Eczema Mom recently posted about her experience being on a plane with her kid, who's been diagnosed with severe peanut allergy-- some guy opened a bag of peanuts in the row ahead of them, and the smell drifted back, and she could do nothing but wait and see whether her kid would have a reaction. (On a plane! What are you going to do if he DOES have a reaction?)
Peanuts-- I love to eat peanut butter, and Snickers, but I'm learning that a lot of people have severe allergies to them. In fact, Voov was diagnosed with a peanut reaction on her skin prick test-- Hidden B will know all the details. Hidden B is breastfeeding Voov (who's been on solid food for a while now, being 18 months old) and has had to avoid peanut butter herself. I get in trouble for eating the sunflower and almond butter-- which somehow seem more exotic and tasty than my peanut butter.
Peanuts are in the news at the moment. There's a study out in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology by a group at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in NYC, indicating that pregnant women ought not to eat peanuts if they can help it. The specifics-- seems only to apply to kids who are suspected of being allergic to milk or eggs, or have eczema and allergies to milk or eggs. (An odd study group, that-- but I can't see the details because my institution doesn't have access to the paper itself.)
Kids with eczema really have it tough-- the itch, the rash, the food reactions, and then they're at higher risk of developing a life-threatening peanut allergy. Life's a bitch.
I had a short email today from a reader, Jon, letting me know that his partner, who's had eczema for a long time, had recently seen a dramatic improvement after cutting out dairy products. That's awesome and I encourage anyone who has eczema and who has never tried an elimination diet to do the same thing. Cut out, one at a time and for two weeks or more, milk, soy, peanuts, wheat, and eggs. (And fish, if you eat it regularly-- Hidden B hates fish, so I never cook it.)
Here's my personal take: I draw a distinction between food ALLERGIES and food (or drink) that causes REACTIONS. I might have a food allergy; I don't know for sure. But I do know I have reactions to alcohol and hot peppers, which both dilate the blood vessels in the skin. I get itchy after drinking booze or eating a hot curry in the same way I do after I exercise. I'm guessing the heat or blood flow somehow stimulates itch nerve fibers. And then, I also have reactions (oh, so vicious) to aged cheese like real Parmesan, and to preserved foods that are high in histamine. These just have to be triggering inflammation systemically.
Does this mean I never have a drink, or enjoy a fine double Gloucester? Hell no. You have to live. But I often regret it the day afterward.