Monday, December 20, 2010

In which the author does something dumb

I heard recently from a reader, Jon, who related how his wife was able to clear up her hand eczema by quitting dairy and eggs. Jon sent me a photo of her palm. To anyone with normal skin, it would have appeared inflamed, but to me or anyone else living with eczema, it was obvious that her hand was in recovery. Yikes--I've never had it on my palms before, and hope I never do. I'm sure we all wish Jon's wife the best in controlling her hand eczema. It's a bummer to have to give up dairy and eggs, especially with Christmas looming, but a remission from itch is a fine present to get in exchange.

Even though I often write about eczema and food reactions, I'm not immune to doing dumb things myself. Here's one. I was barely able to type out that last post of mine (on Friday) because I was scratching the hell out of my arms. Recently, I've been missing real Parmesan cheese. Since I discovered that Parmesan gives me a terrible reaction, I've been making do with the Kraft version, which any Italian would consider an abomination. But it had been three years since I'd last had Parmigiano-Reggiano, and you know how food reactions can be maddeningly inconsistent. I thought I would try it again. I bought a hefty chunk at the cheese shop a couple weeks ago and started grating it onto pasta dishes. For a while, my body let me get away with it. But last Friday, BAM! after I'd eaten some, an otherworldly itch revved up in my forearms that scratching just made worse. (But try not scratching.) It was pretty funny, typing my eczema blog and stopping every few minutes to claw away like a demented monkey.

But somehow, I felt in control, knowing exactly what was causing the itch--the histamines in the aged Parmesan--and that it would ebb away to nothing overnight, as it did.

Won't do that again in a hurry.
* * *
Some relevant news out of the University of California, San Francisco last week, for anyone interested in that story about how children are less likely to develop eczema if their mothers, while pregnant with them, worked on a farm or lived with cats. UCSF researchers have found that the fetus has an immune system of its own independent of its mother's; and that the fetal immune system develops a tolerance to most foreign antigens to which it is exposed. (This prevents a reaction to the mother's cells.) Once the baby is born, its immune system switches over to fighting foreign antigens.

Maybe if you expose the fetus to cat dander while it's still in the mother's body, it develops a tolerance for it that persists after the child is born. I know that cat and dog dander are pervasive in our environment, so much so that virtually everyone is constantly exposed to them. Could cat dander by itself be responsible for a significant fraction of eczema?
* * *
This week, I'm proud to observe that End Eczema has passed 1,000 pageviews. Any blog of real standing gets several thousand pageviews per post, so I've got a long way to go!

Also, at least a few people are finding this blog on Google, which is good to know. For a while, it was completely invisible.

If you're wondering who your fellow readers are, here's the breakdown by pageviews:
United States    792
Canada        49
United Kingdom    40
Germany        34
Australia        31
Denmark        18
Malaysia        18
Singapore        10
Netherlands        8
South Africa        5
Thank you all for reading.  It's an hono(u)r to write for you.

No comments:

Post a Comment