Full disclosure: I say eczema but my dermatologist says rash or allergy or eczema. It seems to depend on his mood? In any case, the skin condition I was experiencing wasn’t fun and apparently was hard to pinpoint. But the cure always seemed to be the same: use loads of corticosteroid cream.
In a previous post, I wrote about the effects of stress on my body and how this affected my skin and wellbeing. I found myself with open sores that I had absolutely no idea as to what the cause was.
Certainly, I understood stress as a factor to my eczema but I desperately tried to figure out the exact “cause” of the open sores on my hands and feet as they could be debilitating at times (e.g. whilst training for an Iron Man or whilst needing my hands to change nappies!).
First, I had an allergy test. One of those where they stick an inhumane amount of plasters on your skin and expect you not to shower for 2 whole days. That revealed zero allergies. My dermatologist said: nothing you can do, just use the cream.
Not wanting to accept that answer, I started acupuncture. That helped a little. My acupuncturist also pointed out the pulsating heat in my extremities where the eczema was located and started to talk about stress and nutrition. Her main suspects from a nutritional perspective were onions and fish. I couldn’t find a correlation with those foods yet but started really analysing in more detail when the outbreaks were happening and how food and stress played into them.
Then, when my stress was a bit more under control, I started noticing that flare ups were happening mostly when traveling or on vacation. Strange, as vacation wouldn’t normally equate with stress. Thats when I started ticking off suspects of my list: it wasn´t just releasing stress, it was´t the plane or a simple contact allergy, it wasn´t different detergent or soap, it wasn´t an unfamiliar brand of baby wipes or chlorine. It got so that I started dreading flying out a little, despite looking forward to holidays because it was a sure thing my skin would flare up big time. Until finally, I had it figured out. Thanks to AirBnB and the ability to cook food in a kitchen away from home: the food was causing my flare ups.
If we would eat out regularly, I got flare ups straight away. If we would eat in and have takeaway or something ready made from the supermarket, I got flare ups too. But if we home cooked our meals from scratch, I was fine. To this day, I am not 100% sure which food additive it is that I react to so severely, but suffice to say, I have even more incentive to stay away from processed food now and eat fresh, home cooked meals. And to top that off, I realised on our last vacation, that I have now developed an allergy to corticosteroids too. The stuff that my dermatologist swears by, actually worsens my symptoms considerably, my guess is from overuse over the years. So that went out the window, along with the processed foods!
For now, I am happily swearing by home cooked, fresh foods at home and whilst traveling, hypoallergenic baby cream and a dermatologist-free calendar.
Be healthy and be well.