I was talking on the phone to my Mum regarding when my eczema, asthma and allergies first started. She said my eczema started when I was a child, however she can never remember it being severe in any way, shape or form. It was mostly just sensitive, dry skin to which we stopped using bubble baths and switched to hypoallergenic products.
It was asthma that was most prevalent, often resulting in trips to hospital and taking oral steroids to help return my lungs to a more normalised state. I distinctly remember these times well. I would be at my Nana's house and she would dissolve the nasty little red tablets in some water in the "special medicine glass" to form the most vile pink fluid you will ever taste, which was always far too much for me to neck down, and would always proceed in me gagging. Memories to treasure, huh?
My allergies were also never really that bad. Although I did always have a snuffly nose and would produce more snot than is depicted as normal. Although I do distinctly remember picking up my friends' pet rabbit, and within seconds my eyes swelled shut and I was so itchy and sneezy and my asthma went mental. So never again did I pick up a rabbit. But I do remember going on trips to farms and picking up various animals and never having a problem. Same goes with cats. Misty was around before I was born. So I've always grown up with cats around me. In fact, my brother had gerbils too, to which I never reacted.
A face full of make-up, in my "Goth" attire, aged 15. Note the clear, pale skin :(
Fast forward a few years and I would often get small patches of eczema on my inner elbows, my upper lip and sometimes around my eyes. It was an annoyance, yes, but nothing that a bit of E45 and hydrocortisone couldn't help. I'm unsure as to whether my hormones played a part in this or not but I can't figure out what would have been the initial trigger.
Then we come to me aged 16 where I was faced with the awful situation of my Grandfather's funeral and meeting my biological Father for the first time in my life. I don't remember my skin being bad on the train journey down, though I do remember my asthma worsening as we changed trains on London Underground. I just remember the morning of the funeral the entirety of my face, neck, chest and arms were coated in a weeping, swollen rash which was so bloody itchy I couldn't stand it. E45 worsened it and from then on I've avoided it like the plague.
Now whether it was the stress of the situation that brought on the flare, my Grandad's extremely dusty home, the feather duvet's, the woolen carpet, or a combination of these things... I just don't know. It wasn't until the following day I believe, that I was admitted to hospital with an asthma attack. My skin had worsened so much and oozed and was burning and infected, covered in scabs that would just reopen and make me stick to the bed sheets.
It took around 6 months for my skin to return to normal after that, applying a zillion different steroid creams during this period. Then it returned to its "mild" form, not bothering me again for another 3 years. [Although it was during this "resting" period that I developed my heat urticaria. I came out in hives when on holiday in Spain and from then on whenever I got too hot would break out in hives.]
It was then in January of 2009 that it all kicked off again (for reasons I can't quite put my finger on...) and so I returned to using steroids, but this time more potent steroids. I was given oral steroids and antibiotics to prevent my reoccurring infected eczema. Unlike before where it was on my face, neck, chest and arms, it spread down my torso and then down my legs leaving no part of me unscathed.
I assume in the first instance of having eczema that it was down to a severe allergic reaction as why else would it have appeared on my most visible parts? I can only think that it was due to an airborne allergen... possibly the sheer levels of dust? The second time however, I really have no clue.
I have been in the same state since 2009 with only small breaks of respite. As I've mentioned before I've undergone all sorts of treatments, had allergy patch and IgE testing and nothing has really come to light properly, other than my obvious dust and animal allergies.
So could my eczema be a by-product of the steroids? Perhaps it was the steroids that caused me to get eczema to start with if I took them frequently for my asthma troubles. I just don't know and I need some answers soon.
Does anyone else who has suffered from Red Skin Syndrome have severe allergies? I need to help make a distinction I think.