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I thought I would never recover from this flare of allergies and eczema. I would read accounts of people suffering for years, of sleeping very little because of the pain and torment of irritated, red, inflamed skin. I thought I had lost my own face. I looked unfamiliar in the mirror, scarred and swollen. I was reading Dickens’s Bleak House, where poor orphaned Esther contracts smallpox from a vagabond child she takes in, and finds, when she recovers, that she is disfigured with the pox scars.

I desperately threw my state of illness out for my friends’ regard. Many of them rallied, gave advice, much of it succinct to my case. One friend helped me sort out whether I had developed lupus, a terrifying, to me, possibility. And they prayed, which I think contributed more to my recovery than anything.

This is what I did: I stopped using my prescription medicated ointments, as they no longer seemed to have any effect. (This is common.) I switched to a homemade honey salve, which I have mentioned in previous posts. I continued with antihistamines. I also went on a low-histamine, low-salicylate diet for at least a month – which I will continue until the end of October. The diet and other reliable information is here: http://www.chronichives.com/, and I recommend the International Chronic Urticaria Society site to anyone who is dealing with allergies.

After using the honey salve for two weeks, the recommended time, I was able to renew my prescription ointments, and only because a dear friend sent the money unasked. I was also able to get good, deep, healing sleep, which one friend, from experience, said was absolutely necessary for building collagen, which is the basic unit of skin.

So this is how I am clearing up, day by day, the horrible, almost disabling eczema, angio-edema and urticaria I had developed: Hydrocortisone OTC for my face, clobetasol for the body and hands, Benadryl for an antihistamine, 25 mg 2-3 times a day, with 50 mg at night. A salve of honey, beeswax and olive oil for the two-week hiatus. A diet low in histamines and salicylates for 4-6 weeks, with gradually trying foods after that. And lots of sleep, lots of water, an attempt to keep anxiety low, and so many good and happy prayers from my friends for me that I am sure the heavens rang.

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