June 19th, 2008

Itching for Relief - Living with Eczema

This morning, I took my mother to see the doctor — the third time this month and the 6th doctor we talked to regarding her condition.

EczemaFor the past two months, she’s been itching day and night and covered from head to toes in hives. It’s quite debilitating — affecting her sleep and limiting the time she spends outdoors. The docs had ruled out other possibilities and concluded that she’s suffering from severe eczema (common with asthma sufferers like herself). The treatment prescribed: cortisone creams, injections and anti-inflammatory pills that zonk her out of scratching.

Why now after all these years? According to the doctors, her age is a big factor because as people age, their skin gets thinner and more prone to drying and flaking. My aunts (my mum’s sisters) have the same problem and so did my late grandma so this is something I’ve unwillingly inherited – eczema-prone skin (guess I’d better start liberally slathering myself with moisturiser now).

We’ve made a number of adjustments — we’ve changed the soaps that she’s been using to one recommended by the doc, she’s forbidden from touching the cats and she’s stopped eating cheese, milk, meat and seafood. In fact, she’s only been eating wholemeal bread (plain) in the morning and vegetables and tofu at night for a week now to rule out foods that may cause the flare ups.

The creams and pills provide temporary relief but there hasn’t been much improvement otherwise so if you guys have some valuable suggestions or personal experiences to share, please leave a comment! I’d love to hear them. Thank you!

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Comments: 8 Comments | Add your comment
Oh, I'm so sorry to hear your mom's suffering from such health problems and all. Although I don't have anything to suggest on the matter, I simply want to give you a word of support.
Anya  at 7:48 am on June 19, 2008
Maybe there's something dietary or environmental your mum could try, such as using a humidifier to prevent her skin from drying too much. I know arthritis is a very different beast (it's a joint inflammation) but I do know people who've had luck reducing animal fats and plants from the nightshade family (tomatoes, eggplants, etc.) in their diet. And this is going to sound even more far out, but is there a way to thicken skin? Exercise can improve bone strength (helping stave off osteoporosis). Maybe if there were a way to thicken your mum's skin she'd be less prone to drying and itching.
Christopher Waldrop  at 9:22 am on June 19, 2008
Thanks, Anya, that's greatly appreciated. :)

Very interesting, Chris. I suspect her flare up was in part due to her increased consumption of dairy products. Last year she suffered from knee problems and was advised to up her calcium intake, which she did by drinking loads of milk and eating lots of cheese. We're giving her current diet another week before slowly reintroducing other food items back.

I don't know about skin thickening but there are "barrier creams" for contact dermatitis that I'm gonna get for her soon. Thanks for your input on this.
Ginger M  at 9:45 am on June 19, 2008
If it's hives, it's an allergic reaction. I have gotten thosse on my chest and shoulders in the past and I always mashed up a couple Benadryl and mixed it with a hydrocortizone creme. That always brought the hives down. best to your Gramma!
Damien  at 1:17 am on June 22, 2008
Hey this may sound totally whacky but when i was a kid a neighbor lady took me and put tea like boiled and cooled down on a rag.She patted the tea on my skin and there's some acid in there or whatever that soothes the skin and took away the pain.I don't know if would work but if it doesn't at least you have tea ;)
John Sullivan  at 4:36 am on June 22, 2008
Thanks everyone for your suggestions. The "elimination diet" she's on seems to be alleviating the symptoms. We're gonna slowly reintroduce other food a few days at a time next week.
Ginger M  at 12:09 pm on June 22, 2008
Hi there! I don't normally like to spam people with my "stuff" but since you asked, and because eczema is such an incredibly frustrating problem I thought I would leave a link to an article I wrote on naturopathic ideas for eczema. I will be writing more on this so feel free to ask any questions or suggest topics for other related articles. If you have any questions about the elminition diet you can check out my article on that as well or post a comment if you need additional support. http://www.kitchentablemedicine.com/alternative-medicine-solutions-for-eczema-and-other-itchy-skin-problems/
Dr. Nicole Sundene  at 4:05 am on June 24, 2008
I have problems with atopic dermatitis (that is skin desease, that can cower my entire body) and in my experiance I can ask only one thing: What is she affraid of? Has she a problem, that she worries about? And it doest't have to be a big one. Think about that.
oolong  at 5:33 am on August 15, 2008

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