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

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9 thoughts on “Eczema, Dairy Free and Me

  1. Thank you so much for this post, myself and my son suffer from the same ailment and scratch until we too feel we’re going crazy.. did your Doctor say why claritin works better than the others? We are going to give it a try… and pray this helps us too..
    Take care from Laura

    • It’s been a while, at this point, but I think it may simply be because that’s the antihistamine I was taking? I think probably that if I’d been taking Zyrtec, she’d have told me to continue that, too.

      As long as I carefully watch my diet and what I come into contact with, my eczema stays away. It is possible to get your sanity back. 🙂

      Good luck with the Claritin. Have you found any triggers? It can be a long road, but it can be done!

      • Den, thanking you kindly for your response. We’ve found 100% wheat, soap products, dust, and humidity usually cause reactions…

        Take care from Laura

      • Hi Laura, You’re so welcome. 🙂 I would check soaps for a common ingredient. I cannot tolerate commercially made soaps due to chemicals, etc, but I thrive on homemade soaps (which is why I began making my own). Any natural stores, Whole Foods, Trader Joes and the like should have something. I’ve also been known to try Etsy (read the ingredient list carefully, but there’s no reason for more than a few oils) since the nearest Whole Foods or Trader Joes are each 2 hours away and I don’t always have time to make my own (though I’m trying to change that).

      • Den, thank you so much for the helpful information. I’ll look into that and possibly making my own soap too.

        hugs and take care from Laura

      • You’re welcome. Something else to consider….. If you’re still having serious break outs, it’s also possible you still haven’t found all your triggers and there may still be another food allergy. Remember that eczema is your body’s way of trying to communicate with you and let you know something is wrong. And not to look for the boogie man or anything, but dairy IS the most common allergy. It’s worth a shot?

        Good luck! Please keep me posted. 🙂

      • Den, I’ve always thought that too and will try to figure out the culprit. My son’s is worse than mine and I hope it’s not the milk products for him, he loves cheese.. perhaps it is? hum… thank you many times over for all of your help, as we had given up and have just been living with the itch…hugs and God Bless you my dear…

      • Den, I certainly will do just that.. it’s so comforting to know there’s someone out there that’s lived a life with skin that just won’t stop itching.. the doctors years ago gave creams, and etc, but that all made it worse… I took matters into my own hands and made it somewhat liveable for my son and I .. But we want relief from it, I’ll keep you posted my new friend.. bless you…

        Laura

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