This is a new series focused on personal journey with eczema while managing a certain aspect of life. Today, we have Tristan Joseph, who has eczema since her childhood and shares how she manages her make-up. Tristan is a support volunteer with The Eczema Society of Canada and also blogs at AtopicGirl on allergies, asthma and eczema.
Marcie Mom: Hi Tristan, thanks for taking part in my 2013 blog series ‘Someone has Eczema’! How long have you had eczema, and did your allergies and asthma come at about the same time?
Tristan: I have pretty much always had eczema. A few days after my birth, my mom used a baby shampoo on me and my entire body broke out in rashes. My asthma, food and environmental allergies came about nine years later. To make it even more complicated my food allergies took a full eight years to really develop and some of the foods I was told that I was allergic to…well, I may not be allergic to them at all. I know I’m allergic to dairy, eggs, cashews, pistachios and I have a severe intolerance to shrimp. My environmental allergies also developed as I grew up. Spring is not my favourite season and I have pet allergies.
Marcie Mom: What are the triggers for your eczema? And are those triggers same as that for your allergies and asthma?
Tristan: Complicated answer again. My eczema is not triggered by my food allergies. I can have an anaphylactic reaction and my skin is just fine. Of course, if an allergen comes into contact with my skin, I break out in that specific area. I am extremely allergic to petroleum and its derivatives which are in a lot of dermatological products; so, that’s hard to avoid, but I manage. However, my asthma can be triggered by environmental allergens, like pet dander and pollen. Second- and third-hand cigarette smoke are major triggers for my asthma.
Marcie Mom: Is there any ingredient in makeup or skincare that triggers your eczema? And have you taken a patch test? For more information on allergy testing, do refer to interview with Dr Verallo-Rowell and Q&A with Dr Liew.
Tristan: I have to be very careful to stay away from petroleum. It’s in a lot of skin care and make-up products. However, I’ve found a make-up line that doesn’t use petroleum or mineral oil. I also have to make sure to avoid dairy, eggs and nuts in skin care and make-up. I’m always on the lookout for words like “lecithin” and “albumen”. Sometimes lecithin can be from soy, but it’s derived from egg as well.
As for patch testing, I always patch test new products and never use anything new if I have a big event coming up right away. I have recurring eye eczema; so, I’m careful about eye shadows, eye liners and mascaras. I also make sure to wash my make-up brushes weekly. The last thing I need is to apply make-up with a bacteria-ridden brush. As is the case for everyone, I throw out old make-up.
Marcie Mom: One final question – on bad days when you’ve allergies, asthma and eczema flares at the same time, what would be the top three actions you would take to calm the conditions
Tristan: All three? Yipes. It has happened and I basically go into my Plan Bs. What that means is that from day-to-day, I use Plan A – whatever I need to do on a daily basis to maintain my health. However, when Plan A doesn’t cut it for some reason – exposure to an allergy trigger – then I go to Plan B. That could mean taking more anti-histamines, increasing the dose of my maintenance inhaler (both as advised by my immunologist) and taking more time to get my skin under control – a bath, heavier moisturizers and cold compresses for inflammation. My Plan B is something I’ve developed through trial and error and with the advice of medical professionals.
Marcie Mom: Thanks Tristan for sharing your personal journey, on eczema, asthma, allergy and makeup. I love how systematic and in-control you are 🙂