Well. It has been an interesting ride the past few days. One week ago, my face was pretty great. Smooth, barely any rashes, and I only had to use a little concealer. Thank God, because I had a job interview and I was filled with apprehension all week as to if my skin would behave or not!
Then after the weekend and with my face recovering from the whole beeswax incident, my skin was kind of meh. This morning, I wake up with my eyes SO puffy and swollen that I can barely open them and my face SUPER red. After putting ice on my eyes and STILL looking crazy, I immediately took a sick day from work and made plans to see the doctor ASAP.
I thought back… What did I do last night that was unusual? Other than taking 2 Benadryl for the redness of the beeswax-rash (thanks for the suggestion from Celiac and Allergy Adventures blog for that!). Two things immediately jumped out to me.
1. I had Lebanese food with lots of garlic. I have been keeping a little written ‘journal’ (besides this blog) of how my skin feels/looks each day and any suspected triggers. A couple weeks ago, I had skin that looked really good, and then abruptly turned the corner to flare when I woke up. That night I had eaten a prepared piece of fish with garlic breading on it for dinner. So I immediately suspected that.
2. I had (maybe stupidly) purchased some pure Aloe Vera gel at the store last night. I didn’t want to use any steroid creams on the rashes on my body, and wanted to try something else ‘natural’ but not too expensive. I did not put the aloe on my face, however. The aloe didn’t sting going on or anything, but when I woke up, I checked my eczema and it was no better… and maybe some worse.
I email the holistic doctor I’ve been seeing, to tell her about my flare and kind of seek guidance. I was hoping she would email back right away, but after a couple hours of hearing nothing, I decide to actually see a legit dermatologist because I was looking and feeling absolutely miserable. I thought, if they have to give me more steroid creams, so be it, but maybe they can rule out an allergy or something, or maybe they can give me a patch test/ RAST test/ IgE or IgG test on the spot, who knows. I get an afternoon appointment for the derm.
I bundle myself up and put on a scarf and sunglasses so that I don’t frighten the populace at the doctor’s office. I explain to the derm that I have been going through these cycles where the rash on my face will clear up, then get bad and worse, and then gradually get better. I also explain that this rash isn’t the same as the eczema on my body because it generally doesn’t itch. I then tell her about the garlic and say that I wonder if I have a food allergy. She said that she doesn’t think I have a food allergy. This seems to stand to reason as I have NO other symptoms besides skin symptoms. One would think a legitimate food allergy would manifest itself with some GI disturbance, headache, whatever, none of which I get.
I also tell her about my experience with steroid creams… that I’ve used them on my body, but the eczema comes back, and that they don’t really respond to the rashes on my face. She prescribes me a medium strength steroid (Momentasone furoate ointment) and says we need to use it because otherwise the rash won’t get better…it’s not responding to, say, Desonide because it’s not strong enough… just use this for 1-2 weeks at MAX and then go down to a weaker topical ointment (Protopic).
Well, on my quest to avoid steroid creams, this isn’t looking in my favor, but what she says makes sense and it’s what I expected from a traditional health practitioner… to go home with some drugs to glop on my face. Fine, no problem. I’ve actually used both of these drugs before in a cream and they do work to heal rashes, they just don’t get at the source of the problem.
After I get home, I wash my hands with some mild Dial soap and absentmindedly touch my face, which begins to itch a little. This triggers my memory to look up Aloe Vera.
The Dial soap has aloe vera.
The mild Badger Balm sunscreen I’ve been using daily has Aloe Vera.
The Hyaluronic Acid that I used to use has Aloe Vera.
I’m still raiding my cupboards to eradicate more products, but it’s in SO MANY things because it’s a ‘natural’ product and yes, has healing properties for some. Not for me, obviously. Actually, my husband and I used to love these Aloe drinks from Whole Foods and purchased them here and there… maybe the first drink of them is when this problem all started. I knew it HAD to be something different and not topical, because I didn’t change any of my face products but suddenly my skin was getting all sensitive. And this makes sense since I never consumed or used aloe as a child or teenager, and subsequently never had face rashes before these incidences.
Getting on the internet, I read that:
Aloe Vera is part of the Liliaceae family, which also includes garlic, onions, leeks, and chives. AH HA!
Things all start to come together in my mind. The garlic I ate last night plus the fact that I put aloe on my body (and then likely itched myself in my sleep and then touched my face) must totally be what irritated me.
I also read (and of course, don’t believe everything you read on the internet) that a rash from aloe vera is often worse on skin exposed to the sun. This makes perfect sense why my LEFT side of the face is all rashy, and my RIGHT side is pretty clear… because when driving in the car, the LEFT side is the side that gets hit more by the sun.
I love garlic, so giving it up will be hard (Pickles… I already miss you 😦 ), but for now I am going to eliminate ALL traces of it from my diet. Food manufacturers can hide it in ingredients like ‘natural flavors’, so I’ll need to be a label-reader. And, no more aloe vera for me!