Here, we’ve collected some of the best tips and tricks from across the internet for various skin concerns related to chronic illnesses. From a fresh face to all-over comfort, we’ve got you covered. 

Oily Skin

Oily skin is caused by excessive oil production in the sebaceous glands of the skin. 

We all have these glands. They are there to keep our skin hydrated and protected. However, sometimes they overproduce oil and it causes problems.

Whether you are breaking out from this excess oil production or just hate the look and feel of shiny, slick skin, overactive oil glands can be really annoying.

While skincare is important in addressing oily skin, other things may actually be the underlying cause of the problem. These things can include:

  • Diet
  • Lifestyle
  • Medication
  • Hormonal issues
  • Stress
  • Climate, and more

With all of this in mind, it may seem like addressing oily skin is impossible – but it’s not. 

The best approach is typically treating the problem at the level of the skin itself. Getting more rest, eating healthy food, and reducing stress will definitely help. But in the meantime, you can address the excess oil with good skincare products.

Wash your face with a gentle cleanser, and make sure to moisturize. Many people with oily skin try to “dry it out” by skipping moisturizer or using strong astringent products. This will only increase oil production, though, so never forgo the moisture. 

Be sure to protect your skin with sunscreen every day, also. Even on cloudy days or those that you spend most of the day indoors, you should prevent triggering sun damage by protecting your skin with SPF 30 or greater. 

Oily skin concern

Excessive Sweating 

Sweating can be a symptom of numerous health conditions. It can also be a common side effect of many medications or treatments of these conditions. 

Just some of the medical conditions which can cause sweating include:

  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Hormonal issues
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Diabetes 
  • Neurological conditions, and more

Regardless of what is causing the sweating, the result can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. It can also cause secondary issues, especially if the person is not very mobile. 

Sweat collecting in folds of skin is especially dangerous since this can lead to bedsores and skin infections.

While preventing excessive sweating can be difficult, there are some ways to address the issue. These include:

  • Stronger antiperspirants, such as clinical strength deodorant/antiperspirant products
  • Body powder in areas that commonly sweat
  • Cotton clothing for better breathability
  • Layers that can be removed when body temperature rises

In extreme cases, addressing the excessive sweating may require surgery – but this is not typically necessary.

It is important to note that excessive sweating caused by chronic illness or disability is different from hyperhidrosis. The latter is a separate medical condition, which should be diagnosed and treated by a medical professional. 

Dry Skin

Just as sweating and oily skin are common with chronic illness and disability, so too is dry skin. This may result from medication, the dry heat of an environment, or irritation caused by other conditions. 

Addressing dry skin is easier than addressing most other skin concerns. 

Use a non-comedogenic moisturizer – meaning one that does not clog pores – to keep your skin hydrated. If a moisturizer is non-comedogenic, it will generally be labeled as such. 

Use intensive moisture treatments, such as spot-treating with raw shea butter or using moisturizing overnight masks. Sleep on satin or silk pillowcases to prevent the fabric from further drying your skin. 

Lastly, be sure to stay well-hydrated. This will help you maintain your skin’s healthy moisture level from the inside out. 

Skin rash or dry skin

Rashes and Itching

Itching is extremely common when you have a chronic illness. Fibromyalgia, for example, is known to cause widespread itching. 

This itching does not always come with a visible rash. Sometimes, the skin looks perfectly normal despite incredibly uncomfortable itching. This is usually caused by neurological issues that send minor pain signals to the brain despite no actual stimulus. 

When this happens, treatment can be difficult. Some people find relief with traditional anti-itch approaches, such as topical creams or antihistamine medications. The latter is usually my go-to treatment, but it can make me drowsy. 

Other people need medication that takes the edge off the neurological issues that cause the itching. Choosing non-irritating clothing and skincare products can also help. 

Actual rashes can be treated with topical creams or treatments when raised bumps, reddened skin, or scaly patches occur. Sometimes, these typical treatments may need to be prescribed – especially if they contain steroid ingredients. 

Some conditions – such as psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and more – also benefit from medications like Humira. This medication is anti-inflammatory in nature and requires injections, which may require medical assistance for some patients. 

If you are experiencing rashes, itching, or other symptoms, you should begin by consulting a doctor. These may be signs of a more serious condition, especially if they are recurrent or some with swelling of the tongue, mouth, or throat. 


Blemishes are so common that most people don’t even think of them as a potential side effect of chronic illness or disability. If you have PCOS, endometriosis, or thyroid conditions, though, you know that chronic illness can absolutely cause painful, recurrent breakouts. 

Treating hormonal acne is much more difficult than treating typical acne. If you are dealing with hormonal breakouts, you may need to seek professional help. However, there are some over-the-counter options that have the potential to help you manage the condition yourself.

Begin with good skincare. Find gentle, effective cleansers that clean without drying. You can find plenty of budget-friendly options at your local drugstore.

Next, moisturize. It may sound counterintuitive, but moisturizers that do not clog pores are important to prevent the skin from creating excess oil that leads to breakouts.

Remember to treat, don’t squeeze. Picking at the skin can cause scarring and worsen breakouts. Instead, leave blemishes alone and cover with hydrocolloid patches or apply topical treatment.

Finally, try out a retinoid product. If benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid – two of the most common acne treatment ingredients – are not working for you, try a retinoid. Adapalene is the most common and accessible, sold under the brand name Differin. It is available over-the-counter without a prescription and even comes in generic forms.

Regardless of which avenue you choose for the treatment of your acne, realistic expectations are important. If you are not seeing results right away, remember that changes in your skin can take weeks or even months. 

However, if you are seeing negative impacts – such as redness, soreness, excessive dryness, etc. – it might be a good idea to stop and consult with a dermatologist. They can evaluate your skin on a professional level and prescribe both topical and oral treatments to resolve those issues.

Blemishes are a common skin concern


For people who spend a lot of time seated or lying down, bedsores and other skin-level injuries and infections are common. These can develop anywhere on the body but are most common in the areas where the skin touches the surface of your seat or bed – or in areas where the skin folds and sweat collects. 

There is a misconception that these sores are caused by a lack of hygiene. While this can certainly cause problems with the skin, the people who develop bedsores are not unclean. They just have to keep a little closer eye on these potential problem areas.

Causes of bedsores and skin infections include:

  • Continual pressure on specific areas of the skin
  • Friction against these same areas
  • Lack of blood flow or lack of sensation in the skin
  • Dehydration and malnutrition

Bedsores are also more common in areas of the skin where sweat collects or where urine or feces may linger. If you experience incontinence, vigilance against bedsores is extremely important.

To prevent these problems, you or your caregivers should do the following:

  • Stay hydrated
  • Move as much as safely possible
  • Shift position in bed, wheelchair, or seat regularly
  • Keep skin clean and dry
  • Reduce stress when possible
  • Quit smoking

Sometimes, even the best efforts cannot prevent these skin concerns. It happens! If you do get these sores, treating them promptly is important – and may require medical attention. 

Your doctor may prescribe topical treatments, oral antibiotics, or may choose to physically drain and clean the area before applying protective bandages. After this treatment, it is important to return to your prevention efforts and keep these areas clean and dry.

Remember – if you experience these issues, you are not a failure. You are also not alone, no matter how isolating the experience can feel.

Skin concerns caused by chronic illness or disability can be embarrassing and frustrating. Thankfully, they are well-documented and understood by modern medicine – and easily treatable with the right approach.

What about you? Do you experience skin concerns related to your chronic illness or disability? How do you handle them?

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