Food Allergies!

shoot me please.

i spent more than an hour preparing for a new post and in my rush to meet a friend, did the silliest thing – I shut down my PC without saving my work!!  you know those days when you wanna smack yourself real hard?  yeah…i’m having it right now.  never mind, this ‘new’ post will be better than what i drafted yes?  argh.

anyway, today I’m going to share with you an embarrassing allergic reaction that happened to me years ago when I just started university life.

Although Singapore is just a dot, barely discernible on the world map – the commute to school was very long – 1.5 hours per way cos’ home and school were at the extreme ends of our little island.  So I decided to stay in the school hostel – to cut down on travelling, and to experience what hall life was all about.

stayed at a hall similar to this for a long year. campus was not so accessible then, so being the lazy bum – stayed in campus most of the 5 days and I felt so cooped! and probably also cos’ home is still the best!   I remember my dad used to drive me back to school every Sunday and I sooo dreaded the trip!  Still, I had to count my blessings that i had a wonderful room-mate and it was still an interesting experience.  after the first year – I decided to take the 3 hour commute (2 ways) to school and crazily – enjoyed it!  cos’ i get to see people and get to ‘move’ around!

with hall life – it revealed how utterly lazy  i was in settling meals.  hall food looked really blah and unappetizing and it doesn’t help that I’m a picky eater.  So I thought ‘okay lah – since hall food looks so yucky – I shall eat sandwiches.  besides Goober Jam and Nutella are easy to prepare and…FABULOUSLY YUMMY!!’.

at that time, I didn’t realize how important diet is to our bodies do I happily ate my Goober Jam and Nutella breakfast, lunch and sometimes even dinner!!!  I kid you not – I’m mad that way.

i used to LOVE goober jam! the lovely swirls of nutty peanut butter, mixed with sweet jam…..oooo….no wonder i was so addicted to it before.

okay – i used to LOVE nutella (though Goober was my ultimate favourite!!), but in recent years, I started appreciated good dark chocolate made with cocoa butter (instead of all the hydrogenated oils and all) – and realized actually nutella is not as tasty anymore. too sweet for me now!

So happily I indulged in my peanut butter / hazelnut craze…and many weeks/months later – I started noticing a pus ridden gigantic pimple (~8mm!!) on my right knee cap – much as it appeared on a really strange location, I didn’t think much of it and it eventually went away. but when a 2nd pus ridden pimple developed on almost the same place on my other knee cap – i paid a little more attention, but didn’t know what caused it.  That went away eventually too..

Then….the pimples came back with a vengeance !  this time…here’s the embarrassing part…..~20 to 40 pimples started appearing on my butt (over a period of time)!  It may sound like a joke, but I can assure you that I am absolutely telling you the truth.  All pus filled, smaller than the two humongous ones on my knee cap, but as it was pus ridden, it hurt – badly.

It was again – many months of trial and error (and the whole time believing it was due to the environment possibly being dirty – cos’ my earlier allergy was due to dirt).   I even went for a skin patch test at National Skin Centre but still couldn’t find out the cause!

I had something like that on my back – it didn’t show any reaction when I went for my follow-up visit, and guess what – a couple of days later – there was some brown patch on some of the dots!  didn’t think about it cos’ it was such a ‘delayed’ reaction and also thought my allergy was more external driven than food related cos’ my earlier eczema as due to dirt.

then one day – i noticed the pimples seem to be better and healing….then ‘Eureka’!  I hadn’t had my goober jam or anything peanut butter related recently then and I decided to stop it for a while, and lo and behold! gosh! it started clearing!  i had very bad scarring on my butt and it took a good 3 – 4 years to completely clear.  Till this day – I thank the universe that the pimples decided to attack my butt instead of my face.

so…..what caused the pimples?  Even though I occasionally eat peanuts and nuts with no adverse reaction – never had I tortured my poor body with peanut butter sooo many times a day and for such a continuous extended period.  the ‘toxins’ probably built up and the body had to somehow tell me that it ain’t loving what I was putting into my body.   it probably appeared on the butt cos of sebaceous glands / sweat ducts (yes, we do have sweat ducts on our butt!) which was exacerbated cos’ it was constantly covered by jeans.

morale of the story?

everyone has a different trigger to allergies, so even though it is sometimes (usually!) painfully slow to find out what is causing you allergies / reaction – here are some usual and possible general triggers that i’m aware of .

1. Environment

  • Dirt is  the usual suspect.  Try to keep your area dust / dirt free – plus point – a clean living area just enhances your life:) if you have feet related allergies – try slippers and see if it works for you.
  • If you ever experience ‘tingly sensations’ –  you could be sensitive to wireless equipment…which includes our mobile phone!  (I get painful tingly sensations when using certain phone models – once i knew the phone was going to ring before it even did – cos’ i felt a rush of pain in my arms!  before I figured this out – friends did ask me to consider seeing a doctor to see if i had nerve problems!).  change to wired keyboards or mouse where possible.   avoid typing on a laptop keyboard if you are hyper sensitive too.

2. Food

  • food allergies are common.   If your allergies are serious – please go do a skin test at your hospital / skin centre for a test.  my  niece had super red raw skin when she was a few months old and turns out that she allergies to breast milk and quite a bit of other ‘common’ or supposedly ‘safe/good’ food like soy and fish!  sometimes certain food you had no previous reaction to could suddenly be a trigger.
  • a friend is gluten intolerant and she has had stomach discomfort for the longest time and she managed to find her trigger through probably a eureka moment too!

3. Cosmetics / Lotions / Makeup

  • if you have breakouts on the face – it could be the lotions / makeup that you are using (or food or environment!).  I recently had breakouts on my nose and i was so upset cos’ before the scarring healed, a new pimple popped!   I suspect it’s the powder I use!  It’s supposedly has ‘nano’ sized particles (hence more smooth coverage) …but maybe it was so small that it went into the pores and clogged it!  so i threw the powder away…and it seems under control now.  but still works in progress!
  • oh…my dad used to have red patch on his cheek and it turned out it was the oil on the scalp that trickled down and cause the redness!   surprising huh!  he went to the dermatologist at the skin centre who helped him identify the problem.
  • sometimes could be the body soap that dries your skin (and causing itch) OR the detergent that we use and somehow remains on our bodies.

4. Stress 

  • my reaction to stress is usually a loss of appetite but a couple of my friends get breakouts or fall sick very frequently.   do activities that you love (exercise, bringing your darling pets to the beach, yoga, etc) and try to see what you can to lower stress (i know it’s easier said than done!)

probably a zillion more reasons, but it’s a start to try to identify your triggers!  good luck! i know how disruptive allergies can be!