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LIVING WITH ECZEMA & CHRONIC HIVES.

02.22.18

Healing

Hi guys! I am finally ready to share more details about the eczema and hives situation I have been dealing with for the last two months.

I have never been the kind of blogger to act like I know everything about a subject that is new to me. And about six months ago when I first started getting severe eczema under my arms, on my stomach and all over my neck/scalp… I had a lot to learn, and a lot of research to do, before I could feel comfortable sharing what might work / not work in terms of holistic approaches.

At that time I was decently content to use the steroid creams my dermatologist gave me even though I was by no means thrilled to be putting that medication under my arms (right where my lymph nodes are…. ahhhh) or anywhere on my body for that matter. But I figured it was just a random bout of eczema induced by a food or environmental allergy and if I handled it, it would just go away.

Little did I know that not only would it NOT go away, but eventually it would spread more and more every day until my whole entire body was covered.

NOT FUN. And I have learned through the process how many of YOU are struggling with eczema and full-body hives as well. It seems like a serious epidemic, and from the research I have done we can get control over it… it just takes a lot of work, discipline, time, and REST. And patience.

So let’s dive into my journey… I hope it will help you if you are suffering as well. Skin disorders are no. freaking. joke. <3

I also just want to preface this by saying this is MY journey, and all of our journeys are different. If you choose a different path than me or don’t agree with the holistic methods I outline below… I respect you very much and to each their own!

I will include some photos (like the below) that show you my rash at different points over the last several weeks. It’s hard to capture how bad it truly was, but this gives you an idea.

My history with skin //

Just like the rest of my body… my skin has been highly sensitive for as long as I have lived. It just comes with the package of being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)! When I was little I would always get rashes from grass, plants, food, and random medications. But the rashes were never terrible and they would usually go away very quickly after using the topical meds the doctors would give me.

When I was in high school I started getting really bad psoriasis on my scalp. That’s how it was diagnosed anyway, but now I think who really knows if it was eczema all along too?

I will never forget being on a college tour across California with my mom, dealing with the worst oozy pain of my life on my scalp, checking into our hotel in Santa Barbara, and SCREAM SOBBING in the shower because the skin on my scalp was so raw it felt like the shower was ripping it right off. Right when we got back to Sacramento I saw a dermatologist who gave me a steroid foam for my scalp that, literally, IMMEDIATELY made the pain and itchiness a hell of a lot better.

(Almost kind of scary now that I know more about medications what could have been in this potent steroid foam to work wonders that way… but even if it scares my holistic side to death, I am grateful for it because I STILL use it whenever my scalp breaks out in bad psoriasis/eczema/mystery rashes.)

At the time we assumed it was from getting my hair highlighted. I even went through a phase in high school where my hair was bleached basically WHITE, and I always just thought my scalp was sensitive to the hair dye and bleach.

This time around //

Fast forward about ten years to 2017, when the rash on my neck started getting really bad around November. Naturally I thought it was just the psoriasis from my scalp trickling down to my neck, because that initial psoriasis I mentioned is something I have dealt with for the last decade. But suddenly the foam didn’t work to cure the pain or itchiness anymore.

Then, more days passed and the rash begun wrapping itself around my neck making me look like I had literally been strangled because the marks were so intensely red and raised.

Over Christimas time it got so bad on my neck and stomach that my mom told me it looked like I was infected with poison oak. For a while at this point I had thought it was candida and gut-related. I told her I didn’t want to “go back to my regular life” until I figured it out and had it taken care of. We both knew I was kind of joking (who checks out of their life entirely because of a rash?) but deep down I know it was my intuition speaking to me.

It was saying, loud and clear, “CLEAR YO SCHEDULE GIRLFRIEND. SHIT’S ABOUT TO GET REAL BAD.”

Or, in other words: “Slow the hell down like we’ve been telling you for years now, Jordan. If you don’t slow down, this rash is going to explode and you’re not going to be happy. Deal with this, and then you can get back to your old pace again.”

Of course I *sort of* listened, but very much kept living my life as normal for the last few days of 2017.

Then, like clockwork, I woke up on January 1st of this year and the rash that had confusingly been getting worse and worse was suddenly EVERYWHERE… there wasn’t an inch of my body that wasn’t affected except for my feet and my ears. Literally everywhere else, including my entire face, was covered in a bumpy, inflamed, on fire, skin prick type of hives.

AGAIN, I thought this shit would just go away. I thought it was an allergy to something and that if I waited it out, I would be fine. I of course cut out all the foods I thought it could potentially be, including high histamine foods, animal products / animal protein, grains, sugar, and more. Not like I was eating much of any of that to begin with.

My legs when I was in NY a few weeks ago… bleeding all over my bed, all week.

For the first several weeks of the year I stopped exercising, stopped even going anywhere (I could hardly move), and pretty much checked out of working because I had no choice.

Without me even fully realizing it, I was losing my life and all of the things that made me happy one day at a time. It was necessary, because I had to listen to that raging voice inside telling me to GET QUIET, but it’s also a very depressing and devastating time to look back on because I couldn’t do ANYTHING. I couldn’t start any of my New Years’ intentions or resolutions, and it was a very grim way to start the year.

I couldn’t even go on a walk outside! Or cuddle my boyfriend! I was so, so, so, so, so stuck.

Much to my friends & family’s dismay I waited about two weeks before I took any sort of medical action, because I was hell bent on finding a natural solution and I was also freaked out by the thought of steroids and topical creams to bandaid the issue. I had (and still do) read so many horror stories about steroid withdrawals, eczema / hives coming back with a vengeance after using them, and of course how bad they can be for our liver, longterm health, etc.

But eventually after a particularly HELLISH morning waking up and realizing this was not going away but it was only getting worse (and my mom, best friend, sister and brother-in-law BEGGING me to go to urgent care) I walked down the street to the Brentwood Urgent Care to get a cortisone shot.

The nurse who was working was super sweet and agreed that I needed the shot, but she too had no idea what was on my skin, what had caused it, how to get rid of it, or anything. Very frustrating but also what I had already expected after a few awful dermatologist visits in November / December.

She gave me the shot and I think the only thing it did was prevent things from getting worse. I had this amazing image that the rash would clear up COMPLETELY because the shot would be so strong, but that wasn’t the case. A random small patch on my back disappeared (I mean SMALL), it kept the whole thing from getting even worse, and that was it.

The beginning of healing //

I started obsessively looking forward to my Panchakarma at Surya Spa in hopes that Ayurveda would heal my rashes. Read that post to learn all about how it helped in some significant ways, but even after the PK ended I was still inflamed AF and super uncomfortable.

It even made my PK pretty uncomfortable at times, because if you can imagine getting a hot herbal oil massage that is supposed to feel so amazing you can drift off to outer space, but you’re stuck here in an ragingly itchy body having the experience.

All in all the experience was very healing for me on a mind, body, soul level… but the rash still had a lot of work to do.

Meanwhile I was getting weekly or twice weekly acupuncture sessions with Dr. Kara (this week’s podcast guest!) which seemed to be helping to cool my blood but then again, only in a minor way. For what it’s worth, Kara has been encouraging me all along to suck it up and take the steroids, because in her words, “No one should have to suffer this much.”

Which is true. But I still haven’t done it because I am holding out to cure it naturally. I feel in my heart and soul that it’s possible, and I know if I take an oral steroid and it goes away then I will never know if all of the work I have been doing with the natural methods will heal me if I give it enough time, and I also have a strong feeling it would keep coming back until I addressed the root cause.

The other thing I was doing was OBSESSSIVELY researching alternative healing methods. I have gotten thousands (literally, maybe tens of thousands — THANK YOU 🙏 ) recommendations from you guys, I have done a lot of reading, and here is what I have come up with…

Holistic methods of healing //

– WATER FASTING: This is something I have read endlessly about all year, and it is an amazing option for people with chronic skin disorders and so many other health problems. (For me specifically, for my fibroid and and also parasites / tapeworms beyond the skin issues.) I wrote a full post on it here that really breaks it all down. I also just booked myself a 3 week stay at True North Healing Center in Santa Rosa for May (the earliest I could be accommodated) to do a medically guided water fast. This will be news to anyone in my life reading, as I literally just booked it today. 😉

I can’t yet speak to whether it will 100% work for me or not, but I have been incorporating once a week water fasts (on Mondays) into my life and if anything they are helping more than they are hurting. I just feel like I will need a longer, more serious fast to really nip this issue in the bud.

– THE MEDICAL MEDIUM APPROACH (A.K.A. RAW FOODS): This approach is crazy interesting. His 28-day healing cleanse is outlined in this book, but beyond that I have devoured all of his books in the last few weeks. He posts about remarkable healing stories of eczema/hives on his Instagram almost daily… and it’s hard not to believe how much it works. It is tough for me to fully dive into the Medical Medium healing approach because it is an all raw vegan diet. I can do vegan, but raw is a lot. And not only raw, but a LOT of fruit.

After reading his books I have been enlightened about the vast health benefits of fruit. I actually feel so sad that I cut it out of my life pretty much entirely for the last few years, because I was missing out on the key nutrients, fiber, antioxidants, and healing properties it provides.

Now I am kind of at a crossroads where I really want to follow my his advice because A) it comes straight from Spirit (it’s all channeled), B) everything he says makes SO MUCH SENSE to me on a cellular and psychological level, C) the proof is in the pudding with how many people he has cured through this diet and way of life, D) I love fruit and the diet sounds delicious, and E) I WANT TO HEAL.

But the only reason I am having trouble reconciling doing it is because the last time I was a raw vegan, eating tons of fruit and juicing all day… it took me down a slippery slope. I developed a pretty gnarly eating disorder. And even though I am confident that wouldn’t happen again in the same way, I have spent many years unlearning the super restrictive way of life and I will have to be very dedicated with his diet if I want to it work and to heal me.

So for now I am doing a modified version… I am plant-based at the moment, eating fruit, but also still eating cooked veggies and some grains / legumes. We will see if I decide to venture further, and if I do it will be because I have done the research & feel comfortable and confident mentally to full throttle dive in.

When the hives spread to my face…

– COLD SHOWERS: This might seem like an obvious, but I am here to tell you IT REALLY WORKS! As a lover of hot baths, the steamiest showers, and soaking in the bath for hours and hours on end DAILY… it has been a huge bummer to not be able to do any of those things. I am not good with cold showers, they took a lot of getting used to for me. But now that I have experienced how calming they are for my skin, I highly recommend them especially before bed.

– AND ICE PACKS! I am lucky enough to have the sweetest boyfriend on the planet who legitimately won’t let me sleep unless I have my ice pack.

– SIMPLE, EASY TO DIGEST FOODS: When the body is working hard to break down food, it can’t work to heal. Skin disorders are a reflection of what is going on inside, so cleaning up from the inside out is super important.

– NO ALCOHOL: It has been a while since I have been able to handle much alcohol, but with these skin issues it is an absolute, 100% no. My liver is working hard enough as it is to process what is going on in my body and with my skin. Plus, with the HEAT in my body/blood… I do not need anything that is going to increase that heat even more.

– ACUPUNCTURE, CUPPING & AYURVEDA: Listen to this week’s podcast episode with Kara to hear about how acupuncture has helped. And read my Panchakarma post to read about how Ayurveda has helped. Cupping has helped a lot, but only after my back was healed enough to handle it. During the worst of the rashes there would have been no chance of cupping my back. We cupped my neck during the worst of the rashes and my neck literally turned BLACK. 

– TONS OF WATER!!!: Another obvious, but it really gets the toxins moving and with rashes, there are so many built up toxins that need to be released from the system.

– ENEMAS: This is something I will talk more about in a dedicated post because there is a lot of info I want to provide, but I have been doing enemas at home almost every day since my Panchakarma. I switch between coffee enemas, chlorophyll, and organic sesame oil. The oil enema nourishes the colon and attaches to parasites/free radicals and pulls them out. It is very gentle and you can hold it in for 30-45 mins or so.

The water-based ones are more intense, and while you can hold for 15 minutes it can be VERY hard to do that. Like I said, they’re intense. But they also pull everything out and bind to free radicals and toxins. For people suffering from skin disorders, they are a godsend because we want to release all of those toxins and any buildup.

But you must be very careful administering enemas yourself. It can be easy to develop hemorrhoids if you do them too often and don’t do them properly. Also make sure you get all the air out first or else you’ll get a ton of gas inside of you which is not comfy. 🙂 I studied the therapists at Surya Spa for seven days in a row before I attempted my own, so just proceed with caution if this is a route you decide to go down.

– ALL NATURAL ERRRYTHANG: I have switched all of my soaps, shampoos, conditioners, deodorants, detergents, etc. over to natural and I am STILL convinced most of them are not even natural enough for me. I basically need to bathe myself in cold filtered water with nothing in it if I want zero skin irritation, but right now I will take what I can get.

– REIKI & CRANIAL SACRAL THERAPY: These treatments have been so healing to me during this time, especially because they relax my nervous system and help me focus on the bigger picture versus just my skin being on fire. During reiki sessions I am able to dig deep and ask my body where this is all coming from, how I can help, and what I need to do. <3

– ALOE VERA & COCONUT OIL: I have been using a lot of chilled aloe & coconut oil to ease the itching, and while it’s not perfect it does provide some relief.

My arm last night… still pretty red / itchyyyyy.

WHAT CAUSED MY RASHES?

I think for me it was a mix of the parasites / tapeworms in my gut, a spiritual upleveling that has completely taken my mind, body and soul for a loop, my body screaming at me to slow down and take a ton of stress off of my plate, and a reaction to certain foods / the environment.

Where I am now //

My rash is definitely healing, but I know I still have a long road ahead of me. I would say it’s about 30% healed. It’s not acute to the point where I can’t move or do light exercise or be present in my daily life… but it is extremely itchy and takes up the majority of my thoughts throughout the day.

The worst parts are currently on my arms, neck, and back. My legs have finally really begun to heal. My stomach is the only area that really responded well to the topical steroid I used (that I got from the dermatologist in November), because I believe that area was more eczema than hives.

I am not opposed to western medicine at all, in fact I think it’s amazing for so many different conditions and emergencies. But for me at this season in my life, I feel the pull toward the holistic so I am listening to that little, but strong voice inside of my head.

I will take an oral steroid if the rashes on my neck continue to worsen (they have taken a pretty bad turn the last couple of days…) but I hope I don’t have to. I am very, very much looking forward to my 3 week water fast in May and will DEFINITELY update you guys on how that works for my skin and the rest of my conditions.

My neck last night. ITCHY AF.

I will also be seeing my functional medicine doctor and an allergist soon, because I still do have a sneaking suspicion that some allergies are behind this.

The most important things for me moving forward with healing are…

lots of rest, and unapologetically DOING ME

trying to keep the stress load very low

eating a whole foods, plant-based diet with some bone broth sprinkled in

water fasting once weekly, with my big one coming up

staying out of the major heat & only doing light workouts 

no alcohol and very, very minimal sugar

TONS of self-care, very few baths (sad) 

To anyone who is dealing with eczema, hives, chronic rashes, cystic acne, or any other skin issue that comes deep from within… I FEEL YOU. You are not alone. We’ve got this, and together we can heal one another.

I just now, as of this week, feel like I am getting my life back. And I hope the same for you.

If you have recommendations or your own story to share, please leave them in the comments below! I am not actively seeking recs at the moment because I can only try so many things at once, but maybe your recs will help someone else who is in the midst of the pain right now. <3 

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