Sunday, May 29, 2011

Why Your Skin Issues May Be More Than Fibro Related

Wheat-Free.org explains that a wheat allergy may be to blame for some pesky symptoms like arthritis, skin rashes (including eczema), tiredness, irritable bowel (IBS), muscle aches and pains.  Sound like some of your Fibro symptoms?  I know they sound like mine.

Now, I'm not saying that all of my problems will go away if I become a vegan or go gluten and wheat-free, but it may help.  The only true way for me to find out if I have a wheat allergy is to go to a professional.  My doctor can perform a skin prick or blood test to see if wheat may be the culprit to my on-going four year battle with hand eczema.

Eczema and other skin rashes can be a symptom of Fibromyalgia.  I was born with eczema around my eyes.  I didn't have many issues when I was young, and the small flares I did have were easily managed with a little prescription skin cream.

When I reached my twenties my skin disorder took a turn for the worst.  I would get a flare around my eyes at least once a month.  The doctors I saw at the time dismissed the flare as stress induced, prescribed a moisturizer, and sent me on my way. 

This regimen worked throughout my twenties and for a good portion of my early thirties.  It wasn't until I became pregnant with my second child that I had more severe problems.  The itch became out of control.  There were days that I wanted to rip off my skin in hopes of getting relief.  I had rashes in my scalp, crooks of my arms, lower legs, feet, breast plate, and hands.  I would cry when I took a shower because I knew I'd come out irritated.

My doctor assumed I had a rash due to my pregnancy.  I assumed it was an eczema break out and we both dismissed it as normal.  Most of the rash went away once Olivia was born but my hands and breast plate were still itchy.  At this point I tried a series of skin lotions and bathed in oatmeal.  This helped for a very short time and then the rash came back with a vengeance. 

Finally, after reading a book called Eczema-Free for Life, I tried sports bras and stopped wearing makeup.  I wore gloves every time I washed the dishes or performed other household duties like dusting, tried raising the humidity levels in the house, added flowering plants to my indoor garden, and wore moisturizing gloves at night.  This helped but it didn't completely rid my rash from my hands.  In fact, the rash has remained on my hands for four years.  My fingers have swollen so much from the itching that it now impossible to wear rings, a favorite jewelry of mine.

I went to yet another doctor about this because my eyes again became severe.  I explained to him that I was born with eczema and have Fibromyalgia.  He in turn explained that Fibromyalgia didn't exist and that my rash was due an allergy.  I should discontinue the use of a brand of skin cream I was using and be put on prednisone to clear up my swollen eyes and hands.  He figured Benedryl would work to maintain a flare-free breakout. Well, needless to say, I discontinued the use of something, but it wasn't the skin cream, it was his service. 

My fight still continues with my Fibromyalgia and my skin problems and I think I will now see if wheat is the reason for my irritation.  Some Fibro sufferers actually benefit from going wheat and gluten-free because their symptoms completely disappear.  Adrienne Dellwo explains this in her article Can a Gluten-Free Diet Eliminate Symptoms of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue.

I, like her, advocate going on an elimination diet to see if food sensitivities are to blame for symptom flares.  Wheat was not something I looked into eliminating on my first rounds of food culprits.  I looked at processed and refined flours first.  It is possible that I missed wheat and gluten because not all foods were processed with wheat during the time I started my elimination diet. 

It has only been recent (within the past five or so years) that you find EVERYTHING known to man containing wheat since it's a cheap bulking agent.  Trader Joe, an organic and environmentally conscience food store, has a list of gluten-free products that one can purchase.  It's a great spring board for ideas on going wheat and gluten-free.  The list can be found here http://www.traderjoes.com/pdf/lists/list-no-gluten.pdf 

Wheat, surprisingly, is now ranked as one of the top eight food allergies among sufferers.  Peanuts, shell fish, milk, tree nuts, fish, soy and eggs are the other seven major food allergies of today.  I often wonder why these sensitivities are happening and I can't help but think it has something to do with over exposure.  There are just too many food manufacturers using the same processes and ingredients for our food and it's becoming very irritating (pardon the pun) that these manufacturers are more concerned with profit rather than producing a quality product.

I'm not saying that these food giants should not be able to make money so they in turn can keep a roof over their head-- don't misunderstand, I'm just saying that as a giant, they need to learn some responsibility and start finding ways to allow variety in their customer's diet.  Not every consumer has hours on end to stroll the food isles and read War and Peace food labels.  Nor do they have the time to research product credential labels, or even figuring out which company is actually producing said food product.  Consumers are getting savvy, but this whole buyer beware motto needs to die so people don't have to second, third, and quadruple guess everything.  Latin is a dead language so shouldn't that phrase die along with it?

Stay fabulous!
Love and friendship,

Kimberley
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