Allergy Testing Oh Yeah…..! {journal}

The first week of March I did allergy testing through the dermatologist.

He did patch testing, which involves putting patches of common skin allergens and chemicals on your back on a Monday. On Wednesday they take them off, and then check them again on Friday. There is no showering, no sweating, no allergy meds…

My back on Monday, and then on Wednesday
My back on Monday, and then on Wednesday

And as I chose- no interactions with the outside world or people….

However for my pain and agnony (it really wasn’t that bad…unpleasant at best) I got some results! Which in and of itself is amazing since the chances of finding out what you are allergic to through this method is about 33-36%. 

I had 3 that reacted between Wednesday and Friday. At least one, maybe two, were itchy by the time I got home from them putting on the patches! Under the watchful eye of my PB, we took pictures with my phone and documented the changes so my dermatologist could see. Which in his words “saved this test”, since I couldn’t live in his office for a week… And my worst reactions happened between visits.

After seeing him Friday I came home and almost immediately showered 🙂 I had one more patch turn red at that point. And then the following week I got major hives in one tiny little spot on my back (they are actually still fading despite allergy meds and topic steriods!) We added those 2 to the list as well.

My list of allergens from the test:

Nickel (commonly found in jewelry)

Quaternium-15 (preservative is beauty products)

Balsam of Peru (aromatic, both cosmetic and food sourses)

Lyral (or Hydroxymethylpentylcyclohexenecarboxaldehyde) (fragrance)

Propolis (waxy resin made by bees)

Thankfully my dermatologist office sent me a PDF safe list that is generated to avoid your allergens as well as their cross reactors. It’s generated through the CARD database, which has an iPhone app, but it is currently not working so I’m using either the PDF or web version. 

Basically, everything with fragrance is out for me. And that is not “unscented” that is “fragrance free”, because unscented generally just means they used chemicals to cover up the smell of the rest of the chemicals. Certain companies of cosmetics and beauty products are out depending on the preservatives they use.

Over this past weekend I finished sorting and reading the labels on all my beauty, hair, and lotion products. Which I actually had a pretty big collection of; stuff I’d tried and never used a lot of, stuff I kept around hoping to use some day when my skin calmed down, stuff I wasn’t fond of, stuff I love, stuff I used once and a while, and stuff I used every day… The collection is going to be a lot smaller going forward… 

These used to be full!
These used to be full!

It was a bit depressing quite honestly. After going through drawers and makeup bags and shelves, I’m left with 2 hair products, 2 eye shadow palettes, 3 eye pencils, 1 foundation (that’s way too old and I didn’t even like when it was new), 2 organic mascaras, a couple lip colors, and 2 tinted lip balms (if I ignore Burt’s Bees “all natural” aroma/flavor). I cheer myself up with the fact that a handful of my besties are about to be blessed! 😉

Give away pile
Give away pile

I also found it difficult because my more natural product brands are not on my safe list from the dermatologist, but I can’t see if they don’t make my safe list or are just not in the database. Since a lot are smaller companies, I hope for the latter… I’ve also been using the EWG Skin Deep database to check stuff, since most my allergens don’t get good marks, the products they are in don’t either. 

Going forward I obviously need to find products that don’t include any of my known allergens, or their cross reactors, but also I will be looking for products that get a good score (low number) on the EWG Skin Deep database. 

Just another Dr visit… {journal}

sunrise
When I started this blog, I intended to post about doctor’s visits and progress along the way, and what helped, what didn’t… but I haven’t. I found I got way behind when I had a rush of different doctor visites, lots of information, and I was still processing it all…

So update! Obviously the 2 weeks of vacation I was doctor free, it was pretty nice 🙂 And I’ve only had a couple appointments since returning. Before that though, I saw everyone right before I left. In the week before leaving, I saw my naturopath, my primary, and had a visit to the dermatologist as he squeaked me in right before I left. 

The naturopath is working to get my body dealing with histamine metabolism better. In addition to the vitamin D and cod liver oil that I was taking, now also vitamin B12/folate (liquid), a multi vitamin with copper, vitamin B6, vitamin C and magnesium. And yes, I packed them all up and took them with me on vacation. I took most, I made sure to get the vitamin C, multi, and B6 every morning and magnesium every night. I didn’t take vitamin D but pretty sure all the sun I got evened that out! I also skipped the cod liver oil, as it went without refrigeration a bit too much for my liking on the trip… (I’m now feeding it to my dogs 🙂 I didn’t want to waste it!) She would also like me on a SCD/paleo type diet, that I did really well at sticking to for a while. But did not during vacation and need to get back to it. 

My visit with my primary was very brief. It was just really a follow up. And requires a lot of back story, which I’ll try to keep short and if you have questions you can ask… 

around Christmas I tried taking Dapsone, it’s the drug if you have dermatitis herpetiformis (DH). And can be used diagnostically. I responded favorable to this, so she upped my dose hoping for more improvement. Which was not the case- skin stayed the same. Instead I just got more anemic which is one of the most common side effects (kills off red blood cells prematurely). So we stopped Dapsone to allow my body to repair my blood. 

so I weekly was in for a blood test to see how anemic I was, both while taking Dapsone and after. And taking iron. And eating iron filled foods. And waiting. Because red blood cells don’t happen overnight.

during this period of waiting I took my daily Zyrtec and Benedryl as needed. However I found my skin was better the day after I took multiple doses of Benedryl.

since returning from vacation, I’ve had a mostly normal blood test. In case you were worried… 🙂 

The dermatologist kindly fit me in right before we left. My primary helped with that 😉 and I found him to be very nice and very helpful. Which was a huge blessing for me personally. I’ve only seen 2 other dermatologists before, and both were dreadful, so I’ve actually fought going to one again because I hate useless doctors. My primary told me to do something to make my skin bad before I went to see him. Since I have no idea yet what makes it unhappy, I wasn’t sure how to make that happen! But I succeeded. And was a grumpy wreck. (I was also not doing well mentally that day!).

He felt it looked like a contact dermatitis, and wanted to do patch testing when I returned from vacation. He did do a skin biopsy, which Mr Fresh said was light years better than my last one (’cause he watches these things…), and the healing process has proven that to be the case! He also prescribed Prednisone to make me comfortable on vacation. Normally, I would have fought that tooth and nail, since I don’t like anything that strong or that messes up your entire body that much. But like I said I wasn’t feeling so hot… I was glad he made a point of telling me that this isn’t a long term solution, and just for vacation, because it won’t solve the problem just make me feel better. I think that helped me feel better, about it and him, since it showed me he knew I didn’t just want a pill to fix me, and wanted to know what was actually wrong. 

the good news – as we left for vacation I got the biopsy results which were negative for DH and showed an allergic reaction. That was nice news right before going away, as not having DH means my body isn’t attacking itself over gluten. So while I avoided it still, I didn’t worry about cross contamination. 

also, my skin cleared up on Prednisone. Meaning I felt like a normal human on vacation. 🙂

the bad news – I get really horribly moody and have occasional irrational moments on Prednisone. my PB kindly held my hand and dealt with it all!! (He’s amazing and you can’t have him…!)

 So the moral of the story is… still don’t know what is wrong with me. But it does appear to be an allergic reaction not autoimmune, which is great news! We are now on to trying to figure out what I’m allergic to. Patch testing is scheduled for next week. There’s a more likely chance it won’t reveal anything than it will, but hoping it does.

My skin has stayed mostly clear, even though I stopped taking prednisone when we returned home. The dermatologist gave me topical triamcinolone, which I’ve used before, to use on spots as they come up. I hope it stays this way, I could get used to this!!