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Allergic Eczema: Treatment That Goes More Than Skin Deep

Winter SkinAllergic Eczema Skin Treatment

Winter can be an eczema sufferer’s worst nightmare. The harsh weather that hits most of the country can cause our skin to become dry and chafed, and patients that suffer from eczema are especially at risk for skin flares. In the past, typical treatments have relied on lathering on sticky creams to try to relieve the symptoms. However, this may not be enough. What we have learned through treating eczema patients is that for the best results you need to go deeper than just treating the skin. Our approach involves balancing out the immune system to stop the inflammation from reeking havoc on the surface of the skin.

 

Our Largest Organ

The skin is the largest immune organ in the body and it has many different layers. All of these layers have different immune cells that help to protect the skin or cause it to flare up in rashes. These skin flares can be the result of allergic eczema. Allergic eczema, which is also known as atopic dermatitis, results from an imbalance in various proteins and chemical messengers in the skin and blood.

 

What causes these imbalances?

Several different factors can cause these imbalances. In children for example, their birth is critically important. Were they born naturally or by a Caesarian section (C-section)? What part of the U.S. do they live in? Are either of the child’s parents allergic to pollen, animals, dust, mold or even antibiotics?

 

Why do these questions matter?

  1. How Your Birth Effects Your Skin

Treating Allergic Eczema The way a child arrives into the world has profound consequences on their health. Medical research shows a child’s microbiota (the type of good and bad bacteria in their gut) depends on whether they were delivered by natural birth or C-section. A child born by a natural delivery has the microbiota of the vaginal tissue which is more favorable to the infants skin. As a child born by C-section does not pass through the vaginal canal, they adapt the microbiota of the skin and not the vaginal tissue.

We don’t have a choice in how we are delivered into this world, so how can a child with eczema compensate for this potential alteration in their immunity? One word – probiotics. Probiotics come in many shapes and forms: from yogurt to fermented foods (kimchi, miso) to liquid formulas. The goal is to try to restore an environment were good bacteria can flourish in the child’s gut. This, in turn, will turn off the allergic process in both the skin and other areas of the body.

  1. The Suns Effect On Eczema

Exposure to the sun can also have a major effect on eczema. Ultraviolet light can suppress T-cells (which are a type of white blood cell) in the skin and cause eczema to flare up. Sun exposure also impacts the levels of vitamin D in the blood (see our video on Vitamin D here and our prior post here). Low Vitamin D levels and worsening eczema have been linked in the past. One way to combat this negative association is to take Vitamin D supplements, which have been shown to help decrease eczema.

Those of you living in the southern and western parts of the U.S. are fortunate enough to get a lot more natural Vitamin D from the sun than those of us based in the Northeast and Midwest. Those of us living in the Northeast and Midwest need to take oral Vitamin D supplements to try and keep our levels in the normal and even above normal ranges.

  1. Allergies and Our Skin

Allergens can also cause eczema flare ups, and this is why it’s important to know if allergies run in the family. If a child has (or is showing signs of) allergic eczema, they should be tested for food and environmental allergies. If they have allergies and are not aware of them, the child could be unknowingly exposed to an allergen on a regular basis without any obvious connection.

The most common foods types that need to be checked are milk, eggs, soy, peanut, tree nuts and shellfish. At the very least, the most common airborne allergens that should be checked are dust mites and animal dander (which are skin flakes in an animal’s fur or hair). Rather than having a skin test, we strongly recommend that a patient with eczema has an allergy blood test, as their skin is too sensitive for the usual skin tests.

 

Treating Eczema

When it comes to treating eczema, we follow this simple formula:Allergic Eczema: How To Treat It

  1. Probiotics: Be sure the patient gets some form of probiotics in their diet.
  2. Vitamin D: Enhance their levels of Vitamin D – liquid drops are very easy and convenient way to do this.
  3. Allergies: Check for allergen exposures – in some cases sublingual allergy drops can be very beneficial in restoring immune balance.

 

Eczema can be annoying and even embarrassing for those suffering from this condition, but treatment is available and can be very rewarding!

 

Chronic Cough Relief: Treating the Cause Can Lead to the Cure

chronic-cough-curesA noisy, chronic cough is not only uncomfortable, it’s unbearable for those around you such as family and co-workers.

We mostly tend to think of a cough related to an infection, which would respond to an antibiotic.  In many cases, this is erroneous thinking. It is easy to fall into this trap whether you are a patient or a physician. But I’ve learned in my over 20 years of practice to be especially careful in evaluating a chronic cough because there are so many underlying causes that can be at the root of the problem.

4 Essential Areas to think about that might be causing your cough:

1.) Allergens:

sassy-cat-chronic-cough-symptomsIf you didn’t have a fever at the beginning of the cough, then it probably isn’t an infection. Yes, there are situations where a fever may be mild and overlooked, but usually a significant fever with the cough will point to a viral or bacterial infection. However, if it’s not present , then I start to review very carefully with the patient for underlying allergic triggers.
Environmental allergens, such as dust, mold, animals can all affect the respiratory system. In the winter months, these indoor allergens can be even more intense because we tend to spend so much more time indoors.

I have seen patients whose cough started when they began to raise the indoor heat and became more exposed to dust from the heating vents in their home. Allergies can be easily identified with allergy testing through the skin or blood. The key point is that if an allergen is causing the bronchioles to spasm causing a cough, then a simple inhaler with mild cortisone and a bronchodilator can bring immediate relief. Long term relief can be found with sublingual allergy drops done at home.

2.) Sinus Inflammation

inflamed-sinus-chronic-cough-symptomsNotice I called this sinus inflammation, not sinus infection. Once again, sinus bacterial infections are over diagnosed and  this leads to overuse of antibiotics- which creates other problems with the gut and immune system.

Sinus inflammation can mean that allergens or irritants are triggering an immune response that causes mucus production. The mucus which is responding to this inflammation can trigger the cough reflex in the back of the throat. Also, if the mucus drains down into the lungs you will experience the need to cough to clear out the lungs. the goal in sinus inflammation is to reduce it with intranasal cortisone sprays. Mucolytics such as Mucinex-DM can also be helpful for a short period.

If the underlying inflammation is due to an allergen, again sublingual allergy drops can make a significant impact to prevent it from occurring. Interestingly, I also see many patient that have  fungal hypersensitivity with Candida albicans who have sinus inflammation. Here, I need to adjust the patient’s diet to go off wheat, dairy and sugar products. I will also use antifungal medications and Candida drops to keep the sinuses clean.

3.) Gastric Reflux

heartburn-symptom-of-chronic-coughA very tricky medical problem is gastric reflux. In some cases it can be very obvious to the patient: intense heartburn, chest pain and a bad taste in their throat and mouth. In other cases, it can be what’s called silent reflux- this is where a patient doesn’t have the classic symptoms of gastric reflux but only has either a chronic cough or  a hoarse voice.

The stomach and the lungs are both innervated by the vagus nerve that comes from the brain. If this nerve is aggravated it can simultaneously cause excessive acid production and at the same time cause the lungs to spasm. The lungs due this to protect itself from the excessive acid harming it’s tissue. Treating gastric reflux may seem obvious but it isn’t (see prior post on President Obama: You Can Beat Heartburn Naturally). For immediate relief, antacids and acid blockers are helpful, but the long term solution  is dietary changes and lifestyle techniques to reduce stress reduction.

4.) Neurologic/Psychological  Disorders

psychological-symptoms-of-chronic-coughThere are a range of these types of conditions where the only presenting sign is initially a chronic cough. The concept is similar to a stutter or a facial tic. It is sometimes hard to overcome the stigma of having a psychological condition, but by being appropriately diagnosed, a person’s quality of life can be dramatically improved. Interestingly, certain antidepressants such as Elavil have been found to be effective in relieving a chronic cough.

My experience as an allergist/immunologist treating chronic cough can be difficult but extremely rewarding for the patient.

Winter Sinus Pain: Do’s and Don’t’s for Sinus Relief!

woman-blowing-her-nose-in-cold-weatherIt’s hard not to see a million television ads for sinus, cold and flu relief on a daily basis. The winter seems to be a time when the nose takes the blows!

The reason is that the nasal tissue and sinuses play an important role in helping our respiratory system accommodate to the  brutally cold weather in most parts of the country. The dry air quality, and the fact that we spend most of our days indoors doesn’t help either. The most important thing you can do to protect yourself from sinus pain and other problems is maintaining good sinus hygiene and avoiding medications which can make the problem worse.

Read the rest of this entry »

Allergy Eye Symptoms: Not a Sight for Sore Eyes

itchy eyes

The spring allergy season is in full force. The tree pollen counts last week were in the 3,000 range(low counts are under 50). The pollen has a devastating effect on the eyes. A new patient of mine, a young boy, was in the emergency room for five hours waiting to be treated for his inflammation, and left with a Benadryl recommendation. Read the rest of this entry »

FDA Approves Immunotherapy Allergy Tablets…Finally

FDA-approves-immunotherapyThe most exciting news in 100 years has just happened in the field of allergy:

The FDA approved the use of sublingual tablets for the treatment of environmental allergies.

I’m not kidding. It’s been a hundred years since a new form of allergen immunotherapy has been approved. Actually, subcutaneous allergy immunotherapy, or allergy shots, was actually grandfathered into acceptance by the FDA because it was around before there was even the existence of the FDA! Read the rest of this entry »

Vitamin D & Allergies

vitamin-D-from-the-SunVitamin D has been aptly called “The Sunshine Vitamin,” because one of the best sources of this vitamin comes from above. Researchers have been pouring out studies showing that good levels of Vitamin D protect us against depression, breast cancer, bone loss…. and yes, allergies. Read the rest of this entry »

Spaghetti Squash Recipe – Gluten-Free & Vegan

healthy-spaghetti-squash-recipeSpaghetti squash is a melon-shaped winter squash which is named for its flesh, which separates into spaghetti-like strands when pulled out with a fork after being cooked.

So if you’ve been hankering for pasta, but cannot tolerate gluten, spaghetti squash is not only gluten-free, its FLOUR-free — because it’s a vegetable, pure and simple.

At only 42 calories for a cup, spaghetti squash is a great source of fiber and very low in fat. It’s also a great choice for a low-carb diet, as it contains only 10 grams of total carbohydrates per cup, whereas most types of winter squash have at least 18 grams of carbs. Try our simple recipe:  Read the rest of this entry »

Are My Allergy Drops Working?

I have been treating patients suffering from environmental allergies and allergic asthma with sublingual allergy drops for over 15 years. The track record of success has been quite high.

I have seen patients who couldn’t be in the same room with a cat or dog who are now able to live with one in their home!

I have seen athletic patients who hated running in the spring because their allergies made them so miserable overcome these allergies with the drops.allergy-drops-for-runners

My most remarkable patient to date is a young woman who wouldn’t even try to go outside on the high pollen count days in the spring, and she sent me photos of her completing the New York city Triathalon one year after allergy drop therapy. Read the rest of this entry »

Food Allergy Advice for Pregnant Mothers

pregnancy and food allergiesIt would be nice for once if the advice doctors gave their patients made sense and didn’t seem to change all the time!

I admit as a food allergy specialist I am as guilty as my colleagues in being fooled by what seems obvious. In this case, nut food allergy is the canary in the coal mine. For years allergists with (what seemed like) logic on their side advised pregnant mothers with allergic histories to avoid nuts during pregnancy, while breast feeding and, of course, in their child’s early infancy. This with the hope of banishing the chance of peanut and nut allergy in their child. Read the rest of this entry »

Gelatin: Mmm…Mmm…Not So Good for Food Allergies

I remember as a kid watching actor/comedian Bill Cosby use his funny smirk to show how delicious and nutritious Jello-O pudding was pudding gelatin allergyto eat. Cosby”s famous line: “What does your mouth say when you eat it?” The kids answered, “Mmm, mmm, good, Jell-O pudding!”

Well, as we came to realize Jell-O (with all it”s sugar) isn”t the best snack a parent could choose for their child. However, now more information is coming out that Gelatin, a main ingredient in Jello-O and a lot of other candies, foods and vaccines, is a cause of allergic reactions. Read the rest of this entry »

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Allergy Relief
Allergic Eczema: Treatment That Goes More Than Skin Deep

Winter Skin Winter can be an eczema sufferer’s worst nightmare. The harsh weather that hits most of the country can cause our skin to become […]

Chronic Cough Relief: Treating the Cause Can Lead to the Cure

A noisy, chronic cough is not only uncomfortable, it’s unbearable for those around you such as family and co-workers. We mostly tend to think of […]

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