How I Learned My Seasonal Allergy Became Ezcema and How I Found Relief

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In late July, out of nowhere, I had this sudden onset of severely itchy skin rash on my inner shin, thighs, and elbows. I was miserable because nothing seemed to help which stressed me out and the summer heat only made it worse. At first, I thought it was an allergic reaction so I eliminated some foods temporarily to identify a possible food allergen, switched to a dye-free, hypoallergenic detergent, and milder soap (sadly ditched my favorite Dr. Bronners) and lotion – no improvement. In my desperation, researched online for relief and found recipes for oatmeal-based concoctions which only provided temporary relief. The rash on my shin got worse and turned blister-like so I rushed myself to my doctor’s office. She was on leave and instead, I was by another physician in her office. He confirmed an allergy and suggested it is perhaps an environmental one like seasonal allergy which I do suffer from that may have changed and showing up on my skin. He prescribed a steroid ointment that can only be used for two weeks. Well, I did not need two weeks because I felt relief as soon as I applied it and the first 24 hours was the longest I went itch-free. He also recommended shorter hot showers and no rubbing either as it is still considered scratching. He stressed the importance of taking my seasonal allergy medicine (Allegra) regularly. I am not a fan of taking medications so I did not always take it daily. Stress and overheating are also major contributors to skin allergies aka eczema so he suggested staying cool and using ice packs to stop itching.

My skin healed began to heal and I still continued to find the right body cleansers and moisturizers after showers. In my search, I found Eucerin Skin Calming Dry Skin Body Wash. It contains natural omega oils and the consistency is that of an oil-based cleanser. It does not lather up but definitely cleans the skin well. Over time, no new breakouts appeared but the itching would still come on but not like before. A few weeks later at my monthly appointment with my esthetician, she recommended Cerave Moisturizing Cream as a body moisturizer and mix the cream with vitamin E oil. Still desperate to stop this problem and prevent it from returning, I heeded her advice and surprised at how quickly my skin recovered. When I returned for my appointment the next month, my esthetician, too, marveled at my skin’s improvement. A few months later at my annual physical, my primary care physician was back and we reviewed my visit without her. She started to recommend Cerave and I beat her to it and told her I have used it at my esthetician’s recommendation. Her last recommendation was to spend some time in the sun and allow my skin to get some sunlight with sunscreen, of course.

I have lesser breakouts now and able to stop it before getting worse by applying the ointment which I started to use less after my first major breakout. It is also important to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water daily. Products I simply could not give up and overjoyed they are gentle enough to complement my new body skin care regimen are from LaBella Body Care.

Over the winter, I alternate my Eucerin oil body wash with LaBella Whipped Soap Souffle, a whipped glycerin-based cleanser with olive and almond oils that is a dream to wash with and leaves skin very well-moisturized. Also alternate the Cerave with LaBella What You Shea Body Butter, a mix of shea and soy butters with sweet almond, avocado and safflower oils. I previously reviewed other LaBella Body Care products here. If you have not checked out LaBella Body Care natural products, go now and mention I sent you!

One year later, no major breakouts at all. In July, I started training for a 5 mile race in September which involves running outdoors at a park nearby and sweating profusely and still no major breakouts. *throws confetti*

What skin issues are you or have been dealing with as an adult?

A Day in the LIfe of LifeByZen: Reflection on Self-Care

Self-care means different things to people. Lately for me it has meant letting go of emotional holds to things, situations and people that do not reciprocate my time and effort. No, I did not cut them off but simply stopped extending myself by giving so much access to me or being immediately available to others. I decided to give more time to me and my own joy.

I recently started running at the push of a coworker to run a 5 mile race in September. If you don’t count running after my daughter when she was a toddler, I have not run since high school where I was on the indoor track team. Wooo, that was eons ago! I signed up in July and still training with two weeks to go before the race. Training has been great and challenging with some good and awful days. With each run, I become more focused and learn so much especially about myself. One of my biggest challenges with training for this race is my mind is still on my old track team training which is go fast. I ran short distance so that’s my original programming which does not work with this 5 mile training which requires a different pace… and patience. Lots and lots of patience.

As I take more time training, doing more yoga and meditating, rebuilding myself sort of just happened eventually. It also has encourage me to be more social and share experiences with others I normally would shy away from before. The thing about self-care and rebuilding yourself, others notice before you do – some for better and worse. As for the latter, you have to let that go too because that is not your burden. Find your joy and revel in it, that is your responsibility to yourself.

So share with me, what do you do to bring yourself joy?

A Letter of Peace

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Dear Mike Brown,

We have never met and regretfully, no one will ever meet you in person again. My heart is in pieces as I write out these words. When I first heard about you, I learned you were set to start college the next day. I thought to myself how you were so young and full of promise. A full life was ahead of you… Was, were, all past tense that should have never been just yet. I want you to know that with all the chaos going on, I think of you daily and pray for your peace. Every day, I try my best to stay on top of the news but I find myself angry, disheartened, weary and frustrated. I feel like I can do more than just donating to bail funds or supplies for protesters speaking out on your behalf. Today, I realized, although small and insignificant to others, I have done something – Praying. Praying for your peace, the safety of the innocent people in Ferguson and the voices speaking on your behalf online.image

Mike Brown, may you find peace.

LifeByZen

A Day in the Life of LifeByZen: Random Thought on Life Lessons

When certain situations happen, people often ask,” What was that about?”, “What is really going on”or more commonly “Why me?”

A recent situation had me ask those questions and more. As I often do, I looked for the lesson but was only more confused as there did not seem to be any at all.

This morning, I woke up and thought that maybe there really are no lessons for me in this situation but perhaps I am merely the conduit of the lesson for those involved. As I thought further, I recognized that if it weren’t for the lessons I learned in the past, I would have handled this situation differently and likely would have made the same mistakes before. Also, I recognized how much I evolved wholly as a person and consequently, now able to serve a purpose of guiding others through their own life lesson.

I do not have any final thoughts or feelings on the situation but do extend well-wishes to those involved.

When situations happen, how often do you take the time to the recognize lessons and consider how you contribute to the problem or solution?

Cooking with LifeByZen: White Chicken Chili

January in Boston means wintry mix of bone-chilling temperature, snow or cold rain. White Chicken Chili is a part of my winter meals rotation. It is simple, easy to make and a great alternative to beef chili. Ground turkey can also be substituted for the chopped chicken. If substituting with ground turkey, skip step three of adding water to the chicken to make the broth and add broth of  your choice as base for the chili. I use ground white pepper for presentation purpose but freshly ground black pepper can be used.

o   2 tablespoons olive oil

o   2 onions, chopped

o   4 cloves garlic, minced

o   4 cooked, bone-in chicken breasts

o   1 jalapeno pepper cored, seeded and chopped

o   2 teaspoons ground cumin

o   kosher salt, to taste

o   ground white pepper, to taste (If unavailable, freshly ground black pepper can be used)

o   2 teaspoons dried oregano

o   1-2 bay leaves

o   1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

o   5 (14.5 ounce) cans great Northern beans, undrained

Optional Toppings:

o   chopped green onions

o   chopped cilantro

o   lime wedges

o   cheese

o   sour cream

  • Directions
  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add chicken and brown on both sides then remove from pot.
  • Add the onions and garlic and saute for 10 minutes, or until onions are tender.
  • Add the chicken back to the pot and water enough to cover the chicken then bring to a boil. This will make the broth base for the chili. *Skip this step if using ground turkey. Instead, add 4-5 cups of broth or more as needed.
  • Once chicken is cooked through, take out from pot and set aside to chop.
  • To the broth, add the jalapeno, cumin, oregano, and cayenne pepper. Reduce heat to low and add the beans. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until heated thoroughly then add the chopped chicken.
  • For creamier chili, press some of the beans against a ladle then stir. Or, quickly pulse a ladle full  in a blender then add back to the pot.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour into individual bowls and serve with side of topping choices.

Gratitude

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As I put away the groceries I bought yesterday, I was mindful of my privilege and grateful to have the means to restock my pantry and deep freezer with food while others have so little to none.

2014 Dorchester Winter Farmers’ Market Kickoff!

Mark your calendars for the 2014 Dorchester Winter Farmers’ Market Kickoff on Sunday, January 5 from noon to 4:00 PM!

The Dorchester Winter Farmers’ Market is open every Sunday from January to March at the Great Hall in Codman Square located at 6 Norfolk Street in Dorchester.

Participating vendors:

Visa and Mastercard are accepted. Also, get up to $10 of farm fresh food free when you use your SNAP EBT card.

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