Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Culprit found!

My eczema, that I had outgrown for over a decade(!), came back. Initially it was only on the legs, on and off, during my last year or two in college. Then last year, it started creeping up my body and appeared on my torso, then back/shoulders. Finally, it reached my neck and face the past couple of months. It's not painful, but horribly itchy. I even scratch in my sleep, only to find out in the morning when it's too late. The worst, though, is when I'm kept up all night because I'm aware and scratching so much. The thought of seeing a doctor crossed my mind, but I knew what would happen: prescribe some sort of cream and send me away. It's happened before to no avail. The way I saw it, why bother? But when parents and middle school students started asking what was wrong with my face the past couple of weeks (and Open House coming up), I knew something had to be done.

Bad News
(1) I call the advice nurse. Tells me to take Benedryl. (2) Got a phone appointment. Doctor says she can't assess me over the phone. Duh. (3) Was able to be seen by a doctor. Leaving out details but she must have been new or just not thinking that day. (4) Finally got my referral to see specialists!

You know what this reminded me of? College pre-req "weeder" courses. I just wanted to get started with the upper div classes!

Good News
The allergist was very helpful. We talked over my symptoms, diet, family history to determine which skin tests I should take. Each test would be a prick of a needle on my forearm. She narrowed it down to 30. I thought she was kidding. Nope! Before I knew it I had consented to sitting in a chair with 30 holes in both arms. It looked something like this, except the nurse scribbled HUGE numbers, lines, and abbreviations down both forearms with a blue ball point pen:

The first one that I reacted to was histamine to make sure I didn't have any anti-histamine in my system to show false results. Yes, it itched very much. After the 30 pokes, I noticed that only the second allergen was turning into a welt. It, too, was calling for my fingernails to dig into it. The culprit: dustmites! These pesky creatures (aren't they butt-ugly?) are everywhere!
 
Hear me roar.

The dermatologist was also helpful. I'm so glad I had Mr. Woo there with me because the doc came in with a "visiting dermatologist" (student?). With two men hovering over my back (to see my ugly eczema patches), I was feeling a bit uneasy. But it was quick, painless, and professional. Even with my personal questions that I asked, to which I (finally!) received answers. I found that some of my symptoms to which I had other concerns were actually common in women. Hoorah! (kind of...)

The best doctors' visits, hands down.

Conclusion
  1. There's no cure for eczema, but there are some "preventative measures": 
    1. Moisturize like crazy, 
    2. Don't scratch, and 
    3. Get a topical steroid cream for the aftermath of when you do relieve the itching.
  2. Google is my friend.
  3. Kaiser and I are "aite" now.

5 comments:

dan tsai said...

very interesting post!!
ive never had issues with allergies like this, but this was very informative all the same

Hannah said...

oooo interesting! my cousins have eczema and my sister also did for a while growing up... i never had bad doctor visits cuz my doctor is my aunt. LOL which is why i realized my experience with doctors is so not normal

hannah said...

(this is hannah hyun, just to prevent confusion...) but mrs woo i feel you!!! i've had those skin prick tests OOOODLES of times growing up! at least twice on my arms and once on my back, due to insurance changes and going to different allergists...i got allergy shots for most of my middle school years, and am also allergic to them little buggers, among many other things...BUT! there are mattress covers and pillow covers that do a pretty good job at minimizing their effects, if you keep up w/ the busywork...

I said "I will" to Mr. Woo! said...

@Dan - Those who don't need braces avoid spending thousands of dollars on cosmetics. Those who don't have allergies avoid "suffering."
@Hannah W - I'll be going to Nolie with my health problems!
@Hannah H - Awwww, I'll be your allergy buddy! I'm always telling little Toby, who also has eczema, "I know how you feel." I'm thinking about the mattress and pillow covers, but all these cleaning chores are such a hassle! Those dreadful, dirty (literally) buggers!

Mr. Summer said...

i remember also doing that allergy test when i was a kid! that poke for dust mite deformed into this huge ugly tumor, and my mom got scared and bought all this stuff--mattress covers, pillow covers, hepa filters, hepa vacuum cleaners--but i don't think they worked very well. I'm sure it made her feel better though