Natural Nightmare

Today’s post is a cautionary tale for anyone with sensitive skin. A couple years ago, I was taking some antibiotics for a very persistent case of bronchitis. On the last day of the antibiotics, I was enjoying an apple and my lips started to feel sort of gritty. I wiped them off and they started itching. It developed into a rash that lasted about a week, and was super painful. I lost 5 pounds that week, because opening my mouth to eat would crack the skin and make it itch again. Now, I’ve eaten apples all my life, so I thought it had to be the antibiotic. I must have just had a reaction to it. So the next time I needed an antibiotic, I told the doctor not to give me that one again. Of course the next antibiotic warned not to each apples because there was a chemical interaction that would make them less effective.
Fast forward to about a year later. No longer taking any medication out of the ordinary (just my thyroid pill), I purchased a bag of apples and oranges. I love apples. I washed an apple off and started eating, and the juices from the apple got on my lips. They started feeling gritty, and then itchy, and once again I found myself having a rash for about a week. I looked it up and found out that Oral Allergy Syndrome is a thing that can happen when your body develops an allergy for certain pollens, but then mistakes normal food enzymes as those pollens. In the case of apples, it’s a birch pollen allergy. There’s a whole list of fruits that could have the same effect, and a person may be allergic to any number of those things while not reacting to others from the same list. As painful as the allergy is, even though I love apples, I have had to stop eating them fresh. I can still enjoy cooked apple and drinks that contain processed apple juice. Fresh apple on my face is bad.
20141012_232608Okay, let’s bring this up to present day. I’m having some seasonal rhinitis, and had my doctor put me on a course of antibiotics. She asked if I was allergic to them, but I really thought I’d pinpointed my allergy to the apples, so I accepted the pills she prescribed. Day 3, so far so good. I decide to relax at home before my work week with a peel mask. Green tea & ginger sounded nice, so I washed my face and applied the mask. It smelled nice, but had the consistency of honey as you’d expect from a peel mask. I put on a thick coat and let it dry. When I peeled the mask off, my skin felt cool and soft. I was very pleased with the result. I rinsed away any bits that remained and got ready for bed.
faceMorning rolls around and my face feels itchy around the chin, corners of my mouth, and cheeks near the corners of my eyes. No, actually, itchy on my forehead…no…under my nose…no…hell, the whole thing is sort of itchy. Maybe I’m just dried out. I put a dab of moisturizer from the nightstand on my chin and went back to sleep until it was time to get ready for work. When I wake up, my face is still itchy, so I go to the bathroom to check it out in the mirror. It’s got red splotches in places I hadn’t even been scratching, and the whole thing feels sunburned. As much as I want to blame the antibiotics, the redness stops at the edge of the mask area, avoids my eyes and has a border at my hairline and mouth where the mask had stopped. Son of a… I look at the ingredients, and I can’t really identify anything from the list of birch pollen imposters, but there are non-specific fruit derivatives, so I really can’t be sure. All I know is that my face is splotchy and uncomfortable today where that mask was last night. Moral of the story: you can develop allergies later in life, so skin care products with “natural” ingredients can actually be worse for you than synthesized chemicals.

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