HEALING FROM THE GARDEN
In my last post, I wrote about some potential irritants and dangers to your skin. For me, this same source has sometimes provided relief.
In June, I picked strawberries at a local farm in shorts and a tank top. I know I have an allergy to the plants (thankfully not to the delicious fruit), but I endure the cold months bundled up in bulky clothes. I have no desire to spend more time in long pants and sleeves than necessary. As the cliche goes, I threw caution to the wind.
Innocent-looking little berry plant, isn't it?
After picking berries, I suffered from a rash on my arms and legs. I compare my allergic rashes (eczema) to a break out from poison ivy. It itches. I shouldn't scratch, but it's very hard no to do so! Scratching can make the patch of irritated skin expand, bleed, and at worst, become infected.
I know people who wear gloves, long sleeves or some cover when eczema flares up simply to keep from scratching. This works for some. For me, even mild chafing of the clothing on the rash will irritate it, as will fabric softener used for laundering.
My dermatologist has prescribed creams, but these corticosteroid ointments can only be used in one thin layer in each application, and once a rash is inflamed I have not experienced much relief by using them. Over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams have little benefit, and in fact at times have worsened it.
Aveeno makes a product that contains 100% colloidal oatmeal, and that has helped me. It's available over the counter. You sprinkle the powder in bathwater and soak. I suppose one could add a little fresh lavender or mint for the nice aroma, not to mention the extra relief that both may supply.
I kept in mind that this was an allergic reaction and while oral anti-histamines can be beneficial, they would take a while to work. Moisturizer has little benefit. In fact, inflamed patches are often warm to hot; moisturizer, in my opinion **, seals in the heat, and adds to the problem. Cool water rinses help me. A cool compress will also slow the inflammatory reaction.
When my strawberry plant allergy occurred in June, I took antihistamine, then rinsed and scrubbed under cool water for a little relief that didn't inflame it. I followed this with a "tea" compress: paper towels soaked in a cooled tea of lavender and chamomile from my garden. The tea should be cooled to room temperature; it doesn't need to be chilled. In fact, a little warmth may add in the absorption by your skin of the relief-inducing substances. As it cooled on my skin, so did the rash.
If you have never done this before, keep the mix of lavender and chamomile at a weak concentration, just in case you are allergic to either one. In fact, you may want to test it first on an area that is not already irritated. Even better, test it before you need it.
When I used it, I felt a little sting in broken areas and on the welts. Healing soon followed. I also kept some of the lavender with me in my bag or purse; when the rash flared, I got immediate relief by rubbing the lavender on the area.
"That's my story," as some say, "and I'm stickin' to it!"
For more information that includes cures from the kitchen, click on this link:
how stuff works: itching
** Keep in mind, this is not a substitute for medical evaluation. I recommend a visit to a dermatologist for persistent skin problems. In fact, anyone who spends a lot of time in the sun, such as a gardener, would be wise to to have their skin examined by a dermatologist yearly.
What is eczema?