Allergies and Eczema

I have known that I have severe eczema all my life, so I have dealt with eczema flairs. I have had allergies as well. I am used to avoiding certain foods and products and asking if things contain my allergens. I switched to a new school. My new school did not allow open shoes, such as flip flops. So I mostly wore tennis shoes. In my sophomore year of high school my feet started itching really badly, I would get home and just claw my feet. My doctor put me on high doses of prednisone. My feet just would not get better. It got to the point that my feet were so infected and swollen that I could not even put on closed in shoes. My school allowed me to wear flip flops. Doing anything on my feet was unbelievably painful. I went to a dermatologist, and she did a patch test, which showed that I was severely allergic to propylene glycol. All of my makeup, soap, shampoo, lotions, etc. contained it. It had gotten to the point that my primary doctor and dermatologist were afraid I was going to lose my feet to infection. It was my Junior year of high school before my feet were able to completely heal. I am now 24 and I still have the scars on my feet. I still deal with flairs. Now I avoid propylene glycol in as much stuff as I can. I want to educate as many people as I can about the severe eczema and propylene glycol.
— anonymous Allergista reader

For about five minutes, I've been trying to figure out how to begin my response and all I can think is "WOW". You caught it right in time! This is definitely one of, if not THE most severe propylene glycol story I've heard. Bravo to your doctor for doing that patch test. Without it, you probably would have lost your feet! I can't recommend getting extensive patch testing ENOUGH (EVERYBODY, DO IT). It changed my world as well. Without it, it's scary to think what type of shape either of us would be in!

You've come out of this a stronger and more knowledgeable person and let your scars be a reminder of that. Cheers to your future and thank you for sharing your story!


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Posted on September 2, 2015 and filed under Allergies, Eczema, Share Your Story.

Pita Pata Diva: The Cutest Cotton Vintage Suits on Etsy!


Oh my gosh.... I haven't been able to get a blog post up since MARCH! That's pretty much never happened EVER. But when you get married and do a DIY wedding, this glittery smoke comes over you at the very beginning of the wedding planning process...  suddenly you emerge 8 months later, married and completely in shock that 8 months has gone by. It's cuh-razy. And awesome. But, I'll tell you more about that later!

Although summer is coming to a close, it will soon be time to plan for your winter getaways! It's starting to get juuust a little cooler here in Chicagoland... perfect time to start planning for more warm weather ;-) I'm hoping to go to Florida this winter, actually.

And while you're planning for such awesome things, I highly suggest you hop on over to Pita Pata Diva! I've actually posted about this shop before. They make THE most adorable custom vintage suits for the beach / pool. I had a whole bunch of them made for my sailing trip around St. Martin, St. Bart's and Ile Fourche:

I wore my ruffle top as a bandeau one of the days ;-)

I wore my ruffle top as a bandeau one of the days ;-)

I don't know about you, but if you're allergic to polyester like I am, it can be difficult finding suits to lounge around in the sun!

As you can see, these pieces are PERFECT for it! All I had to do was put in a request with the store owner (omg she is SO sweet) and she did 100% cotton linings for me in EVERYTHING.

These are all the pieces I got. I chose tops and bottoms I could mix and match so I have LOTS of options. Pardon the wrinkles!

Look at the adorable heart shaped stitches!

Look at the adorable heart shaped stitches!

I love how the lining is a different print, but still goes along with the colors!

I love how the lining is a different print, but still goes along with the colors!

Aren't they beyond cute? I love 'em. I am definitely going to bring a couple of these down to Florida with me this winter!

So, head on over to Pita Pata Diva's shop now! You can also follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

Tell them I sent ya ;-) And don't be afraid to ask the store owner questions! She has been above and beyond helpful to me.

Blogging, Getting Married and Trying Not To Lose My Mind

Hey guys!!

WOW, it's been nearly a month since I've blogged... that rarely happens! I've been getting emails from you guys and I just want you to know that I haven't forgotten about you, I promise!

There are a few things going on that are making it hard to blog right now:

  1. I'm getting married this summer (eeeeeeeee!!!)
  2. After moving the blog from Wordpress to Squarespace... I've found out that self-hosted Wordpress is really where I should be. 
  3. My new job includes a commute that has me out of the house for 12 hours a day. I can blog on public transpo on my way to work, but I have to buy a hotspot for my phone. Guess when the wrong time to buy anything is! When you're about to get married!


Between all of my wedding tasks, the daunting project of moving the website to another platform and being out of the house 12 hours a day for work... I just can't invest a whole lot of time in writing blog posts... not if I want to stay sane and avoid looking like a trainwreck at out wedding.

I'm kinda sad about it! I'm not going on hiatus completely, though! I AM, however, still active on social media, so make sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

As far as wedding planning goes... I ACTUALLY FOUND A DRESS NOT MADE OF SYNTHETICS!!! And it looks very much like what I was going for :-) It's made of silk.

I couldn't resist trying on some other dresses and of course... they all had polyester. Most wedding dresses do! I actually had a woman be very short with me and pretty much rushed me off the phone after she said, "Every single one of our wedding dresses here at David's Bridal has polyester.". It was the first place I called and was pretty excited (I even told her that), but she didn't think twice before crushing my dreams.

Pretty much all wedding dresses have a polyester lining, but that can be fixed. Polyester elsewhere on the dress, though? Not so easy. She didn't even think about "hey, maybe we have a silk dress or another dress that only has polyester in the lining". Luckily the second place I called was MORE than happy to help :-) And guess who got my business?? NOT David's Bridal.

Of course... there was a price for me to pay for trying on dresses with polyester:

That was a month ago. I try not to use my steroid ointment, but I did in this case. I really didn't want it to spread or take a long time to heal. Pre-wedding time is NOT when I need to be dealing with stuff like that. The reaction is gone now, thankfully.

Makeup will be a challenge, but luckily a client friend of mine is a professional makeup artist and she's well aware of my challenges. I reeeeeeally want to wear false eyelashes, but my skin hates adhesive. Sometimes my skin surprises me, though, so I'm going to try it on my arm first. I mean, who doesn't want eyelashes growing out of their arm, anyways? Duh.

There have been some other challenges I've come across (ha, shocking), but I'll write about those in the upcoming posts!!


Allergy to Rosin, Nickel, Cobalt and Budesonide

I a mom if three beatiful children, my oldest daughter is allergic to rosin (colophony), nickel, cobalt and budesonide. Her two more agressive allergies are rosin and nickel. She has very severe contact dermatitis. The hardest part of this journey was 6 years ago when she was 9 years old. Her legs started developing a rash, that soon became infected huge blisters oozing and bleeding. The first doctor said she had a atopic dermatitis and gave her corticosteroid that didnt make anything better. Things were getting worst, the rash was all over her shins, she was sent by her pediatrician to the ER were tgey treated her for MRSA (that at the end was negative) with very strong antibiotic called clyndamicin. We were sent back home.

After going repeatedly to the same pediatrician and not getting any different answers, we decided to try a new one. As soon as i went to the new dr, she sent mu daughter again to ER because st this point the rash was spreading to her back and face. She was admitted to the hospital and treated for staph and severe dermititis with efusion. She was on IV antibiotics for 5 days, and everyday she was take to a stainless steel bath tub where they did bleach baths and after that covered her in topical medicines and covered her whole legs with bandages. During her time at the hospital they tested her for diferent things for example Lupus and Celiac Disease they all came negative. It was a very frustrating time. She also received life coaching becuase at this point all this uncertainty was afecting her so much in her confidense and trust. During her stay her legs did get better and we were hoping that was the end of it. But as soon as we got home the nightmare started again. I decided to start sending her pictures to research facilities in mayor hospitals like john hopkings hoping someone would have an answer. I was told she had numular excema and that she would have to learn coping strategies since she would allways have this horrible disfiguring rash.

After maybe 6 months of this struggling our pediatrician sent us to a dermatologist that gave her a T.R.U.E patch test, there she tested positive for rosin, nickel, cobalt and budesonide. We went home and took all school uniform blue socks and put them in the garbage, got white socks instead, we met with the school to cover all metal chairs that she used so she would not have contact with nickel, shenhad to sit out playground time becuase the rubber mulch in the playground might have contained rosin. After all this efforts NOTHING changed. The rash was still there oozing and bleeding. Summer came and we went on a trip to our native country in South America for one month. There finally the rash disapeared. We were finally getting over this nightmare. But then ofcourse we started to think there was an allergy to something in the air of our city were we live, maybe a plant or a type of pollen. We really considered moving back to South America. After all, what we wanted was our daughter’s health back and it seemed it was only possible there.

So we came back to Miami ready to pack our stuff, but i told my husband “before we leave lets make sure were are not packing the allergen with us”. We decided to empty our house completely and just like when you start a baby with solid food, introduce one thing at a time. So we were left with one bed for all 5 of us and nothing else. We ate in the floor and the rest was open space. We brought in one piece of furniture every three days. And finally the culprit showed up! It was the kitchen stools i had bought a year before from a major store. It never occured to me that this could be the problem, specially becuase they were leather stools. Well when i did resaerch on the stools materials i found out that leather is treated sometimes wit abietic acid (another name for colophony or rosin). And then just like that she finally started getting better. Slowly she regained her confidence and life was beatiful for her again. (It is amazing how hard for a little girl it can be to have uncertainty about your health and to not be able to wear shorts or play at park with out worries.)

Years have passed since then and we have completely ignored the fact that rosin is not her only allergy even though is the worst one. Two years ago we had another long episode of uncertainty when she started to wake up often with her eyes swollen shut and her legs full of blisters again. Of course detective mom to the rescue! We tried to figure out were she was being exposed to rosin but we couldnt pin point it. Again we were referred to a rheumatologist who looked for different autoimune disease like Lupus that sometimes manifest with these bad rashes. Again all was negative. So we were back at square one. Looking for the source! Not an easy task. And finally we found it! My daughter is a ballet dancer and that year she had started dancing pointe. Well it turns out dancers use rosin on their shoes to have grip and not slip. There you go again rosin the culprit!

And again we where faced with the decition of giving up on dreams of being a dancer and find somethibg else to do, only that i am not one that gives up easily. So after long research hours i found a man that makes synthetic rosin for string instruments, contacted him and he is now selling rosin to us. We provide the dynthetic rosin for all of the dancers at the school. This is the only way we can be sure she will not be exposed. I hope this person will allways be available to sell us the rosin, he really does not produce rosin for dancers i buy ut directly from him. We are forever thankfull of him because thanks to his creation my daughter can still dance.

My daughter is now 13 years old and most of the time she has no rashes but they do appear every so often so we decided to go back to the dermatologist and get tested again. This time her patch test included 126 reactives. And again her results were the same nickel, rosin, cobalt, and budesonide. The dr. says her ocassional rashes are most likely from the constant nickel exposure, so know we need to take care of thAt. For now i have ordered the nickel tester and im waiting for it. Also looking for an alternative to hair removal because shaving has nickel and wax has rosin. Not many options left. It is very difficult to completely avoid this allergens but we try our best everyday.

My heart goes out to all the ones that suffer without an answer. Hang in there and be proactive!!! Answers might be hard to find but they exist. We are so thankfull that at least we now know what to avoid. Everyday is a new adventure. Im thinking that by this time next week i will be testig my whole house for nickel. Wish us luck!

Wow, best of luck to you! I wish I could send you all the luck in the world! Looking for the culprit can be SUCH a long and rough test of one's patience... hats off to you for figuring it out time and time again! Finding the culprit is such a great feeling... it's definitely worth all of the detective work. Your daughter is lucky to have such a committed mother! As far as hair removal, maybe she could try products like nair or think about laser hair removal...

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Skintifique: products for people with nickel allergy

So, if you follow me on Instagram, you may remember me talking about this new product line out there called Skintifique. The purpose of their most interesting product is to create a barrier between your skin and the nickel out there in the world. It sounds like a dream, right?

It took me some time, but I did some tests and… I think I’m more confused than I ever was before. After waiting and waiting for my skin to be 100% clear so I could test the product out without any complications… I just couldn’t wait anymore. Not only did I want to know if it worked for me, but the owner of the company so generously gave me a number of items and I wanted to get a review up soon.

So, I began my tests… during one, I held onto nickel plated nail clippers for long periods of time…

Another time, I put on the lotion and went about my day. Nothing happened.

I also held onto quarters...

And then nickels because they have more nickel in them than quarters do (go figure):

Again, nothing happened even after about 30 minutes. I'M SUPPOSEDLY SO ALLERGIC TO NICKEL... I was told I react like poison ivy and I've watched myself touch metal and react soon after. I don't get it!

Aside my from my skin getting slightly itchy at certain points, I saw no actual reaction in the way of redness/bumps. While I was excited, I felt like I had to do a more controlled test.

I took nickels (which are 25% nickel  these days), and strapped two groups of them to my arm... they were made in the same year and everything. I drew a line down the middle and on one side, rubbed some Skintifique nickel protectant. I placed a nickel on the Skintifique side and a nickel on the other side which had no protectant. That was my control group.

Hot, right? It's a 100% cotton sock and a rubber band for vegetables.

So, after hours of waiting I took off the sock, removed the nickels and waited.

The result? Well, first of all… the control group nickel didn’t cause any reaction on my skin! What’s that all about? I was told that I react like poison ivy… my full-of-nickel eyelash curler used to destroy my fingers… and touching doorknobs at work used to warrant my crazily scratching my palms all day long…

And then get this… I REACTED ON THE SKINTIFIQUE SIDE! But I ONLY reacted where the nickel touched my skin… I didn’t react on the square shaped area where I rubbed the lotion… My reactions were in a circular shape – ONLY under the nickel. It seemed that I was having an allergic reaction to the chemical reaction of the nickel and the lotion coming together! I mean, seriously? Wow.

I was positive that I kept track of which side had the protectant, but hey, I don't know it all and sometimes I make mistakes like we all do… so I did it again. And this time, I wrote ON my arm which side HAD it and which side DIDN'T.


You can see the top toward my wrist was the one where I didn't draw an actual line and label. Below, is the test where I wrote it on my arm. The hazy "wo" stands for "without" and the other side (which you can barely see) says "w" for "with". See the round nickel-sized areas on the "with" side? The top one has had longer to become irritated at that point in the photo, which is why it's easier to see the bumps on that one than it is with the one below it. (I also have other random irritations that were there to begin with.

So...I wasn’t crazy. Or forgetful.  But I am perplexed. I accept the fact that my skin reacts to a chemical reaction…. BUT WHY DIDN’T I REACT TO THE NICKELS? I even tested them and yes they had nickel in them. Is my allergy giving me a break? Perhaps it’s going away? Maybe I don't react as quickly as I thought? With some allergens, I have to be exposed for a while before a reaction will occur.

I think I need to do another round of contact allergen testing after I get married this summer. There’s enough going on right now that I don’t want to add doctors to the mix (if I can get away with it), but I intend to figure this out…

In the meantime, you must check out Skintifique. It might work for you! I've actually done video chats with the owner (who lives in Paris) and she's told me that they have an 80% percent success rate. They've distributed it to people and asked for reviews themselves and it's now also being fed through doctors offices and people are doing well with the product. She and her husband own the company together and they are both chemists, so they're very well schooled in creating products like this. I can tell that she's a very genuine person and really cares about being able to help others gain some relief from uncomfortable and painful skin allergies. With an 80% success rate, it's definitely worth a shot!

I asked the owner, Elizabeth, if she's ever seen anybody else have a reaction like mine... one where they react to a chemical reaction between nickel and the cream. She said no. Somehow, I wasn't surprised. That's kinda just how my skin goes - it likes to throw curve balls! It definitely gave her something to think about, though. 

ALSO, I tried all of their other products and had no allergic reactions at all. They were all great! She included in the package:

The hand gel is amaaaaazing. It’s a moisturizer and is getting rave reviews in our household. My skin can get dry, but my fiance's gets incredibly insanely dry in the winter. It had his skin in great shape even a couple days later after using it for just one night. He LOVES it.

A big thanks to the people at Skintifique for letting me try their products and allowing an honest review to be posted!

You guys rock.