T Nation

Question for Patrica Smith

Patrica, I really enjoyed reading this weeks “real people” article featuring you. You are an insparation to us all. One thing I picked up that was of particular interest to me was that you have asthma and atopic dermatitis. I have a 22 year old son who has stuggled with both conditions since birth. You mentioned that you got control of the atopic dermatitis. I was wanting to know how you were able to do this. My son has seen numerous dermatologist but all they provide him are additional topically steriods, that do help to some degree, but don’t totally clear up his skin. I guess I got the impression that you were able to control your condition with diet and exercise. Any information you can share on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Hi Joe: thank you for the compliment.

I'm sorry to hear about your son. I understand yours (and his) frustrations with the constant visits to dermatologists. I'll let you know now that the primary topical cream of the last 10-years for me has been Triamcinolone. It's not as strong as something like Lidex ointment. I betcha you're familiar with Lidex?

While yes, that diet and exercise has been a huge help in my controlling my AD, I've done a few other things over the years. I feel these are contributors, as well. Maybe they'll help your son? One thing: While I would love to be able to have a hot shower or bath everyday, I can't. Due to my skin, I have to limit it to one shower every other day. And I can't use really HOT water. That's really bad for people with AD. AND once I hop out of the shower, I just pat my skin dry, and immediately slather on some Triamcinolone and vaseline. Vaseline is great, since there's no perfume and it's never irritated my skin. I just use a bit. A huge jar of Vaseline goes a LONG way. I do this immediately after the shower, so that the vaseline seals the moisture in.

I also am picky about my shampoo. I can only use a couple of brands. I do not have the luxury of "normal" people of being able to use whatever brand is on sale - I have to use the same brands that have never irritated me. I do not deviate. As for bar soap. Don't use 'em. I'm even careful with them "glycerin" type soaps. I can't even use cheap/inexpensive makeup. I have found a couple of brands (Benefit and Urban Decay), that have not irritated me. So I stick with those (sorry, I know your son doesn't wear makeup...I had to add this :-) ). I also use TIDE detergent and that former "Amway" brand detergent ONLY. If I use anything else, I get issues. Seriously. I also limit the times I wear wool. Cotton or cotton blends is pretty much what makes up my wardrobe. Also, workout clothing. Cotton is breathable. If your son is active, I hope he's wearing cotton! Sweat, extremities in temperature (hot or cold), can cause irritation.

Another tool for me that I use is the tanning bed. I try to get in a 15-minute session at least once or twice a month. I do drink plenty of water. And find that all my physical activity helps to aleviate stress. And stress can be a trigger to AD flare ups. I still do get occasional flare ups, and I attribute those to stress.

So ALL of the above is what I do. It's what I have to do to take care of my skin. I seriously hope this helps! I also found a website that may help: www.niams.nih.gov/hi/topics/dermatitis/

Thanks so much for taking the time to share this information. I will pass your suggustions along to my son. I know he has always taken long hot showers and shouldn’t, but he says the heat releaves the iching for awhile. I think Lidex is the medication he is using now. I think adding the vaseline to hold in moisture is a great idea. I seem to recall that there were benefits for this condition consuming 2 to 3 grams of omega 3 fatty acids. Do you try to incorporate these types of supplements? Thanks again for your help!!

Joedimes, might want to check Dr Mercola site, hea lot of articles on t has his, here’s an excerpt

"Almost two thirds of children with atopic dermatitis had at least one positive prick test, and more than one third of those responded positively to food challenge. Allergies to milk, egg, peanut, soy, wheat, cod/catfish and cashew accounted for 89% of the positive challenges. Prick skin test screening for these allergens could identify 99% of children with atopic dermatitis related to food allergies.

J Pediatr January 1998;132:132-136


On a related note, I think I may have found one of the possible causes for my asthma. I was reading trough one of those anti milk sites the other day and came across an article that stated there has been a reported connection between asthma and an allergic reaction to casein. I prayed to god this wasn’t true, but after 10 days with no casein or any other milk derivates my asthma has improved to the point were I can almost leave my house without an asthma pump. This hasn’t happened in many years.

Thinking about it, my asthma appeared and evolved during the time I had the most milk, which was untill around I was 10 or 11, time that I stopped drinking milk. It also got better during the time I was a vegetarian, again, I wasn’t getting any milk then. As I started bodybuilding my asthma got progressivly worst and worst, right to the point reached a while ago were I had to wait around four or five minutes after finishing a set so I had enough breath to put away the plates. Again, my casein consumption gradually increased as my asthma got worst.

Now obviously this is very bad news to me. I’m going to keep away from casein (and gluten also) for a while and then introduce casein and see what happens, I suspect after a while I’ll experience an aggravation of my symptoms. Hopefully, whey won’t be a problem, if it is, I’ll have to seriously think my nutritional aproach.

Any thoughts? I’ll keep you posted if there’s any interest in knowing how this goes.

Restless, thanks for your input. As I recall, my son was allergy tested when he was 4 or 5 and he had several food allergies. Among these were gluten and eggs. I can’t recall if milk was one of them but wouldn’t be supprised if it was. He had the strongest reaction to animal dandruff, particularly, cats and dogs. I will pass your comments along to him also. I remember a few years back when he went on a low carb diet and his asthma and skin condition improved. He consumed most of his proteins from meats. Thanks again for your comments and I would be interested your results from testing whether or not milk aggravates your condition.

Patricia, I was just about to ask you about your ideas when I saw this. My girlfriend has “atopi” (what they call it in Japanese), and I’m going to print this thread out and give it to her.

Just one further question: is Triamcinolone a steroid creme, or something else? Thank you!

Also, to Restless: Yes, please do post an update. I’m sure there are lots of people here who would benefit from the information.

I have to thank Joe , for bringing this topic up here in the forum. When I was a kid, I felt I was the ONLY human being on the planet that had these problems. My sister did, too; however, she never had AD to my level. As I got older, I started realizing that maybe, just maybe, more people had it, but were like me, kept it to themselves. Only people very, very close to me would know. I did not want to be treated in any way “differently” than others. But this is great. Getting it all out in the open!

There's been alot of new info lately, especially on asthma. I heard recently that if a child is useto llving in a home w/out pets of any kind, than asthma would become an issue (or asthma attacks caused by pet dander). Wild, huh?

But, cats and dog dander does cause problems with my asthma. While we have parrots, we do have a HEPA air filter. Two of our birdies are cockatoos. They emit a white dust which can prove to be hell for any asthmatic. Also, I was told that "long haired" cats and dogs are the most problematic. Even though that's not the case for me - all dogs and cats are issues. I have a difficult time being in any place far too long that has either indoor cats and/or dogs. Also, I can't pet them. If I do, I gotta immediately wash my hands. They (cats and dogs) even cause (skin) flare ups with me.

Joe: yes, I find that when I keep up with the fish oil tabs, my skin looks and feels better. As well as my multi-vitamin/min tabs. Restless: probably one of the beeg reasons I rarely eat anything dairy. Did you ever notice a rash during a asthma episode? I get 'em. They kinda go hand in hand. Wierd. I also watch my carb intake. If I consume a high amount of carbs, I have asthma issues. As well as skin issues. If I eat a heavy meal really close to bedtime - ISSUES. I can't sleep. Can't lay down, cuz I can't breath if I do. Restless, please do provide an update. Thanks! Char: Triamcinolone is a "topical corticosteroid". I get a big jar of the stuff, by prescription only. The jar will last me for over a year. Lidex ointment is for more severe cases. What Lidex does (that Triamcinolone doesn't) is thin the skin. What happens to people with AD, is after alot of scratching and itching, will develop this thick, leathery patch. Usually around the inside of the elbows, knees, behind the ears, neck, around the wrists. SO, you can see where Lidex would be helpful. However, since it thins the skin, prolonged use can be an issue.

Oh, this is great, too that you want to help your gf! Kudos to you! Oh, and another thing: I don't wear perfumes. And tell your gf to avoid hair sprays, gels, etc. Even deoderants. People with AD have to watch every little thing that touches their skin.


It’s amazing how isolating a deases can be. My son is so self concious of his skin that he never wears shorts in public. I attribute alot of this to the teasing he received as a small child. Kid’s can sometimes be really cruel to kids that are a little different. Anyway, thanks again for taking the time to share your experiences and tips on how you manage your condition. I rarely post here but read the forum weekly and I feel you have been one of the most helpful people on the forum. I wish you the best in all your future endeavors! ;0)