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Hi, I wanted to come and tell people about my experience getting through eczema. Basically it was down to mold (the most serious issue), milk, sodium lauryth sulphate and dust. Since avoiding these 3 I've been able to give up all my medications and have clear healthy skin.
I've always had eczema, as well as allergic rhinitis and more recently exercise induced asthma. A long time ago I stopped using toothpaste with SLS in because it was causing inflammation. It was never a serious issue until about 3 years ago (2015). I went and stayed at a friend's house when I moved to a new city. The only thing to use as a blanket was an old curtain from a cupboard. That night my legs started itching every night and didn't stop until treatment much later.
Although annoying it didn't affect my life too much, so I mostly ignored it and the skin flakes that resulted. Around 18 months ago (2017) however my skin became much much worse. I developed bright red patches of incredibly itchy, flaky skin. My skin dried out so much that it hurt to move some days. As much moisturiser as I used it just got worse and spread to more and more of my body and eventually my face. When I woke up in the morning my pillow was covered in flakes like a dusting of snow. My body was covered in cuts where the skin had broken from scratching. At this time I was using strong steroid creams like Dermovate.
I put myself on a very strict diet - no eggs, dairy, meat, gluten. It didn't change. I went back to my family home for Christmas 2017 and there was a bit of a reprieve and my skin started to get better. Of all the possible triggers I had no idea which one might have changed though, so the problems continued. Finally in the summer of 2018 I got to see a proper consultant dermatologist. By this time the eczema was very severe and I had developed eczema herpeticum (when the damaged skin becomes infected with a coldsore) and had to take 3 weeks off work to recover, plus other days when I just couldn't bear to come in.
I was prescribed more strong topical steroids (still dermovate and eumovate for the face) to be used every day plus an oral steroid (prednisolone or prednisone I can't remember which). Finally the eczema started to clear up and it got better and better each day. However there was still no mention of environmental triggers or diet. When I asked I was told they weren't really important and the medication was the best thing.
However during this period I found a patch of black mold on my windowsill in my bedroom. I lived in an old house and in the colder months a lot of condensation developed. It wasn't huge, just little blobs on the corners, but apparently enough to cause me a lot of harm. Once I had cleared this up my eczema stopped getting worse even once I'd finished the course of oral steroids. My skin cleared and after a month or two I was back to normal, healthy skin.
I've now moved into a modern house with much better insulation and double glazing. A few weeks ago though, a small patch of mold grew and my face went bright red and started flaking. My girlfriend removed it and over the next week it completely cleared up. So I'm pretty confident now that that was the main trigger. I think that the oral steroids probably made the recovery a lot quicker, since by that point the eczema had really set in, so I can't recommend that people avoid them completely. They have their uses, but they have the potential to cause a lot of harm if misused from what I've read, so be careful and do your research.
Not drinking milk has also meant I no longer suffer from allergic rhinitis (90% of the time anyway) and I don't use nasal steroid spray anymore as well as not needing an inhaler when exercising in winter as I also had problems with exercise induced athsma.
I hope this provides some encouragement to keep trying things to see if they can find their triggers. I tried absolutely everything, including buying all new sheets and changing washing powder. Best of luck with your own skin.
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