I have made it to another New Year, so that’s a plus & something to be thankful for. With all my rashy-itch-ness of late, it’s been hard to keep up with things OR to know if I would make it to 2015 with any hair left on my head.
I have dealt with this awful itchy, peeling, cyclic rash-of-a-thing in my arm pits since last spring!! Been to about 4 different docs at least 6 times for relief. No one, not even the two dermatologists I saw, seemed to know what it was nor how to treat it. I was first told it was yeast and in all honesty, I believe that it had grown some yeast at that first appointment with the ARNP. But a week’s worth of Diflucan did not get rid of it, so obviously, it wasn’t JUST yeast in there.
Let me back up & say it all started when I decided that I wanted to eliminate as many chemical products as I could from my life. No particular reason other than just a way to avoid as much harmful stuff as possible. So okay, I started by switching to homemade deodorant.
My maternal grandfather had Alzheimer’s disease. If you’ve read anything about this, it’s a horrible disease that studies have shown could be linked to aluminum deposits in the brain. The main ingredient in any off-the-shelf antiperspirant is aluminum! I also hate the gunky build up that antiperspirant leaves on my skin, so I thought Perfect place to start! and I promptly looked up your basic homemade deodorant recipe.
Mine used baking soda, corn starch, coconut oil & a few drops of tea tree oil. Easy-peasy to make & SHOCK—it really worked well! Let me also inject here that I have used tea tree & peppermint essential oils for YEARS. I wasn’t necessarily an oiler (LOL… that’s someone who tries to use essential oils to treat most things & to clean with), but I soon became one.
As I said in an earlier post, I’ve gone off my anti-depressant meds, and I was researching and using oils to help with that. As of right now, I have a moderate assortment of oils ranging from my standbys, tea tree & peppermint, to clary sage, cedarwood, bergamot & clove. I was really loving using them too & of course, when the itching would get SO bad in my pits, I’d try various oils to relieve (& hopefully cure!) that too… Some of the menthol-ish oils helped temporarily with the itching, but nothing seemed to really be getting rid of the rash & it continued to cycle… red, rough, bumpy itchy, then the skin would turn dark brown & then in a few days would begin to peel or slough off. Over & over it had done that from May til about November.
Yes, I was miserable!! There’s not a whole lot you can do to keep from touching your pit area, or to keep anything else from touching it unless you go naked. I was almost to that point wearing only a large scarf tied around me while I was at home… and I STAYED home as much as I could. It was just unbearable to have to wear a bra & shirt for more than an hour or so. 😦
So fast-forward to late November, when I FINALLY have gotten through to my endo’s office that I need him to call the derma-pathologist he recommended to get me in because he is not accepting new patients. At last I had an appointment with this guy & he looks at the many photos I’ve taken of this awful rash (because you know how it goes… you can’t get in with a doctor while it looks its worst, so I take pix!) and I tell him how now, after all these months of being pretty localized to my arm pit area, it’s started to spread across my chest. He nods the whole time, not in a condescending way (that I had gotten before from my GP) but in a knowing way, and without any of the hesitation or “it could be” prefaces that I’d gotten from the other two dermatologists he tells me it’s contact dermatitis.
WHAT?!? I had decided it MUST be internal because by the time I got in to see this guy, I had been using NOTHING on my pits besides water. NO deodorants, NO soaps, NO lotions or powders. NOTHING. He tells me that it is like when you have poison ivy (which I’ve never had, btw! LOL!) —you touch it & in a couple hours to maybe a couple days, you get the itching & blisters, it stays with you for about 21 days and if you don’t touch the ivy again, it will go away. But if you touch it again or let it spread from one area to another, it starts the process all over.
He asked what laundry detergent I used & I told him it was Melaleuca brand liquid. And that’s when the light came on that I had started using that stuff shortly before the whole mess started… I just never thought about it being that since I had also switched my deodorant at about the same time.
He told me that Melaleuca was one of the worst for producing allergic responses and told me to switch to something “free”… I’d used All Free before, so I went back to that. He also gave me a steroid ointment that he said I would think is magic, but he told me, it should make you feel a lot better, but we still have to determine what is causing this.
So, I proceeded to use the ointment as directed and sure enough, the itching improved drastically! Of the two or three ointments/creams I’d been given previously, this worked like a charm & I have NO CLUE why none of the other doctors didn’t prescribe it, but anyhow… I started trying to rewash much of my clothes in the “free” detergent & was doing well, obviously feeling a lot better since I wasn’t in misery from constant itching.
Then I got a slight yeast infection. If you know anything about diabetes, you know that those of us who have it tend to get frequent yeast infections. I felt this one coming on & didn’t want it to get worse. That’s all I needed, my nether regions to be itching as well, ya know? So, since I had used clove & lemongrass oils together successfully to treat yeast before, I put a small amount of those in a tub of water thinking I’d keep the yeast from getting worse and I wouldn’t be getting my upper body in the water, so I wasn’t going against doctor’s orders to not use anything but the ointment on the itchy areas.
I felt a slight stinging when I got in the water but thought that I had probably gotten the water a little too hot. When I got out, it looked like I’d been scalded. I dried off & got dressed, but soon I realized that something was terribly wrong. I was itching & my skin felt literally burned & pin-prickly everywhere I’d been in the water.
It got so bad that it started to resemble my bout with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome back in 1994. When that happened, it was determined to be a severe reaction to taking Bactrim for an ear infection…I spent two weeks in the hospital on a morphine drip for pain, not sure if I would make it out alive. My liver & kidneys began to show effects of it not to mention the fact that every inch of my skin broke into huge watery blisters that burst leaving raw, open skin behind. The inside of my mouth & eyes blistered and peeled and my “insides” (read: vaginal) sloughed out from this awful condition. I was contemplating going to the hospital. I’d never heard of anyone ever surviving two episodes of SJS, so I was extremely worried.
I rushed to the pharmacy to get some Benedryl and kept myself dosed with it for a couple days and thankfully, the redness slowly faded and today, 3 days later, I am only slightly itchy and still taking minimal doses of Benedryl.
All that to say, I am still a physical mess as far as my skin goes. I am so shocked that something I’d used without incident a few weeks ago would do that to my skin!! There’s no question that it had to be those oils since the red, welted, itchy skin was only where I’d been in the water. It’s just amazing how our bodies react to the environment.
Of course, that has me even more worried about ever finding out what’s going on with me. I’m still using little to nothing on my skin, but it’s becoming really dry now as it is winter and we have blown-air heat. I am going to try some organic coconut oil on my calves and see how that works. If it helps and doesn’t break me out, I’ll try it on my torso and upper legs.
I have met people over the years who are extremely allergic to foods and such. I often wondered how they coped with everyday life. It seemed to me that it’d have to be such a burden to constantly wonder what was in or on something that might cause me to break out or become sick. I am fighting the urge to feel sorry for myself.I mean, after all, I already have to count every carb that I put into my mouth and make sure I am dosing correctly for it, not to mention dealing with all the inconsistency that comes with diabetes. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how closely you follow “the rules”, diabetes will do whatever it wants to do. It doesn’t matter if you had “this” reaction to “that” dose of insulin yesterday. Today, it might be completely different. That’s just how it goes with T1D. It is a nasty monster whose only predictable trait is its unpredictability. So I feel irritated to be bothered with this uber-sensitive skin stuff too. But what can you do?
Just pray for strength to deal with whatever comes and trust that God is doing SOMEthing in your life. Even if you can’t figure out what it is. *smile*
I can tell you one thing, though. I’ll never take ,my skin for granted. I thought I never would after the two years it took to recover from SJS… but I guess I have. I didn’t mean to, but it is sure easy to forget that your skin is your largest organ and it provides a very important function!!
Off to try and accomplish a bit of SOMEthing in the house now. Bless you if you made it all the way through that! Ha ha!