the SKINny girl

living with eczema, allergies and other skin issues

Four Ways to Totally Eliminate Eczema

I recently wrote an article on the four main things that have helped me to eliminate eczema. My problem is that I don’t always follow my suggestions, so my eczema always returns.

Eczema Article

What should you do to get rid of your rashes?

  1. Identify your allergens
  2. Get a full night’s rest
  3. Drink a lot of water
  4. Consider acupuncture

I’m not trying to make this sound easy, because it’s not. If it was, my fingers would not be bandaged up right now.

I’m also not contradicting myself — yes, I believe these tips work, but yes, I still have eczema. I just haven’t been as careful the past couple of weeks.

You know that feeling you get when you know you’re recovering from the flu or a cold? You feel better. You’re happy. You’re on your way back to normalcy — maybe a cough here and there, but no more miserable fever. You definitely know you’re on your way to a full recovery.

That’s how I felt this past month. The hand eczema of July ’09 made me desperate — I would do anything to eliminate the pain, itchiness and embarrassment of my rashes. I never realized how conspicuous hands were. It’s obvious, but we never really pay attention to people’s hands. I started to notice how normal everyone’s hands looked compared to mine.

Everything involves the use of hands. I couldn’t open a water bottle. It was difficult to turn doorknobs. Pumping gas was hard. I drove using only my fingertips rather than my entire hand. I held my toothbrush with only my fingertips.  I was embarrassed to pay at stores because it involved using my hands to either pass the cash to the clerk or me signing my name on the credit card swipe machine. My hands were so ugly.

I cried many times.

So back to being desperate. I took the advice of my boyfriend and decided to start sleeping early, which is difficult because I know that I am a night owl. I have a lot of energy up until the late hours of the night. But I noticed that when I slept earlier, not only did my hands started getting better, my mind and body felt better. I was more alert. I felt better altogether. I was getting eight hours of sleep each night.

He also advised me to drink a lot of water. I started drinking several bottles of water each day, plus a couple glasses of green tea.

I had also made an appointment with a dermatologist who then identified the preservative I was allergic to. I spend a lot of time reading labels at stores. I already knew the foods I was allergic to. I avoid my allergens.

Acupuncture released the “toxic heat” from my body.

I think my eczema came back because 1) I became a little lazy when it came to avoiding my food allergens; 2) I hadn’t had acupuncture in a couple of weeks; and 3) I started sleeping late again. Blame it on watching too many episodes of Lost. I’m almost caught up.

Drinking a lot of water has become a habit. I didn’t stop that. I still drink a lot during the day. It has made a big impact on the general appearance and health of my skin. In fact, the skin not affected by my allergies is extremely soft. Why can’t my hands be like that?!

I have another acupuncture appointment on Friday. I had a massage yesterday. I need to sleep early tonight. I’ve been avoiding corn and tomatoes. Let’s hope this works.

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Filed under: allergens, dealing with eczema, diet, foods, treatment, treatments that don't work, , ,

Allergen in Bath & Body Works Product

How sad. You know those cool antibacterial soaps with the tiny exfoliation beads? One of the ingredients is methylisothiazolinone.

Bath & Body Works

Filed under: allergens, dealing with eczema, products, , , , ,

Corn is EVERYWHERE

I remember being a kid who hated vegetables. I hated tomatoes, hated anything green, hated eggplant. I thought corn was a vegetable (it’s really a grain) so when asked “What’s your favorite vegetable?” I would respond with “corn.”

Now, I’m not anti-corn, but I do see that it’s in almost every single food product out there, which makes it difficult for me to eat because I have an allergy to corn. It’s kind of annoying. Like trying to avoid an ex-boyfriend who seems to be everywhere you are.

Corn in Altoids

Altoids

Corn in mochi

mochi frozen dessert

Corn in turkey chili

Trader Joe’s turkey chili in a can

Corn in Very Berry cereal

Trader Joe’s Very Berry Clusters

Is corn bad? I don’t think it is, but I just can’t eat too much of it.

Corn has definitely gotten a bad rap, especially because of ethanol production (the purported “clean” fuel) and the deforestation that occurs as a result, and also because of the weight-gaining, diabetes causing, mercury containing high fructose corn syrup found in so many processed foods.

Maybe I’ve had eczema for so long because everything I’ve ever eaten has contained corn.

Filed under: allergens, dealing with eczema, foods

Methylisothiazolinone

I went to the dermatologist and had a skin patch test done on my back. No bathing for 48 hours. Basically, you sit tight while the chemicals and preservatives do their thing on your back. If you’re allergic, the 48 hours are hell. My entire back was itchy so I figured I was allergic to everything on that T.R.U.E. Test. My dermatologist said that my skin was irritated by the adhesive she used to tape the test to my back and that I only had a reaction to one preservative: methylisothiazolinone.

T.R.U.E. Allergy Test - my back

It has taken me a couple of weeks to memorize this word and now I look for it in all products I purchase. It’s such a common ingredient — it’s in products such as cosmetics (foundations, powders, concealers, bronzers, self-tanners, makeup removers, moisturizers, sunscreens, eye shadows, and mascaras. It’s also found in shampoos, hair conditioners, gels, bubble baths, soaps, baby wipes, creams, lotions and over-the-counter and prescription medicines. Other sources include detergents, fabric softeners, cleansers, pesticides, polishes and some toilet paper) and is also found in air conditioning, metal working, water cooling and latex emulsions such as paints. In industrial situations, it is called Kathon and is used in curing agents, adhesives and glues, jet fuels, printing inks, radiography and slim control agents in paper mills.

Synonyms for Methylisothiazolinone:

  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI)
  • Kathon
  • 5-Chloro-2-methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one
  • 2-Methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one

I may also react to other isothiazolinones.

Here is a site that lists a bunch of products that contain this preservative: Cosmetics Database.

This is the US Department of Health & Human Services’ page on household products that contain this preservative: Household Products Database for Methylisothiazolinone

This is definitely turning me into a more vigilant consumer, but I’m bummed that one of my favorite hand creams contains this ingredient.

Lollia Hand Cream

Time to toss it out.

Filed under: allergens, products, , , , ,

Allergens, Part 2

I had a basic upper respiratory panel done to see what else — other than foods — I’m allergic to.

Allergens part 2June (Kentucky blue grass) – Class IV
Bermuda grass – Class III
Alternaria alternata – Class III
Cat dander – Class II
Oak tree – Class II
Olive tree – Class II
Western ragweed – Class II

This was surprising to me. I assumed that the higher the class, the more of a reaction I would have, but the most severe physical reaction I’ve had was to a cat. I was literally wheezing (you could hear that wheezing sound each time I took a breath) and my chest felt very tight. The following morning, I felt better, and by the following night, my breathing was back to normal.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a reaction like that to grass, but then again, I’ve been living with hives and skin issues my whole life, so maybe severity comes in its staying power.

Filed under: allergens, , , , ,

Allergens, Part 1

Here’s a list of some foods that I apparently have an allergy to. The corresponding “Class” number indicates how much of an allergy I have to the food (the higher the number, the more I am allergic to it). Allergens Celery – Class II
Carrot – Class II
Tomato – Class II
Potato – Class II
Orange – Class I
Pistachio – Class I
Banana – Class I
Corn – Class I
Wheat – Class II
Peanut – Class II

The most thought-provoking thing about these results is the fact that I eat a majority of things on this list on a weekly, if not daily, basis. It begs the question, “Have I been making myself sick all these years without knowing it?”

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: allergens, , , , , , ,

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