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Living With Eczema and Allergies

Written by Sarah Simon
Posted on December 15, 2023

This past year, I went to more doctors than I would’ve liked. In March, an allergic reaction caused my eczema, which hadn’t previously affected my face, to show up around my ears, eyes, and other new places. This eczema looked different but also included swollen eyes, some hives, and more symptoms. I knew that it wasn’t my normal eczema.

I visited my primary care doctor, who told me it was “just my eczema” and wouldn’t do further testing to help me figure out what was going on, even when I insisted that this was an allergic reaction.

To figure out my allergy for myself, I cut out anything new that I’d tried, including skin products and food. I decided to test one thing at a time, starting with the hemp protein powder I’d recently bought for smoothies. That was the clear culprit, as my allergic reaction restarted and was 10 times worse this time.

I went to the emergency room one really bad night soon after, waited five hours, and was told my case wasn’t “emergent” before I was asked if I wanted a steroid shot. I wish I could show photos of my face before and after the shot: In the first, my face is all puffed up and swollen; after, the swelling is down, but all around my eyes and forehead are red, splotchy patches — like a mask — that lasted for weeks to months in varying amounts.

Next, I went to a dermatologist. They explained to me that eczema (which, by the way, I’ve had all my life) is “just like chapped lips” and instructed me to bathe daily and moisturize “from head to toe” (I don’t have full-body eczema). They also criticized my choice to work with a functional clinic. They sent me home with a list of moisturizers, none of which I could use because I’m allergic to the ingredients.

And the long list of doctors’ visits goes on: I then saw an allergist for testing and a new primary care doctor for a sleep test.

Meanwhile, I started working with an eczema functional clinic I’d known about for years. I got stool testing, complete lab work, and allergy testing. I’ve learned about things I shouldn’t eat because they’re related to my allergies — for example, stevia is related to ragweed. I’m on protocols for the parasites and candida in my gut, as well as taking some vitamins.

I’m not here to bash traditional doctors or medicine. I use steroid cream very sparingly when I really need it, and allergy testing has served me well. When I had a staph infection, I needed the doctor. And those are just the issues related to eczema — traditional doctors have helped me in other cases too.

My eczema has been improving greatly since I began working with the clinic, although it’s taken a few months to get to this point.

The bottom line for me is that I’m the patient, and I get to choose all my health care providers. I get to decide if I want to work with a functional clinic. I deserve respect as a human being trying to take care of myself. Being criticized isn’t helpful for healing.

For me, it would be less stressful and more encouraging if I could hear a doctor say, “That’s really interesting. I hope it helps, and if you need more help, remember you also have these options. Let’s make an appointment to check in with your progress for this future date” or something like “Fantastic! I’m glad you’re taking the initiative to really heal. I think you should also make sure you’re moisturizing this many times a day.”

I’d love to live in a world where traditional and functional doctors work together.

On MyEczemaTeam, members discuss eczema from a specific point of view. Would you like to share your personal story to help others living with eczema? You can learn more about this paid writing opportunity from MyEczemaTeam here.

Members’ articles don’t reflect the opinions of MyEczemaTeam staff, medical experts, partners, advertisers, or sponsors. Content on MyEczemaTeam isn’t intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Posted on December 15, 2023
All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.

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Sarah Simon didn’t let having eczema most of her life stop her from earning two master’s degrees and traveling solo abroad. Learn more about her here

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