Garth loves camping under the stars with his Arb III, scuba diving, snorkeling, and also tanning. His favourite snorkel spots include Alanya (Turkey), Koh Rong (Cambodia), and Maui (Hawaii, USA).
He also loves to visit the cenotes in Mexico and he recommends everyone reads the book, “The Soul of an Octopus”, because, he says “they are sensitive, just like me”.
This article will talk about understanding what’s called “dyshidrotic eczema” aka pompholyx – the notoriously irritating, recurrent, and supposedly “incurable” skin condition that many of us suffer from.
Well, the “funny” thing about dyshidrotic eczema is although many of us have dealt with it, many more of us have never even heard of it.
So, if you like learning new things and also have a fascination with what some people would most certainly describe as “gross” skin conditions, then stick around!
If you too have suffered from this condition, believe me, I feel for you. As a long time sufferer of what I consider to be a form of dyshidrotic eczema (after visiting many doctors over the years, the this condition seems to most aptly describe what I have), I am highly motivated to find a cure / treatment for this extremely unfortunate condition (the above foot is not mine btw…but don’t worry, I’ll show you my gross foot too :D).
Table of Contents:
- Pictures of Dyshidrotic Eczema on Hands and Feet
- My Eczema Story (Pretty long)
- What Causes Blisters? (Video)
- Steroids and Eczema
- How to use topical steroid creams (Video)
- Dealing with stress from eczema and avoiding triggers
- What are the different types of eczema? (With Pictures)
- What is Dyshidrotic Eczema?
- What is Atopy?
- What does Atopic mean?
- What is Systemic Contact Dermatitis
- What is IgE?
- Allergic Cascade (Graphic)
- What is a B lymphocyte?
- What is an Antigen?
- What Are Antibodies?
- Is Gluten Hard To Digest?
- Is Soy Hard To Digest?
- Still Confused?
- Avoid Triggers
Ok, take a deep breath, and let’s get into this.
Pictures of Dyshidrotic Eczema on Hands and Feet
Before we get into how together we might can heal our irritating eczema, let us first look at some images that have been identified (by either doctors, Google, or me, having had it for years) as dyshidrotic eczema.
These images have been specifically labelled “dyshidrotic eczema” or “pompholyx”, and I want you to look at them, just so you can judge if this what you think you might have, versus other types of skin issues.
With these examples, notice the blistering, the infected appearance, and the discolouration all over the skin of these poor people. No one wants this condition, and, sadly, the causes of eczema are still a bit of a mystery, and so it’s that much harder to manage. It isn’t a complete mystery, w
Quite often, dyshidrotic eczema can be found on the hands and feet, in the form of these itchy red and irritated blisters, which can be filled with puss or a clear liquid discharge.
Part of the problem with eczema is that it does get confused with lots of other skin conditions, which have similar symptoms and present themselves in a similar fashion.
What is additionally unfortunate is that often times, doctors don’t properly identify eczema as eczema, and will treat you incorrectly for different problems.
Learning to identify what you have as eczema, and particularly dishydrotic eczema, is part of the purpose for this post. In this way, it can be more effectively treated.
Ah yes, I can very much relate to many of these images myself, as I have had eczema nearly everywhere on my body by this point. Like, I mean everywhere.
Eczema can be especially bad when it’s on your foot, because it might make it difficult, or not possible, to walk properly (or at all).
Here is an example of eczema showing up on someone’s face, which I have also had for a period of about a year or so.
This image shows a before and after of eczema on the face, so as you can see, you can recover from it! I recovered from my facial eczema as well.
I might add, my facial eczema was pretty bad at the time, to the point where I didn’t leave the house for 6 months, and regularly felt suicidal as I did nothing but scratch, bleed, and lay around feeling like fire ants were walking around on my entire body.
Sleeping with eczema was next to impossible, as the sweat and friction of the bed, as well as my incessant and almost involuntary scratching all the time. Normal doctors didn’t really know what to make of it.
Anyway, babies are widely known to get eczema quite often, as their skin is extra sensitive.
Here is an image of a baby’s face with eczema, and then the same baby looking better over time.
Again, it is good to know of these examples where eczema does go away, because when you have it, you feel like it never will!
As you can see and I’m sure you know if you’re reading this, eczema is a dreadful thing to have. In fact, now, once again, a recent break-out has lead me to do even more research on this topic and share it with you all.
My Eczema Story (warning: it’s long)
Here is a picture of my foot as of today with a lovely blister that makes it painful for me to walk. As I will explain, there are reasons one should NOT pop such a blister, as tempting as it may be.
If one does wish to pop a blister like this, there are ways to do this, and it involves sterilized needles, and being very careful.
Here is a video that talks about what causes blisters and what to do if you have one, in terms of popping one.
What Causes Blisters (Video)
Ok, now back to my foot. Here is the same blister, taken 12 hours later (approximately) from the first picture I took.
The reason this blister looked so yellow, I suppose, is because it’s going through it’s own little life cycle (usually days to weeks), and currently is at the peak of whatever battle is going on under my skin.
As you can see from the above picture, the area around the blister is very red and irritated. This is because, probably, I’ve been using my foot to walk on all day, although I’ve tried to limit my walking because this blister is quite painful.
Plus, also accounting for the above blister’s weird red-white-yellow appearance, I am applying a cream called Betaderm, aka Betamethasone Valerate, that was prescribed to me four years ago.
Here’s a quick pic of the topical steroid that I use – Betamethasone Valerate.
*Update – I was prescribed something again in 2019 and it essentially was the same thing – Betamethasone AKA Betaderm Ointment 0.05% (as the container says). By the way, these creams are either quite oily and clear, or white and more creamy, but they always contain some sort of corticosteroid.
A corticosteroid, I discovered, is based on the hormone, cortisone, which is produced by the adrenal cortex.
Cortisone is also produced synthetically and used to treat things like inflammation and allergies. This is why it’s called a corticosteroid cream, because cortisone is a steroid, and the idea is that it reduces inflammation, and hence pain.
Here’s a helpful video featuring Dr. Sean Paul, talking about topical steroid creams.
So, basically if you use a topical corticosteroid cream, it’s less dangerous than other types of steroids administered to the body, such as through injections.
Steroids and Eczema
When people think of steroids, they think of bodybuilders. When I think of steroids, I usually think about eczema, as in corticosteroid cream.
I’ve always used topical corticosteroid creams to heal my eczema, in terms of medications. Other creams I’ve tried, never really worked. Either not strong enough, or simply ineffective. I don’t even really think the point of these creams is to “heal” your eczema, more like control it or reduce the inflammation. It doesn’t deal with the cause, and hence it won’t make it go away.
Hence, I try to make habitual and dietary changes to deal with my eczema. After all, eczema starts as an internal reaction to some trigger, doesn’t it? At least that’s how it seems to me. Sometimes it seems like it can develop out of basically nowhere for no reason.
Still, presuming eczema develops based on a trigger (which I think it does) in the form of an allergic reaction, keeping track of all your new and developing triggers can be a challenge, because I happen to think that the triggers can be lots of different things, from stress, to heat, to allergens from food or plants, and the list goes on.
So, it’s good to have a cream that can help you combat eczema, and does more than nothing, which some creams do – ie. nothing. Some creams can even make it worse! Oh lord…
But why do steroids supposedly work on eczema in the first place?
nationaleczema.org says: “One of the most commonly prescribed medications for all types of eczema is topical corticosteroids, or just “steroids,” which can ease redness and reduce inflammation and itching so that your skin can begin to heal.”
For many people, some relief is better than none. Here’s a handy video about how to apply topical steroid creams, of which the Betamethasone Valerate that I use is one.
How to use topical steroid creams (video)
Up next: dealing with stress, which I think can be a root cause of eczema and other ailments of the skin.
Dealing With Stress From Eczema and Avoiding Triggers
Back to the topic of blisters. And stress.
I think it is important to consider the fact that blisters are, in their own way, trying to help you, and so that’s why you (and I) shouldn’t get too mad at them for appearing. Even eczema blisters, which come in large quantities some time and take over a part of your body.
In the case of eczema, whether it’s scaly skin, blisters, or whatever, it’s good to realize they are the result of an miscommunicated overreaction in your body. (More on that later in the article)
So try not to get stressed about them…try very hard, because it’s that stress and the reaction to it that causes a vicious cycle in your body where it has been stressed, and then you get stressed about the stress, causing more…STRESS.
But blisters, or whatever form your eczema takes, in and of itself, are not a malicious act by some outside – it’s your own body, and it’s just confused, clearly. Let’s say it’s your body reacting to something.
This sort of “body overreacting to a trigger” could easily be said of cancer as well. No one asks for cancer, or acne, or the whole host of diseases that afflict humanity (not to mention animals). But these things also don’t happen for no reason at all. Sometimes it’s just the genetic lottery at work, and you are just on some kind of losing streak. Still, it’s not hopeless, so don’t give up!
Eczema, in particular, has a cause, and so that cause must be dealt with before you can expect it to leave you alone. Steroid creams are just one way to deal with it.
With regards to applying creams, it would seem that if I apply my steroid cream twice daily, consistently, to my outbreak area, it will eventually die off, thankfully.
Of course, since eczema is chronic, it usually comes back. Often, it comes back in the same areas that were infected before, or other areas nearby.
I tend to think of eczema like zits. They appear in certain spots, and if the situation is chronic, they will return to those spots if the triggers occur. The crazy thing is, sometimes eczema can even appear in the form of what seems like a pimple. It’s a red, itchy area that can look like a pimple or bug bite, and then you scratch it, realizing later that it was eczema all along. Tricky stuff!
So back to possible triggers of eczema…
For me, I need to understand what causes my eczema in terms of triggers, so that I can avoid them. One of mine is corn…
How do I know it’s corn? Or soy, which for me is the worst trigger of all. Well, every time I eat anything containing corn or especially soy, I get new blisters at my “weak points” within a day, or sometimes hours. I’m also very allergic to gluten.
I went to a naturopath in my town once, and she tested me and told me these three things were very bad for me and that I should avoid them at all costs.
Recently, I ate a deep friend chicken sandwich, which, after I ate it, I was regretting it. Because in that case, it contained modified gluten, ie. deep fried gluten. If it’s deep fried gluten, I’m basically screwed. And I was – hours later I was itching a lot and had blisters developing on my hands and arms.
Because I’m always dealing with one outbreak or another, due to something I’ve eaten, touched, or maybe I’m stressed from work, relationships, or life in general, I’m often applying my cream, waiting for blisters to die down.
Luckily this container of steroid cream I use now has lasted me quite a while (4 years now, it seems). It still seems to work, even though you’d think that these creams can get “stale” or lose effectiveness. I have a new container, and it will probably last me at least 2 years I think if my eczema doesn’t get too bad.
My current break out is not limited to my feet. There is also blisters on my hands including my thumbs, palms, fingertips, and knuckles.
Sometimes this “dying off” period, where the area gets hard, yellow, and the blisters seem to dry up, looking something like the picture below (btw that’s not my finger).
Or this picture (which actually is my wrist)…
Basically, in my case, when it heals, it gets scabby, and falls off, which I’m always grateful to see, when it eventually does happen (and it usually does).
Here is one smaller breakout of eczema on my thumb. Currently the blisters are dying off it seems, but yesterday there was a fairly agitated looking large puffy blister that appeared on this thumb right where the red / yellow mark is now.
Despite this recent break-out, I have made great strides in let’s say “recovering” from my chronic eczema, which I’ve had for about 20 years now.
I want to get into some of the various terms associated with eczema, many of which can be rather confusing and overly clinical, and talk about some of the ways I’ve found to cope with the condition, and some of my recent findings on why I think it’s happening and how I may finally get rid of it.
You’ll notice I didn’t say “got rid of it”. That’s because I still have it, to some extent, obviously! But, I do feel confident that one day I will be totally free of it, even though many say there’s no cure and it just kind of takes over your life whenever it wants, seemingly.
I also want to add, that I am not a doctor, so take what I say with a grain of salt, as this is all my own research I’m sharing here today, simply because I want to help people understand dyshidrotic eczema and learn to treat it themselves.
I will cite sources whenever possible and even quote some people, so you will have to be the judge of who you want to believe. Many of the sources I will be using are from peer reviewed papers, as you will see.
What Are The Different Types of Eczema? (With Pictures)
Even though I will be looking specifically at dyshidrotic eczema, for the most part, it is useful to know the different types of eczema. Here is a list of the different types I found over at news-medical.net.
- Dyshidrotic eczema – eczema affecting the fingers, palms, and soles of the feet
- Nummular eczema – dry, round patches of skin commonly occurring during the winter months
- Follicular eczema – eczema involving hair follicles
- Varicose or gravitational eczema – eczema affecting the lower legs, common in people with varicose veins
- Dermatitis herpetiformis – a skin condition linked to celiac disease
- Neurodermatitis – a skin condition exacerbated by the itch-scratch cycle. The condition starts with an itch and is sustained by scratching and results in thickened, leathery patches of skin
- Perioral eczema – an inflammatory rash around the mouth
- Asteatotic eczema – linked to a decrease in oils on the surface of the skin and causes dry, cracked skin with scaling.
We might as well look at a picture of each one, so you can better identify your own.
Dyshidrotic Eczema (Picture)
Nummular Eczema (Picture)
This is a type of eczema which I’ve also seen on my body, but mostly my hands. Except that mine are often more blistery, but they still do form what seem like rings that sort of grow outward over time.
Depending on how it looks, you might even confuse eczema for a type of ringworm or tick bite. With these images, I must trust the source as to what exactly we are seeing here.
The source of the above image is mitchmedical.us, so we’ll presume they know their stuff over there.
I feel that it is entirely possible to have some combination of different types of eczema, making it hard to classify sometimes.
Follicular Eczema (Picture)
Varicose Eczema (Picture)
Dermatitis Herpetiformis (Picture)
I’ve definitely had this one, where the eczema doesn’t necessarily blister, but your skin just gets thicker and scalier as you keep compulsively scratching it. Which, of course, only leads to more itching. Vicious cycle.
Perioral Eczema (Dermatitis)
Once you factor in the age of the person who has the eczema, and the location that the eczema is appearing in, as well as the type of eczema, you can imagine how hard it can be to properly diagnose, for you yourself, or even for a doctor.
With so many different types of dermatological conditions out there, properly identifying eczema as such can be a challenge unto itself.
Now, I want to go through some of the terminology related to eczema to break down exactly what it means and how it relates back to the condition.
What is Dyshidrotic Eczema?
Even though I’ve been mentioning dyshidrotic eczema quite a bit so far, I need to define it here specifically.
Also called dyshidrosis, and also pompholyx, dyshidrotic eczema is when blisters (small or large) appear on your hands and feet.
These blisters are usually itchy, and sometimes it takes all your willpower to resist scratching them or even looking at them. For me, even if I can resist touching them, it can be even harder to keep my eyes off them because they itch and draw my attention back. It’s not fun at all.
Even if you don’t scratch them, they’re on your skin, and you are bound to touch things, which can also irritate the blisters more. How convenient!
The word “dyshidrotic” means, basically, “difficult sweat”. That’s a fairly apt term to use, because one trigger of eczema can be sweat, which doesn’t mingle well with eczema, causing additional itching and flare ups.
Often, dyshidrotic eczema will specifically appear on the soles of the feet, or the palms of hands, just to make it that much harder to live your life. Who needs to use their hands or feet, anyway? (can you tell I’m bitter)
These blisters are filled with a fluid or puss, and may be infected, so don’t pop them (as I mentioned before). Show a doctor, and if they need to be drained, a doctor will do it. I did that not too long ago, and they did it, and it did help somewhat because I wasn’t able to walk very well because the blister was on one of the balls of my feet.
Guess who tends to get dyshidrotic eczema? That’s right – sensitive people.
Overly allergic folks, high strung stressed out people, and generally emotionally sensitive people are all prime candidates for having this type of eczema, because it is sensitivity, overall, that can trigger a reaction in the nervous system somewhere which can then manifest in the form of eczema.
A paper written by the Clinica Dermatológica, University of Milan, Italy, in 1993, called “Pompholyx: A Still Unresolved Kind of Eczema” stated that eczema spans across all ages, equally represented in in the young as well as the old.
Dyshidrotic eczema can appear quite suddenly, based on an unknown trigger of some kind, or it can appear more gradually. An flare up can last days, or weeks, depending on what triggered it, and then, from there, how you react to it.
Triggers can include contact with certain metals like cobalt or nickel, getting a fungal infection somewhere that spreads and essentially mutates, or eating something you are allergic to, or just having a weak immune system – these things can all cause eczema to break out.
The problem with eczema, which I’m sure you realize if you’ve had it for any length of time, is that it’s stressful to have it, because it causes so many complications in your life.
Plus, it’s uncomfortable, and it hurts! And, yet, stress only makes it worse. In other words, it’s a vicious cycle once again. Stress can cause it, and stress will keep it going.
What is Atopy?
In my studies of eczema, I asked myself the question, “What is atopy?”, because there seemed to be a relation here between eczema and this word, “atopy”.
Sure enough, there is. Atopy is basically a syndrome whereby the person who has it tends towards being “hyper-allergic”.
As I mentioned before, people that get eczema tend towards being overly sensitive, and this can mean many things, but one thing it often means is to have many allergies and sensitivities that other people simply don’t have.
For instance, if you have atopy, that means you probably have either eczema, hay fever, or asthma (or all three).
For people with atopy, they can and will produce large amounts of what’s called IgE, in response to various triggers or allergens, such as dust, pollen, and types of food (or things contained within those foods).
What’s an IgE? Well, it’s an antibody that sensitive people’s bodies produce to combat allergens.
That’s some science right there. Does it makes sense to you? I’m not great with science, but it makes sense – sort of.
What does “Atopic” Mean?
This is where, for me, the plot really thickens.
Because atopy is one thing, but the word “atopic” is slightly different.
“Atopic” comes from the Greek word, atopia, meaning ‘unusualness’, with a- meaning ‘without’ and topos meaning ‘place’.
This is why the adjective, “atopic” means: “Denoting a form of allergy in which a hypersensitivity reaction such as dermatitis or asthma may occur in a part of the body not in contact with the allergen.”
Take a look at these next pictures I found, and we can begin to understand something here. Each image is from a different website, but also speaks to what seems to be a core issue here.
As we examine each of these above images, I started to feel like something was making a little more sense when it came to how hypersensitivity relates to eczema. Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not a scientist. I’m just a really annoyed allergic guy who has had eczema for 20 years and no one has been able to help me deal with it, including most of the doctors I’ve seen or any family members. I guess no one owes me anything, so that’s ok. Research and life hacking it is!
I think, when you think about the word “atopic” and how it means that basically you can have a trigger, whether it be food, or dust, etc., that can affect a part of the body that is in a different place from where the trigger occurred.
For instance, my eczema which is on my foot, may not, and probably I suspect did not, have anything to do with the trigger being physically near my foot. Somehow, whatever triggered the reaction decided to go TO my foot, but it didn’t necessarily start in my foot.
Maybe, because eczema tends to flare up in those areas, they are considered weak points to the thing attacking them, perhaps because they are furthest away from your heart, and hence their defences may be weaker there (just a guess).
If the trigger was, for example, the wheat bread that I consumed the other day, it is possible (and I think quite likely) that what’s happening on my foot currently is related to something I ate, more so than anything that has come into contact with my foot lately. This would make this an atopic form of dermatitis, ie. eczema.
Although, I should also mention that I was at the gym recently, and I was running fast on the treadmill, with all my weight coming down on my foot, which was already agitated from having eczema on it the previous week.
After that previous breakout cleared up, I then ate some glutenous bread with some soup. Gluten seems to be a trigger with me, but depending on exactly how gluten-y the bread it, or how modified it is, my reaction will be different.
A new breakout came about the next day from eating this type of break (or so I believe), with the eczema flare up once again targeting my left foot, which I suppose was already a weak point on my body since it was already afflicted, and therefore a prime location for a new flare up.
Again, I’ll mention that my food allergy triggers seem to include any and all forms of corn, wheat, and soy. I reason this, because whenever I ingest them, a flare up of eczema is not far behind. Maybe a day later, I will usually see some blisters forming somewhere.
When I had my most horrible eczema outbreak back when I was 29, my naturopathic doctor (who I mentioned earlier) assessed me and told me that those three things were indeed my triggers.
Her assessment seems to still hold true today, as my body seems to be highly reactive to something about those foods, although I’m not entirely sure why, except that I suspect it has to do with the genetic modification of products containing those three things.
I always had assumed that one day my immune system would return to “normal”, and I could eat all the tofu I want, but every time I eat anything with soy in it, I’m in for a rough week of blisters everywhere, very itchy.
This prompted me to read The Indian Journal of Dermatology’s 2013 article, “Soy Allergy in Patients Suffering from Atopic Dermatitis“, where the conclusion seems to be that some adults, although relatively few, are quite allergic to soy.
What is Systemic Contact Dermatitis?
Once I started digging into these scholarly papers, I kept going, because there were plenty that seemed relevant.
I read this paper over here called Diet and Dermatitis: Food Triggers, done in 2014 by the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, and there seemed to be some correlation between certain people and certain foods, and eczema.
This is called Systemic Contact Dermatitis, where ingestion of certain foods can cause dermatitis directly.
I found it very interesting, and it prompted me to also read an article from AAIR (Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Research) from 2018 called, Microbiome in the Gut-Skin Axis in Atopic Dermatitis, which talks about the relationship between the biology of your gut, and its relationship with eczema.
Its conclusion basically was promising in the sense that it indicated that there was a relationship between your gut and how dermatitis or eczema comes about, but more studies are needed. This is obviously a fairly new field at this time.
Another paper I looked at is called “Late eczematous reactions to food in children with atopic dermatitis“, and this article further explores the relationship between dermatitis and food, particularly in children.
Such terms that are mention include IgE, AD (atopic dermatitis), APT (atopy patch tests), and DBPCFC’s (double blind placebo controlled food challenges).
What is IgE?
Each of these articles I read was not what I would call “easy reading”, but it kept making me think of questions, like for example, “What is IgE?” Since I kept hearing about it, I decided to keep going down the rabbit hole to see what else I could dig up on it.
It turns out, IgE stands for: Immunoglobulin E.
I found an article on the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology that explains what it is pretty well. This is what they say IgE is and how it works, essentially:
“If you have an allergy, your immune system overreacts to an allergen by producing antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies travel to cells that release chemicals, causing an allergic reaction. This reaction usually causes symptoms in the nose, lungs, throat, or on the skin. In other words, that could mean eczema.
Each type of IgE has specific “radar” for each type of allergen. That’s why some people are only allergic to cat dander (they only have the IgE antibodies specific to cat dander); while others have allergic reactions to multiple allergens because they have many more types of IgE antibodies.”
Interesting……..so, if I’m understanding this correctly, there can be an allergen, or trigger, which then causes some antibodies to overcompensate to protect you from the initial allergen, leading to a reaction (either mild or extreme) that is either in the nose, throat, or on the skin.
Allergic Cascade (Graphic)
That’s when I ran into this neat graphic, called an “allergic cascade”. Wheeee!
This seems to sum up what I think must be going on internally, when I have my atopic reaction to whatever allergen is affecting me at the time.
Looking at this picture, I got curious as to what some of this stuff was, since it seems to perhaps be the key to figuring out the nature of eczema, and hopefully then preventing it. The problem is, I’m not a very apt pupil when it comes to biology.
Nevertheless, the blister on my foot continues to itch and burn and there are small, stabbing pains whenever I move my foot.
Of course, I decided to put a shoe on it and head out into the world, so the giant blister is probably upset having to be covered up by laters of material.
What is a B lymphocyte?
This is a question I never knew I would be asking, or really cared to ask, but here I am. Since it seems important to the process which is giving me my extremely debilitating allergic reactions, I do wonder…so I looked into it.
B lymphocytes, also called B cells, according to wikipedia, are a “…type of white blood cell. They function in the humoral immunity component of the adaptive immune system by secreting antibodies. BCRs allow the B cell to bind to a specific antigen, against which it will initiate an antibody response.”
Ok, then. For a non-science nerd, this is getting a bit nerdy.
What is an Antigen?
Ok, I’ll bite. So, what then is an antigen, exactly?
Here is what the online dictionary says: “The definition of antigen is a harmful substance which enters the body which causes the body to make antibodies as a response to fight off disease.
An example of an antigen is a common cold virus which causes the body to make antibodies which help prevent the person from getting sick.”
What are Antibodies?
According to study.com, “Antibodies, also known as immunoglobulins, are Y-shaped proteins that are produced by the immune system to help stop intruders from harming the body. When an intruder enters the body, the immune system springs into action. These invaders, which are called antigens, can be viruses, bacteria, or other chemicals.”
Ah, there’s that word again – immunoglobulins, aka the “Ig” part of IgE that I was discussing earlier.
I figured it was about time to get a refresher on high school biology when it comes to the immune system, so I found this cool video that explains it very well.
This video contains a lot to unpack, as there appears to be a lot going on inside the body when some kind of invader comes along.
But my question then is, why does my body think that soy, or gluten, for instance, is some kind of invader, as if it were a virus or infection entering my body?
This begs the question…
Is Gluten Hard To Digest?
bodyecology.com says: “Researchers recently discovered that healthy gut bacteria can break down the gluten grain protein. Even though the gut isn’t equipped to break down gluten, gluten-digesting gut bacteria can. … Gluten may remain intact as it moves through the digestive system, especially in those with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.”
That’s not good, if we can’t even digest it! I’m pretty sure I have a damaged digestive tract, in some, which probably makes gluten that much more difficult to digest. The problem is, how does a person know when their digestive tract isn’t equipped to deal with certain things they ingest, besides having allergic reactions to those things.
medium.com says: “Gliadin specifically is a very packed and dense protein, which makes it difficult for the enzymes to attack and break it down. The normal ingestion of gluten is a tough digestive process in all humans because the amino acids making up gluten do not easily break apart as they travel through the digestive system.”
medicalnewstoday says: “Gluten, which is a protein found in rye, barley, and wheat is also difficult for some people to digest. Other grains contain lectins, which are proteins that may also be problematic. The inability to digest gluten can lead to a variety of symptoms including bloating, stomach cramps, and diarrhea.”
All of this info on gluten traces back to what I was reading in the one paper that said not only can having a bad gut reaction lead to things like dermatitis, but it can also lead to things like depression and anxiety, as well as other problematic mental issues.
Is Soy Hard To Digest?
sharecare.com says: “Soy is one of the most difficult legumes to digest, as it has powerful enzyme inhibitors. Enzymes are some of the natural chemicals the body uses to break down the foods we eat. … Fermentation processes neutralize these enzyme inhibitors, making traditional soy foods such as miso, tempeh, and natto much easier to digest.”
Since soy is one of the things that seem to trigger my most extreme reactions, I can only guess that I’m one of those unlucky folks who have a strong adverse reaction to soy.
It makes sense to me that eczema might be partly due to some kind of war going on in your skin cells, with the warzone being your various layers of skin as they try to do battle with “toxins”, and those toxins get caught in your skin, resulting in trauma to your skin that you didn’t ask for.
I have a feeling this relates back to those B-cells I was mentioning…
verywellhealth.com adds: “After they mature, B-cells are present in your blood and in certain parts of your body such as in your lymph nodes. There are two main types of lymphocytes: T-cells, and B-cells.”
What else can we find out? Well, according to, whoam.isciencemuseum.uk.org says: “Your body can then produce the most effective weapons against the invaders, which may be bacteria, viruses or parasites. Other types of T-cells recognize and kill virus-infected cells directly. Some help B-cells to make antibodies, which circulate and bind to antigens.”
What does the “B” stand for in B-cells? edinformatics.com says: “The abbreviation “B” stands for the bursa of Fabricius which is an organ unique tobirds, where B cells mature. It does not stand for bone marrow, where B cells are produced in all other vertebrates.
Ok, I admit it, I’m still confused. I never majored in biology, so none of these terms are really all that familiar to me. What I do think I know by this point is that there’s some kind of allergic reaction going on, and my body is getting confused and rather than dealing with it properly, my cells are basically getting confused and damaging my skin, all the time, in different ways, and in different places.
This reminds of the city I live in, and the road work that is always happening. ALWAYS happening. Our city always has at least one major road that’s being re-constructed by some rag-tag crew of workers and it takes forever, and seemingly there was no way to avoid this. Did someone just do a poor job making these roads in the first place, just like my genetics seem to be flawed permanently?
Great…so now what? Is my skin doomed to look like Highway 40 here forever?
There is only one way I can see to fix this problem, which has worked for me so far and which seems to be the only good solution for my eczema issues: AVOID THE TRIGGERS.
This is more difficult than it seems. For me, my triggers include soy, corn, gluten, any kind of stress, any kind of anxiety, too much sunlight, too much rubbing of certain materials on my skin like socks, any alcohol, too much dairy, sugar, anything that’s hard to digest, too much sweat (but also too much showering or bathing), and probably more that I can’t think of.
Is it even worth trying to avoid all this stuff to make sure I don’t have an eczema flare up? Is there no way I can teach my body to not plague me with eczema when I have too many glasses of wine and then order a pizza and eat it all?
Well….I guess not. I guess just knowing these triggers and then literally always ALWAYS avoiding them is the best way for me to not have eczema. Because these are the root causes of the eczema, and I’ll be applying cream (which does very little) for the rest of my life unless I learn to avoid most of these triggers most of the time.
For anyone still reading this crazy article, what are your triggers? Tell me in the comments below. I want to hear your stories about this. I love reading or seeing videos about other people who have this condition, because it makes me feel like less of a freak. This is an ordinary problem, but it just sucks a lot.
Maybe hearing that the solution is to avoid your triggers isn’t the ideal answer. Maybe knowing that meditation, relaxation, and completely altering your diet isn’t the best news for you. Besides, when your phone bill is $1000, it’s hard to relax, especially when you don’t have $1000 at the moment to pay it off. Maybe your car’s transmission just died, and that’s another $1000. Trust me, I get it.
But at the end of the day, unless you are a super-biology master who understands everything I’ve said and can come up with a magic formula to alter our genetics, then you’re left with cleansing out the things that trigger your body to create eczema in the first place.
I’ll leave you with one more video I saw recently that might make a difference for some one, from a lady with a daughter who had really bad eczema, and invented a “Fruit Cure”.