Itchy patches and Remicade

allergy testing

Allergies.  They are THEE worst.  And a problem I’ve managed to avoid until about 6 months ago when I started a new infusion-therapy drug for my Ulcerative Colitis called Remicade.  Now, instead of continuing to figure out why I have UC, I’m spending my energy and time deducing why my lips and face have been swelling like a balloon, and how these reactions fit into my personal health equation.

Without going into the nitty-gritty side effects of Remicade (even I…even my doctor doesn’t know everything that can happen. Very comforting.), I’ll simply say that the drug shuts down the part of my immune system that is attacking my colon – the autoimmune component of my disease.  And because of that shut down, I’m way more prone to infections, viruses and apparently – allergic reactions.

Around the Holidays, my lips started swelling from some unknown substance in one of the chapsticks I was using – this from Burt’s Bees and this from EOS at the time, which I’d bought in an attempt to use more “natural products.”  Soon after those reactions, my face started swelling and then my eyelids, which used to happen periodically in high school.  Overall, I was miserable, and missed several days of work and some family get-togethers.  Once the swelling would go down, I’d be left with tight, itchy, flaking skin on my face – always a lovely accessory to any outfit.  Especially in the winter!  And so the cycle continued for several weeks.  The picture below may not look like much to you, but trust me – my upper lip was double its normal size!  And SO itchy!

swollen lips

I finally made an appointment with an allergist who ran several rounds of blood and prick tests on me, all of which showed only a mild allergy to cats and dogs.  The picture above was taken of me yesterday evening and shows the most recent allergy testing I’m having done – patch testing thru the T.R.U.E. test by SmartPractice.

They are highly sticky patches with little squares of about 30 common allergens that cause contact dermatitis – most of which I can’t pronounce because they’re synthetic chemicals and compounds.  There are two spots on my back that are currently VERY itchy, so I’m hoping that those two are “IT”, the mysterious allergen culprits that have been causing my issues.  I’ll be getting the patches removed tomorrow morning and evaluated for Round 1 and then a second time on Friday.  Have I mentioned that I cannot shower because of these little guys on my back?  Yes, it’s bird baths for me all week…nothing makes me feel more like a lady than washing just the essentials of my bod and skipping the rest!

After using my deductive reasoning – and making a list of every ingredient in ALL the products I was using on my body – I had a hunch that my allergies were caused synthetic sunscreens, beeswax and/or aloe.  However, I don’t think that any of those substances are being tested on the patches currently on my body.  I may have to set up a custom panel – so I should probably just give my entire  paycheck to the doctor’s office.

To help myself out a bit, I’ve limited my use of most beauty products besides pure Vaseline  for my lips, a suncreen-free, soothing face lotion with cucumber by the YesTo brand and using only Physicians Formula brand concealer and powder.  No foundation.  These three brands have not caused me any issues to date, so regardless of what my results reveal, I’ll be continuing to use products from these companies.

I’ll be sure to check in with an update on my results tomorrow.  I’m going to be straight up pissed if this incessant itching means nothing.  You can be sure my fingers and toes are crossed to increase my chances of getting some answers and putting this problem to bed.

In happy health,

Erika

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