My symptoms started with dry patches on my fingers and eventually progressed to oozing, flaky, painful, itchy rashes that spread to the fronts and backs of my hands. On my worst days, I also had itchy hives on my arms and nasty blotches on my face, neck, underarms, and foot. When washing dishes, I had to wear cotton gloves underneath my rubber gloves to avoid additional pain and cuts to my hands. I was scared of holding my squirmy kids because their clothes irritated my hands whenever they moved around in my arms. At night, I taped a sock onto my hand to protect myself from obsessive scratching in my sleep. The worst of my symptoms lasted for about five months. It took a lot of perseverance, but multiple lifestyle changes finally led to the restoration of my hands and skin! Continue reading to find out more about my story.
My fingers became dry and itchy. The rashes started spreading from my fingers to other parts of my hand.
I started cutting processed foods and sugar out of my diet.
My skin got worse.
I bought Dr. Axe’s Healing Leaky Gut Program and began to completely overhaul my diet. After a couple of weeks, I had hives on my arms; I also began to experience extreme fatigue, weakness, brain fog, and mild depression. This was probably due to the Herxheimer Reaction—a common reaction that occurs when toxins in the body start to die off.
I started bathing my hands in epsom salt and essential oils. I’m embarrassed to admit that this was a foolish move on my part. I shouldn’t have used Epsom salt and certain essential oils on open sores.
My hands started rejecting everything that I put on them. Up to that point, I had avoided going to the doctor because I don’t like taking drugs. Late on a Friday night, I was in so much pain that I followed a friend’s advice and went to an Immediate Care center. The doctor prescribed a topical steroid and an oral steroid for my “psoriasis” (according to the doctor, it was not a “slam dunk” psoriasis diagnosis). I said “No” to the oral steroid but I took the topical steroid. After a few days of using the topical steroid, my hands started to get better and I started to feel some relief from the itch and pain.
I was glad that the steroid helped, but I wasn’t interested in just putting a band-aid on my symptoms. Instead of staying on the steroid for too long, I stopped using it after five days. I was determined to find out why my skin was so angry. I started reading The Autoimmune Solution by Amy Myers and began to tweak my diet again.
I visited a chiropractor/acupuncturist who recommended six sessions over the course of three weeks. I was feeling hopeful that my skin would be back to normal by the time I went on vacation in September. The first four sessions were very relaxing, but my skin was starting to get inflamed again. I decided not to spend the extra money on two more sessions.
I started reading The Maker’s Diet by Jordan Rubin and tweaked my diet for the third time. Symptoms of the Herxheimer Reaction continued.
I restarted the topical steroid for about three days and went on vacation for a week. It was difficult to find “real food” to eat, but I did the best that I could.
After I got back from vacation, the skin on my hands became inflamed once again. Due to all my dietary restrictions, my weight dropped down to 90 pounds (my regular weight was 105 pounds). I followed Amy Myers advice and found a Functional Medicine practitioner (a practitioner that looks for, and treats the root cause of disease). She ran some blood tests and recommended that I increase my dosage of fish oil. When I got home, I immediately started taking more fish oil. Two days later, the skin on my hands started to clear up! Unfortunately, after about a week, my skin started to look angry again. Symptoms of the Herxheimer Reaction continued.
I did a cleanse with essential oils. To my surprise, my skin started to clear up again! The oils gave my body the extra help it needed to scrub off some of the toxicity in my gut. (Please note that cleansing while breastfeeding is not necessarily recommended. This was something that I was not aware of at the time.)
My blood test results came back and revealed dehydration (I had been breastfeeding since August 2018); Epstein-Barr virus reactivation; toxicity and yeast in the gut; and a high need for vitamin C, alpha-lipoic acid, B-vitamins, probiotics, pancreatic enzymes, glutathione, and plant-based antioxidants. Also, my practitioner believes that I have MTHFR mutation. My practitioner noted that if I had not made so many healthy diet changes in the past few months, then I would have been in worse condition.
Based on my test results and my practitioner’s recommendations, I tweaked my diet (yet again) and added some extra supplements to my daily routine. Because I am breastfeeding, we chose to focus on detoxification with foods instead of using more aggressive measures. To help with further detoxification, low energy, and mood support, I started doing essential oil protocols on my feet.
My skin now looks normal and I can do the things that I used to do without pain. I don’t have to tape a sock to my hand to prevent myself from scratching in my sleep. I can change diapers and hold my kids without fear of blood, pus, and additional damage to my skin. I can wash the dishes without wearing any gloves! On some days, my energy and mood are better than ever before. There are also days when my skin is a tad itchy and irritated, but it does not bother me much at all. My Functional Medicine practitioner told me that it would take six months to a year for me to fully recover.
Why This Happened
Since 2011, I had been pregnant three times and had breastfed each baby for two years. Throughout this time of growing babies, breastfeeding, working, and dealing with daily stressors, I was not taking proper care of myself. I did not make the time to drink enough water or eat the right foods that would help my body to rid itself of toxicity and ongoing threats. If I had taken better care of myself, the Epstein-Barr virus (an extremely common virus that does not always cause noticeable symptoms) would probably not have been an issue and my body would have been able to function normally, despite the possible MTHFR mutation (many people have this mutation, but everyone is affected differently by the mutation). The body can handle some abnormalities and neglect, but at a certain point, the body will reach a breaking point and start crying out for help!
Let’s play the “What If” game for a second. What if I had only visited a conventional physician and had simply decided to take medications to get rid of the symptoms? In the best-case scenario, my skin would have immediately improved with minimal drug side effects, but my nutrition would have continued to decline, leading to additional symptoms and serious disease. In the worst-case scenario, my skin would have continued to get worse, I would have needed more powerful drugs that would have caused more powerful side effects; my overall health would have continued to spiral downward; and I would have been left with a pile of medical bills.
There are a lot of people walking around with mild or severe symptoms that can be improved or alleviated by changing just a few simple habits. I hope that you are empowered and encouraged by this simple truth! If you take anything away from this post, I want to encourage you to take charge of your health by considering these three things:
1. Eat real, nourishing foods.
2. Consistently eliminate toxicity from your body and eliminate toxicity from your surrounding environment.
3. Use additional support like essential oils, health supplements, and a Functional Medicine practitioner.
I truly believe that almost every grave, chronic, “uncurable” disease can be managed or eliminated using natural tools that can help the body to heal itself. Don’t give up. True wellness might be just around the corner!