Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A New Use For the Lowly Tissue

For those of us who choose to wear breast forms after a mastectomy, perspiration behind the forms can be a problem. It only gets worse during warm weather, and hot flashes don't help, either. After years of experimenting with various types of silicone and non-silicone breast forms, as well as different pocketed bras and camisoles, I've found help from an unlikely source — a simple Kleenex* tissue.

When I was first fitted with silicone forms, I noticed something curious. The right side of my chest, which had been treated with radiation, didn't get hot underneath the new forms. But the left side was a different story. Although I don't normally perspire much, the un-radiated side became hot and sticky within a few hours. Apparently, radiation had destroyed the ability of my right side to perspire, but no such luck with my un-radiated left side.

I went on a quest to discover a breast form or a pocketed garment or a combination of the two that would create a comfortable, sweat-free environment. I tried silicone forms, like the Amoena Energy, that are designed to minimize perspiration. They helped a little, but didn't get rid of the problem. As for bras and camisoles, while some pocket fabrics felt better than others, none prevented me from perspiring. I even tried cotton pads designed to soak up perspiration under the arm, as well as nursing pads. I found both uncomfortable and even itchy against my skin.

I soon realized that non-silicone forms were the least likely to cause perspiration. I wore foam forms while hiking and during other strenuous exercise and they worked wonderfully, especially when I used them in a soft pocketed garment like the Still You camisole. But even when wearing foam forms, I would occasionally sweat behind the form and might even get a heat rash on a hot day or after exerting myself. Once I had a rash, I had to be extra-careful to keep the area cool. That's when I turned to my Kleenex tissue box.

I reasoned that with a tissue next to my skin, if I began sweating I could remove the damp tissue and replace it with a dry one, thereby preventing further irritation to my chest. Even if I were out and about, all I had to do was have an extra tissue or two with me. I tried out the idea and it worked!

I simply folded a plain Kleenex tissue (not one with lotion added) in half, then again in thirds, and placed it just above the band of my bra or camisole. Even when I wore an unpocketed bra, the tissue didn't move around. And I found that, in addition to absorbing perspiration beautifully, the tissue fiber felt soft and silky against my skin. Who would have thought? And, even better, my rashes seemed to go away much more quickly.

Still, for a long time I resisted using tissues against my skin regularly, and only resorted to them if my skin felt irritated or rashy. But this summer, I've finally embraced the concept and, to my delight, the lowly Kleenex tissue has kept me cool and dry, even on some very hot days. And since I've started using tissues on a daily basis, I haven't had a single heat rash. It may seem like an inelegant solution, but for me it's been an effective one. Hopefully, it will be for you, too.

*I've recommended Kleenex tissues because when I've tried other, less expensive brands, I've found them too abrasive.