What NOT to Wear

Jewelry. I cannot wear any jewelry. Okay, I’m being dramatic. I can’t wear 90% of the jewelry available in the world. Beautiful, colorful, jewelry. Accessories that make me feel good and help my outfits look better. Woe is me.

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A few months ago, I splurged and bought a custom 14K solid gold name necklace. I’m allergic to fake, copper and metal jewelry and had given up on buying trendy costume jewelry. Spoiler: it didn’t work out.

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Within the first day, I got a little tingle on my neck. Then, it was more than a tingle. I knew it was the necklace, but I didn’t want to believe it. How could it be?! It was solid gold! A few times, I took the necklace off and tried again a few days later, still in denial. Last week, I stubbornly ignored my body and kept the necklace on my neck. Not a good idea.

My skin worsened until I couldn’t take it anymore. It got better (thankfully!) a few days later with the help of Protopic ointment. I felt ridiculous. I risked my skin’s health over a necklace.  But it was solid gold! Here’s the deal - I learned that 14K isn’t actually pure gold, because it is still mixed with metals. 24K is 99.9% pure gold, but it is very malleable. Maybe 18K is good enough for my skin, but I’m not sure I want to spend the money to find out.  Last weekend was my birthday and I stumbled across an all-rubber necklace at the Museum of Fine Arts. I splurged and purchased it - I have to support artists that make plastic or rubber jewelry, because it’s so hard to find!

My skin worsened until I couldn’t take it anymore. It got better (thankfully!) a few days later with the help of Protopic ointment. I felt ridiculous. I risked my skin’s health over a necklace.

But it was solid gold! Here’s the deal - I learned that 14K isn’t actually pure gold, because it is still mixed with metals. 24K is 99.9% pure gold, but it is very malleable. Maybe 18K is good enough for my skin, but I’m not sure I want to spend the money to find out.

Last weekend was my birthday and I stumbled across an all-rubber necklace at the Museum of Fine Arts. I splurged and purchased it - I have to support artists that make plastic or rubber jewelry, because it’s so hard to find!

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I think sterling silver may be okay for me, but I don’t know at this point and prefer gold anyway. Who knows if I can wear 18K gold. For now, I’m going to give my skin a break and stay clear of jewelry … unless it’s made of all rubber or plastic.

Makeup and Skin Allergies

Pretty colors and fun shades. Makeup is all the rave. Hypoallergenic or not, for peeps with skin allergies, makeup is not a friend.

I have a contact allergy to fragrance and tons of plants. This means most of those "natural" products don't make a difference. I got married recently and was convinced by friends that I needed to use makeup to get good photographs. I usually only wear the one black eyeliner that won't swell up my eyes.

So I went on a mission to find all the makeup gals wear: foundation, bronzer, blush, mascara, etc. I tested so many. Ultimately, time ran out and I had to use what I deemed "safe." I thought I was okay, but got nervous after an unexpected and unrelated allergic reaction with my eyes a few days before my wedding. I freaked out and used the preventative steroid pack I had prepared for my wedding. This is not a norm for me and I do not recommend using steroid packs just in case your skin has a reaction to something! I avoid steroid packs as much as possible, but I was not going to risk having my skin go bonkers on my wedding day and honeymoon. 

I would list out all the makeup products I bought that now seem okay with my skin, but it really doesn't matter. Every immune system and body is different. If you have skin allergies, then you'll need to test products yourself.

You can save tons of money by knowing the ingredients to which you're allergic. Take a patch test with a dermatologist, if you haven't already. You can even get a list of products recommended by your dermatologist, based on your results. Even with that list, though, you'll need to experiment. I suggest trying a makeup sample before purchasing it. Go to Sephora or Nordstrom and try a product, leaving it on for the day. Don't do a full face of makeup, because it will be harder to isolate the allergen if you have a reaction. You may even have a little fun ... if you do this when you're not also planning a wedding!

Now that my wedding is over, maybe I'll start exploring colorful makeup again. I can't be allergic to all of it. Well, I could be, but we'll see ...

 

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Dust Mite Allergy and My Freezer

I have a pretty serious dust mite allergy. Out of the gazillion food, product ingredient, animal and environmental allergies I have, I'm confident my dust mite allergy causes a reaction for me. Earlier this year, I started getting reactions to my allergy injections, which contained dust mite substances. They were local reactions, meaning the injection area got swollen, itchy and felt hot; and the reaction lasted days. I've had a dust mite allergy for years, but never knew it was that serious.

Since then, I've done the whole de-dust mite thing: new mattress, no curtains, special bedding, dust mite spray, dust mite powder on upholstery and rugs, etc. Then I noticed that my clothing made me itchy. Sweaters that I didn't wear (or wash) often would make me itchy. Fluffy scarves would do the same. "Dust mites!" I thought.

There are a few options for minimizing dust mites on clothes and blankets:

1. Wash in hot water (at least 140 F). I used a thermometer to make sure my hot water was hot enough. The problem with this is the damage hot water does to clothing - your things won't last as long and will look faded. 

2. Use a de-mite laundry additive or allergen wash laundry detergent. This sounds great and gets great reviews on Amazon, but it has tea tree oil and I'm worried I'll have a flare-up reaction because of my composite mix contact allergy (basically am allergy to lots of plants and trees). I still want to try it, though.

3. Freeze it! Both hot water and freezing temperatures kill dust mites. For example, you can put a teddy bear in the freezer to kill its dust mites. I don't have a teddy bear situation, but I do have items I don't want to wash that need to be treated. And this is why if you open my freezer at home, on the bottom shelf you'll see scarves, knit hats, sweaters, etc. I think it helps!

I just put a sweater in my freezer. I hadn't worn it in months (Houston is usually hot) and my arms became pretty itchy while I wore it. I'll take it out of the freezer in a few days and will see if it's better. I'll report back!

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Genetics, Eczema and Skin Allergies

Today is my mom's birthday.  I love her to pieces. When my mom was in her early twenties, she went through serious skin issues, mainly on her face. Huge chunks of her skin would peel off and her scabs would ooze. She tells me it was horrible and she wouldn't wish it in her worst enemy - not that she has one. My mom is Mexican and when this happened to her, she went to a Mexican allergist. She found out she had tons of food allergies and begin to take allergy injections. Here's where I get confused. My doctors tell me that food allergies aren't treated by allergy injections. There is no treatment, they tell me. Well my mom was cured with whatever injections she took in Mexico. Don't get me wrong, her skin isn't perfect and new skin conditions have taken over, but the horrible eczema she had as a young adult disappeared and has never returned. (Knock on wood.)

I worry that if / when / if I have kids, he / she / they will inherit my skin issues. It's definitely possible and I would feel terrible if it happened. My mother feels very sorry about my eczema, dermatitis and skin allergies. It's not her fault. The thing is, eczema and skin allergies seem to be more and more common these days. Babies left and right have eczema. My adorable one-year-old niece has it, even though my sister has never had eczema. A part of me wonders if the family eczema gene passed onto my neice or if she's just another, albeit adorable and amazing, baby with temporary eczema. I really, really hope it's the latter.

In the meantime, my mom and I will continue to have the eczema-sufferers bond. The "I know what you're going through" bond. It's good to have her support and understanding. Happy birthday, mom.  

 

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