In our family I’m the Eczema and Urticaria sufferer, happily Molly only gets a bit of eczema that reacts when she’s touched something or used a product that she’s allergic to. We’re not sure exactly what sets her off but we know glue (face paints) and some cosmetics (welcome to the teenage years’) are an issue. For me it’s more chronic and ongoing.
The cause of the worst reaction has been tracked down via patch testing to Tocopheryl Acetate, or synthetic vitamin E. The irony that something put in skin care products to soften skin is causing urticaria is not lost on me. I’ve had to find new deodorant, sun block, moisturisers, shampoo and even some of the skin supplement I’ve been taken use it in the casing for the herbs.
I’ve also found that Sulfates cause a reaction, I’ve been told regularly that my rashes aren’t caused by anything I eat but I have to disagree. Having cut out Sulfates I’ve been able to stop using cortisone and protopic cream altogether. It’s been a game changer for me.
After years of steroid creams I’ve got very thin skin on my arms, and I bruise very easily. I really wish I’d been warned, for years it just seemed like the only option. As a young adult I was just handed steroids, and really not told about emollients or moisturising multiple times a day. There are things you can do to help yourself, the old fashioned – drink lots is one of them. I found Protopic helped enormously, but the real change in my skin has been finding out the triggers. Keep looking, even if you’re told, like I was, that it’s ‘just the way your skin is’. That doesn’t mean spending a fortune on on-line cures, but rather to keep track and see if you can see patterns.
If you have an older child with severe eczema do take a look at the Eczema UK website about treatment options. As of August 2019 older children are now able to have Dupilumab treatment. This is one of the ground breaking treatments that targets the immune reaction, rather than treats the symptoms. Here’s the link to the Eczema UK website – Dupilumab.
And here is the fact sheet:
Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)
Eczema is an inflammation of the skin that causes changes in the upper layer of the skin. The result is redness, intense itching and in more severe cases cracking, crusting and oozing. Basically the skin doesn’t function as well as it should and allergy inducing substances can get through the barrier and cause dryness and inflammation. One of the most frustrating things about Eczema is sorting out the triggers. So while food allergy doesn’t cause eczema, eating certain foods can help trigger it. This differentiation is, no doubt, the cause of many frustrating exchanges between patients and doctors. At the end of the day, if you are prone to eczema then a big part of your job is to find out what triggers it, options include: Dust Soap and detergent Heat Cleaning products Latex Animal dander Food – dairy, wheat and soya
How to help yourself
Apart from figuring out what triggers your eczema, ensuring you and your skin are hydrated is your next priority. So…in brief- drink loads of water. I just keep sipping a bottle of water throughout the day. When I don’t, when I’m busy running around at work and don’t think about my water intake then my skin sufferers.
This is key – your GP will be able to prescribe moisturisers for you. There are lots out there and do keep going back to your GP to try news ones if you’re not getting a good result with the one you have. I’ve bobbed between moisturisers as I swear my skin ‘get use to’ them and they seem to stop working so well. For me, I need to moisturise three times a day. Minimum. If I can squeeze in four full body slatherings a day then that’s better. And yes…this means spending time in the toilets de-robing and moisturising in a cubicle. It’s not fun but it needs doing.
Instead of soap you need to be using an emollient. These are heavy creams that you use instead of soap. Take a small amount and gently rub it on your skin before a bath or shower. There are a wide variety available and again your GP can advise you. Personally, I use Epaderm every day.
Do keep going back to your GP for help. Everyone is different, and also your skin changes over time. If you are itchy and uncomfortable don’t just suffer in silence, try different moisturisers and get a dermatologist appointment to see if they can help identify the causes. I found that the dermatologist was prepared to prescribe stronger steroid cream which got reactions under control much faster, meaning I used it for a much shorter period of time.
I get Urticaria and it is deeply unpleasant. The more common name is Hives, or Nettle Rash. Raised, hot wheals in spots or patches appear on the skin. The rash is hot, itchy and can cause a burning sensation.
Usually the rash goes away in about 24 hours but it can last longer and can become a chronic condition.
Having read various website there seems to be a debate about Urticaria. Some cases are related to allergies, but the view is that not all are. Allergy Uk says that only 20% of the cases of Urticaria are allergy related. It appears that chronic Urticaria happens when auto-antibodies attack Mat Cells in the skin causing a massive release of histamine. Urticaria can also be triggered by heat, cold, sunlight, water and chemicals and some drugs. The vital thing is to figure out what triggers it for you. If it is triggered by food sometimes salicylates are the trigger, so foods that are high in salicylates – such as wine, some nuts, avocados, apples, blueberries and dried fruits.
If you suspect that its food related then I’m afraid the elimination diet is the way to go (under medical supervision).
Treatment for Urticaria is anti-histamines, and if it’s a very bad case prednisone. Long term use of prednisone isn’t recommended and it’s quite important to find the cause of your Urticaria if you can.
Here are a couple of useful websites:
There are a lot of products out there designed to help with itchy skin. You really have to try and mind ones that work for you as there isn’t a one size fits all solution to this. Here are a few you might want to try.