the SKINny girl

living with eczema, allergies and other skin issues

New Meds, Same Old Itch

My acupuncturist gave me some new pills to take, in addition to the Blue Poppy Herbs White Pearl pills I am already popping three times a day. These White Pearl pills are for my deficient spleen qi.

October new medicine

I got some Thorne Super EPA fish gelatin gelcaps. Sounds delicious. I was also given some probiotics — Pure Lactobacillus Sporogenes — to hopefully help me tolerate my allergens a little better.

I found out that I have some iron deficiency. I was given some nettle tea (which looked quite illegal in the little plastic baggie that it came in), which is rich in iron and mineral.

nettle loose leaf tea

Everything else looked good, according to the N.A.E.T. allergy elimination technique that was performed on me. I was coming up strong against most of the allergens that I had originally been weak against.

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Filed under: dealing with eczema, treatment

10 Foods to Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation is a pretty trendy word in the health world right now. Yes, it’s a little overused, but I believe a lot of people suffer from a variety of health issues because of their diets, which results in inflammation in various forms, including:

  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Bursitis
  • Dermatitis aka eczema

What anti-inflammatory foods do I recommend?

  1. Broccoli
  2. Olive oil
  3. Flax seed
  4. Green leafy vegetables
  5. Berries, especially blueberries and strawberries, which are packed with anti-inflammatory phytochemicals and antioxidants
  6. Whole grains
  7. Nuts
  8. Seafood
  9. Tofu
  10. Water

I eat these foods on a regular basis. Sometimes I buy them from the farmers market, sometimes from the grocery store, but I always buy organic. Meat needs to be grass fed and free range.

I know that when I slip up and eat a lot of red meat and processed foods, my rashes flare up. Not only that, but I feel miserable after eating a bunch of fried or processed foods. I feel like an itchy blob.

When I know what foods I’m eating and where they’re from, I feel healthier. My mind feels less groggy. My rashes disappear.

I no longer buy boxed cake mixes, pie crusts or cookies. Fruits replace pastries. Nuts, beans and seafood replace red meat.

It’s hard for me to have any desire to eat anything with a crazy amount of preservatives in it. There are so many ingredients that I can’t pronounce. It’s actually quite a turn-off. Not knowing the full list of ingredients in my food scares me. It scares me because I’m afraid there’s something in there that will make me break out in a bad case of eczema. I probably look like a food snob to anyone who watches me eat, but there’s a good reason behind the reason for me being so picky with my food — MY HEALTH.

I found a very helpful food pyramid (courtesy DrWeil.com) to illustrate which foods to avoid and which foods to eat in order to reduce inflammation.

Anti-inflammatory food pyramid

Have you tried an anti-inflammatory diet? Has it worked for you?

Filed under: diet, treatment, , , , , ,

Proof that Acupucture Heals Eczema

It’s been six days since I’ve had an acupuncture appointment. Look at the difference it has made on the hands of my skin. Compare these pictures to last week’s images.

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Filed under: dealing with eczema, treatment, , , ,

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.

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

Wet Wraps

My allergist recommended I do wet wraps on my hands because the eczema had gotten so severe. I no longer use wet wraps because of the skin thinning consequence of using topical steroids. They did work for me, at first. My hands got better, but soon after, the rashes surfaced again.

Soaking hands for eczema

Wet wraps can be a useful tool in the intensive treatment of atopic dermatitis. They serve as an effective barrier to scratching, increase skin hydration and promote more restful sleep. they also act as an occlusive barrier that increases penetration of medications into the skin. Wet wraps should be reserved for severe flares and used only for a few days at a time. If the emollient creams are not used properly under the wraps, skin dryness can actually be increased.

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Filed under: dealing with eczema, treatment

Key Therapy Points for Patients with Atopic Eczema

This is taken from a sheet given to me by my allergist. I personally do not recommend topical steroids because they have not worked for me and they thin the skin. Before using any lotions, creams, moisturizers and cleansers, make sure you are not allergic to any of the ingredients. This will save you further skin irritation.

Steps For Good Daily Skin Care! Soak and Seal!

  1. Take at least one bath or shower per day. Use warm, not hot, water for at least 15-20 minutes. Avoid scrubbing your skin with a washcloth.
  2. Use a gentle cleansing bar or wash such as Dove, Oil of Olay, Eucerin, Basis, Cetaphil, Aveeno or Oilatum. During a severe flare, you may choose to limit the use of cleansers to avoid possible irritation.
  3. Gently pat away excess water (within 3 minutes of a bath or shower). Apply the moisturizer or the special skin medications prescribed for you onto your damp skin. this will seal in the water and make the skin less dry and itchy.
  4. Apply your special skin medications to the areas affected with rash that is red and/or scaly. The most common skin medications used to treat the skin inflammation are topical steroids or topical immunomodulators (TIMS). Used correctly, these medications are safe and effective.
  5. Apply your moisturizer everywhere on your skin which has not received medication. Specific occlusives or moisturizers will be individually recommended for you. Moisturizers are available in many forms. Creams and ointments are more beneficial than lotions. Vaseline is a good occlusive preparation to seal in the water; however, it contains no water so it only works effectively after a soaking bath. Recommended moisturizers include Aquaphor Ointment, Eucerin Creme, Vanicream, Cetaphil Cream or Moisturel Cream.

Filed under: dealing with eczema, treatment

Steroid Ointments

Steroid Ointments

I’m not a fan of steroid ointments. I was initially prescribed Triamcinolone Acetonide. I was told to rub this on the eczema on my hands. I got a huge jar of it. It looks like Vaseline.

I was also prescribed Desonide ointment, a less intense steroid ointment that was to be used on more delicate parts of my body, such as my face (are my hands not delicate?).

Both the Triamcinolone Acetonide and the Desonide were prescribed by my allergist.

I had a flare-up recently so I visited my primary care physician and she prescribed me Betamethasone Valerate, another topical steroid.

What is up with all of the steroid prescriptions? The ointments never fully eliminated my problems — they helped for a little bit, but it always took a long time for improvement to be visible.

Another bad thing about steroids is that they thin your skin. Definitely not a good thing.

These ointments were to be applied immediately preceding a wet wrap application. At first, it seemed as though the ointment was working, but in the long run, my rashes came back.

Are you currently using steroid ointments? Are they working?

Filed under: dealing with eczema, treatments that don't work

The Tiny Needle

This is the type of needle that is pinned to me for a couple days after acupuncture. I’ve had it stuck in my ear, in my leg, on my foot and on my arms. It doesn’t hurt when I’m poked, nor does it hurt when I pull them out. It feels more like a tiny pinch. No bloody cleanup either.

acupuncture needle

acupuncture needle 2

Filed under: treatment

Clearing Heat through Needles

I seriously think the acupuncture is working. Sometimes I have to keep the needles in me for several days. Apparently, the heat clears through these needles.

I am not a big fan of needles, but I’m not terrified of them either. It’s helping, so I’m going to continue doing it.

Needle in ear

Filed under: treatment

Hot & Cold Foods — Learning About Chinese Medicine

Not counting temperature and spiciness, I had no idea there was such a thing as hot and cold food.

After I showed my acupuncturist my red hands, she asked to see my tongue. I stuck my tongue out as far as I could and looked off to the side (it’s very awkward to look at someone directly in the eye while she’s looking at the tongue sticking out of your mouth).

“You need to clear some heat,” she said. “It looks like you have a lot of toxic heat in you.” It sounded like this toxic heat was trying to escape through my hands.

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Filed under: diet, , , , ,

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