Disclaimer: I am not a medical practitioner! This information on contact dermatitis is based on my personal experience. Please in all instances seek medical advice before embarking on any radical changes to your diet and/or lifestyle.
A couple of years ago I had a small localized area of skin dryness between the middle and ring finger of my right hand. I attributed this to not having dried the skin under my rings properly when I washed my hands and basically ignored the dryness. However, it did not improve and to this day I have a scar where the skin cut due to being so dry. The problem started getting worse and I experienced a form of skin irritation known as contact dermatitis. It started spreading from the original area, onto the back of my right hand. My concern grew when my left hand became affected with the same dry, itchy skin. This happened quite quickly, and my nephew who has eczema gave me some of his cortisone ointment to use. It made a big difference straight away, but the cause was not dealt with, and two days later I woke up looking as if I had stuck my arms into an oven. They were bright red, dry, and swollen.
I am all for using natural products to cure everything but the pain was so bad that I called my Doctor who came to the office and gave me a cortisone injection. He prescribed a very strong cortisone cream for me to use locally, and cortisone tablets to take. Together with the tablets I took antihistamines to prevent me scratching at the skin. As the skin was so dry he also recommended nutra plus cream to apply topically.
I made sure that as I had been given such a large dose of cortisone that I went to my acupuncturist to stimulate my adrenal glands back into making their own cortisone.
The first thing I had to do was take a look at my diet. That day I was put onto an elimination diet to see if the dermatitis was being caused by a food intolerance. I stopped eating dried fruit and wheat. I stopped drinking wine! And I stopped all my vitamins and supplements. As soon as the irritation died down I introduced wine back into my diet. I chose this first as it was our tenth wedding anniversary and I wanted to celebrate. After a week and no flare up, I started eating wheat again, and then dried fruit. I only re-introduced some of the vitamins and supplements I was taking. I am still taking a 9 strain probiotic daily, as well as Chromium to assist with controlling my blood glucose levels. I take Omega 3 daily but did not continue with my multi vitamin as I found no difference being on it, as off it. I also stopped taking tissue salts, but have subsequently gone back onto the number 7 tissue salt as it made a big difference.
The second thing I did was stop using all skin care products and fabric softener. I have not bothered using fabric softener again as it made no difference to my laundry at all. Initially I double rinsed all my clothing and as I was visiting my parents I got my Mom to do the same with the linen. Thankfully I did not have to worry about this when we travelled overseas as by then my skin had cleared up. I used 97% aloe gel on my skin and keep this for bad days. Every day I apply the extra moisturising cream to my hands and neck, the two areas which were affected the worst initially. I have to ensure that my skin is well moisturised, as the dryness is what causes the itchiness, and itching leads to more patches of dermatitis.
The third thing I did was avoid the sun! Being outside exacerbated the problem, and the dermatitis spread to my neck. Sadly at that time for me it meant very little time with my nieces in the pool. The chlorine made it worse! Until my skin cleared completely I used a factor 50 sunblock. Due to the high risk of melanoma in South Africa and the fact that 80% of our exposure to the sun is accidental, I have been using sunblock every day of my life for the past 25 years. The extra sunblock was put onto my hands just before I got into the car.
At the beginning of this journey there were a lot of bad days but I have now learnt how to cope with this skin irritation. What I have learnt is that as soon as there is a flare up, no matter how small, I must attack it with cortisone. I take a cortisone tablet straight away and apply cortisone cream topically. I now know to stay away from omega 6 and have added more linseeds to my diet, as well as turmeric.
For me, the most difficult issue was discovering what caused the problem. It was only after a long time that I realized it was stress induced. It can be affected by hand soaps and dish washing liquids, and even the sun, but that only happens when I am tired or stressed. Being pro homoeopathy I now take anti stress formula when we travel and in instances where I might feel anxious.
First and foremost, if you develop any skin irritation have it looked at straight away, and start an elimination diet to see what is causing it.
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