The Mysterious Leg Rash … Persists

In my last post, I had a strong hypothesis that two persistent rashes on my right leg were some form of heat rash (aka milaria rubra) from neoprene knee sleeves that I was wearing 2-3x a week when weightlifting.

That post was exactly 2 weeks ago, I haven’t touched the neoprene since then, and the rash …. well, the rash is about the same if not a little worse.

It’s not as annoyingly itchy as it has been in the past, it’s not really weeping or oozing, both of which are good, but the part on my shin is persistently dry, red, and flaky.  It sometimes almost resembles a healing scar or a burn, but it never completely heals.

I’m starting to wonder if maybe it’s some kind of mild infection – especially since this has been lurking on my skin in some form since about October.  I am in a gym setting a lot with other sweaty bodies, and though I try to keep very clean, don’t sit around in my sweaty clothes, etc., I could see where it’s definitely possible that germs entered my system.  It also kind of resembles psoriasis with being scaly and flaky, and very clearly delineated.

The fact that removing the neoprene from my environment didn’t help now strongly makes me think it’s something else.  Because, with my CAPB allergy, once I removed that from my environment, I saw pretty rapid improvement and the skin around my eyes was back to normal in a few weeks.

I actually mentioned the leg rash as an aside at my allergist appointment a few months ago with the patch testing and CAPB allergy diagnosis, but I had leggings on at the time and couldn’t really pull them up to show him the extent of the rash.

So, I have a dermatologist appointment this Monday at an office nearby that is highly rated.  My first impression of them was good, as the person taking my info over the phone seemed to totally understand that a months-long rash that is not responding to steroid creams is indeed very perplexing!  We shall see what occurs!

The Case of the Mysterious Asymmetrical Leg Rash

Life with CAPB allergy has been going really well overall, hence the reason I haven’t made a post in a while.  I do intend to make some future posts about skincare-type things, like the best exfoliation technique for eczema-prone skin, and the perhaps-shocking fact that I don’t use moisturizer at all on my face at night (!)  Now that I have avoided CAPB for months, my eye-skin is completely back to normal.  I’m even able to use some really nice eyeliner from Tarte with absolutely zero irritation.  [I DO use the ROAT (repeated open application test) when I try ANY new product now.  ROAT means that you apply a tiny bit of the product to an inconspicuous area – I use the inside of my elbow – 2x per day, do this for 7 days, and if you have no irritation, then it is probably good to use on your face].

My holiday travel plans were good as well.  I simply brought my own hand soap in a travel squeeze tube, was vigilant about using ONLY that to wash my hands, and was thankful that I checked the toothpaste ingredients at my parents’ house before using it – you guessed it, the toothpaste had CAPB!  I would have probably had a pretty gnarly mouth rash and probably resurgence of my eyelid rashes if I hadn’t looked.  My mom had to dig through the bathroom cabinets to find me an alternate travel size toothpaste that was CAPB-free.  (Note: I have found MOST major U.S. brands are indeed CAPB-free – Crest, Colgate, Arm and Hammer, etc.  This one I couldn’t use was a weird off-brand).

Life is good in face-world and I’m happy to have a life where I don’t really think about my face skin or eye skin besides the usual routine of cleansing and being consistent with products.

But, as we all know with eczema, things can be really good, but they can’t usually be perfect.  There’s often some kind of rash we are chasing around our bodies or faces and trying to figure out the cause.  I mentioned a relatively mild but annoying leg rash in my last post in December.  It started around October or so, and would go through a state of fluctuation where sometimes it would be better, and sometimes it would be worse.

shin with rash

The rash started on my right shin.

When it kept coming back despite using Desonide in a ‘pulse’ fashion carefully, I figured there HAD to be some other outside trigger, but I simply could not figure out what it was.

One thing I started to surmise, though – this was NOT typical eczema.

knee with rash

The rash was also on the outside of my right knee, at its worst in two very clearly delineated round patches.

Why did I think this?

1. The rash was very clearly delineated, versus kind of a vague spread-y rash of all the garden-variety eczema I’ve experienced in the past.
2. It would sometimes bubble up and weep and ooze a tiny bit.  Now, I have had weeping oozing eczema, but ONLY in TSW at my worst.  Not the norm for my skin.
3. It kept coming back even after Desonide.  Now, at first I felt a little panicky – i.e, “My rash is coming back after steroids!  And it is spreading!  I must have overdone it!  TSW all over again!  NOO!”  I then talked myself down that this was probably not the case.  If I had used Desonide on other parts of my body (which I had) and they eradicated the rash (which they did), and the rash did not come back, then this rash coming back must be from some other external irritant.  Plus, it didn’t come back WORSE, it just came back.

hipbone with rash

In early December, I started to get this irritating hipbone rash too.  Only on the right side.  For me, this rash had a more bumpy and clearly outlined appearance than all my typical eczema in the past.

I also found it very curious that all of these rashes were on the right side of my body/leg ONLY, and my left side was perfectly fine with clear healthy skin.  There was nothing special that I was doing to one leg or side and not the other.  I tried switching shaving creams, leaving the rashes completely alone, doing wet wraps at night over the leg rashes with Dead Sea Salt and colloidal oatmeal rinse – these things seemed to help OK in the moment but never completely solved the rashes.  I even stopped wearing my favorite pair of skinny jeans because I got particularly itchy one night after being out dancing in them.  Even though I had worn these for YEARS, they are kind of cheaply made and I thought maybe I had become allergic to the dye used – despite again, the fact I’ve owned them for years and washed them many times.

Frustratingly, every time I thought the rashes were healing well on their own, I would invariably get some tell-tale itchiness, particularly in the late afternoon or evening, and the rash would flare up again.  It was very curious indeed.  (I will say that the hipbone rash basically completely cleared up after a few days of Desonide then tapering off, so that rash is no longer an issue).

But, the human body is interesting and not always symmetrical.  I remembered back to my eyelid rashes and my worst of TSW and my whole history of eczema.  I’ve had one eye that was a lot worse than the other despite doing the exact same things to both, and the skin is one entire organ.  So, it makes sense in a way that this rash was completely illogical – in the same way that my eyelid rash from CAPB seemed completely illogical!  Who would have thought that something I was WASHING MY HANDS WITH would directly impact my eyelids but not until a few days later in a delayed reaction?  And, maybe this rash kept fluctuating because it never really had a chance to fully heal as it was continuing to get exposed to something sporadically?

However.  I *THINK* that I have solved the mystery.

My strong hypothesis is that my skin got sensitized and started having a delayed reaction to ….

My knee sleeves that I use 1-2x a week when doing weightlifting.

knee sleeves

These are the exact knee sleeves I was using.  Awesome for knee support and stability when pushing heavy weight, apparently not so awesome for my skin.

After doing some online research, I found that milaria rubra (aka heat rash) seemed to most resemble my symptoms of the rash, since it was an itchy, tiny-blister weeping rash.  I also found that skin irritation from knee sleeves is definitely a thing.  It was mentioned by many athletes in online discussion forums that I saw.  The neoprene that is in many support structures, like knee braces and sleeves, can cause rashes in people.  The reason this took me so long to figure out was, 1., I wouldn’t get itchy directly after wearing the knee sleeves and taking them off – it was always delayed, and 2., I was thrown off by the fact that only one side of my body was developing rashes.

Ok, so the neoprene knee sleeve DOES go directly over my right knee, where I have the rashes, but what of the hipbone rash and the shin rash?  The knee sleeve never touches those areas!

The logic I have here is that again, since the skin is one organ – it’s totally reasonable that an irritant in one area could cause rash somewhere distally.  (CAPB on the hands with rash manifesting on the eyelids is a case in point).

Ever since this revelation came to me a few days ago, I have (obviously) discontinued using the knee sleeves.  The rashes definitely seem better – they are not crazy itchy, the knee rash is pretty smooth and not really apparent to anyone looking at it.  The shin rash is red and shiny like a healing scar, but now it only has one little area that is still making tiny blisters and weeping.


I have been using this cream on my rashes pretty regularly for a few months in my attempts to clear them up and to avoid using steroid creams.  I would say I am a fan of this cream, it feels soothing, it’s not magical but it seems to help healing.

Now to continue monitoring the rashes to see if they do completely clear up after a few weeks of avoiding neoprene exposure … and now to find new knee sleeves!

Any similar stories out there on a mystery rash where you feel like you finally solved the cause?

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Life So Far with CAPB Allergy

In my last post, I discussed FINALLY going through patch testing and discovering that I have allergic contact dermatitis to CAPB and DMAPA.  Since discovering this and avoiding it in every way I can, my eyelid dermatitis has slowly and steadily significantly improved.  Up close they are still a little bit wrinkly looking and sometimes slightly pinkish or slightly dry-feeling, but that is me scrutinizing them, and I would say to the naked eye they are about 90%-95% back to normal.  This is A-OK as I know that the skin’s barrier can take weeks to fully heal, and my patient handout on CAPB said it could take 2-4 weeks or more.

I will also say that things are not completely perfect in skin-world.  I have had (probably unrelated) dry itchy patches on my right shin and right knee that keep flaring off and on for well over 1-2 months now, and now I have a little patch on my right hip and a very slight one near my collarbone that have developed over the past week.  In the grand scheme of things though, these are minor and more just annoying and frustrating.  Better to have rashes on my body than on my face ANY day.  These do not seem related to CAPB, I am not sure what they are related to.  It’s either just eczema being weird, or maybe some mild push-back from my system from using Desonide periodically over this past summer/fall.  I was using Desonide in a “pulse” fashion to keep symptoms at bay, and last used it on my face for maybe 2-3 days around the time of my patch testing, and last used it on my leg patches for a day or two last week.  I don’t know if you can go through TSW twice, but I sure as hell am not planning on being the one to find out.  I think it’s best to just ride out these itchy patches and not use steroids on them any more, even though my use over the past months has been quite conservative, in my opinion.

But overall, this is a huge relief!  I am no longer existing in the day paranoid about my eyelids being uncomfortable or about someone noticing them and thinking there is something wrong with me.  I still find it so weird that the body systems are such where something I put on my HANDS and RINSE OFF immediately can migrate to causing symptoms on my EYELIDS, but hey.  At least I feel so much more relieved knowing the cause and putting a name to my irritant.

My patch testing was a few weeks ago, so you might wonder, how am I adjusting to this new way of life and avoidance of these chemicals, besides enjoying a consistent improvement in my skin’s condition?

The biggest thing for me to be vigilant about is to never use soaps in public places.  CAPB is a surfactant (makes things foam) and is super common in soaps.  Obviously in a public restroom, you don’t really have the luxury of reading the ingredients, so better safe than sorry.

So, every morning that I hit up the gym, I tote my bottle of Free and Clear cleanser with me to wash my hands afterward.  Every day at work when I need to wash my hands, I get out another stored bottle of Free and Clear from my personal locker.  And at home, I of course have yet another bottle of Free and Clear by my bathroom sink.

So, I thought I had controlled for the three common places that I frequent.  But, I’ve had some interesting occurrences along the way.

  • Last weekend later in the day on Sunday, my eyelids started to feel itchy.  “WHY?” I thought, and finally had the conscience to mentally re-trace my steps as to where I had been and what had I possibly used.  AH-HA!  I had been at a friend’s house where we were doing a workout, and as a total reflex after the workout, I washed my hands with whatever they had by their bathroom sink without even thinking about it.  Washing my hands with it ONE TIME made my eyes itch (even though soap is something you rinse off), and this re-emphasized to me that yup, this is my new allergy and I have to be very all-or-none about it, no exceptions.
  • I did have the foresight last week to think ahead and bring my trusty hand soap in my coat pocket when I went to church.  For a germaphobe like me, shaking people’s hands in church is all fine and good, but it is a requirement that I use hand sanitizer or wash my hands after.  HOWEVER, this past Sunday – OOPS!  I forgot my hand soap in my rush out the door.  Before church, I used the restroom, and suddenly realized that I should not use the provided soap.  Trapped in the stall with this realization, I came to another realization that this meant I would need to leave the restroom without washing my hands.  And now yet another realization that there were other women in there bustling about, and I’d need to make a break for it to make sure no one saw me heading out with unwashed hands!  I heard a bunch of flushes and the door opening for people to leave, and took this as my chance!  I rushed out only to find another person making their way inside the restroom.  I made small talk as I ‘pretended’ to hit the soap dispenser and gave my hands a rinse-off with only water.
  • I was at a restaurant over the weekend and didn’t anticipate needing to use the restroom.  But, having more shopping ahead, I thought maybe it would be a good idea.  Well damn, I had left my soap at home.  It’s either “suck it up, bladder” or go in and use the restroom and carefully touch nothing but avoid washing hands.  (I chose the latter).

I also know it is going to get interesting traveling on a plane in a few weeks when I fly for the holidays.  I will be bringing many full-sized products that for me are “medically necessary”, and will obviously have to explain to the airport security why I need these larger-than-2 oz containers so I can have a happy rash-free reaction-free holiday!

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Skin Patch Testing Reveals….2 Allergens!

I had been considering skin patch testing for a while, but finally decided to go through with it in recent weeks.  My skin (notably around eye area) had been tolerable and relatively normal sometimes, and then other times in a state of complete flux where my eyelids were really itchy, dry, and irritated, and I simply could not pin it down to any logical cause beyond the dozens of things I’ve already explored.

One interesting thing of correlation that led me to ultimately seek patch testing was that I moved homes recently (about a month ago).  My former place, as described in some of my posts about mold and environmental allergens, was an apartment in a house that is nearly 100 years old, lacked central heat and AC, got extremely dusty very quickly, and despite a mold inspector coming out and declaring it sound, was probably prone to levels of mold that maybe were enough to irritate my more delicate system.

Literally DAYS after I moved, my around-eye irritation completely cleared up.  I mean, completely.  No help of Desonide or anything.  It was clear enough to the point where I started browsing different types of eyeliner pencils again thinking I was getting back to normal and may be able to use some of my former favorite makeup again someday in the future.  It was clear enough where I could waltz around concealer-free and not worry about looking anywhere near tragic.  My new apartment home is only about 3 years old, central heat and AC, very nicely insulated, and definitely because of that, much easier to keep clean and very likely not at all prone to mold.

So this was cool; I was relieved, I figured maybe something environmental was the main culprit, and I was going strong for the better part of 2 weeks.  Then, I noticed a slow but gradual slide back into those old pesky irritated eyelids again.  They actually started to have the sensation like there was wool poking at them, or something else scratchy, where I had to constantly resist the urge and temptation to scratch at them.  I went through all kinds of speculation, and of course, internet searching again.  I kept coming back to the concept that the eye area is very thin and easily irritated, and if there is some kind of contact dermatitis allergy, it is often the culprit EVEN IF it’s not something you are putting directly on your eyes (i.e., there is a research study in the literature where a woman had super irritated eyelids and the cause was the chemicals in nail polish.  She’s obviously not putting that on her eye, but every time she touches her face with her hands, it got exposed and the eyes did not like that).

So, in the year of 2019, after going through lab testing, food sensitivity testing, inhaled allergen testing, and many types of ‘informal trial and error’ tests with products on my own, why not do one more test?  I had nothing to lose, and it might give me some valuable answers.

Let me tell you, I am so glad I did skin patch testing.  It identified TWO strong offenders that I would never have been able to deduce on my own.  I probably should have done it months ago.  Read on to find out what they were!

My experience started last week on Friday with a visit to the allergist.  He was very nice and efficient and told me my eyelids didn’t look too bad, even though I was having kind of a crusty dry day with them and I looked tired.  After taking my history, he determined that we would specifically do an “Eyelid panel”, which is 30 different substances that could be causing eyelid dermatitis.

A very kind and upbeat allergy nurse came in next, and explained she would be taping these substances in their cells to my back, and that I would come back 3 days later to have the results read.  In the meantime, I could not sweat or get my back wet (so no showers, baths only) so as not to disturb the results.

So the other cool thing about skin patch testing is that, because you are leaving these substances on your back for days, is that it identifies things that can cause a DELAYED reaction.  We might think of a contact dermatitis allergy as something immediate, like you touch poison ivy and start to blister and itch within a few hours.  BUT, skin is more complex than that – irritants may not wreak their havoc for days, making it incredibly tricky to pin down the offender on your own.

The nurse gently warned me that I might start to get itchy, and though I could not scratch at the cells, I could take an antihistamine if needed and that would help.

The first evening into the next morning was fine.  I was a little itchy around my upper left shoulder but chalked that up to simply being covered in adhesive tape.  The rest of the day was fine too.

Then, I began to get itchy.  REALLY itchy.

Sunday, there was a very distinct one of the cells that was extraordinarily itchy.  I kept poking it and tapping at it, since I couldn’t break through the tape to get to the source of the itch, with my boyfriend lovingly scolding me the whole time to “Stop that!”

Pointing to the various cells on my back under the tape, he asked, “Is it this one?”  Nope!  “This one?”  Nah.  “What about THIS one?”  YES, YES FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!  THAT IS THE ONE I JUST WANT TO ATTACK WITH SHARP OBJECTS AND SCRATCH THE BEEJEEZUS OUT OF IT!

Now, I’ve been through TSW where my itchiness scale was about an 11 out of 10, so I can psychologically deal with itching, having been there before, but it was still annoying.  (Though, taking an Allegra did help dim the itch a little, like they said).  Yet, in many ways, it was oddly exciting because I just KNEW this had to be an irritant and I couldn’t wait to find out what it was.  Like a child excited for Christmas morning, I was downright gleeful in counting down the hours until my next appointment where they would unwrap my back from the tape and all would be revealed.

Here’s what a positive skin patch test looked like on my back:

cropped_Patch test skin

“Oh yeah!” the nurse said with a smile as she unwrapped my mummy-like back from its swaths of tape.  “You definitely have two positive results!  Those were the ones you said were so itchy!”

Testing reveals: I have a contact dermatitis allergy to CAPB and DMAPA.

I had heard of CAPB (cocamidapropyl betaine) before, but not DMAPA (dimethylaminopropylamine).  Without getting overly science-y, these are related and are coconut-derived surfactants.  CAPB is commonly found in things that foam, such as soaps or shampoos.  They can go under multiple different names, but essentially it is the processing of the coconut-derived product with amines that produces the offending substance – not coconut itself, which I should still be fine to eat, use, etc.

CAPB was named “Contact Allergy of the Year” in 2004 and I’m willing to bet that it might be a culprit in a lot of people’s skin irritation where they can’t quite pin down a cause – like me.


By the way – here’s what your eyes look like when you unwittingly wash your face with CAPB-containing cleanser.  This is a picture from back in April of this year where I randomly used Tarte Rainforest face wash; reacted super bad to it, and didn’t know why (I guess I assumed it was fragrance or something else).  That should have probably been my cue to pursue contact dermatitis testing further.   I used to use this facewash DAILY all the time with no issue until I started slowly getting skin issues again, so I would suspect that maybe it was the reason that I got sensitized to it.

At home, I was already pretty much the poster child for products made by Vanicream and Psico, which are betaine-free, but this new diagnosis had me doing some detective work for anything else I use regularly that might be bad for me.  The fact sheets the nurse gave me worded things in a very cold and sobering way (I’m paraphrasing them and being a little dramatic):

“You must remember that you are allergic to these now, and you will be allergic to them FOREVER.”

“Your skin may clear up in 2-4 weeks, but if you are exposed again, even once, it will SET BACK YOUR HEALING SIGNIFICANTLY.”

With my sleuthing, I found that the hand soap at BOTH my work and gym has CAPB as a main ingredient, and these are obviously places that I frequent regularly.  I’m so conscious of what I use around home, but in public places, I don’t think we are usually conscious of it!  (And, my hands WERE a little dry and irritated off and on last winter and this winter, but I just always chalked that up to colder drier weather).  So, now I tote my own hand soap everywhere (I like Free and Clear by Vanicream which is what I use at home anyway).  I did have a minor panic at a place the other day where I didn’t have my own soap on me and the only soap available had CAPB per my reading of the ingredient list.  Avoiding washing hands for me did not feel like a good option, but finally I poked around and found some dish soap that I could use to wash my hands instead!  Within just a few days of avoiding CAPB, my hands are already a lot less dry and more comfortable, and my eyes definitely are improving too.

I have to wonder if it is just that easy as avoiding CAPB and my skin will go completely back to normal, and that I ‘suffered’ needlessly for many of the months out of this year with frustrating mystery skin rashes and issues.  I don’t feel bitter or angry though, this was clearly a good lesson for me and I’m happy to have something actionable going forward that I KNOW I must avoid at all costs.


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“I was having a good skin day, until your words cut me”: On Eczema and Vanity

Lately, I’ve been enjoying reading accounts of other people with skin conditions (eczema, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, vitiligo, even lamellar ichthyosis) and how they handle navigating their best life with their unique outer coating.  SkinStories has been really fascinating for me, as well as #GetYourSkinOut movement on Instagram.

Maybe this is just me, but when I see someone with a skin condition, I FIRST typically see how strong, how lovely, how attractive, how unique they are.  I really do.  I think we (skin people) as a population are SO used to hyper-focusing and picking on our own flaws, that we are bestowed the gift of being able to see more of the GOOD in others.

Here is the thing though.  I don’t believe the rest of the general public thinks that way.  Some people might, but not all.  So, if you’re reading this and blessed with normal skin that you never really have to to think about, that never causes you anxiety, tears, angst, or distress, let me tell you a CARDINAL RULE of interacting with someone where their skin is acting up, or where you THINK it’s acting up, or where you might have just a shadow of a thought it COULD be acting up, and you notice.


We (I will refer to anyone who identifies with this post as “skin people”) spend an INORDINATE amount of time peering at our skin, inspecting our skin, caring for our skin, trying to heal our skin, covering up our skin, praying other people won’t notice our skin, rationalizing to ourselves that it’s no big deal about our skin…. that it only takes ONE SUBTLE COMMENT to completely crush our self-esteem and send us into a whirlwind of self-doubt, even the most confident, powerful badasses among us.

You don’t comment about someone’s weight.

You don’t comment about someone’s age.

And you sure as hell don’t comment about someone’s skin if you are saying anything that could be perceived as negative.  And you don’t tell people outright that they look tired.

Pardon the vitriolic nature of my rant.  It’s just that today, I was having a pretty good skin day.  I typically have been wearing glasses at work just to provide a distraction from any rashes, redness, dryness around my eyes, but when my skin is pretty clear, I ditch the glasses, and today was one of those pretty good days.  I wasn’t dreading what I would find in the mirror, I wasn’t afraid to smile, laugh, and interact with people, and I thought it was a pretty nice, normal, average day.

Then an acquaintance saw me at work.  I was kind of distracted in my office, but exchanged general pleasantries with them.  Then they said,

“You look kind of tired.”

(Yea?  Voice in my head: That’s very nice of you – heavy sarcasm).

I was a little taken aback and said, “Oh?  Interesting.” (in a very non-committal tone, trying suddenly to look very awake and un-tired.)

“Yes”, they continued, firmly.  “You look tired.  Especially around the eyes.”

Now that the moment is hours past, I can think of all kinds of snarky things I COULD have said:

  • “Great!” (with sarcastic tone).   “I really value your opinion that I seem to look so sub-par today!”
  • “Excellent!  You’re not looking too awake yourself either.”
  • “Yeah!  I’m not wearing as much makeup today.  I was trying an experiment to see if I still felt beautiful, but now I know the answer is no!”
  • “Cool!  Well you see the thing is, I have a chronic, incurable disease.  I had just forgotten about it, but your comment so helpfully reminded me that it exists.”
  • (said in a sarcastic yet quizzical tone): “…..Thanks…?”

I don’t know quite why, what was seemingly a subtle and probably-not-intending-to-feel-harmful-comment rocked me so much.  I think it’s just a solid real-life example of the anxiety that we “skin people” go through regularly.  I’ve been dealing with these sporadic, somewhat unexplained flares off and on since February of this year, and the mental toll of having volatile skin month after month really starts to wear on you.

I think if someone had made a BLATANT comment like, “Your skin is gross”, I would feel a satisfying sense of being really snarky and then blowing their mind telling them facts about eczema that would then make them feel terrible.  (“Did you know there’s no cure?  Did you know my skin flares for no reason?  Did you know I’ve tried every elimination or detox diet known to man in the past?  Did you know I was poisoned by prescription topical steroids for it and then my body went through a horrific months-long detox where I had days I didn’t even want to live?  Did you know that every day is a delicate juggling balance between my outward confident badassery and my inwardly fragile self-esteem, governed almost totally by my skin?” and so on…)

Readers: Have you ever had people make comments on your skin?  What happened and how did you react?


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S.L.I.T. for Allergens – Is it working?

SLIT (SubLingual ImmunoTherapy):
In this post, I first talked about my inhaled allergen testing.  I have now been on my SLIT drops for about 10 weeks give or take (the instructions to me were to take them in a step-wise fashion, with 1 drop a day for the first week, then 2 drops a day the second week, and then 3 drops a day going forward).  So, I started them roughly 10 weeks ago, but based on the stepped approach, have been doing the full dosage for about 8 weeks/2 months.

My allergist (doctor) said that people can start to see relief after 3 months, but that it can take longer.  Of course, human nature being impatient, I was waiting for something magical to happen before the 3 month mark, thinking I was special and all that.  He also did say that it can take up to 1-2 YEARS of the SLIT drops before people feel/see relief.  So that’s a pretty huge range – 3 months to 2 years.  So for me, are they working?

Here is the thing.  I’ve been dealing with this mild-ish but annoying skin flare since around the time work started back up in August, which I really do attribute to something in my workplace (I talked about not being a hypochondriac here).  It is nowhere near as awful as things were this past spring, so maybe the drops have something to do with that (although some of the horrible-ness from last spring I attributed to other things too).  But now I have a legit eczema patch on my leg (I say “legit” because it was irritatingly itchy, and scabby and dry like the typical eczema of my past – I don’t refer to my face flares as eczema really, because they don’t usually itch, I would classify them more as atopic dermatitis).  And that to me is rather weird, because I haven’t had eczema on my legs since way back in the days of TSW, six years ago.  I also am frustrated because the skin around my eyes has really still been in a constant state of mild flare ever since going back to work, and sometimes I worry that it is getting worse and spreading.  But that’s a vent for a separate post.

HOWEVER!  I do have one clear indication that SLIT drops really truly are working, which makes me glad. (It’s kind of nice when medicine does what they say it is supposed to do, especially if it’s long-term and costly, yea? 😉 )

So, historically, I have always been allergic to dogs, and my last run-in with a dog was in July and discussed here, where I was only IN THE VICINITY of dogs, and my eyes started to itch crazily, and water, and I got sniffly, etc.

Last weekend a friend of mine had a football party.  Now, I have been to his house before, and there are dogs around, but they have always been outside running about, while I am inside safely keeping my distance.  This time, there were FOUR dogs… two that belonged to my friend, and two that belonged to another guest.  We were mainly parked on the couch eating snacks, but the dogs began to come close.  In the course of the afternoon, one dog tried to climb on my lap, one dog tried to eat off my plate, and another dog lovingly laid his head on my (bare) leg for a duration.  I let it go, because he was so damn cute, and I didn’t have any adverse effects.  I didn’t even realize until later that I was having basically NO symptoms!  My eyes were fine, I wasn’t sniffling, and the only minor effects were some transient skin flares (my leg got some small itchy wheals – however down by the ankle, NOT where the dog put his face – and my one eye got a hive by the corner of it once I went home, which was gone by morning).  I will say that I DID take an antihistamine ahead of time since I knew that dogs would be in the vicinity, but historically sometimes I still can have breakthrough symptoms despite that. So this is cool.  Maybe one day after a few more months of SLIT, I will be able to pet dogs and play with them!  😀

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REVIEW: Juice Beauty Phyto-Pigments Concealer

I can be a sporadic and scattered person trying all kinds of things, but not usually when it comes to personal care & beauty products.  I like to have a stable, minimal, and predictable routine, so that way if my skin acts up, I can be pretty sure it is not from some new contact dermatitis.

Now, I WILL say that my skin in its healed, healthy state is probably best described as normal to actually a little oily.  When I have no flares and am not reacting to anything, I am prone to the occasional acne breakout or clogged pore, but overall my skin at its best is relatively problem-free.

My skin at its worst is extraordinarily challenging despite being super holistic and informed about my hygiene, skincare, food, lifestyle, etc.  I have had eczema, redness, dry areas, breakout areas, clogged pores, and cystic acne all existing on my face concurrently… not often, thankfully, but as an extreme circumstance!

I try to wear as little makeup as possible and let my skin breathe and be healthy.  I have never worn foundation, and I only wear concealer under my eyes and then if I have any breakouts, rashes, redness, pimples, etc. that I feel need covering.

My first die-hard concealer loyalty was to Tarte Maracuja oil concealer, which I sang the praises of in 2013 in this post as my go-to daily necessity in covering up the redness of TSW.

Then, they changed the formulation from a squeeze tube (and I think shuffled around the ingredients), and it didn’t work as well for me once I started having mystery flares again this past winter of 2019.

So, then after much internet research, I chose to try NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer as my next staple for a while, which I talked about in this post.

The NARS was really good for a while.  I felt like it matched my skin beautifully (my shade in it is Custard), it covered redness well, it barely creased, and it had mega-staying power on through even super-sweaty workouts.

BUT, I started to feel that it was a little drying, especially as I was applying it to skin that was already often dry, irritated, and rashy.  I don’t think that the NARS was directly contributing to rashes, but I felt like it wasn’t really helping, and it (plus maybe the combinations of the moisturizers I was using at the time) seemed to often leave my skin feeling even drier at the end of the day.  Plus it did have a lot of chemicall-y ingredients, as you can see in the below list.


So, I set out on the hunt for another concealer to try, and after much deliberation, settled up on Juice Beauty.  I wanted to avoid aloe, beeswax, and shea butter, so I read a ton of reviews and did a ton of comparison before making this purchase.  (I also made a similar review on Amazon, so if you come across a review that sounds familiar to this post, it’s mine.)  I appreciated the tip from other reviewers to go a shade darker than you might think. I chose Sand, and this was indeed the appropriate match for me, a Caucasian with skin that tans easily.

array of juice beauty concealers_

Ingredients list: Cocos nucifera (organic coconut oil)*, ricinus communis (organic castor seed oil)*, copernicia cerifera (organic carnauba wax)*, simmondsia chinensis (organic jojoba seed oil)*, vitis vinifera (organic grape seed oil)*, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (Vitamin C), tocopherol (Vitamin E), citrus medica limonum (lemon leaf cell extract), helianthus annuus (sunflower seed oil), argania spinosa (argan shell powder), rosa gallica (rose flower powder). May contain: titanium dioxide, iron oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499).

The application of this concealer was initially a little different from what I am used to.  It is in a pot, not a squeeze tube or a doe-foot tube.  But, applying is easy!  I just make sure my hands are clean, breathe on the concealer pot to warm it, breathe or rub on my finger to warm it, and then take a super small amount and dab it on the needed areas.  I tend to dab it on with my pointer finger and then smudge and blend with my middle finger to melt it into my skin.  The warming makes sure the plant oils soften so that the application is smooth and easy.  You don’t need a lot, so this pot will last you a long time.  (HOWEVER, be forewarned because the main ingredients are plant oils, that this could melt in the sun if you leave it in a hot place.  I left my makeup bag in my backpack in the sun a few months back and rescued the concealer just in time, with only the top of it getting a little sweaty-looking).

Close up of Juice Beauty concealer

Close-up of the Juice Beauty concealer.

I’ll discuss the pros and cons of Juice Beauty along with some before and after pictures so you can see how it performs.

CONS first:

  • Creasing.  Juice Beauty tends to crease a decent amount.  I’m still relatively young, so I don’t normally have legit wrinkles around my eyes.  However, with skin that is drier and healing from rashes, it does provide more places for the concealer to settle in.  If you had ‘mature’ skin with a lot of fine creases and wrinkles, this would probably not be your best choice.  BUT, there are two things that help the creasing.  One, not putting on too much.  Less is really more with this concealer.  If you cake it on, it is guaranteed to settle into creases you didn’t even know you had.  Second, I typically will put it on, wait a few minutes, maybe make some facial expressions so it can get into the creases, and then delicately blend those out with my clean fingertip or a Q-tip, and that is quite helpful.
  • Coverage for acne.  I am not super prone to acne, but in my opinion, this really doesn’t provide the right kind of coverage.  Putting a plant-oil-based concealer on an already oily spot seems to just make it slick.  If I truly have an acne breakout, I use NARS on it instead.
  • Coverage for dry, flaky skin.  If you have really awful patches or rashes that need coverage, this will probably not look the best – because, then you’ll have to cake it on, and it will crease, and stick to the dry bits, and make the skin look kind of fake.  I have found there is honestly a fine line with this concealer where just a bit is imperceptible, but just a little too much makes the skin look weird or even drier at some angles.  This would not be something good to use as a heavy-duty concealer.

Before and After: With Hives/Dry Skin

hives eye BEFORE concealer

Here is my ‘worse’ eye as it has been healing from some redness, dry flaky patches, and raised hive-like areas.  (These have been slowly and steadily healing).  Covering them up posed a challenge!

hives eye WITH concealer

Juice Beauty definitely helps here.  I don’t think ANY concealer would really help the raised hive-like appearance, but it has got the skin looking much more even-toned.  It’s not super great on the driest patches, but I think those would be a challenge for any concealer to cover without accentuating them.


  • Staying power.  Juice Beauty is kind of middle ground here so for this area, it really is right in between pros and cons.  It DOES have decent staying power with a light coat, but I’ve had days where it starts to look maybe a little dry and fading near the end of the day.  If you really wanted to look super fresh at the end of the day, like if you had an evening out with a hot date, you might have to just re-do it.  However, this is not a huge minus in my book.  It also has surprisingly decent staying power in sweat and humidity.  It CAN crease if you sweat a lot, but if you haven’t over-applied in the first place, that is pretty minimal.  Overall I’m pretty pleased with its lasting capability.
  • Moisturizing quality/how it feels on skin.  This was really important for me.  I had messed up my skin’s barrier through the eczema/dermatitis/rash ordeal of this past spring, and the NARS had days where it felt like total plastic on my face, even though it did a good job in the other departments.  Now, I can’t be sure if it was the NARS creating the plastic-y feeling, or if my skin was that dry and damaged, and the NARS was just accentuating it.  Regardless, Juice Beauty beats it out here.  It feels like your own skin, nice and light.  It does not dry out my face, nor break it out.  It removes very easily with grapeseed oil, my natural makeup remover of choice.  I do think it’s rare to find a ‘natural’ concealer like this with skin-friendly ingredients that performs as well as it does, so props to it there.
  • Use for under-eye circles or allergic shiners.  Juice Beauty does an AWESOME job of covering these up while looking smooth and natural, with an extremely minimal application, as you will see from my photos below.

Before and After: With Dark Circles/Allergic Shiners

allergic shiner BEFORE concealer

Usually, the dark circles under my eyes are relatively minimal.  But, the other day I woke up with this big pinkish-red allergic shiner (I think it was maybe food-related as I went out to eat), which I took as the perfect opportunity to show you readers how nicely Juice Beauty works in this arena.

allergic shiner WITH concealer

Voila!  The skin is smooth and even toned now!  (Pardon the oily-looking eye.  I use a face oil and it was still in the process of sinking into the skin in the morning.  This reminds me, I still do need to make a whole other post about my skincare routine.  I’ll let you in on a secret – I DON’T use moisturizer at night!!!  Only serum and a skin oil!

My overall verdict:

Juice Beauty concealer fulfills really ALL my concealer needs when my skin is at its best, smooth and healthy, and MOST of my concealer needs when my skin is not quite at its best.  (Sometimes, I use BOTH the Juice Beauty and the NARS concealer if my skin needs it – I use the Juice Beauty under my eyes and with a VERY light dusting on any red patches that are still healing, and THEN I dab a tiny bit of the NARS concealer on top of the red areas just to provide more redness coverage that looks more smooth and natural.)  Overall, I really like the natural-ness of this concealer, the skin-friendly ingredients, the relative ease of application, and how it feels on my skin!

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Mold Plate Test Results: Office

In my last post, I noted I had bought these mold testing plates because of investigating a link between my work environment and reactions like rash flare-ups, dry and irritated skin around eyes, and even mild hives around eyes.

These mold testing plates are low-tech, easy to use, and come with very clear instructions, all positives.  They are also really affordable with being able to get 6 plates for $35.  This is helpful because then you could test 3 different spaces before and after, or test multiple rooms.  One negative is that you are simply testing for the PRESENCE of mold, but you don’t know what kind it is or the level of danger, but I think it is a good first step.  (The company does give you the option then for more in-depth testing at additional fees).


The instructions recommend taking 5-7 days before checking the mold plate, and the company provides picture examples of what you might see in the mold plate in varying levels of severity.

mold plates examples1

Now, we have had a really interesting week here in the workplace, environmental-health wise.  This week, we’ve had a ceiling tile burst off, spilling its rotted pieces onto the floor and provoking a water leak in one room, we’ve had a water leak in another room, and we’ve had systemic issues with our water system where there was sewage water backing up into some places.  Now, because of the leaks, we cannot currently use the building-wide dehumidification system, and some rooms are actually starting to smell a little mildew-y.  I also just read yesterday that the high school nearby has had classrooms closed for presence of black mold.

Thankfully, none of these things are in my office directly, but all that to say, I started the mold plate last Wednesday and then all these things happened a few days later, so the mold counts in this plate could perhaps be even more.

Here is what the mold test plate revealed in my office:

Mold plate results office blacked out

(I blacked out a part of this because it had identifying info of my office and building).

So, this is interesting.  I honestly though it would be worse, but I HAVE been running a dehumidifier constantly, an air purifier constantly, and have also been using some mold spray from the same company (EC3).  I did deliberately back off on the mold spray the day of the test, and waited to burn my mold candle until I had exposed the test plate to air and closed it up, so as not to provide falsely better results.  However, you can see that there are multiple colonies of greenish-black mold, and there is a furry white colony too.

I’m not quite sure how to compare them with the picture examples above provided by the company, as it’s definitely above ‘normal healthy level’, but doesn’t seem quite as severe as the picture illustrating ‘unhealthy level with disease risk’.

I did two mold plate colonies at home too – one in the kitchen and one in the bathroom just outside the bedroom (so trying to get both rooms), and they looked about the same as this one.

So, now what?  Well, the events this week at work with the leaks and the sewage had me pretty frustrated.  They impacted our work, and they led credibility to the fact that this building is *PROBABLY* not a safe long-term space for someone like me with a diagnosed mold allergy and chronic/autoimmune health conditions that are made worse by mold.  I like my job, and I promise I am not trying to get out of it, but I truly feel that the best action for the future would be to work here only part time (and have another part time job online), or not work here at all.

I have been toying with the idea of contacting OSHA, EPA, or CDC ever since the second week back here, when I felt absolutely horrible by Friday and then felt better once the weekend was underway and I was no longer in the office.  But, I wasn’t really sure how to go about it.  I didn’t want to be perceived as weak, sickly, overly sensitive, trying to get anyone in trouble, or trying to get out of work.  That’s why I made my whole previous post about not being a hypochondriac, partly to rationalize to myself that I deserve to speak up and to work in an environment that will be supportive rather than detrimental to my health.

Then I realized, this is why HR departments exist.  I shouldn’t have to go this alone, and I shouldn’t have to feel that I need to entirely take matters into my own hands.  Plus, by this point, I have a robust amount of supporting documentation, including pictures and medical diagnoses.  I emailed them this morning with some preliminary information requesting guidance on starting an anonymous claim, so we’ll see what they say and where I will proceed from here.

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Quick Skin/Mold Investigation Update

In order to support my theory that there are levels of environmental contaminants (i.e., mold) at my workplace that are at levels enough to affect my health, I bought these simple mold testing plates to take the first step into actually seeing what results.  Today I followed the instructions and opened the plate for testing, so I get to check it again in 5-7 days and see what grows.

I also bought the mold solution spray and the air purification candle from the same website.  I’ll admit I was skeptical at first that just spray and a candle could make the environment less mold-spore-ridden, but there were many positive reviews across multiple sites and I figured what did I have to lose, it wasn’t too expensive.  I used the spray my first day back at work from the weekend, but have waited to burn the candle until I first tested for mold with the plates (didn’t want to give it a false lower count).

Symptom-wise, this week has been ok, but it’s only the second day of work.  The biggest thing I noticed today was that midway through the day, my eyes have started constantly watering out of the corners.  It’s not huge and probably no one notices, but is mildly annoying.

Because the skin around my left eye had flared up slightly again and was dry, reddish, and uneven, I chose to use Desonide yesterday and the day before, just very sparingly on like an outer corner of the eye, to hopefully ‘boost’ the skin healing and not being as open to environmental toxins.  I didn’t make that decision lightly as I certainly don’t want to get sucked into any vicious cycle of repetitive topical steroid use (as a victor of TSW, I know all about that full well).  I am a firm believer that my body can heal itself (though it can’t do its job too well if it is bathing in mold), but my logic was to get the skin a bit more healed, and then start using the mold spray and the air purification candle as a temporary ‘fix’ while I wait to see what develops on the mold plates.

One really cool thing is that I am sold on the power of wet wraps.  My recent post had a photo of my very dry and flaky eyelids that suddenly developed out of nowhere after a few weeks of being back at work.  This was pretty drastic and tipped me off that something might be wrong externally in my surroundings.  I’m happy to note that after only 1-2 wet wrap treatments, my eyelids are soft, smooth, and a healthy almost-normal pink rather than an inflamed dry flaky white and red mess.  I soak little clean cloths cut from an old sheet in water that has a pinch of Dead Sea Salt added to it, and then fold them around my eyes, put a facemask over (to provide some weight and sort of press them down), and then let them rest that way for 5-10 minutes, typically.  I tried doing it overnight, but they started to feel weird after a few hours, so I woke up and took them off; but the eyelids have gotten a few good cumulative hours being soaked in the healing properties of Dead Sea Salt!  I think they helped my under-eye area too for sure, but not enough to totally heal it like my eyelids.

Next up; continuing to monitor any symptoms and waiting with eager anticipation to see what the mold plate will reveal!

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On Mold Sensitivity: Why I Am Not a Hypochondriac

One frustrating thing about having chronic health conditions is that being perceived as a hypochondriac is often on my mind.  For most intents and purposes, I am a robust, stoic, stubborn, determined, go-getting young(ish) female.  I don’t like sympathy, I don’t want people feeling bad for me, and I don’t like being coddled or patronized in any way.  I almost never talk about my health issues to other people (unless it’s extremely relevant), and I would be happy to go my lifetime with only a select few people knowing what I may struggle with (a big part of why this blog is anonymous).

So, what to do when you believe you have LEGITIMATE symptoms affecting your health, and need to bring them up to other people so that changes can be made?

In my last post a few days ago, I talked about having skin issues flare up again and having the theory that my workplace was the culprit.  Well, the flare got worse as the week progressed, and I experienced other symptoms as well.  Here are a multitude of reasons why I don’t think I am being a hypochondriac about my latest health flare-up and why I really think it is linked to my work environment.

  • EVIDENCE #1: I enjoyed basically almost-normal skin from mid-summer onward.  Within about a week and a half of being back at work, my skin (namely, around my eyes) started to get dry, uneven, and irritated.
  • EVIDENCE #2: NOT ONLY is this skin dry, but it feels like my eyelids and skin around my eyes is ‘thick’, I guess this is what scaling or lichenification might feel like.  This ‘thick, dry’ feeling means that my eyes occasionally water (because the skin surrounding them is tight) and that opening my eyes really wide also makes the skin feel weird, like it’s pulling on it.  I have not experienced THESE sensations since months ago.  This is definitely not normal to come on out of the blue.  The extra atopic folds under my eyes are also way more pronounced, which are like my barometer that there is some kind of inflammation going on; compared to them being relatively softened and minimal in the recent past.

    Eye is flaky! 8.31

    Here is my newly-suffering eye by the end of the week, so dry that the eyelid is flaking and the rest of the skin is really uncomfortable 😦

  • EVIDENCE #3: I have changed absolutely nothing in my skincare routine to my knowledge, and in fact had settled into a minimal yet effective routine (as of about 2 months ago) that seemed to work really well.  IN FACT, I was doing something I never thought I would do – going to bed with ZERO moisturizer on my face at all.  (Just serum and moisture boost oil around my eyes, that’s it).  I was also not using any sort of thick occlusive around my eyes anymore, because… they didn’t need it!  The skin was making its own moisture where I could keep product application pretty minimal.  Now as of this past week, I’m back to HAVING to use an occlusive, because my eye-skin is just so dry.
  • EVIDENCE #4: I have also been experiencing some respiratory/sinus issues this week.  Starting early in the week, I started to get a sore throat and thought “oh great, I must be catching a cold”.  However, this was weird because 1., I was not run down (though maybe was stressed out), and 2., it is still summer and typically I don’t get colds until wintertime.  While I do likely have a weaker immune system due to asthma and previous mononucleosis, I usually only get one ‘bad cold’ (i.e., leaves you feeling like absolute poo) a year.  It seemed highly unusual and unlikely that I would be catching a cold in August.  I started taking Zicam (my typical defense against potential colds) and once I had taken it for three days straight, I realized that this sore throat hadn’t devolved into getting outright sick like I normally would, but just had been a constant low-level irritation.
  • EVIDENCE #5: As the week went on at work, not only did I get to experience throat irritation, but began to also have congestion and a sniffly nose, that gradually got worse as the week progressed.  By Friday, I was sneezing violently at somewhat regular intervals, was holed up at my computer sniffling into Kleenex, and was in a generally miserable state of hoping everyone would leave me alone for the day.
  • EVIDENCE #6: It is currently Sunday night and I have been away from my workplace for 2+days.  No throat irritation, no sneezing, and the sniffling has been gone since Saturday morning.
  • EVIDENCE #7: Another interesting skin thing.  The skin around my eyes had gradually gotten a bit more pink with irritation as the weeks at work wore on.  I do wear concealer regularly but try to keep it as minimal as possible – but eventually I felt kind of forced to use it ABOVE my eyes just so people wouldn’t think I was tragically ill.  So, I was incredibly discouraged to see that once again I resembled the ‘trash panda’ (slang for raccoon and also the slang I use for when I have rings of redness around each eye) of a few months ago when my skin was bad.  HOWEVER.  Now that I have been away from work for about 2+ days, the redness has subsided more where it isn’t so bad.
  • EVIDENCE #8: I have had multiple days in the past months where I have not worn concealer under my eyes at all.  That was a huge milestone for me because when my skin was horrid, I couldn’t even conceive of that, but I knew it would be a hallmark of being pretty much healed.  Ever since all this rash stuff, I have HAD to wear a bit of concealer just cause my eye skin looks pretty gnarly otherwise.
  • EVIDENCE #9: My feelings on workplace environmental un-wellness were corroborated by my boss.  Through conversations over the week, she’s also conveyed that she gets more allergy symptoms at work, feels better when she is AWAY from work, and that they don’t seem to be getting better, despite the fact that she is on multiple medications for sinus stuff, and that she is about as frustrated as I am with feeling like it has to be something around us.  So it’s helpful to have someone else validate that I’m not crazy, weak, or a hypochondriac.
  • EVIDENCE #10: I’ve been reading a lot about mold exposure and mold allergy, etc.  What I am experiencing seems to correlate very much so with the ‘bucket analogy’ where I may be literally bathing in these allergens and therefore my body is hyper-reactive because I am sensitive to them, and being in this environment again is the final drops of the bucket where now it’s spilling over into being symptomatic.
  • mold bucketSo all that to say – I don’t think I am being a hypochondriac, or crazy, or even trying to use a health issue as an excuse to not be at my workplace.  I feel that based on the above evidence, there is legitimate reason to believe that, due to my sudden onset of symptoms, (and relief of symptoms when away from work), that there are environmental allergens afoot.

Next steps

I have to confess, I’ve been super tempted to just dab some Desonide around my eyes and squash the itching and inflammation, but I know right now that isn’t the answer – it’s just a band-aid.  AND, if I do that, I won’t have a proper indication if the supplements and Biocidin are working properly.  It’s nice to know that I have it on hand if I absolutely, positively need it (and that apparently I can use it very sporadically with no ill effects even after going through TSW), but I am not going to touch it unless I have dire need.  In the meantime, I’m sticking with my minimal skincare routine (which I’ll post about soon), adding Dead Sea Salt splash to my face, and then using an occlusive (Vaniply) for the super dry areas.

I emailed my doctor on Friday morning in the midst of my miserable sneezing, watering eyes, and general malaise to see if she had any suggestions supplement-wise in the meantime.  She gave me some guidelines on what to increase and what to add.  Most of it was relatively run-of-the mill recommendations, like upping my omega-3 and phosphatidyl choline, adding a B complex, trace minerals, and detox nutrients, as well as doing a ‘binder’ at night to bind to toxins (I have been doing activated charcoal but got lazy about being consistent about it so now I’m back to it on the regular); but one interesting addition she gave was Biocidin, which is “botanical medicine” for “microbial challenges”.  Many of the reviews raved about it for things like Candida (which I DID rate as a III on a I-V scale of the inhaled allergens, indicating I had possible overgrowth), and other infections, so hopefully this will provide some relief.  Other people talked about it providing some GI upset or Herxheimer reactions as die-off occurs, so we’ll see how that goes.  She added “Ultimately the best thing would be to get out of the work environment.”

Well.  I can’t outright quit my job.  Not just yet, although I have wanted to move into a ‘work from home’ role for a while, mainly because I want to have the independence to set my own schedule and manage my own productivity, plus as someone who is introverted and mildly socially anxious (even though ironically I am in front of people much of the time at work), having a total ‘at home’ job really, really appeals to me.  However, I’m thankful in a way that this seems like it would give me the push to leave my current role WITH a legitimate health reason, not just me seeming selfish about wanting more work independence.  But, since I work in education and am unique in my role, I really kind of have to stick it out until the end of the term which is early December.

I also brought this issue up to my boss’s boss, who is a very kind and understanding man.  I first delicately brought up the issue of mold and the fact that both my boss and I have bought air purifiers because we are experiencing symptoms, and then asked if he had any health issues at work in relation to that and he said “YES” and that he would bring this up to HIS boss, who is another very kind and understanding person.  However, he also had kind of the futile mindset that we work in old buildings and there is only so much we can do.

Now, back in 2013, when I was scrambling to figure out what was making my skin go haywire (before I knew it was TSW), I actually DID file an OSHA claim for my past workplace (this was a totally different workplace in another state, as this was 6 years ago).  They found nothing, but as I recall, it was an easy and anonymous process.  So I know that I can do that, or can pursue claims through the EPA or CDC.

First, though, I found some mold testing plates on this site, and purchased them, because heck – why not take matters into my own hands and actually PROVE that there is mold in the environment surrounding us.  (I also bought the mold candle, the mold spray, and the mold laundry additive.  Nothing’s arrived yet, jury’s out on how those will perform).  I chose to do this because I wanted to have concrete evidence.  Essentially, it all boils down to – – – if I think I should need to quit my job over this, then having evidence of mold + a diagnosed mold allergy which is being treated + an already compromised immune system which I also have proof of diagnosis + various physical symptoms, means that it’s a relatively air-tight case where no one should think I’m being a hypochondriac about it.



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