Category Archives: Things to Avoid

Little Tiny Victories

Over the weekend prior to this current one, I went on a chocolate bender. I ate a bit every day for a couple days straight. Bad, bad, bad. I [illogically] rationalized it to myself as, “Well, I am eliminating all temptations by eating them…then when I start the candida diet, they won’t be in the house mocking me with their chocolatey goodness.” Right. After not eating dairy in quite a while due to the elimination diet before that, I confirmed once again (as if I needed reminding) that dairy definitely seems to be one of my itchy triggers. I usually don’t have a problem resisting chocolate, but I always get a wild craving before ‘that time of the month’. Give me the chocolate and get out of my way! 😉

My forearm started itching almost IMMEDIATELY after eating a York pattie, and then by the time Monday rolled around, my legs were itched into even more of a mess and they were so dry and irritated that it literally hurt to walk. I could not stand the burning and itching and finally did something I’ve been trying to make myself do for WEEKS in order to help my skin – I took a COLD SHOWER. It was certainly uncomfortable while I was in there, but I was pleasantly surprised that as soon as I got out, I began to warm up and the itching was way down. I was also proud of myself for doing this because it was hella cold and unpleasant. I resolved that night to eat ZERO dairy onward. Zip, zilch, none. Now I already was avoiding dairy for the MOST part, but I admit that I got kind of sloppy about it. Getting my chocolate fix on every month, eating foods without reading the ingredients to know that they might have some whey or dairy by-product hidden in them, eating at restaurants without looking at the ingredients on their website beforehand, etc. Just because I was barely eating any APPARENT, VISIBLE dairy doesn’t mean that I wasn’t consuming it and that it wasn’t harming me.

I put steroid cream (mometasone) on the worst spots of my legs and back for a couple days and then weaned off of it, and so far it’s been a few days and the eczema hasn’t returned and everything is healing nicely. I really did not want to resort to the steroid cream but I figured why not give them a fresh start and let everything heal, since that stuff really works.

My back with eczema.  It's hard to take a picture of your own back so excuse the awkward angle!

My back with eczema.  Very irritated and very itchy. It’s hard to take a picture of your own back so excuse the awkward angle!

My back about a week later after using mometasone sparingly and resolving to avoid all dairy.  Healing nicely!

My back about a week later after using mometasone sparingly and resolving to avoid all dairy. Some scars, yes, but healing nicely!

Rather than beat myself up about my lack of willpower in resisting chocolate, I thought about some other positive things. It occurred to me yesterday that I completely gave up caffeine when I first started the Elimination diet on Dec. 30 and I have barely thought about it or miss it at all. This coming from a girl that used to hide soda pop under the bed to get her morning fix and used to have to stumble bleary-eyed to the coffee maker first thing in the morning before I actually felt human. I’m proud of this because it gives me the feeling that I could easily go the rest of my days without caffeine, and also gives me the encouragement that if I need to give up other things for good, that the cravings eventually go away and it becomes a simple thing to resist.

My supplies for the candida diet arrived in the mail today (probiotics, antifungals, and whatnot), so I am really eager to start. Only delay is that I have caught a slight cold this weekend so I am going to wait a few days until I am 100% better. I found an interesting post on Jennifer’s blog that spoke right to me in regards to candida, specifically the sentence:

“Addressing food sensitivities involves a bit more than just removing the offending food items.  Often, an underlying aspect of toxicity and/or leaky gut (permeable intestinal tract) or yeast (candida) accompanies allergies and food sensitivities.  These problems need to be addressed before the allergies/sensitivities will go away.  If you attempt to remove the food item only, you will likely find that you react to more and more foods without resolution of your symptoms.”

That last sentence right there really made me have an AHA!! moment.  There are a bunch of foods that I feel I “react” to, that have piled up with mounting succession and this sentence really seemed to confirm for me that the candida diet is the right thing to do.  Disclaimer: If you are reading this blog and considering trying the candida diet, please consult a medical professional.   I am not doing this diet under the supervision of a physician, but I understand the inherent risks of any restrictive diet, and I also would break the diet if my health began to suffer.  I’ve also consulted numerous physicians in the past re: my eczema (dermatologist, naturopath, holistic physician) and many things have been tried with no lasting effect, so all things considered plus the “risk factors” I had for candida (past illness/antibiotics, taking birth control) point to this being a positive step.

I was talking with my mother today and I realized not only how restrictive it is for me to go out to eat with all these ‘food fears’ and mounting concerns about foods that may or may not harm my system and skin (I am no fun at restaurants currently, let me tell you), but how closed off I am in regard to my own personal health challenges and the willingness to discuss them with others.  Besides this blog world and my husband, no one else really knows about my ongoing battle with trying to target triggers for my eczema.  They may have seen it on my face or limbs if it’s bad, but they don’t know how big a part of my life it has become in that it’s a constant “hobby” to search out more information about healing it, and I never talk about it with other people unless they bring up eczema first or if they were to ask.  My parents know I have eczema, of course, but I never talk about it with them either.  Today my mom and I spent some of the day together and we found a coupon for a local pizza place renowned for its tasty deep dish.  She said, “Here, you can go out to eat, they have great pizza!” My face fell a little and I mumbled, “Well… you know, I don’t really eat dairy.”  Ever chipper, she cheerily said, “Well, you can just tell them to not use cheese!!”  Discouraged, I said, “Um, I don’t really eat tomatoes either, they bother me as well.” A look of heartfelt concern passed over her face and she looked at me and said in the most genuinely caring way, “Oh, you poor thing”.  The love and care I felt from her in that moment was immense.  I immediately opened up to her and began telling her about the candida diet and alluding to my multiple suspected food sensitivities.  She was genuinely sympathetic, interested and eager for me to do it and see what happens.  It really made me realize that my personality trait of being so introverted and closed off is not always a good thing – this is my own mother for goodness sake, who loves me unconditionally.  Sharing these things with her really made me feel better and it’s something I’m going to try to do more often!

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Hand Soap and an Eczema Debate

Most, if not all, of the hand soaps used in public places, such as restaurants, gyms, and workplaces are not helpful and downright harmful to those with eczema.  Bulk institutional soap such as this is made in large quantities with cheap ingredients.  (My gym has switched over to natural soap from J.R. Watkins, which still has irritants from citrus-derived oils, but is a step in the right direction).

I have had hand eczema off and on constantly over the course of my life – and I think a lot of aggravation and skin injury could be saved if I just didn’t have to use those bad soaps.  I get it around my wrist and most particularly on my right hand – specifically the middle finger and pinkie finger.   My left hand is usually okay (I AM right handed).  It also gets worse in the winter due to the dry and cold conditions.

Much of the time, it isn’t outrageously horrible, but I’m used to it by now.  No one is going to ask me to be a hand model any time soon, but no one has recoiled in horror at my cracked and dry knuckles.

When I was at home over the holiday, only using my own Dove Sensitive bar soap to wash my hands, my hand eczema got better, and I didn’t even really notice since it was such a gradual thing.  Yesterday back at work, I noticed by the afternoon that the problem areas on my hands were getting red, dry, cracked, and irritated.

Now I had asked the cleaning staff company for the soap ingredients in the past, because I wanted to make sure it did not have any aloe vera, a common ingredient in soaps and one that I myself was using in hand soap before I discovered I am allergic to it.  No aloe vera but plenty of SLS – sodium laureth sulfate.  (To read more about why SLS and other ‘bad’ things in soap, toiletries, and beauty products, click here and here.)

Today I decided to take matters into my own hands (ha) and bring my own soap to work.  Heading to the women’s restroom toting a Dove bar wrapped in a paper towel, I furtively looked around to ensure no one was actively watching me, as it probably appeared that I was carrying around some form of feminine hygiene product, and I don’t want to be known at work as “that strange girl who carries pads everywhere”.

But!  My hands feel good so far and even though it’s a pain to have to carry my own soap around to the restroom, let alone the day when I have to answer questions about why I do it, I would rather take this than the alternate of having my hands literally chewed up by cheap work-restroom soap.

Now a debate – I thought about this the other day.  Who do you think is worse off with eczema – men or women?

I can think of arguments for both sides:

WOMEN are worse off:

  • Because society has very high standards of beauty and appearance.  Women WITHOUT eczema are made to fret and fuss about their skin, so to have active rashes and crazy flares is just ostracizing.
  • Women are more slaves to fashion and women’s clothing is more revealing than men’s.  So for a woman to have leg eczema (like me) and not be able to wear shorts and skirts in the spring and summer (when everyone else is) is tough on the ol’ self-esteem.
  • Women have the pressure to wear makeup and facial products.  I consider myself a pretty low-maintenance woman, but there is almost no way I would leave the house without my little helpers of moisturizer, mascara, and concealer on.  Maybe if every other woman was bare-faced.
  • Women have to shave a lot of areas – (unless you go hairy, which is totally cool – I would just feel like an ape, personally) – and this can irritate existing eczema.

MEN are worse off:

  • Because it does not seem as socially acceptable for men to talk about their eczema or actively seek solutions.  Men are expected in society to be strong and manly and uncomplaining.  I can talk with another woman and tell her that her skin looks great and what does she use – (given, I wouldn’t do this with a complete stranger, but I have done this with acquaintances), but I just can’t see most men partaking in a thorough discussion of skincare with another man.
  • Men don’t have the advantage of makeup and high fashion.  I can conceal rashes on my face, I can use style tactics to distract, like a big scarf or an interesting necklace.  What do men have… Ties?  I guess?
  • Men may be under more pressure at work and with family to “move up” the corporate ladder.  This doesn’t apply to ALL men, of course, and many women also have this pressure, but just saying that in this respect, eczema for a man can surely be a real confidence dampener and prevent him from making career moves.

What do you think, blog readers??  Weigh in!

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Booting The Fruit in the Yellow Suit

Witty title if I do say so myself 🙂

bananaOne of my upcoming posts, once I sort out all my thoughts for it, is going to be how I will be changing my diet in the coming weeks to try and pinpoint any food intolerances that I have.

There are three reasons that I want to change my diet and am willing to radically do so, even though I eat pretty well now (mainly vegetarian/vegan, lots of fresh vegetables every day, and try to eat minimally processed food – although I am still human and subject to succumbing to tasty restaurant food, salty snacks, and candy).

REASON ONE: My eczema and rashes are still not great.  I don’t like living day to day feeling uncomfortably, dry, and itchy, trying to avoid people because I’m self conscious, or worrying what I’ll see in the mirror.  And I don’t like choosing my outfits based on what rashes I am trying to hide.  Especially when I didn’t have bad skin a few years ago and remember the “time before eczema”.  Changing my diet will be extremely hard, but I’m committed to doing it, as it’s something I can try myself and doesn’t involve going to any doctors or health practitioners, and doesn’t involve steroids or other drugs.

REASON TWO: I don’t hold out a lot of hope anymore for remedies that are ingested.  I’ve tried many things – evening primrose oil, fish oil, black currant oil, and of course my Standard Process supplements including my thyroid supplement.  The next thing the holistic doctor is thinking is to use Milk Thistle, but I am kind of dubious since none of these supplements made any noticeable difference (and the Evening Primrose made me feel bloated).

REASON THREE: I recently saw my nurse practitioner and explained my symptoms and quest, requesting testing for hormones and thyroid just to confirm and/or rule out anything of that nature playing havoc with my skin.  I had wanted to find out about thyroid for a while, but an addition impetus for testing came about when I was researching about testosterone in the body and how low levels in women can provoke symptoms, among others, like dry, itchy skin.  And that birth control, which I was taking for a few years, can lower these hormone levels.  One of the other big symptoms of low testosterone is low sex drive.  I’m not into airing my private life on my blog, but let’s just say that if libido had a switch, mine is permanently set to OFF!  I got the results the other day, and everything was completely within normal ranges.  Now that I know it isn’t anything with my thyroid or hormones, I can focus on using DIET as a means to try and heal myself.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself, as I’m going to discuss my planned dietary changes in a future post soon.  Back to the title of THIS post.  I was just thinking the other day, “Geez, it’s going to be really hard to target what foods I might not tolerate well, since reactions are generally limited to my skin flaring up and don’t appear immediately – making it hard to tell what might be the culprit”.

Then I ate a banana (with nothing else) for a snack in the afternoon, and about 20 minutes later, my stomach felt uncomfortable and bloated.

I tested this again the following day by eating a single banana in the afternoon with nothing else, and same thing about 20 minutes later.  In addition, my skin started to get itchy a few hours later and I woke up both mornings with my face rather red and dry in patches.  “Trouble” sites that had been clear, now flared up, such as the back of my neck and under my eyebrows.  A definite flare, confirmed by the fact that one of my friends greeted me in the morning at work with a concerned look and asking if I was okay.  (I’ve gotten so used to the look of my own face with unhealthy looking skin that using other people’s reaction as a barometer is often useful).

Bananas and I have a little history – I tried to eliminate them in the past because I have a moderate latex allergy (it makes me itch terribly if I touch it, but I don’t have any sort of anaphylaxis or wheezing, etc.) and bananas are one of the foods related to such things, along with avocado, chestnut, and kiwi.  I hadn’t noticed any vast improvement when I had stopped eating bananas in the past, and I don’t eat bananas TOO much anyway, but I guess I forgot about this association since I bought a bunch at the store this weekend.

So, among other dietary changes to be noted in the future, I now have another thing on my list to avoid.  Slowly but surely, I’m ruling out things that affect me and my skin.  That’s just as well, I was pretty ambivalent about bananas anyway.

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Guess What I Must Be Allergic To!

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!

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Allergic Reaction to Beeswax?

After recently finding a wonderfully written and informative dermatology blog (zizaidermatology.wordpress.com), one of the first posts I read was about the author struggling through a rash around the mouth and discovering an allergy to beeswax (http://zizaidermatology.wordpress.com/2010/07/16/am-i-allergic-to-beeswax/), specifically the Bee Propolis that occurs in the wax.

This post couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, as I think beeswax might be a big trigger for some of my own current skin issues.

I recently purchased two Badger Balm products because I was looking for 1. a good lip balm, and 2. a good soothing natural moisturizer for the spots on my face that get really dry.  I purchased the Creamy Cocoa lip balm, and the Badger Balm Baby Balm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I diligently read online reviews, and read nothing but good stuff about these things.  And I thought, “Yay!  Beeswax is all natural.  This should be good!”

When I put on the cocoa butter lip balm, my lips felt a little tingly and itchy.  Nothing really major, but it just wasn’t as pleasant as I anticipated.  So, after one use, I put it away and thought maybe I would try it again later on.

Then I moved on to the Baby Balm.  It’s only got 5 ingredients, all natural things, but it’s primarily composed of beeswax.  I did do a patch test on a dry spot on my knuckle – no ill effects the next day, so I figured I was good to apply the stuff to some of my facial rashes before bed to heal and soften them.

This is what happened (I’m tilting my  head back in these pictures so that the rash can be fully seen):

This is the rash I’ve been dealing with on my neck. This is the “BEFORE” picture – it’s flared, but it’s not too bad and red and it can be easily covered with concealer if needed. It has very clear borders and is pretty much right in the center.

This is the same neck rash the morning after having applied the Baby Balm (with beeswax as the main ingredient). Terribly red and flared!

I don’t have a Before and After picture of my face available to post, but let’s just say the results were about the same.  This was two days ago and my face is still recovering.  I look like I have very unhealthy skin and I feel about the same.  People at work are giving me concerned looks and asking me if I am okay.  So.  Judging by this experience, I do not react well to beeswax.  Which then got me thinking.  A LOT of mascaras contain beeswax.  You need something waxy in it to get it to stick to the lashes.  I went online and checked the ingredients for my current Almay Get up and Grow mascara.  Yup, beeswax.  Swell.

Which THEN got me thinking about when these rashes around my eyes and on my face all started.  Things began with a little spot under my left eye that started around July of 2011, and then gradually got worse over my face in the last, oh, maybe 6 months or so.  It was really weird, because I don’t remember changing any of my facial products, but all of a sudden it was like my skin became extremely sensitive and I couldn’t use my previous moisturizers AT ALL.  I can’t remember exactly when, but one day when I went to the store to buy mascara, my normal type was out (I used to use Almay Triple Effect – which incidentally does NOT have beeswax), so I got this Get up and Grow stuff instead.  I have to wonder if these events coincided.

(And, okay, I know mascara and makeup in general is not the best thing for sensitive skin.  I know this.  This is why I read reviews and ingredients like a hawk, try and search out non-irritating products, and wear quite minimal makeup.  I gotta at least look human at work, as I’ve tried to do NO makeup and was sick of the stares and comments, so I just wear mascara and concealer right now.)

Today’s evening activities will involve a trip to the store for a new, NON-BEESWAX-USING mascara.  I’m either going back to the Almay Triple Effect, or trying a new Tarte one (gifted Amazonian Clay mascara, which uses rice bran wax, carnauba wax, and candelilla wax instead of beeswax).  It is HARD to find a mascara with out beeswax, but I’m making the switch tonight and hoping this will eventually clear up a lot of my problems!

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My Car Causes Eczema (plus, a great fellow eczema blogger!)

I haven’t been posting in a bit due to busy-ness, but I figured out yet another eczema trigger for me, and gosh, what a difference a day or two made.

MY CAR IS GIVING ME ECZEMA (or at least irritating it)!!!

Hard to believe, but.  My vehicle is about 10 years old, the A/C doesn’t work since it has a coolant leak, and it started to smell really chemical-y a couple months ago.  The car guy told us that there was an emissions leak and there could be fumes getting into the cabin.  Whatever, I think, I’m just a poor college student and having a stinky car is okay, what else can I do.

Then, husband and I noticed a pattern.  My eczema got better on the weekends [when I don’t drive my car as much].  We tried trading vehicles this past week and I even biked to work sometimes….anything to not immerse my delicate skin in my Toxin-Mobile.  I’m happy to say that after just DAYS, the eczema on my face almost completely cleared up!!  😀  I was able to go to work with barely a speck of concealer!  Lesson: never underestimate the power of environmental contaminants, even though we can’t see them!

On a different tack, let me introduce you to a fellow eczema blogger that I follow: Is Eczema Contagious.  Check out her latest post here for a giveaway contest!

http://eczemacontagious.net/free-product-giveaway/

 

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Don’t Believe the Hype on Hypoallergenic

There are a ton of products out there touted as being “hypoallergenic” or “for sensitive skin” or “unscented”.  As an eczema sufferer/one with exquisitely sensitive skin, one must be wary of claims so that you can buy things in good faith and have them work for your skin and not irritate it.  For example, you want to look for products that are “fragrance-free” rather than “unscented”.  Unscented may mean that the manufacturer has actually ADDED scent to neutralize other scents.  Fragrance-free simply means that no extra fragrance was added – the product may have a slight natural fragrance.

Below are some examples of products I’ve tried that sounded great for sensitive skin, but in actuality, were a big disaster for me.  Again, the disclaimer – I’m only one person.  I’m not here to demonize any products and I am not saying they’ll be bad for you, necessarily.  My skin may be a lot different from yours even if we both have eczema and sensitive skin.  I’m Caucasian, mid-20s, female, medium skin tone, dry skin in winter and combination skin in summer.  I am usually struggling with some type of dry patch or random little rashy breakout on my face.  To the products!!!!

Cera Ve Moisturizing Lotion:

This started a whole lot of badness for me.  Ok, it was winter, I was desperate, I saw this lotion (with the National Eczema Seal of Approval, yet!!) and figured it had to be awesome.  Tried it for a few weeks, it made my eczema WORSE and gave my face a horrid dry feeling.  Like feeling as if I was wearing a mask and the skin might crack if I smiled or raised my eyebrows.  My skin got so bad I went to the dermy (my personal slang for dermatologist 🙂 ), who said it might be the parabens in this product.  Stopped using it, got better, never looked back to Cera Ve again.  (I had also bought the Face Wash which, incidentally, had parabens as well.)  I hear this works awesome for many people, but not me.

Aveeno Ultra-Calming Moisturizer, Aveeno Skin Relief Body Lotion

Aveeno always seems to project itself as being for people with sensitive skin.  The claims on these looked great – Ultra calming?  Yes!  I need calm!  Skin relief??  Yes Please!  My skin does indeed need relief!  Well.  The facial moisturizers are all pretty heavily fragranced.  I USED to be able to use them years ago, with pretty nice skin.  The last time I put it on, a couple months ago, my cheeks started itching wildly and I couldn’t wash the stuff off fast enough.  With the body lotion, this specific one has shea butter, and I’ve mentioned my trials with that stuff.  It probably would be wonderful if you didn’t have a shea butter sensitivity like me, though, as it really does moisturize all day.

 

 

California Baby Calendula Cream

I really did my research on this one.  I figured, tons of mothers of sensitive-skinned little babies can’t be wrong, can they?  This stuff is also EXPENSIVE so I was hesitant to buy it.  When I put this stuff on, sometimes it would sting so bad I would literally be hopping around the bathroom fanning my face, “Ouch!  Ouch!!!  OUCH!”  I still don’t really know what to think about this one.  On the one hand, it seemed like it may have improved some eczema patches.  On the other hand, it stung, and it contains lavender which, while smelling nice, isn’t an ingredient you want in skin care products.  I also found the natural lavender fragrance to have a gross smell since I used the stuff on my face and had to smell it all day.

 

 

Almay Nearly Naked Cover Up Stick

Excited for the prospect of a new concealer, I gave this a whirl this past winter.  Almay has been a brand that, overall, I have trusted for quite a few years makeup-wise.  They have a great mascara (without parabens!) called Get up and Grow that is waterproof (a must since I love to get my sweat on with exercise) AND makes your lashes look long yet still natural (I go for the cute athletic look, not the drag queen look).  I also use their liquid eyeliner and pencil eyeliner for special occasions.  These eyeliners DO have parabens but I haven’t determined yet if the small amount in them bothers my skin.

Anyhow, this cover-up stick was something awful.  I still don’t know what was in it that made me react, since it was touted (along with the whole brand) as being good for sensitive skin, but it completely rashed me out.  Then it was a vicious cycle of having to cover the rashes with more cover up, which made MORE rashes, until I figured the whole damn thing out in a few days and realized the cover up was bad news.  It DID cover nicely, though, so I was disappointed I had such a reaction to it.

Eczema friends out there, have YOU had any experiences like these with suggestions on what products to avoid?

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Solving another Food Mystery!

I mentioned in another post that my eczema took a turn for the worse around a year ago in July.  I was using NO DIFFERENT products on my face and had been racking my brain since LAST YEAR trying to figure out what could be different!  And I haven’t come to these revelations until I actually started WRITING THINGS DOWN in THIS BLOG and thinking critically.

Well, if it wasn’t what I put on my face… it must be something that I was putting IN my body.  So here is my food saga since that time last year:

Last July, I attempted to give up dairy in hopes of helping my eczema.  Dairy is a huge allergen and I really don’t think people should be eating it anyway, even if they aren’t allergic or sensitive.  I’d like to make this blog all science-y and backed up by research if I had more time, but suffice to say you can do your own research and find out about all the problems dairy causes.  If nothing else, try giving it up for a couple weeks and see what happens.

 

So I all but gave up dairy (succumbing to a slice of pizza every now and then), and my eczema DID improve, as well as my nasal allergies.  But I still HAD eczema, and it would ebb and flow… I thought there had to be something else.

Oh yeah, around that time, I started phasing out meat as well, moving toward my eventual goal of a totally vegan diet.  I do eat mostly vegan, but I’m not there yet…. I still feel awkward in social situations being “that person” with special food needs, and sometimes wind up eating meat or a tad bit of dairy to save face.  Oh, and I also don’t eat citrus or tomatoes, because I found those seemed to make my eczema worse too and make my mouth itch.  So yea, I have special food needs and going out to eat is a lot of fun with trying to find something that will not contain meat, dairy, citrus, or tomatoes!!

 

But, you can imagine my frustration when I started eating a lot cleaner and my eczema was still in flux!  I started to doubt my diet… .Did I really need meat and dairy after all?  Was eliminating them making my eczema worse?

It wasn’t until the other day when it occurred to me that I may have solved another food mystery!

Following the coffee revelation, my skin was unusually clear and nice.  It dawned upon me that, along with booting out coffee, I had not been eating any foods containing SOY in the past couple days, and I usually do (being quasi-vegan and all).

Wow. That’s a lot of soy food to avoid.

If you google “eczema and soy”, allergies are all over the internet.  It’s definitely something to try giving up if you are at the end of your rope with other food eliminations.

So I did another test.  I had some ”fake meat” (soy bacon) on hand.  Made a little soy bacon sandwich at night, woke up the next day – eczema was a tad worse.  Ate soy bacon sandwiches again for lunch – eczema just a tad worse, more so.

I didn’t start eating more soy foods until eating more vegan – around July last year… BING BING BING!  We may have a winner!  Is soy my dietary ticket to rashiness?  I’m going to completely phase it out for a few weeks and see.

In the meantime, I have a lot of beans to cook…. without soy, it is going to be interesting getting my protein from a vegan source.  Thank goodness I don’t have any nut allergies either!

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Coffee Revelation

Steamy cup of brew…very tasty.

Steamy cup of brew…. bad for me and you?

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Maybe so if you have eczema.

Okay, so around this time last year, in early July, my eczema took a turn for the worse.  Not a drastic turn, mind you, but an annoying little worsening that would fluctuate and never really get totally better.  I combed my brain for thinking of what might have changed… diet?  nope.  Facial products?  nope.  Environment?  same.

As background, you should know that coffee and I have had an on-off relationship ever since about last December, when we got a magical Keurig as a gift and I started slugging the brewski every morning, more for the delicious ritual than the wake-up juice.  I would go through periods where I would try to completely give it up or really, really reduce it, then get back on the coffee wagon.

I never made a connection with eczema until a few weeks ago.  I had only been drinking coffee minimally, but I started a new work environment and I craved the comfort of coffee, drinking a cup a day for a week straight.  By the end of the work week, my eczema was bad.  My beloved husband even said to me, “WHAT is WRONG with your FACE?” not knowing such things are a dagger blow to an eczema sufferer’s feelings (I didn’t think it was THAT bad if you didn’t look at me real closely and probably had blurry vision).

I didn’t make any connection with coffee and eczema yet, but I went cold turkey on it since I didn’t want a chemical dependency.  10 days without coffee, and my eczema got a little better each day!!!!  Then as a test, I had coffee yesterday.  Oh yes, eczema got a little worse.

And here I thought I had Googled just about everything about eczema and knew what to avoid… coffee never crossed my mind.  I’m going to keep up the coffee abstinence and see what happens.  I don’t think it’s the cure-all, of course, since so many factors go into eczema, but this is a simple thing I can stay away from.

Try it if you’re suffering!  It is much harder for me to drag my sorry, tired, ass out of bed each morning without the promise of coffee, but at least I know I’m working toward healing my skin.

I need this coffee mug… too bad now I can only fill it with tea or hot water.Image

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