The Methods I've Taken to Diminish My Eczema

When it comes to my eczema... I've come a LONG way. Check it out:

Before I had a handle on how to handle my two types of eczema, I had a lot of itchy, sleepless nights... as you can probably guess from the photo. Two types of eczema, you ask? There are several different kinds, but I have:

  • atopic dermatitis
  • allergic contact dermatitis

Atopic is a reoccurring type of eczema that, for lack of better words, happens "just because" (as my doctor put it). Atopic eczema tends to occur in the same places and can be terribly annoying as all you can do for it is treat it. There's not much you can do in the way of prevention.

Allergic contact dermatitis is exactly what it sounds like: your skin has an allergic reaction upon contact with your allergen. With this type of eczema, you can prevent it by avoiding your allergens (or by taking steroids for the rest of your life, which I refuse to do). Avoiding certain allergens can be life changing. Personally, I have 24 allergens and avoid everything from certain soap to metal to synthetic fabrics and food. It has been 100% life changing for me.

Along the way, there are a lot of different things I've had to do in order to create an environment where I'm healthy and as eczema free as I can be WITHOUT having to be on Prednisone (the steroid I was referring to).

Here are the methods I've found useful in combating my eczema:

  • Keep nails short to prevent scratching while sleeping
  • Cool or lukewarm showers to reduce inflammation and itching
  • No dairy! I'm lactose intolerant and usually causes my skin to flare up
  • No coffee! Aside from the fact that the ingredients are rarely listed, the caffeine spikes and lows aren't good for your body. My skin starts to flare up (breaks out in bubbles, gets red & itchy) if I'm drinking a lot of coffee.
  • Reducing stress. If I have eczema on my skin and I end up getting stressed out, it causes my existing eczema to get worse. Researching and practicing meditation taught my how to keep myself calm (most of the time, ha).
  • Like I said before, avoiding my allergens. It's of the utmost importance. This means that I've:
    • purchased back scratchers so that I can pet our cat without touching him
    • had my desks at work covered in glass so my arms don't react to the polyester resin in the laminate tops
    • switched over to a 100% cotton wardrobe
    • avoided a lot of preservatives/processed food
    • been carrying around a bandanna with me to touch things in public that I may be allergic to such as doorknobs
    • had to say no to most of the food people bring into work to share with everybody like donuts, pizza, etc. 
  • Taking extra time to plan out my vacations. I have to think ahead and plan well so that I'm prepared for whatever it is that I may have to come into contact with
  • Purchased an air purifier for every room of the house. Airborne allergens can settle on your skin, especially if there's a lot of it such as with a cat, so this is definitely something to think about if you haven't done it yet.
  • Installed a shower head with a built-in filter. We have one from gaiam.com. There's all sorts of stuff in your pipes and possibly your water. Since you're in the shower once, maybe twice a day, this is a good idea for sure.
  • Only moisturize with cream, not lotion. Cream creates a barrier between your skin and the world. Lotion soaks right in (and probably has a lot of weird fragrances and chemicals in it).
  • Calendula cream. This is an interesting one. I bought it from from The Eczema Company and it seemed to help calm my skin down. Unfortunately, the kind they carried began adding propylene glycol to their cream, so they pulled it from their shop. Calendula is a flower, so I intend on checking out some other calendula options. 
  • I'm still in the air about oil pulling. I tried it once and it seemed like it worked, but I'd like to try it again to see if that's really the case!
  • Reading every ingredient label. And remembering that there are hidden ingredients. I keep out a keen eye for my allergens and if something is making me sick, it's time to investigate for any hidden ingredients. This happened to me with propylene glycol being hidden in my vitamins in the form of modified food starch. Yeah. Crazy.

What methods have worked for YOU?

ALLERGY STORIES: Asthma/Allergies and Lung disease

I was tested and found to be allergic to a very long list of food and environmental elements, including almost all trees and grasses. Before that I was diagnosed with and was being treated for asthma and nasal allergies. Four years ago I was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and I strongly believe there is a connection. I believe my lung disease may have been caused by undiagnosed food allergies causing acid reflux which was aspirated into my lungs(just my opinion). Right now I am being seen by Duke Medical Center as a candidate for a lung transplant. I am on supplemental oxygen. As I type this I have a red blotchy rash and have no idea want caused it as it is so hard to pinpoint sometimes because even though I avoid known allergens, I have had reactions to foods that I tested negative for. I wish I had tested sooner but I always blamed the shortness of breathe that happened sometimes after meals on asthma. I feel like I am rambling, but it just feels good to share with someone who understands.

You've rendered me almost speechless... I'm heartbroken for you. I can't imagine what you're going through. Please don't feel like you're rambling! This is exactly what the "Share Your Story" feature is here for :-)

Plus, a lung transplant is NO small deal. Wow... I see what you're saying, though. I think there could definitely be something to your theory. Allergens can wreak havoc on our bodies in ways that most people wouldn't even think of. 

Hang in there and keep doing things for yourself that help you feel better (like sharing your story) or having a friend over for lunch. It's important to keep your spirit up!

Please check back in after your transplant and let us know how you're doing!

 

Click here to submit your story!

For more eczema stories, click here.

For more allergy stories, click here.

Voila! The blog is now on a new platform!

Woohoo!!

This is officially my very first blog post on the new platform. The blog used to be on Wordpress, but I've made the switch over to Squarespace.

Why, you ask?

Without revealing tooooo much about my future plans, Squarespace allows you to really take your blog to the next level. Squarespace is essentially more of a website platform than a blog platform. I'd describe it as a website builder with the added plus of an incorporated blog and more. Squarespace gives a lot more freedom. Wordpress had a lot of rules and therefore less freedom. 

Don't get me wrong: I loved Wordpress. We had a lot of great, great times together and it's a wonderful blogging platform. It was simply time for me to move on.

I've made connections with so many awesome people through this blog... people suffering from similar issues, issues worse than mine and the newbies to the allergy and eczema "scene", if you will. It's been a two way street full of valuable information and I'm so very grateful for that. This blog is something that I hold near and dear to me.

So, thank you for hanging out and being part of the community. You rock! And I'm VERY excited for the new things to come :-) 

Over the next couple weeks, I will be tweaking and fixing things on the site, so I thank you in advance for your patience! Websites are no small project, so it just takes a little time.

In the meantime, if you have any suggestions or comments on the new site, please leave them below!


Movin' On Up

the_allergista_white_no_letters

Aaaaaaahhhhhh YES. I have been thinking about, doing testing for and planning on this for.... a WHILE now.

TheAllergista.com is going to be moving to a different website platform which will allow me to take this whole thing to the next level. I'm not going to divulge all of the details at this point, but I just wanted to let you know in case anything looks weird, disappears, links don't work... who knows. Rest assured that it will all be temporary, though and I hope to be posting again next week!

I'll be initiating the switch tomorrow and it's just too hard to say if it will take all weekend or not. I'm hoping not!

In the meantime, you'll still be able to follow me on social media ;-)

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook

Pinterest

Posted on September 5, 2014 and filed under Updates.

PRODUCT REVIEW: Safeguard Filters

safeguard_filter

A number of months ago, the folks at pollenrelief.com reached out to me and asked if I'd like to try one of their Safeguard window filters. The gist of the product is that it allows you to keep your windows open a little bit without the threat of seasonal allergens coming into the house along with that nice fresh air. It sounded great to me so they sent me one and I popped it in one of our windows for a few weeks:

Here are some features:

  • It was tested with ragweed and is proven to remove over 96% of the allergen.
  • Rain & snow cannot get into your house while the filter is in the window. We did see a bunch of rain multiple times and it didn't come through the window either time. Haven't tried it out with snow, but I'm sure if would be fine. If there's a torrential storm, it's recommended that you remove the filter from your window.
  • Bugs can't get through either!
  • Rust proof
  • There are a range of sizes to fit your windows.
  • There's no need to worry about cleaning the filters because they carry replaceable filter cartridges in the online store.
  • Affordably priced at $22-$30

This is the problem with me testing this product out... I'm allergic to our cat (my hunny already had this cat for many years before I moved in and then found out about my allergy) and the cat is an indoor cat... and therefore is inside our house. I go through these measures to keep my skin from reacting to him, but I tend to be a tad stuffed up because of it.

My point is that there's no way I can properly test out a window air filter when there's a constant allergen already inside my house. Testing out electronic air purifiers was different since they help to clean the cat out of the inside air. Somehow, I didn't think of the cat factor when the representative for Safeguard contacted me. Don't ask me how! There are a lot of allergy things I need to remember... sometimes I slip up!

While I'm not the best test subject for this, I DO think this Safeguard filter is a great idea! I have a friend, from the blog Celiac & Allergy Adventures, who keeps her windows shut because of her seasonal allergens. Safeguard filters definitely helps out with that problem! And I'm a big fan of allergy solutions :-)

Head on over to pollenrelief.com to snag your very own Safeguard filter!