Efudex: Tapping the Pain Away
Not one among us hasn’t experienced some level of pain or discomfort in our lives. In fact, many of us are likely living with a condition that causes us some degree of stress on an almost daily basis. As you seek answers and remedies, you quickly find an endless number of opinions and suggestions regarding your condition and its symptoms. You can become overwhelmed in your search in a matter of minutes. It takes nerves of steel - already shaken nerves that you don’t currently have to spare - to find the answers you need. If you are dealing with topical treatment for skin cancer, you may have found yourself in this position.
Desperately seeking relief
Six years ago, I found myself there. I was deep into my first round with Efudex and desperately seeking suggestions for relief when I read a post by the administrator of a Facebook support group for Efudex users. She suggested that a fellow group member try tapping.
What is tapping?
Tapping focuses on applying gentle pressure to meridian points with the intent of creating a calming effect on the body.1 I was intrigued by the idea and looked up a few resources and videos to better explain the techniques involved. Much to my surprise, this seemingly simple technique has been proven effective in treating “phobias, anxiety, depression, PTSD, pain, and numerous other problems.”2
Tapping during Efudex treatment
The more I observed conversations in the Facebook support group, I began to realize that there was a more literal aspect to tapping for those of us treating our skin with the topical chemotherapy cream. The side effect about which I have heard friends and fellow patients complain most is itching - intense and fiery non-stop itching. Tapping makes perfect sense when you are physically unable to scratch or directly touch the application area. For us, tapping takes on a little different look.
Skin treated with Efudex becomes increasingly tender throughout the treatment period. Burning and itching are constant, and finding a way to ease the growing discomfort can make you feel as if you are losing your mind. Tapping, however, works. It’s a temporary answer, but it does, in fact, ease the intensity of the itch. In addition, it helps you feel as if you are not, indeed, losing your mind and do have some degree of control over what can feel like a hopeless situation.
Tips for tapping
Light tapping motions back and forth across the treated area are what helps me most. Whether I am trying to fall asleep at the end of a particularly difficult day or watching TV and looking for a way to redirect my mind from the itch, tapping is my go-to. Careful not to actually scrape the tender skin, I use my fingernails to lightly tap the inflamed area until I find some degree of relief. Touching treated skin with bare fingers could lead to the transfer of the cream to other parts of the body, surfaces, or pets therefore it’s best to place a thin layer of material over the skin to protect it and lessen the chances of spreading the medication.
Instead of itching and clawing...
I teach elementary school and often treat my chest during the fall. Tapping the itch is made much easier by wearing tops or dresses with low necklines and pairing them with a scarf of thin fabric. Throughout the day, I am able to tap my chest gently when what I really feel like doing is digging at it with gusto. Tapping sounds too simple to actually be effective, but it works in small bursts and serves to temporarily steer my thoughts from frustration and discomfort.
If you are an Efudex user and a member of support groups, tapping will surface as a remedy at some point in your conversations. Take note when it does. It is, without a doubt, one of the most helpful things I have come across during my treatments, and I am ever thankful for those who shared it with the rest of us. I invite you to do your own research on tapping therapy. It’s my hope that you will find other ways that tapping can bring you relief and peace.
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