An open bear trap with a question mark hovering above the trigger.

Why Can’t I Find This New Atopic Dermatitis Trigger?

Atopic dermatitis, eczema, whatever name we give it, can disrupt our lives in so many ways. My most recent and ongoing eczema flare has kept me indoors this week, trying to give my poor face a chance to heal. Just the cool breeze on it heightened the itching and discomfort.

This or That

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Nothing has changed

I hadn't eaten anything different. I hadn't contacted anything different that I know of. I hadn't been anywhere different. No new clothes, no new creams. Has the air I breathe changed? The weather app tells me the pollen count is low. Even our winter rains have started.

Why was my face flaring?

So why the worst eczema flare on my face in years? Why only my face? And why only the lower portion of my face, from the nose down? Under normal circumstances, when there's a flare on my face, my hands would be at their worst as well. The palms would be an agonizingly itchy red, the fingers bleeding and peeling. This time? Nothing there. Thank goodness.

Is it clearing up?

It's been two weeks since this started, and while I can see and feel it's finally beginning to improve, my face is still dry, itchy, and peeling, with numerous breaks in the skin caused by scratching in my sleep. My pillowcase is a mess. I'm just now starting to have a decent night's sleep.

I can't move my mouth

I've been taking antihistamines and using topical steroid ointment (prescribed specifically for my face). It's finally starting to clear a bit but is now dry, tight, flaking, and sore. It feels like the skin would crack if I try to open my mouth or smile. Although, there's not much to smile about at the moment.

A journal to track everything

I started a journal of what I've done, where I've been, and what I've eaten, trying to discover what must be a new allergy, a new trigger. Could it be the mushrooms that came from a different supplier? They've never bothered me before.

Is it sulfites?

Or has something contained hidden sulfites? One of my major triggers. But contact with sulfites usually starts a tingling sensation first. As sulfite sensitivity isn't a true allergy, antihistamines don't have any impact.

Why aren't they listed on a label?

Did you know that if a product includes an ingredient that already contains sulfites, it doesn't need to be listed on the label? Only if sulfites are added to that particular product itself. For example, if that sauce or salad dressing says one of the ingredients is sun-dried tomatoes, they probably have sulfites. Most dried fruits do. But it doesn't need to be listed in the ingredients.

I've been avoiding sulfites for years

After all these years of avoiding them, I usually know which things to avoid, just in case. I haven't eaten anything this past week that I haven't made myself from scratch. Nothing packaged or powdered. If you're interested in more about sulfite sensitivity, I wrote an earlier article on the subject.

Anyone have any advice?

Now I need to continue tracking both my food and my activities. There's something new happening with my atopic dermatitis, and this is the best way to discover what it is. Does anyone have any suggestions? Any new allergies? Anything?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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