Before going Paleo a little over 1.5 years ago I used to get cases of eczema intermittently throughout the year. If you have ever had a case of eczema you know how bad this sucks! ITCHY ITCHY ITCHY and you want to itch but you can’t because it will make it spread and get worse! For me the eczema has always been worse in the winter months, but it still popped up time to time during the other seasons. I never suffered from eczema as a child, and in my case it started in my early-mid 20s. One day I woke up with a rash on my arms and legs that itched like crazy. I kept piling on my bath and body works lotion to try and make it better but it kept spreading. I finally went to my MD at the time and he said I was having a reaction to something I was putting on my skin, and told me to stop using products with perfume in them but instead use fragrance free. In addition he prescribed a topical steroid to keep on hand to “treat” this when I had flare ups and sent me on my way. Looking back and reflecting I have to admit that I am sometimes a little shocked at the care we can get from an MD versus an ND. Don’t get me wrong I do believe we have needs for modern medicine, but my views have changed over the years and I believe 110% that diet, stress, balanced hormones, good sleep, exercise, meditation/yoga are all integral parts of our health and well being.
In early December I was hit with that nasty flu bug going around, and luckily it only lasted for about 5 days. I was down for a good 2-3 days, and had some congestion after but all in all I recovered pretty quickly. Again this I am sure is do to my practices above when it comes to health. About a week after I caught the flu, I suffered a minor concussion. This took me out of my normal routine for a few weeks and I didn't exercise and a few items snuck into my diet (yes I am human and even being a nutritionist sometimes I have moments of weakness and reach for snacks that I know may not be 100% good for my own personal health). Cheese, butter, coconut palm sugar, honey, paleo "treats", white rice all started to slip back into my diet, and in turn I started getting heartburn, cystic acne & reg acne, water retention, very mild eczema skin rashes on my forearms and neck. On NYE I decided starting January 1, I would cut out all of these foods for at least three weeks and reintroduce to see if I was having issues from one of them. I noticed that my skin started to get better after around 2 weeks having none of these foods. This past weekend we were out of town with friends and there were so many delicious raw/grassfed gourmet cheese around that I allowed myself to indulge a bit. The next day I woke up with my rash on my neck (ENTIRE - front, side, back), chin, arms, and ankles having patches and bumps that itched like crazy. On Tuesday we went to my aunt's house for dinner and again the damn cheeses were in front of me and I couldn't help myself by having a few tastings. The VERY next day my rash got SO bad. It kept me up for hours on Tuesday night - losing precious sleep! Extremely itchy skin has to be one of the top 5 worst torture methods around for a person to experience. Have I mentioned how much I dislike having eczema?? Anyway, so this forced me to not only think about the food but what else I had changed in the past month with my way of eating or routine with my skin (our body's biggest organ). Around this time I also started using a new coconut oil on my face, neck and body. I am not 100% sure this is causing me any reactions but it was also something new. It's obvious dairy (especially cheese) needs to be out of my diet for at least six months or longer. As you can tell I have a severe weakness for amazing cheeses so this is going to be a major challenge for me to undertake. I will do it though because I do NOT want to suffer an episode like this ever again. The other thing this has made me realize is my GUT is not healthy STILL! It's getting there but allowing the foods I mentioned earlier to get back into my diet for a month did some serious damage on me. I hate to admit it but my digestive track is still as delicate as a little butterfly. I can't wait for the day where I am not struck with heartburn, allergies or skin rashes. I was almost there when I was very strict with my way of eating and stuck to eating meat, poultry, fish, pork, vegetables, some fruits, nuts & seeds. When I introduce all of the other stuff in, I end up getting all of those symptoms again.
I went to get an annual physical mid January, after my skin rash on my neck had flared up again and the blood work showed a few odd things. It showed my c-reactive protein marker was high and this is a sign of systemic inflammation. In addition my D levels had dropped to a very low 25, and my thyroid was showing markers that caused a little concern. I mentioned to my ND that maybe the rash on my neck could possibly be from an allergic response? She said that could definitely be the case and to really think about what had changed for me in the past month. Given my skin is such a MESS, this is the first thing I am going to work on and hopefully the rest will fall into place. My skin is MAD, inflamed and SCREAMING for me to do something about it.
Below are a few shots of my skin right now - it's not pretty that's for sure!
|Right side of my face|
|Left side fo my neck/face|
|Under chin/neck area - tiny itchy bumps|
|Rash along hairline at the top of my neck|
|One of my forearms - tons of blotchy red itchy bumps!|
What do I plan to do going forward to work on healing my skin and gut?
- Eliminate all dairy forms (maybe try to introduce grassfed butter in 30 days, and if that doesn't work wait another few days and try ghee - if that doesn't work sad to say it has to GO 100%)
- Remove all grains - Including white rice if dense carbs are needed will focus on eating tuber veggies.
- Eat strict paleo until 1/31 - if skin doesn't clear up by that time, I will be starting an auto-immune protocol on myself by eliminating a few foods to see if my gut and skin will heal for 30-60 days.
- Remove new coconut oil - no cooking or body use with it until dairy is confirmed as the culprit
- Work on healing my gut daily with fermented veggies, bone broth w/ gelatin, drink lots of water, bump up my fermented cod liver oil supplement from 2 to 3 pills daily until this heals, get rested sleep and practice yoga 1-2x week, continue supplementation with D3.
- Work on healing my skin - Items above will help with this too. I need to get all of the products out of my cupboards that could potentially cause issues with my skin. It's time to really use natural homemade products that I know are healing for my skin.
I am very hopeful that my steps above will give me relief!
Have any of you encountered eczema and found that it got better by changing your diet or skin care regimen? I would love to hear from you.
Speaking of skin care regimen and going natural with everything, I absolutely love the new e-book out by Liz Wolfe called SKINtervention. You can pick up your own electronic copy here if you are interested in learning more about natural skincare. http://skinterventionguide.com/ This came out at the perfect time for me and my skin problems! Thanks Liz!
I hope all of you have a fantastic relaxing healthy weekend with your family and friends. I am on a mission to get my skin back to it's normal bump/acne free self. Until next time...ciao!