When you suffer from eczema you probably spend a good proportion of your day cursing, and wondering what is causing your flare up.
And during one of those soul searching moments I started to broaden my horizons away from dust and airborne allergies, and towards things in contact with my skin.
I actually realised this new line of inquiry following a trip to the chemist.
I had gone in to seek advice about eczema cream following a particularly bad bout, and the pharmacist noticed I was wearing headphones.
“Could they be the problem?” He asked. If this was the case, this pointed to irritant contact dermatitis.
Annoyed with myself for never having connected the dots before, I set out to discover more about this condition, and whether or not it could be affecting me.
Irritant contact dermatitis is a different form of eczema to what I was used to, in this it comes directly from contact with a substance or item.
In my case, patches of eczema appearing around my face and ears may well have been triggered by the headphones I use on an almost daily basis.
It was difficult for me to get my head round this initially, as I have spent so long pursuing dust mites and removing them from my atmosphere.
To realise that actually irritant contact dermatitis, caused by other items in my daily life meant a whole new type of thinking. It’s not simply dust mites that need to be on my radar.
Almost everything I come in to contact with has the potential to trigger an allergic reaction, and as annoying as that is, it’s a fact.
What you can do.
If you, like me, determine that some of your symptoms are coming from irritant contact dermatitis, you need to take the necessary steps to stop your contact with the allergen.
In the case of my headphones, whilst I still use them I have taken the drastic measure of putting up my hood when and placing them over the top. This might seem a bit weird, but it works! I have noticed an almost immediate improvement in my symptoms.
This is probably less practical outside the home, so whilst I’ll miss that comfort and quality I get from them, I’ve invested in a reasonably cheap pair of in ear headphones to use out and about.
This line of thinking though has led me down other avenues. Headphones aren’t the only source of eczema, and these aren’t the only thing I come into contact with.
I also concluded that my pillows were something my face and neck came into contact with regularly, and simply had to have something to do with my allergic symptoms.
I therefore investigated allergy free soaps and washing detergents, which have further improved my symptoms.
Staying on top of your symptoms.
What I have concluded is that whilst staying dust free is my main priority, the battle against allergies is never over.
If you’re one of the unlucky people who’s skin doesn’t seem to tolerate anything, you need to be permanently on the offensive.
Suffering from irritant contact dermatitis means that there are a million and one potential triggers, and you need to constantly track and monitor what you are suffering a reaction to.
For some people this is latex, and extra care needs to be taken when using gloves. For others this can be metals, such as those found in jewellery and watches.
For me, as well as dust mites, the material used in headphones and the harsh chemicals used in traditional washing detergents seem to be my main triggers.
And now I understand better the connection, I can make the changes necessary to avoid them.
The struggle is real folks, but never stop learning and don’t take it lying down.
There is always someone with a worse condition than you and if you invest the right time and effort into understanding your symptoms you can improve them to the point eczema is simply an annoying but manageable part of your daily life.