Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sensitive Sjogren's Skin

Image found on Wikimedia Commons.

I have hives. No, not the honey bee kind.

I have those yukky raised, red, itchy skin kind of hives, and I'm trying my darndest to figure out why. But with Sjogren's dry and easily offended skin, who knows what the cause may be?

This particular batch of nasties showed up about three weeks ago, just about the time that I had spent considerable time in the sun, AND was eating all sorts of foods that I have been avoiding for several months, AND was in a flare of other Sjogren's symptoms, AND our little tomato garden was at it's zenith in producing bushels of tomatoes. Meaning that I had consumed about my body weight in fresh tomatoes over the course of three days.

It seems to me that my skin reacts much more quickly and more dramatically to irritants in the last few years. The question is - is my cranky skin a result of autoimmune disease? Or aging? Or new allergies?

My doctor, when consulted, said that sometimes it's hard to tell what causes allergic type reactions similar to my hives. After making certain that my skin outbreak didn't resemble the typical autoimmune disease specific rashes such as the Lupus facial rash - like this - and making sure that my hives weren't symptoms of a more serious allergic reaction, she commented that hives such as mine can appear and depart mysteriously.

She suggested a few strategies:

- I know that I don't tolerate foods containing wheat well. I don't have celiac disease but wheat foods tend to upset my GI system. I have been sneaking cookies and other breads and pastries for the past few weeks. This has to stop. Dang.

- Keep diligently applying that sunscreen and hypo allergenic moisturizer to keep skin protected from the sun.

- Try taking antihistamines, such as Benadryl or Claritin for a few days, keeping in mind that these products will cause my eyes to feel even more dry.

- Apply topical hydrocortisone cream if itching becomes a problem.

- Avoid taking hot showers, which irritate the skin. Cool baths might soothe irritated skin. Also avoid scented soaps and body wash.

- Keep a diary and note changes in hives as well as strategies used and food intake.

You can read more about hives on the Medlineplus National Institutes of Health site here.


Denise @ Sunflowers, Chocolate and Little Boys said...

I have had hives before due to allergic reactions to meds, but not from my sjogrens. I hope yours go away soon and your feeling better.

annie said...

Hi, I've just recently found your blog on sjogren's, as I have been diagnosed (by fluke) in the past few months. I want to thank you for all the info posted here, as we know, living with this disease, that there so much more than dry eyes and mouth. Do you know if there is a conection between sjogren's and chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia ( I have been suffering with cfs and fms in the last few years )? Thanks, Annie

annie said...

By the way, congratulations on your adorable pup. I know she will keep you very busy, but she will be a good companion.

Julia Oleinik said...

HI Annie - Although fibromyalgia and CFS are not considered autoimmune diseases, they do frequently occur simultaneously with Sjogren's syndrome. Gee - a triple whammy for you. Ouch.