Saturday, August 27, 2011

Frustrations (a non-cooking post)

I had a bit of a setback this week that I'm pretty bummed out about. For the past 15 years or so, I've had a variety of allergic reactions (contact - on my skin) to different things, and until this point, I've pretty much been guessing at what I'm allergic to. So, last November, I bit the bullet and asked to see an allergist.

Two months later, I got to see him, but he couldn't run the patch tests because he only worked at my doctor's office once a week (you need to see a doctor 3 times in 5 days). So he referred me to the Occupational Health Clinic at St. Mike's. Of course, this meant that I had to wait another 4 months for my appointment... which, I discovered, was only a consultation appointment. Well. Crap.

If you've never heard of the allergen patch test, it's pretty simple. They tape 5 patches each covered 10 common allergens (making a total of 50) to your back, forbid you to shower for 5 days and peel off the patches your skin's allergic reactions (or not) to specific stimuli.

Really, it's a pretty basic experiment.

Anyway, I've got two big allergies and a couple of small ones, but it's the big ones that are giving me a headache.

I've known for years (like 15 or so) that I'm allergic to nickel. Jean buttons bother me, I can't wear cheap jewellery (meh - it means I have expensive tastes), watch strap closures cause me to react... that's stuff I've been able to handle. What I didn't know is that people who have nickel allergies (and ones that manifest particularly badly) can have problems with foods that have nickel in them... and there's a big long list including kale, leeks, soy, spinach, oatmeal, shellfish, rhubarb, pineapple, plums, raspberries, tea, nuts, dark chocolate (God, just kill me now)...

Apparently you are allowed to eat Brussels sprouts, dill, parsnips and macaroni. Whee.

Basically a ton of stuff that's otherwise good for you goes off the table.

Now, I'm not at the point yet where I even vaguely feel like I need to go on an elimination diet, but as my allergies have gotten worse over the years, an elimination diet may not be far off.

My bigger concern is the second allergy: fragrance mix. Go take a look at a bottle of shampoo, or your deodorant, or your sunscreen, or your laundry detergent, and when you look at the ingredient list, you'll probably see fragrance or parfum listed. This is a compound of up to 8 different compounds and is the number one producer of allergic reactions to cosmetics. It has far reaching effects that go beyond cosmetics though - paints, insecticides, toothpaste, pads, cola, bubble gum, periodontal dressings... The list just goes on and on.

Now, I'm not allergic to all 8 compounds. I react to some sunscreen but not others. But because companies don't list their fragrance compounds individually, I'll never know if I'm allergic to something unless I try it out.

That pretty much means I have a lifetime of allergic reactions ahead of me.

I'm left feeling even more confused than before I had these tests done. I'm glad that I know that I'm allergic to these things, but I'm frustrated that I'm going to continue to be exposed to a lot of the ingredients that I'm allergic to.

Anyone have any great leads as to products that are fragrance free? Specifically eye creams?


adventuresindinner said...

I've got a bunch of allergies and swearby dr. Remake products.

adventuresindinner said...

Renaud-stupid I phone

dmcL said...

Is there a nearby crunchy-granola shop? All the organic, fragrance and chemical-free stuff I get for the girls and I comes from Herb & Spice: there must be an equivalent in TO.

And may I just say: nuts to allergies! I have 'em and I hate 'em. >:(

Stephanie said...

Most of Clinique's products are fragrance free and pretty gentle. A Sephora usually will give you a 5-day sample before you buy, or at least allow you to return an un-opened product. Best of luck!

Rachel said...

I've been slowly eliminating commercial body care products from our house. I've now using baking soda and vinegar on my hair instead of shampoo and conditioner and I couldn't be happier with the results. For my skin I'm now using cold processed goat milk soap for cleansing and coconut oil with oatmeal and coffee as a moisturizer.

Plants readily absorb nickel that is in the soil. I'm wondering if the nickel in foods is dependent on the soil they are grown in and if you could experiment with growing your own in raised boxes/planter with soil that doesn't have nickel in it.

Geni said...

I agree with DMCL. We use a lot of fragrance free organic products form our local health food store and that seems to do the trick. The cosemtics aisle of the healthfood store would be a great start. Talk to one of the experienced employees in that section. Sometimes they are very helpful. I am allergic to sulfur which happens to be found in ALL WINE and most other alcohol. Tell me that doesn't suck. For our laundry detergent, we use free and clear ALL and that has worked well for us. As for the dark chocolate, that is just weird. I have no answer there. I would die, I am sure of it.

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