In my last post about my skin, I told you how I was suffering from a horrid rash around my mouth. My Doctor had given me antibiotics to treat this and although they seemed to be working at first, within a few days the symptoms started to reappear. Along with this, I’d also started to get some sort of reaction around my eyes, double yay! To say I was feeling pretty low is putting it mildly. Any catch ups with friends that I had scheduled in January, I cancelled, seeing only my family and husband. I just wanted to hide away in a corner until it all went away. Despite all efforts, my mouth rash and the small bumps seemed to fade one day, then reappear the next, I felt like I wasn’t getting to the route cause of whatever the issue was. The patches underneath each eye which had randomly started seemed to get worse, to the point where they were so swollen in the morning, I had to ice them. I looked like I’d done ten rounds in the boxing ring.
I read a lot online about how fluoride, parabens and sulphates in your everyday items like shampoo, conditioner etc can cause eczema to flare up so I decided that I wanted to swap items like these, for more natural ones. I paid a visit to my local health shop and bought Jason Aloe Vera shampoo, conditioner and Faith in Nature hand soap. I got chatting to the lady in the store who
talked me into buying (!!) recommended lots of supplements to try. There was L-Lysine for my mouth, Allicin as a natural antibiotic (garlic), a Probiotic (which was £30!!!), some eczema skin samples and Jojoba oil, which is supposedly good to put directly onto dry, sore skin, hmmm. Well, lets just say I walked out £80 poorer and possibly with the word ‘sucker’ stamped on my forehead.
I found this site where blogger Catherine talks about her past issues with eye eczema. The photos she has in her post about it, are exactly how I looked at the time (minus my eye swelling). She swears by Dr Organics Manuka Honey Rescue cream so heck why not, I ordered myself a tub of that too. Lets just say that my credit card took a HUGE hit in January! Despite my endless cream applying, my eyes weren’t improving fact my eyes seemed to be getting worse and they also started getting very itchy, which cost me four nights worth of sleep as I’d wake up itching and scratching my face in the middle of the night. The red rash around my eyes would come and go, I noticed that it wasn’t there first thing in the morning, but as the day progressed it would appear, then disappear, occasionally reappearing later on in the day. It was all very frustrating and confusing. There seemed to be no obvious trigger to it all. I finally got on the case and made an appointment with a Dermatologist who took one look at me and said I had eye eczema, perioral dermatitis around my mouth and the swelling under each eye was a severe reaction to something. He prescribed me a myriad of creams, everyday use ones, strong steroids and he referred me for allergy testing. Now, having been doing my research online and having been told by my Doctor that the initial cause of my mouth rash was overuse of steroid cream, to be prescribed more steroid creams was really worrying. I raised my concerns with the Consultant and he agreed that steroid creams probably were to blame, but he said to treat my skin, we needed to use a different brand of cream to what I’d used before, let my skin clear up, then discuss ‘withdrawing’ from the steroid cream. He also told me to stop using any other creams and stop taking the antibiotics that my Doctor had prescribed.
I came away feeling a bit deflated after the appointment, there’s something about seeing these specialists, I always get the feeling that they have the ‘I know best’ attitude. I didn’t really feel like he explained everything to me or really listened to my questions. I wasn’t sure whether this was the right route for me to go on, taking the steroid creams again. I felt like I was letting myself down (my body down), I was confused to say the least. Despite my reservations, I was desperate for the eczema to clear up so I started using the creams and within a day I could see a difference. My flaky, dry eyes started to heal and my mouth rash began to die down, hallelujah! However, the downside was that the red patches under my eyes remained. It was at this point I started to put two and two together. I noticed that the red rash around my eyes occurred after I had my morning coffee and occasional afternoon espresso. As an experiment I cut out all caffeine and my mask hasn’t appeared since and it’s been nearly a month now. How strange that I’ve drunk coffee for almost ten or so years now and never had this reaction?
I put this whole, god awful episode down to a few things, one yes from massive overuse of a steroid cream on my face and two, a reaction to coffee (or perhaps something else?) and thirdly, from having a baby! Yes, I mean it! I’m convinced that since having my baby and my periods re-starting, something has gone on with my hormones and my body has reacted in some way to perhaps the loss of hormones somehow? I don’t know obviously, it just seems to make sense to me. I can’t find anything on this particular theory but I know my own body enough and can see the obvious timeline. I am convinced these factors were the triggers to this eczema episode. I’d love to hear from you if you suffer from Eczema too, or if you have tried any natural makeup/general products and have any recommendations x
13 thoughts on “Skin Problems – Part 2”
You mentioned “…sulphates in your everyday items like shampoo, conditioner etc can cause eczema to flare up….” This is a common mistake. Sulphites (note the spelling) are toxic to the body, often found as preservatives in everything from dried fruit and wine, to personal care products.
Although the body does manufacture sulphites on its own, these sulphites are converted into sulphates (note the spelling) which are essential and anti-inflammatory, but they are in low supply in the body. Typically, we do not get enough of the beneficial sulphates in our diet.
Did your dermatologist prescribe steroids for use around your eyes? If so, be extremely careful, and wean off them as early as possible. One of the most common side effects of periorbital use of topical steroids is cataracts.
You also said, “I didn’t really feel like he explained everything to me or really listened to my questions.”
This is horrible. If doctor’s fail to explain anything weel enough to the patient, the patient needs to pester the doctor like crazy until the everything is understood. if that doesn’t end up well, it is in the patient’s best interest to find a new doctor. I have left many doctors for this reason; if the physician is unable or unwilling to explain their treatment plan exhaustively, or even to have a exploratory conversation about it, I look elsewhere or demand to see a different physician if it is in a clinic setting.
Coffee: ah yes. I miss my morning pot of Jamaican Blue Mountain. I discovered back in 2011 that foods had been a trigger for my eczema, where I had never had food allergies previously–for more than 40 years. but, things apparently do change, including our DNA and our immune systems.
Hopefully the only thing you had to eliminate was coffee/caffeine. If you take a look at my articles, you see that I’ve had to eliminate almost everything from my diet. But, things are getting back under control, partly because of my restricted diet. Some contact and many airborne triggers are still plaguing me, but those are battles I will not win easily.
Keep in mind: not all “healthy and natural” things are completely safe for eczema sufferers. Always test products before using them on large areas of the skin. And, I have found very few supplements to actually be worth anything, although mangosteen has been very effective for me, personally.
Ahh ok, i know about sulpites, they’re in tomatos arent they? Which sometimes cause my eczema to flare. Is the doublebase cream that ive been given ok for everyday use, or should i try and scale back on that too?
Once ive finished the allergy testing, if needs be im going to see another consultant. The guy just wasnt interested (hilarious given it was privte so costs ££ to see him!) Sounds like you’ve had to do alot of work to see what triggers your eczema – im going to check out mangosteen, honestly everything ive tried so far i havent seen the slightest bit of difference, only a lighter purse! Cheers for commenting 🙂
Yes, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish and some types of fish, eggs, lettuce, onions, tea, and many other foods have naturally occurring sulphites. Tomatoes have several different chemicals that can cause allergy or intolerance, but sulphites can be one of the causes of inflammation from contact or consumption.
Doublebase cream is just liquid parafin (mineral oil) and isopropyl myristate (an alcohol-based solvent). I believe it was originally designed as a carrier/delivery vehicle for steroid preparations, but has since been sold separately as an emollient. You should have no problem with long term use of the Doublebase cream, but if you do find you begin to react to it, then stop; and, maybe try pure petroleum jelly, instead.
We all seem to experience the “light purse/empty wallet” syndrome at some point as a result of our eczema struggles. Sometimes it’s unavoidable. But, there are many of us that have posted our experiences for the benefit of people newer to the “eczema scene”. Just take everything in with a grain of salt, as there are just as many crackpots as there are diligent and honest bloggers.
Let me know if the mangosteen helps. It’s certainly not a miracle supplement, but I have found that there is definitely some amount of benefit to be had from it.
Hello! I was wondering how your skin is – thanks for posting (it has been really helpful because I’m going through the same thing). Always had eczema around my lips and over christmas, began to develop small pimples. Went to the doctors and they diagnosed it as perioral dermatitis but I’m still not better! I’m feeling the same as you (and the symptoms looks the same too). I’ve been on antibiotics forever now and the doctor gave me some rozex cream which I think has only aggravated it. Grateful to hear how you have got on.
Hey Emily, thanks for commenting. The only thing that cleared up my perioral dermatitis in the end was a strong steroid cream prescribed by a Dermatologist (not sure where you are based but here in the UK you have to pay to see someone like this/or you see through private healthcare) The antibiotics my Dr prescribed didn’t work. I’m now on a milder cream and trying to stop the use of that altogether. I need to write another update as a few things have happened since my last post. I will get writing! Hope yours clears up soon, its such a horrid thing x
Hi Emz, thanks very much for your swift reply. Oh wow, that’s great news but also really interesting (just because everybody says steroids makes perioral dermatitis worse!). I’ve always used hydrocortisone 0.5% on the area (for eczema) and the dermatologist I’m seeing now says that is generally too weak to trigger perioral dermatitis, so who knows?! I’ve been prescribed other steroids in the past though (Fucibet – very strong apparently although the dermatologist I was seeing at the time says I should use lots, Canesten HC and Eumovate all whilst I had perioral dermatitis!). I was worried about the use of steroids but the doctors all told me (like you) that they had to deal with my eczema flare up/skin generally first. Very frustrating. I’ve now been given an antibiotic cream which has aggravated my skin (so I’ve stopped using it) and I am still on antibiotics (5th week now!), with no sign of improvement. At the end of my tether quite frankly. Thanks for your blogs though – it’s been really helpful to hear from somebody else (in real time!). Best of luck!
This sounds very similar to my story and i’m hoping you can help me or offer advice? I’m at the worst of it (your january 2015 phase) and i’m struggling with a way out. Mine started with Angular cheilitis just a small red area in the corner and the doctor prescribed me Daktakort. This i used for a few days it subsided i stopped and it came back but worse. I did this on and off for 6 weeks before reading online that steroid creams made fungal infections worse? I went back to the doctors and told them about my worry of the steroid cream he said no its not a problem and prescribed me another steroid cream FUCIDIN. I now have the clown effect as you refer to it. This just made things worse and not better. I went back to the doctors a third time and (a third doctor) who told me steroid creams made it worse and she prescribed me Daktarin. I’ve been on this for 4 weeks and it has subsided the itch but i also have the clown mouth which is peeling excessively. Although it does look a bit less red. What are your thoughts, is it perioral dermatitis or a fungal infection? I don’t seem to have any pimples or raised areas it’s just red and peeling (but that might be the treatment!)
Hey Lauren, so sorry to hear you’re in the same place I was a year ago, it’s really horrid so I feel your pain. I tried Daktarin and antibiotics via the GP when it all kicked off but these didn’t work, they cleared up everything only for it to come back soon after. I spent a fortune on vitamins, special creams etc and none of these worked either, the only thing that got everything under control was when I was a private dermatologist and he prescribed me a v strong steroid cream. I was hesitant at using this as I think the steroid cream was why everything started in the first place but as he explained, you sometimes need to basically fight the problem with a strong dose, then try and wean yourself off. After this, for me personally I then found I was sort of allergic to bananas (weird) and not eating them completely calmed the issues with my mouth. Also in hindsight another reason for everything happening at once was because of (i think) a huge hormonal imbalance after having a baby. Do you have private medical Lauren, or can you see a private skin specialist (not the beauty kind, a proper dermatologist) That might help get things under control then you can take things from there X Good luck x
Thanks for responding so quickly! All I do at the minute is look through the internet for answers. I’ve been to the NHS doctor 3 times now and again for blood tests for whether I’m anemic (which I’m not)! I’m not taking anything orally apart from skin hair and nail vitamins from Holland and Barrett which don’t seem to be doing anything! I’m at the end of my tether so I think I will look into going to a private dermatologist although I’m reluctant to go and pay the money if they can’t fix it! Glad yours is finally cleared up and there is hope! I honestly think mine was the steroids as I haven’t had any other problems like this until I used them! Perhaps I’ll stop with the bananas and caffeine for a bit too! I haven’t had a baby either! But it’s nice to chat to someone who has been through the same thing and come out the other end! Thanks your posts have helped X
No worries Lauren, I know how you feel. I spent hours scouring the internet looking for solutions! I take Zinc as a supplement which is supposed to help, other than this I wouldn’t waste your money on anything else, there is NO miracle cream. Maybe try and cut out those things even just for a week and see what happens (remember caffeine is in some chocolate & coke) It’s worth a try. Overusing one steroid cream may have caused the issue but it might take another type of steroid cream to calm the issue so that’s why a dermatologist might be good. I use hardly any makeup now on my face and I use a lip balm by Moogoo Skincare, it’s the only one that doesn’t flare up everything. Also don’t use exfoliators on your face, and note that things like spicy foods sometimes make mine flare up again. Good luck XX
Hi again Lauren, I wanted to mention something I found when I was having problems. I followed (loosely) this lady’s Skin Plan and it did help. I didn’t commit fully to her way of thinking but it could be worth a shot, and I made quite a few of her recipes and found them really tasty. Its Hannah Sillitoe from My Goodness Blog: http://www.mygoodnessrecipes.com/ Check her out x
Hi Ems….my 8 year old started having flare ups when she was 4.5…it was so severe that a half inch thick layer of eczema creams (like Epaderm) inside the bandages would completely disappear in 2 hours and the skin would be very dry….what has made a big difference to my daughters eczema is following the advise of an Australian nutritionalist Karen Fischer and following the diet she provides in her book The eczema diet(the book is available on Amazon)….hope this helps
Thanks for commenting and for sharing this with me. My eczema has gotten better bizarrely since having a child (it initially got worse after having her, then has righted itself) and I also discovered post baby, that I’d become allergic to bananas, something that triggered my facial reactions. I’ve started using natural products on my face (check out Moogoo) but it does come back every now and again. I’ll have a look at that book, thanks for recommending x