A journal with a pencil transitioning into a laptop and a smartphone.

The Everything Journal

Have you been trying to discover your new atopic dermatitis triggers? Have you reached that stage where your eczema is causing unwanted pain, itchiness, sleeplessness, and yet you’ve avoided all your normal triggers? Including stress, if that’s even possible. This is one of my main frustrations with eczema.

Keeping an everything journal

Perhaps it’s time to get back to the old investigation technique of keeping not just a food journal but an everything journal. These days, this is much easier as most of us can just dictate everything that’s happening into our phones.

If you use an iPhone or iPad, you could use the Notes app, as I do, which comes already installed on the device. Siri will even open the app for you! Basically, just tap on the new note icon and start typing or dictating. A good idea is to add a photo of the reaction you’re having at the time. This can easily be done right in the Notes app just by tapping the camera icon and saving the picture. All of this helps your allergist discover things that otherwise might be missed or considered unimportant by ourselves. It could also help you recognize some small detail that you hadn’t connected before.

Tracking triggers comes in handy

The last time I used a food journal was a few years ago, when nothing I ate or did, seemed to make sense. After a quick scan of my journal and pictures, my allergist knew immediately it was a classic sulphite allergy, something I would never have discovered on my own, no matter how much research I did. And something my allergist wouldn’t have been able to diagnose without the journal.

What should tracked and noted?

Important details to include in your everything journal are what you’ve been doing and when. For example, a 10 AM walk in Central Park, good weather, no wind. Then the next day, you may be writing small flare getting worse. If you hadn’t written it down, it might have gone unnoticed in a busy life.  But in combination with some other small detail could lead to a conclusion. Every once in a while, you need only to quickly scan what you’ve included in your everything journal, looking for connections.

A few tips and features

As I was double-checking that some of the features I haven’t used recently actually still work in the Notes app on my iPad, I discovered another feature I hadn’t noticed before; I can use the share option in Safari or Chrome to save the page into a new or existing note, perfect for when I’m in a hurry and want to check it out later. Much quicker than stopping to copy, open the app, and paste into a particular note.

I normally use the Notes app on my iPad at home, and when I’m out can access it on my iPhone. If you’ve eaten something with an ingredient list, just scan it into your journal by tapping the camera in the app. Much less work than writing everything by hand in an actual journal, as I used to do years ago.  My daughter uses the Samsung Notes app on her phone for everything and tells me it is very similar to my Apple Notes. There are also numerous downloadable apps available from the App Store.

But whatever way you choose to keep that record, just do it. It’s an important tool in your arsenal in the eczema wars.

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