If you are part of my newsletter community, you know that I share one thing time and time again. If your health does not “feel” right do not stop pursuing answers until you find them. That is the reason why I am sharing with you my nickel allergy journey – part 1 today. Some doctors prescribe an ointment without looking at the full picture. Others do not know what you are talking about. Some do not take the time to diagnose you properly. Having a health challenge that you know is not right but you also do not know how to solve can be super frustrating. Incredibly frustrating so.
BUT once you finally have answers, it makes it all the more worthwhile (or so I thought…). This week I will discuss with you how I finally got the diagnosis before next week we are diving into the swaps I needed to make. Finding the solution to my reactions is definitely not a journey I would recommend repeating (I should have gone to the doctor a lot earlier). I wanted to share it with you so that it may help you too though 💕.
My Nickel Allergy Journey – Part 1
It all started in the backend of 2019. We were going on a holiday and I noticed small little red dots around my eyes. At first, I thought: “Hmmm that is weird”. My skin is sensitive but it does not develop a lot of irritation/pimples. Not in the longer-term kind of staying anyways. So, I put some cream on it that usually reduces redness and thought nothing more of it. But, it sustained and continued. So, I put some cream with cortisol on it. This was certainly not the best solution but I kind of just wanted it to go away. It did reduce in size and simply diminished. Here is me thinking, my skin has finally calmed down – all back to normal.
Nothing Went Back to Normal…
Spoiler alert – nothing went back to normal. The minute I stopped using the cortisol creme, my eyes started to flare up again. I was adding a bit of tinted moisturizer on my face in order for it to be less obvious (little did I know that I was making it worse…). When needed, I would put on make-up and “dress up” my eyes. However, it was becoming pretty apparent that my eyes were hurting quickly, really watery, and I could not wear make-up any longer for extended periods of time.
This continued on for months. There would be days I woke up and really thought – now it is leaving. Then it was better for a couple of days before I was in hives again. I did take some pictures at various stages and I have decided to include them here. Please be kind – they are obviously from a time that I felt incredibly vulnerable and they were also purely taken to document my health challenge and show to a doctor so lighting, posing, whatever else is obviously not happening 😉.
I Took an Honest Look At My Diet…
Let us be real – I am a Culinary Nutrition Expert. I want to look at things from a more holistic perspective. Inflammation anywhere in the body is usually caused or exhilarated by two things: Gluten and Dairy. I eliminated both of those from my diet completely (I do not consume much of either but I am also not entirely gluten- or dairy-free as part of my dietary lifestyle). Nothing worked. Mainly, because in the end I learned that this was not related to inflammation but an actual allergy I had developed. Every time I got the courage up to finally go to a doctor, it had just gone and so I delayed going time and time again.
Enough is Enough
At some stage, enough is enough. So I went to a doctor and asked them for advice. He prescribed me a different creme, which did not work. He then prescribed me yet another different creme, which also did not work. We did an allergy test (because they were worried it was my cats) – this one also did not reveal anything. Finally, I got recommended to move over to a specialized skin clinic that is located at a hospital in Frankfurt. The doctor there told me to not use any products on my skin for four weeks apart from a very specialized allergy brand that she provided me something with. I was not meant to do anything with my eyes and I was yet prescribed another creme to have the swelling and redness go down.
Treating the Symptoms Does Not Mean You Have Found the Cause
Yes, my eyes did get better with that final doctor and that specialized hospital I went to. And I know that I am privileged that we have health care available here in Germany that allowed me to go in the first place. But it still did not answer the question as to “why” I was experiencing these flare-ups. As a last-ditch effort, this doctor told me to get a more specialized allergy test. Basically, a patch that gets put on your skin for 24 hours, they take it off after a further 24 and you get the results after another 24 hours (this equals three doctor’s appointments within 3 days).
I Had the Strongest Reaction to the Allergy Patch
They put the patch on me and I swear I had the worst physical experience ever. My head was pounding, my back was hurting, and I was having shivers. I was so physically sick, it was unreal. I got home and immediately went to bed. The next day, when they took the patch off, the headache was diminishing so quickly it was unreal. Even though they told me I should have technically not experienced anything and not noticed the patch was there… I do not believe them. This reaction was crazy strong.
Finally, after a further day. They told me that I have a nickel allergy. (My reaction was so strong that you could see the imprint from the patch for at least 6 weeks continued). I said to the doctor: “Is nickel in cosmetic products”? And he said, no I do not think so but perhaps have a further check (online).
I Felt So Relieved Walking Out of that Doctor’s Office
Finally, after an entire year and two months of not knowing what was going on. I held an answer in my hand. I was elated. Now, I could take control, I could take charge, and I could do what was right for me because I know the reason why this is happening to me. This moment, let me tell you, was short-lived. Because I had no idea of the rabbit hole I was falling into and how difficult it was to work around nickel when we are talking cosmetic products. I hope you enjoyed this first post about my nickel allergy journey – part 1 💕. Beautiful cover photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash.