Eczema, Dairy Free and Me

The following was originally posted on Blogger on 09/10/2013:

I’ve thought about making this post often, but was never sure where to start with it. Now, as my six month anniversary approaches, I figure it’s as good a time as any to begin organizing my thoughts.

This is my tale. I apologize that I got long winded. 

For as long as I can remember, I have had “sensitive skin” or some form of eczema. My mother was always careful about what she bought for soaps, laundry detergents, shampoos, fabric softeners. 

As a preteen, I had it behind my knees and inside my elbows. As a young adult, it was on my hand. Just one. Always my right hand, always my fingers. Never my palm or the back of my hand. Just my fingers. 

Shortly after college, I had a very stressful job and was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome. My son was born and I finally cracked and got a prescription for my the eczema on my hand. A few years after that and I began seeing a doctor for chronic acne. All of these things can be indicators of a milk allergy, but as these were all different doctors (and the doctor that had diagnosed the irritable bowel has long since retired), no one put these things together. 

The last few years saw me watching my diet to avoid triggers for the IBS. It saw me carefully selecting housecleaning products, soaps, shampoos, laundry detergents, fabric softeners. I learned quite a bit about herbalism and began making my own body butters, soaps and solid shampoo bars. 

I was avoiding all of the common irritants for eczema and still it would not go away. The breakout on my hand was bright red, inflamed, sensitive and insanely itchy. There were days the itching was so bad, I thought I was losing my mind. 

One day while on my lunch break, I started Googling natural remedies for eczema. One of the many articles I read said that if I was already avoiding the common irritants and the eczema was still not going away that maybe I had a food allergy. Dairy allergy was mentioned as being the most common and I thought “What have I got to lose?” 

Just before the epiphany, I had begun using a soap a friend made for me made of goat’s milk and pine tar – which typically would have helped eczema, but didn’t in this case. I primarily used the soap on my face, neck, ears, arms and hands. I also severely broke out in those same places, but it took me several days before I made the “AHA!” connection and got rid of the soap. Too late, my face, ears and throat were irritated and my arms covered in raw scabs because I couldn’t get the itch under control. I took huge doses of antihistamines and still nothing cleared up, only marginally looking at all better.

One morning when I couldn’t stop itching anywhere, after yet another night of barely sleeping because of such horrid itching, I broke down into tears and called the doctor’s office. Imagine my relief when they had an opening that morning only a couple of hours away.

The doctor so sympathetic. She told me to stop taking all the antihistamines and only take claritin. She also renewed my prescription for my hands (as I also have a petroleum jelly allergy, I HAVE to be sure this is in cream form) and prescribed me a short burst of prednisone. Not my most favorite solution, but as she felt my body was too overloaded to fight anymore on its own, we both agreed it was a necessary one at the time. 

That was all nearly six months ago. Now? I also know to avoid caramel coloring as well as goat’s milk and cow’s milk. My reaction time is roughly 18 – 24 hours. My family has been amazing and wonderfully supportive, my husband and son fantastic about trying new things or even old things cooked a new way. 

I have to say that my acne is pretty much gone, though the skin is still healing. My irritable bowel symptoms? The ones I thought were “normal” because I didn’t know any better? Also gone. And the best part of all? As long as I avoid any and all dairy and caramel coloring? My hand remains cleared up. There’s some scarring because the break out was SO bad at the end, but the eczema itself? Still gone. 

I’m not sure what I hope to gain from this. Maybe to help someone else with eczema they can’t figure out. Maybe to show them that there is hope. Maybe to remind myself that I’ve come such a long way in these last 5 1/2 months. Maybe all of the above. 

If anyone does find this entry and reads it and wants to contact me, I welcome it. You can email me, if you wish: Just click here