The Eczema Boil

reviews, news, info and interviews on an unpopular skin disease and living with it

Pull Up A Chair

Even though I haven’t updated in a few years the Boil is still getting comments. Most of them are questions, or things could use discussion. So I’ve created a facebook group Eczema Boil, so we can talk about these things together. [If the link doesn’t work, let me know.] I’ll do my best to keep advertisers and spammers out of the group.

After all, we’re the best ones to support each other.

New URL, New Server

the Eczema Boil will have it’s own fancy – aka simpler to remember and type – address very shortly. This version of the blog will remain for awhile and eventually be removed.
I’ll release the new version of the Boil as soon as possible, thanks for your patience!

6 Life-Saving Food Allergy Tips

From CNN. Here’s the short run down:

  1. Take a Test – Bear in mind there are several kinds and they are not always accurate. As a child they said I was not allergic to apples [though I am] but I was allergic to horse hair [though I don’t sneeze around horses].
  2. Medicine Kit – Such as an EpiPen or possibly Benadryl.
  3. Kitchen – Watch out for cross contamination.
  4. Food shopping – Read every single little label, even if it’s something you’ve bought before. It’s even more interesting if you look up the ingredients later and find out what exactly what they are.
  5. Restaurants – Sometimes checking the menu isn’t enough. An allergy card [the link is an interactive .pdf] can be very helpful for the waiting staff. One method is to have the waiter take it to the chef to find out what you can eat from the menu – for me there tend to be one or two items.
  6. Air Travel – Especially because of the peanuts.

Eczema Boil – What is it?

This image was the banner for the site for awhile, but I realized I’ve never properly posted it here. Below is a macro of an eczema boil on my foot, the place I most frequently have them. Gory details of self-maintenance ahead – you’ve been warned!

They act and feel different from normal boils, being specific to eczema. Inside the ‘bubble’ is clear fluid, which burns and itches if it contacts the skin. Eczema itself is named for this symptom; meaning to boil over or erupt.

The best way I find to care for these is to open them carefully – tweezers or needles work well – and drain the fluid. Puncturing the boil shouldn’t hurt as it simply full of fluid. [It may hurt if the skin is aggravated, but that’s just a general part of eczema.] I remove enough of the skin forming the boil so that the wound can’t immediately close itself and refill, but be careful not to tear off skin that’s living. A delicate touch is always best with skin maintenance.

After the fluid is gone it will probably continue to ooze a little, and it’s good to put a thin, soft piece of cotton over the area as a bandage so that the oozing won’t spread and create a rash. Since my feet break out the most I have a few pairs of thin, very soft cotton socks that I use for this purpose. Also, wash the wounds at least once a day to make sure they’re clean. These heal very fast compared to other kinds, like the stereotypical arm or knee scabs. However they also come back quickly. I usually have at least one a day.

The Value of Attractions

I have a strange infirmity, which is nothing
To those that know me.

– William Shakespeare, Macbeth

The other night I was scratching rather loudly at my forehead and after 15 minutes Orion left the room saying “I have to go somewhere else,” and I couldn’t help but reply “Sorry!” After a bit he came up to me and said “It’s not you. Sometimes the sound of the scratching gets to me, but that’s not you. You’re not the eczema.”

I was very relieved to hear that, even though I already knew it. Some people look at me and only see the disease, and it’s degrading to be considered a thing rather than a person. Others know me, despite the skin issue, but still act like I’m a liability to their good time.

As another shade of gray, several people have told me that they would never date me, simply because of my allergies. While that stings a little at first I think this gray is more positive.

  1. They’re being honest, a very important quality in friendships.
  2. They know that eating out, frequently, at random places, at the drop of a hat, is important to them. It’s part of their lifestyle they wouldn’t trade.
  3. It means that I’m not valuable enough to them – in ‘that way’ – for them to try to find the loopholes in my allergies. Which lays out definite boundaries.

And that’s fine. Some of my best friends feel this way, and have said so. But it’s the only odd thing in our friendships, the only thing we don’t really talk about.  And we’re all comfortable with it that way. After all, your body can effect your personality and sense of ‘self’, but it isn’t the same thing.

Great Things Come From Cupcakes

Yesterday I was contemplating the chain events that got to the happy spot I’m in.

Sunday, summer, 1999.

Bill Steele sent me for cupcakes.

Ran into Greg, told me to try PlanetOut.

I did, and met Sammy.

She introduced me to Amy, who told me about the corn syrup diet, which has completely changed my life. [2001]

Amy also introduced me to DeviantArt, where I met Erin. [2002]

Erin introduced me to Orion. [2003]

Orion and I started dating, and this continues to be awesome. [2004]

He introduced me to Kevin, and the robot hobby, and I’ve been infected since.

Out of the robot hobby came the robot club, where I’ve met several awesome people.

Great things come from cupcake runs.

Exederm Review

John Gardiner, President of Bentlin Products, LLC, kindly sent us a free sample of Exederm Flare Up cream, which the National Eczema Association awarded Exederm their Seal of Acceptance. Here are the results of our week long test.

Orion used the cream on his face, a frequently irritated spot, and didn’t notice a difference. I couldn’t touch his face after he used it because of the relatively high citric acid content. It makes my face sting a little just to smell it, so of course I didn’t try actually putting it on. Also, it contains hydrocortisone, which I try to avoid like the plague.

Now the important thing to remember with this product is that it’s for mild eczema, and no one in our household is that lucky. Orion has moderate, and I have severe.

But I would like to thank John Gardiner for sending us a sample, especially after his offer was trapped in the purgatory of Spam Filter for a few months. I appreciate it, and we’re always happy to investigate new treatment options.

Getting Down On Your Immune System

Immunosuppressants can be dangerous, please be careful when using them. This includes Protopic and Elidel, which have had the alarming results of an increase in skin cancer and non-Hodgkins lymphoma among their users.  [This means you Chris!]

Please read the directions on your medication and follow them accordingly. These ointments suppress your immune system. It’s like giving sleeping pills to an over-reactive guard dog. It can be useful, but you don’t want to do it all the time.

For the record I have used Protopic, but only to stop the cycle of a major outbreak, and only for two weeks. The dermatologist explained the cancer warnings to me so I applied it sparingly. It worked excellently for me, but I also had learn to be careful with it.

The instructions said to not touch anyone after using the ointment unless I had washed my hands, and I forgot to, and handed something to my mother. She had a red burning rash on her palm for the next few hours.

FDA Warning on Raptiva

Raptiva, an immunosuppressant drug for Psoriasis [kissing cousin to eczema], has received new advisory warnings from the FDA.

The government is warning … could result in serious brain infection and even death.

What Causes Eczema?

Pubmed has an article from Switzerland about the genetics involved in eczema –

Atopic eczema (AE) is a multifactorial skin disease caused by a variety of factors such as genetic conditions, alterated skin structure, immunologic deviations and environmental factors, among others.

Recently, it was demonstrated that Filaggrin (=filament-aggregating protein, FL) is a major gene for atopic eczema.

The BBC covered an interesting study into cat exposure sparking eczema in babies.

Scientists found having the mutant FLG gene increased the risk of eczema in a baby’s first year twofold, but adding exposure to a cat quadrupled that risk.

Another Pubmed article, from Royal Victoria Infirmary, notes

The discovery that null mutations in the filaggrin gene (FLG) are associated with atopic eczema represents the single most significant breakthrough in understanding the genetic basis of this complex disorder.

It’s very exciting to know that doctors have pinned what causes eczema, even if we don’t quite know what to do with that knowledge yet.