Devil at my neck

Given the title, I should tell you this is not a post about vampires, although Husband and I just finished season 2 of True Blood. I have mixed feelings about it.

I’ve written about my wackadoo skin condition before in this blog. In case you missed it, I have a complicated combination of atopic dermatitis and eczema, though many sources say these are the same condition with different names. Basically, I have hypersensitive skin that can turn bright red, itchy and painful within hours after exposure to one of many allergic triggers.  I’ve never taken a photo of myself in full-on breakout but try to imagine a turtleneck shirt made of red pain and you might get the drift.

Here are some of my known triggers:

Fragrance – anything labeled FRAGRANCE or MASKING FRAGRANCE, or, in one case, FLAVOR (AROMA)

Nickel – buhbye cheap jewelry!

Aloe – I know right???

Neomycin – Just means I can’t use Neosporin

Stress – It’s a common trigger for all autoimmune conditions. I do meditation, exercise, get lots of sleep, blah blah blah….

Yes, I’ve been to the doctor. Cortisone creams and cortisone shots don’t work. I don’t have skin cancer, but I had to have scary biopsies to prove it. I went on a nickel-free diet for a while (no beans, leafy greens, nuts, blah blah blah). Pretty much I’m never sure when something will trigger me. I’ve gotten rid of most of the crap in my house but that’s the thing with allergies and autoimmune stuff – it’s a MOVING TARGET.

Last week, I had probably the worse batch of eczema yet – from my cheeks to the tops of my breasts, around the sides of my neck, plus grapefruit-sized patches on my inner elbows were red, inflamed, itchy, and thirteen kinds of uncomfortable.  It was like having a skin graft from Satan. When it’s bad like this, I don’t like to go out, I don’t like to do much of anything but feel sorry for myself. Also, when I feel upset about something, I want to DO SOMETHING about it. If I’m upset about my weight, for example, I go drink a gallon of water and hit the gym immediately. If I’m upset about the house being a mess, I clean it. When ye olde devil skin makes an appearance, I tend to overapply whatever unguent on hand – this week I had tea tree ointment (it’s pretty good for healing up broken skin or sores) and a non-steroidal version of hydrocortisone which was actually very nice.

Last week both Husband and I did some research and found various treatments. Such as:

Zantac – It’s for GERD or acid reflux but the off-label use reduces inflammation. Worth a try and it’s the one Husband is lobbying hard for. I’ve been taking it once a day for about a week.

Probiotics – Since this is essentially an autoimmune disorder, the idea is that probiotics (live googly thingies that live in your gut and make things happy all over the body) will stablize the systemic inflamation I’m dealing with. I got some and take them once a day.

Gluten-free diet – See above

Tanning – I haven’t actually DONE this one yet but both anecdotal and researched evidence suggest that a couple of sessions twice a week for maybe 5 minutes can provide enough UV light to prevent flare ups. I’ve never gone to a tanning bed in my LIFE. I’m Irish – we don’t tan, we pink. Or we freckle. However, UV doses that low don’t show adverse effects and can be beneficial in many ways – better mood, better overall feelings, etc.

Probiotic skin cream – Yeah, ok, this was a desperation move. I don’t think this is my magic pill answer, but somewhere in my research I found stories of probiotic skin cream helping eczema. I got a $10 jar from the Internets. I’ve only used it once but…we’ll see.

I shall keep you updated as updates become available. Care to place a bet on which will work?



  1. Pingback: Devil at my neck « The Writing Spider | PolymerClayLand

  2. Pingback: Devil at my neck Dermatitis

  3. I have skin flare up and I’m over 40! So annoying. I have found two things that actually work. First, I use this cray-zee expensive cleanser called Plexion. It’s ridiculous how expensive it is. We have great insurance and it still costs me $40 a botttle and I need about 3 bottles a year. It’s not the cream; it’s the cleanser. Check it out. I use it twice a day, but if I miss a day, I’m screwed! So I’m really careful about making sure to use it religiously.

    Second, I do flare in the winter. SOmething about the dry air and lack of sun, so I have used tanning salons. All you need is 7 minutes in the lowest intensity bed… but if it really only flares on your face, you might be able to get a lamp in your own house. My grandmother had one. They are really dangerous (people can burn themselves and not realize it) — but going to a tanning salon once a week for 7 minutes with the Plexion Cleanser 2x a day has changed my face. I know everyone’s issues are different, but something to consider. 😉

  4. Hi, I’m just starting a blog specifically about eczema as my partner has suffered for years!! I rarely find enough info (all in one place) about eczema so thought I’d put what we’d found into one blog. Please have a look if you’ve got time (although I have tons more to write). I was interested in the Plexion and wondered if you had also tried it and if it had worked for you. My partner finally met two compound pharmacists who make a nearly completely natural eczema treatment; one is a drink and one a cream. They say you have to work the inside and the outside of the body. They also told him off (bigtime!!!) for his lifestyle as he was under huge stress, drank copious diet coke (!!!) and not enough water.

    It took forever (nearly 12 weeks) to bring his face, neck, torso and arms under control. He had been bright red, too, and his scratching was out of control to the point where I was putting new bedsheets on nightly and he’d rubbed all his eyelashes off. He now ‘manages’ his eczema and if there is even the remotest sign of a flare up he orders in the cream and tonic!!

    The point is, hopefully there is something out there that will work for you. If you are interested the name of the products that worked for us were Dartnells Eczema Cream and Dartnells Healing Tonic. Dartnells email address is but I don’t know if their new website is live yet. Good luck!

  5. Pingback: In which the Spider gets a tan « The Writing Spider

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