publication date: Jan 17, 2018

Skin Update


So quick round up for those not familiar with the history.

A couple of years ago my rashes starting getting worse. Instead of the standard dry, flaking eczema on my hands, I was covered in a raised red rash. Arms, legs, trunk and sometimes my face. It was a nightmare. It was diagnosed as Urticaria, and also as atopic dermatitis. Differing doctors recommended differing treatments but nothing much worked except for strong steroid creams and Prednisone.

Finally I got fed up with it all – I stopped using the steroid creams as my skin was now thin, and bruised really easily. Also it only dampened the reaction down, it never went away.  I went through the joys of patch testing, without much success. Neither dermatologists nor one of the allergic skin allergists I saw was much help. Minor reactions showed, but nothing they thought could explain the massive reactions I was having.

So I switched allergists and off I went to The London Allergy Clinic.  I’m going to have to go back, do more testing, but for the first time in years’ my skin is pretty good. Friends are commenting that they haven’t seen my arms look this good in ages. 

So what made the difference?

  1. Massively increasing my antihistamine dose. Four times 180m of Fexofenadine per day. Double what I was taking. If I drop it down to three…the rash comes back.
  2. Protopic Cream. Not a steroid so that was good. It does rather sting when you put it on but it’s worked. Now that the rash is gone, I’m not using it so a week of stinging was well worth the effort. I’ve been told I can’t use it and sunbath due to links with skin cancer so it’s for winter only! Its main ingredient is tacrolimus, which is a type of topical immunomodulatory which decreased skin inflammation. Apparently they don’t really understand why it works, but it does in many cases. Having Googled side effects, and finding that getting ‘cold sores’ is a common side effect I’m not planning to use this very much. It did rather freak me out if I’m honest although happily it’s not been an issue for me.

The final piece to the jigsaw is sorting out what’s triggering it.  Initially there was talk of cold urticaria. Happily it’s not that as I spend a lot of time outdoors.  Major suspects are Nickle and Chrome – they’ll need to be tested.   I’ve also got a new suspect to add to the list.  It seems to me that Polyester is causing problems. Not something that I’d thought of…but my rash went bonkers when I put on a 100% Polyester skin to keep warm when it was cold outside. Molly trains in the winter for her water skiing and sitting in a boat when it’s 2 C is pretty chilling. By the time we got to the club I was literally pulling my clothes off as fast as I could the rash was so bad. People squeaked when they saw my arms and torso (okay…women squeaked as I was in the women’s changing room). I checked the label and it was 100% polyester. Since then I’ve avoided everything with polyester in it; and the few times the rash has flared is when I’ve forgotten to check my clothing labels and discover that the top I’m wearing has 10% or 20% polyester.

So on the one hand I’m delighted that the rash is under control. Delighted that everyone is noticing how good my skin is. On the other hand this is going to be such a huge pain. Polyester is in a lot of stuff, and I fear other forms of elastic type fabrics might be an issue too.  My skin is still absurdly dry and I’m moisturising 3 to 4 times a day, but having no rash on my face is a real plus!

So…for a change of pace I’m heading back to the allergist. This time – to test for Polyester, Nickle and Chrome!

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