It’s beyond frustrating having terrible skin. I’m just back from another round of consultations about Urticaria v Eczema with a bit of ‘risk of anaphylactic shock’ conversation thrown in. My skin is a constant problem. Better in the summer, always terrible in the winter. I’m on a roundabout of antihistamines and steroids to keep it something close to normal. What alludes me is an answer to the question – what is causing this?
I’ve had two rounds of patch testing. Now that’s fun – 120 aluminium patches on my back and arms to see if I’m allergic to any chemicals. This is because my skin reactions are deemed to be ‘contact’, rather than triggered by anything I eat. I had a terrible reaction to Nickle but I’m told it was an irritant, not an allergy so no help there.
Then the concern became that I might be suffering from cold induced Urticaria. I went swimming in Cornwall and came out covered in a rash. So off to the London Allergy Clinic I went to meet with Dr Chris Rutkowski to find out if I was allergic to the cold.
To be blunt the idea of being allergic to the cold really upset me. I spend hours by the lake, in the boat, while Molly water-skis’. She’s a competitive skier so she trains all year round in a dry suit. I even, sometimes, do a bit of winter skiing myself. Being told not to enter the water as I might go into shock was…well…a shock.
Dr Rutkowski started at the beginning and I told him about all my allergies, from childhood onwards and the current state of my skin. He was both thorough and knowledgeable. Also he was easy to talk to – something not all specialists are. The test for cold urticaria is somewhat hilarious. An ice cube was put on my arm for 5 minutes to see if I came up in welts. Luckily I didn’t – so I’m clear for cold!
But my arms are still covered in eczema…and my back and stomach have patches as well. So I’m low level grumpy and my arms are bad enough that people stare. Which always makes me feel self- conscious, as well as bloody uncomfortable.
So we have a new plan – Dr Rutkowski is going to review all my tests. In the meantime I’m increasing my antihistamine to 4 Fexofenadine a day. Which seems a lot, but I’m told it’s safe and effective. I’m also trying a new lotion called Protopic. It sounds a bit unpleasant – I may have a burning sensation when applied and I can’t use it and sunbath due to a link to skin cancer. Sun bathing isn’t something I indulge in anyway so that’s not a huge concern. It's not a steroid so it won't continue to thin my skin - which is now just a bit of a nightmare. I darn't try anything new on it as I might react. Ever since I was told about my Vitamin E allergy I've rather felt that nothing is safe...
I’m going to use it on one arm only and see how I get on. I think I can stand a bit of burning sensation if it cuts down on the itching flaking and general hideous appearance of my arms. You can see the red patches...they go all the way up to my shoulders, down my back, and around my stomach.
I will continue to drink enough water to drown a fish, and moisturise 4 to 5 times a day. This is a bit tricky when I’m out and about at work meetings, but fortunately I work from home a lot of the time so that makes it’s easier to do a full body attack with Diprobase.
So I’ll keep everyone posted on how it gets on. Here are some lovely pictures of my skin now…let’s see what happens in a week!
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