A plate of pad thai noodles with a hand pulling some out with chopsticks.

My Eczema-Free Vacation

I went on the trip of a lifetime last year. Just six of us in our group. One month in Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. For some reason, I had one whole month with no atopic dermatitis! I didn’t worry about my allergies, ate everything, walked through rice paddies and fields of grass with no flare ups!

Go-to products are different in other countries

Cortisone in all its forms, two kinds of antihistamines, every lotion, cream, moisturizer and latex-free bandage I might possibly need were close at hand in my bag. I had been told that even though the brands might be the same, the ingredients would not necessarily be. A wander around a pharmacy in Vietnam showed my favourite Aveeno lotion readily available. But the words “contains lightener” were listed on the front as a positive addition. Every brand had the same added ingredient! I was happy I had brought enough of my own Canadian formulation with me

Same brand, different ingredients

Many products in different countries often have very different ingredients. One example from a couple of years ago relates to mayonnaise. I had mentioned to a visiting American friend how it was good to finally have an olive oil-based mayonnaise. She said that the product listed canola oil as the first ingredient in the States, even though it was named olive oil mayonnaise. In Canada, the first ingredient was olive oil. That was my introduction to the fact that the same product, with the same label, did not necessarily have the same ingredients in another country. That particular item has changed and now lists canola and olive oil together as the first ingredient in both countries. So I’ve learned to always check the ingredient list.

Why didn't I have an eczema flare?

But back to my trip. I expected my grass and pollen allergies would cause a few flares, but no reaction! Was it that the grasses were a different type? Or that my eczema was in a bit of remission? Or perhaps because my food allergies were not acting up and the environmental causes alone weren’t enough to set off the itch?

I didn't even have food-related eczema flares

The question is why was I not having any food-related outbreaks? At home, I rarely eat anything prepared with pre-processed foods. I shop at local markets and I am very careful when dining out to have nothing made from dried, processed, or packaged ingredients. But still would have flares I could often trace back to a restaurant meal or a problematic ingredient.

Food made from scratch

On this trip, we usually went to small family-run restaurants. Or even ate street food! Normally something ordered had been harvested that day from their garden in the back. Everything was made from scratch on their premises. I could even see the noodles for Pad Thai being made out back! I don’t think sulphites (a preservative to which I have a sensitivity) were in anything. Wheat is one I need to be careful with, and I’m guessing rice flour was probably used where at home it would be wheat. Was that enough to keep me eczema-free for a month?

A wonderful break from eczema

Perhaps it was being on vacation, and mostly stress-free, added to the clean eating and lack of allergens that gave me that respite. Whatever the reason, it was wonderful! Now how long will it be before I can afford to do it again in another wonderful location?

Have you found anything that’s given you a vacation from your eczema?

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