Monday, February 20, 2012

Gardener's Eczema???

Since July I have been struggling with Eczema. It started out in one area under my arms. I had recently switched deodorants so I attributed the rash to an irritation due to the change and ignored it. I had never suffered from any type of skin issues in my life, save for acne breakouts here and there. The rash continued even after I stopped using the deodorant and then started showing up on the insides of my elbows, behind my knees- all the normal Eczema places.

Those of you who have dealt with Eczema understand the feeling that comes along with it. The rashes are not always the worst part- the constant skin crawling and itching have not been fun. It has not been easy to sleep and  I find that my skin gets goosebumps easily and I am often chilled. I sometimes fill up a scolding hot bath just to warm up and numb the itching and have a few moments where my skin is not crawling.

I have spent a lot of time researching over the last months and a lot of money visiting doctors, an acupuncturist, and just recently a Naturopathic Medical Doctor. My first trip was to a dermatologist. They prescribed cortisone and steroid creams. I have never felt comfortable using these types of things so I began looking elsewhere.

I had really great success initially with acupuncture. He believes that my Eczema  is largely due to stress. Stress normally plays a key role in Eczema flareups. I will admit, I let stress get to me at times. I definitely accept that this has contributed. The first couple of visits my Eczema calmed a bit and I felt relaxed and confident acupuncture was going to do the trick...but then the Eczema grew worse. He referred me to a Naturopath.

I am currently on all of sorts of herbs and vitamins, I am off gluten and eggs for two weeks at the request of my doctor...but the Eczema seems to be getting worse. I can't stop looking at my computer searching for an answer. I fully trust the acupuncturist and the naturopath. Their body is getting rid of stress and negativity. I can understand this. No conventional doctor has any idea where this is coming from. I feel like the herbs will help my body purge whatever needs to come out, but I can't stop wondering why this showed up when it did. Something must have triggered it and stress has kept it afloat.

Yesterday I came across an article about an Australian chef. Although he suffered from Eczema his whole life, his story sounded very much like my own. He tried conventional medicine, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, anything he could think of. What finally gave him relief and actually returned his skin to normal within a month was cutting out vegetables in the deadly nightshade family, a family grouped together because of their similarly shaped flowers- potatoes, aubergines, cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers. Experts believe that touching these foods can trigger an allergy that only gets worse when these foods are eaten. For some, eczema is linked to an allergy to the trace minerals naturally found in the edible parts of these plants. Allergies happen when the immune system over-reacts to a substance that is normally considered harmless. This can happen after one exposure or even after repeated exposure. The important thing to remember is, once the immune system has responded in this way, it remembers the reaction and triggers it again.

Looking back now...I planted my garden in July. My first planting was practically this whole family of plants- squash, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, I had it all. When my tomato plants were finished I practically was covered from head to toe in their leaves when I was pulling them out. When I was battling my squash's Powdery Mildew, I had on a short sleeved shirt and no gardening gloves. I am so glad to have found the article. It seems to make perfect sense...and definitely worth a try.

I now believe my eczema came from an imbalance in gut flora. After this was written I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and, although my eczema had disappeared, she developed a severe case a short time later. Read the full story here.

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