From My Journal

Preface: I originally wrote this in my personal journal a few days ago, thinking it was too dark and weird to be included on my blog. In the spirit of transparency, though, and because eczema triggers dark thoughts at times, I'm sharing it here. It's in response to my stopping my eczema medication Dupixent in order to get pregnant later this year. My next dose was due a few days ago. 

Walking Towards Darkness

Waves crashing, sun shining.
Beautiful face, calm skin.
Sand in my toes, smell of salt.
Old memories of torture.
Laying in the heat, good sleep.
Just one year ago, all coming back.

I stand up and look away.
A child, a baby. Another one.
I walk forward.
A brother or sister.
I walk further.

It's going to hurt; it's starting.
Motherhood - I want more.
Past the beach, it's getting darker.
Red, pain, hiding.
I'll do it again.

Tiny fingers, my own. #2.
Here I go.

My Pregnancy with Eczema - Updated

2/16/19 update: 2 years after my first pregnancy, I’ve realized I was probably going through Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW). Read more about it on my post about my second pregnancy. Below’s post is unedited and how I reacted to my first pregnancy at the time.

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I  gave birth to my first baby 15 months ago after a roller coaster pregnancy full of challenging eczema flare ups. True, I'm a chronic eczema fighter, but my ten plus years of eczema did not compare to the eczema I experienced during my pregnancy. 

1. My Eczema was Pregnancy-Induced

For the first few months of my pregnancy, I blamed the disruption of my eczema treatment for the severe flare ups. When I wasn't pregnant, I used acupuncture and took herbal pills to control my eczema, but I had to stop both when I became pregnant.

Months later, I changed my conclusion: my pregnancy itself was the reason for my severe eczema flare ups. Maybe it was the pregnancy hormones or my body reacting to the changes in my body, but I blame my pregnancy for causing eczema. 

2. Doctors Told Me Steroids are Safe and Okay

My OB/GYN doctor told me that I could take a steroid pack to help handle my eczema. According to my doctor, this medication does not cross the placenta, so is fine.

What a relief I felt! I almost got a steroid pack, but then ...

 

3. Doctors Told Me Steroids are Dangerous and Not Okay  

All my other doctors - allergists, general physicians, even my pharmacist scared me away from taking oral steroids. They all resorted to "ask your OB/GYN," because it seemed they didn't want to be held accountable for a formal recommendation. Ultimately, I didn't take any oral steroids while I was pregnant.

4. Second Trimester: Horrible Eczema

Months four through six were the worst for my eczema, although it started in month three. By "worst," I mean the worst eczema I've ever had in my life. It was the worst few months I've ever experienced, complete with debilitating, leaking eczema all over my face and body that didn't even let me sleep for days at a time. There was edema, weeping, flaking, redness, hot, dry, full of lines. My recovery was swift, hard to believe and with no explanation. After 3 - 4 months of all-consuming eczema, my skin cleared up. Redness went away. Swelling went down. Al the lines on my face left, so I looked 20 years younger. And no more oozing. I could finally sleep. 

During the fifth month, my eczema drastically improved on its own, similar to how morning sickness goes away during the second trimester. It felt good to finally shift my attention to the little baby I was baking. 

5. Last Weeks of Pregnancy: Eczema Returns, Not as Bad

Late in my third trimester, my eczema came back, although it was not as severe.

6. Giving Birth with Eczema

My skin didn't look or feel great when I went into labor, but it at least my body and face didn't feel like a statue. My eczema didn't get in the way of my giving birth, thankfully. And my husband and I welcomed our first child!

7. Post Birth: Eczema and Medication

After being shamed by doctors to not take steroids while pregnant, I kept battling my eczema without much help. However, I went straight to the pharmacy to pick up my Prednisone pack as soon as I gave birth. Unfortunately, my pharmacist lectured me for taking oral steroids while I was breastfeeding. I have no words for that. 

After I gave birth to my daughter, my eczema stuck around. My face looked purple when I took her to baby yoga. My skin wasn't as horrible as my pregnancy's second trimester, but it was definitely not good. It has since turned around and my skin is beautiful, with only mild-to-moderate eczema due to my getting a new allergist and starting Dupixent and Protopic earlier this year.

8. Getting Pregnant Again

Today, according to my OB/GYN, I can stay on Protopic if I get pregnant again. Dupixent, however, is not safe. I took my last Dupixent injection two weeks ago. I will stay off it for about 3 months, then will start trying to get pregnant again. I'm more terrified than excited at this point and am keeping my fingers crossed that my second pregnancy produces another healthy, beautiful baby, but without the eczema torture this time. 

 

 

How to Get Rid of Dust Mites on Winter Clothing

Winter jackets, hats, sweaters and all the fuzzy accessories ... what a great season for clothing and fashion! Unfortunately, for folks with dust mite allergies, it is also a constant reminder of what we shouldn't put on our bodies for risk of a reaction. 

Dust Mites in Winter Clothes

Home furniture, flooring and decor is the big topic for dust mite allergy recommendations. No carpet, leather furniture, no curtains, dust often, etc. But nobody talks about clothing and accessories - the things that are actually worn on the body. And all the same type of rules apply: no furry stuff and nothing that gathers dust. The problem is that we can't (and shouldn't) walk around in all latex or leather. Our clothing can't be wiped down with a damp cloth. Dust mites live in our clothing, especially our winter gear like hats, jackets and sweaters that don't often get washed. We're told we should store our clothing in airtight plastic bags, but ... come on ... that's not practical. 

Eczema Reaction to Dust Mite Allergy

 
dust-mite-allergy-eczema-reaction.jpg
 

I just bought a new heavy coat a few days ago with the fur lining (not real fur, of course) and wore it a few times. It almost immediately hurt my neck - the skin that was touching the fur. It got itchy, painful and rashy. When I showered yesterday, my neck burned like I had little needles pricking my neck. My neck didn't visibly look horrible and didn't spur a big all-body eczema flare-up (thanks to my Dupixent and Protopic eczema treatment), but it was more than uncomfortable and a clear reaction to my new coat.

My Experiment: Steam and Vacuum Winter Coat

 
 

What a bummer! It was a brand new coat and hadn't even been in my closet gathering dust. The reality, though, is that it had been in a warehouse, transported in a box and hung in a store - all perfect situations for breeding dust mites. 

In my house, I have many winter gear pieces that I don't even try to use anymore. I didn't want to put this new coat in that pile. So, I decided to try steaming the fur. Steam cleans clothing, right - it seemed to make sense! But, what about the dead dust mite bodies and fecal matter? After all, it's the dust mite poop that causes the allergy reactions. So, I grabbed my hand vacuum and vacuumed the fur. 

And I think it worked! I wore the jacket all day today and my neck didn't hurt or worsen! I'm going to try this steam-and-vacuum technique on all my dusty winter gear. 

Side notes:
1. I've tried many steamers and most are terrible. Here's one I love that is highly rated and I use often: Joy Mangano My Little Steamer

2. As for the hand vacuum, my husband recently treated himself to a Dyson V6 Animal vacuum, so I used that, but I think any hand vacuum would be fine.