Tag Archives: inexplicable skin rash

A Year Later: Update on the Inexplicable Skin Rash

It’s been an entire year since I finished the first part of the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol and I feel like it’s time for another update. I started that whole thing because I had an inexplicable skin rash that showed up one November – now two years ago – and started spreading. It didn’t itch, it didn’t flake, it didn’t do anything except spread. When it also didn’t start to fade after a year, I went to the doctor and found out it was inflammation, possibly because of something or other.

Well, duh. I could have told them that. But they couldn’t tell me the cause and when the inexplicable skin rash decided to migrate to a spot right beneath one of my eyes, I decided I had to try something. That something was the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol – hereafter called the AIP – which is a very strict, healing diet and lifestyle. You avoid eggs, nightshades, grains, dairy, nuts, seeds (including seed-derived spices), alcohol, NSAID’s (like Aleve), food additives, and anything else that’s fun, while focusing on eating tons of greens, bone broth, fermented foods (like kefir and sauerkraut) and organ meats and getting enough sleep and exercise. It sucked.

But it worked.

Now, a full year later, my inexplicable skin rash is 99% gone. I can feel a little raised area where the first (and largest and most persistent) patch was, but aside from the biopsy scar (hiss) there is nothing to see. The big red patch on my leg after the egg reintroduction? Gone. The patch on my wrist and the inside of my elbow? Gone. All the little bits and pieces speckling my torso – gone gone gone. I would take a picture, but it would just be a picture of skin.

Not only that, but the AIP took away the big, oozing bumps I used to get on my rear and, although I’ve gotten a few small, irritating ones – exclusively when nightshades crept back into my diet, accidentally or intentionally – I haven’t had to utilize band aids like I used to. I’ve also been able to do sit-ups for the very first time in almost two years, because the inexplicable bump/awfulness at the base of my tail bone is finally healing.

Another big thing: I haven’t had a panic attack in going on three years now, and not even an anxiety attack in the last year. My depression was problematic in the latter half of last year, but during the stricter phase of the AIP it was nonexistent. I’m still figuring out why.

My diet has changed irrevocably, although it’s no longer as strict as the initial AIP introduction – nor should it be. I still eat a big heaping of greens for breakfast every day and make a batch of broth each week. I still mix pureed liver with meatballs and try to get in heart and tendon and tripe when and where I can. My coffee consumption is steady at one cup a day – literally a cup, I measure it – and I mostly drink herbal tea after that.

But I do partake in the occasional dairy – usually full fat milk, very rarely yogurt, more oftentimes amazing cheeses – and I go all out on the seed spices (MUSTARD YES). Although I officially reintroduced nuts ages ago, I eat far less of them than I did when I was just paleo and I actually tend to forget they’re even an option most of the time. I don’t have a problem with rice or oats, so those will sometimes make an appearance, but rarely. I also indulge in alcohol perhaps a little too often and haven’t been as good about saying no to baked goods as I had been in the past – a mental trade-off for having to avoid nightshades and eggs, I think, not that that makes it any better.

Overall, though, I’m glad I did it. I’m amazed at how thoroughly the inexplicable skin rash has vanished and I’m looking forward to the day where I can run my fingers over the place it was and wonder if it even happened.

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Paleo Autoimmune Protocol Reintroduction | Duck Eggs

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After the sadness that was confirming my sensitivity to regular ol’ chicken eggs, I remembered some snippets of info I had run across during my extensive reading on the AIP that some people, while intolerant of chicken eggs, can, in fact, tolerate the eggs of other fowl beasts. Chicken eggs, for some odd reason, have allergens that are specific to only them, whereas the rest of the feathery kingdom are fine & dandy. Water fowl, specifically, are thought to be the least problematic.

I actually tried out guinea hen eggs about a month ago with no ill effect, but the guy who sold them to us has since disappeared entirely from the farmer’s market. That’s all right, ’cause they are kinda small and expensive, to be honest. Then one fine Sunday we were picking up our meat share when I spotted a “duck eggs $5/doz” sign. Considering in the past I’d only ever seen duck eggs going for $5 a half dozen, this was a steal. So we grabbed them. And I tried them.

I had the first egg two weeks ago now and, as far as I can tell, I haven’t developed any new rashes. I didn’t do as careful an inventory beforehand as I should have, so I’m not 100% sure, but there have been no big, glaring, obvious changes like there were with chicken eggs. I’ve only been having one or two, three times a week (vs the 3/day I’d been doing with chicken eggs), and I’m going to keep it at that rate for another week or two and keep checking for rashes.

My preliminary conclusion, though, is that they’re okay. They bake well and make a delicious breakfast, so double plus. Considering my history of reintroductions, though, I’m going to remain cautious with this. The inexplicable skin rash is so, so sensitive, so if it doesn’t continue on its healing path as it has been doing these past few months, I’ll stop eating duck eggs.

But! I definitely think once the rash is completely gone, duck eggs will be on the menu. Maybe not quite a staple like eggs became, but an occasional breakfast treat.

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Patience is a Virtue: the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol

After I finished the 30-day super strict autoimmune protocol back in January, I wrote a somewhat lackluster recap & review of my experience. I noted at the time that some of my lack of results might be turned around over the coming months as I continued to (mostly) adhere to the diet and take extra special care of myself.

Now that it’s been over six months, I feel like I should amend my review.

The paleo autoimmune protocol is fucking amazing and magical.

I didn’t have the results I wanted after 30 days because it took a helluva lot more than 30 days to get the issues I have in the first place. Now that it’s been a wee bit longer, all of my skin issues are so much better. I could sing!

The tomatoes were a very strong reminder of just how far I’ve come. I mentioned they gave me a boil. One boil. A single one. Uno. Eins. Unum. Raz. And it was tiny, so tiny.

This is a big deal because before the AIP, I would have constantly two to three, and was dealing with up to five of these godawful things at a time. This recent one was a wee bit painful when I biked, but those old fuckers made it impossible to sit and I often had to plaster them with bandaids because they oozed. They got so bad that it was painful just to walk. When I first started getting them, I went to the doctor – as you do, right? But instead of getting any idea of wtf they were or how to deal with them, she chastised me for not being hygienic. That stuck with me for so long that when I went to the dermatologist for my inexplicable skin rash, I went out of my way to avoid mentioning the boils.

Not that the derm helped with the rash, anyway.

So these last six months, aside from one or three flairs, I’ve been boil free and it’s been wonderful. So good that I forgot how uncomfortable those little fuckers could be, in fact. If it means I can’t ever have salsa or hot sauce again, it’s a difficult deal, but I’ll take it.

But it’s the inexplicable skin rash that started me down this journey and the inexplicable skin rash that bummed me out the most at the end of January. I’ve updated on that rash since then, that it looked like it was improving, albeit slowly, but now I can confidently say that it is almost gone. The bit on my wrist that was flared for so long is now nothing but a small set of bumps I can only tell are there when I run my finger over them. The larger patch on my waist is now mostly just the biopsy scar and a small bump or two.

It looks so much better, guys. Even the dime-sized circle on my leg that I got with my last round of egg-trying has reduced itself to a teensy pinkish spot instead of the flaking red nastiness it had been. Another large, egg-sized spot on my leg that had been nasty and raised and ugly is completely vanished. I’m left with a few small rashes speckling my torso, but even those are slowly fading. I bet they’re all gone by November.

This weekend I even had a nasty flare across my stomach that had me in tears (one of many things…), but it’s all but gone already. Apparently, the faster I get back on track when they show up, the faster they go away. That helps explain why the original few have stuck around for so very long – I didn’t even see a doctor about them for over a year. But they’re healing. Slowly, oh so slowly, but they’re healing.

A few things I’ve noticed that seem to help them heal faster: being militant about drinking broth with gelatin. Not only do any cat scratches I might have received disappear quicker, but the rashes smooth out in leaps and bounds instead of plodding along, barely changing for weeks. The key thing seems to be gelatin; I’ve been drinking broth religiously since January, but it’s often chicken broth and it usually doesn’t gel on its own. But if I add a teaspoon of gelatin, suddenly I see those improvements in my skin almost right away. I wouldn’t have to add gelatin if I made proper bone broth all the time, but I’ve learned I don’t like the taste of bone broth and will avoid drinking it. So what’s the point of making it when I won’t drink it?

The other thing: extra coconut oil, often in the form of coconut fudge. I started making and eating these to help alleviate some of my intense hunger in the mornings – which has been working amazing btw – and as a bonus, I noticed my skin clearing up faster at the same time. I have no idea why, but I’ll take any excuse to keep eating these. They’re just that good.

This is all to say that if you’re in the middle of doing the Autoimmune Protocol and you haven’t seen the results you wanted yet, don’t lose hope. This shit takes time. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a lot of time. But if you’ve stuck with it this far, it’s really fucking worth it to keep going. Even for people like me who don’t have a really bad condition, or one that’s been around for years and years, it can still take a while. It sucks, but it is definitely worth the relief and knowledge in the end.

I will still stick to my guns about only starting the AIP if you are really and completely convinced it could help, though. It is not a fun endeavor, and once you start you can’t really stop. Well, you can, but it’s a waste of your time. You have to keep going, you have to keep plugging on, and if you do – it is really fucking worth it.

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My Results (so far) with the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol

I’ve been doing the AIP for a good three, almost four months now. I’ve been focusing on stress management, getting lots of sleep, slow intermittent movement, and – the biggy – diet. I’ve been better at times than others at working on the first three parts, but I’ve been fairly consistent with diet and reintroductions the whole time.

The first few weeks were by far the hardest, as I learned how to adjust to the new restrictions. But I’ve since settled into a rhythm and am up to an almost paleo diet again. I started the AIP with a host of skin issues to clear up, but discovered the diet was helpful for some other issues as well. I suspect, however, that eating a diet free of gluten, excess sugar and highly nutrient dense may have had more to do with the latter than the removal of things like eggs and nightshades.

So, what changed exactly? Within the first month my HS had subsided dramatically. Heck, within a few weeks. With reintroductions, I’ve had a few flares and have since realized that it is definitely something I’m eating that causes the outbreaks. What, exactly, I haven’t pinned down yet, but I’m hopeful.

A chronic boil I’ve had for years has also (slowly, steadily) been getting better. This one doesn’t appear to be linked to any specific food, but more to just nutrient quality in general. Further research on my part has brought to light that its root cause might not be autoimmune, but clean eating still helps it heal.

Cycle-wise, my PMS has become nonexistent, my cramps manageable, and my cycles way more regular. I suspect this has more to do – again – with nutrient density and fewer simple carbs than any specific food. But again, we’ll see.

Last but not least, the main and central impetus that drove me to commit to this crazy restrictive diet was the chronic rash that had been slowly consuming my body. The last straw – a patch of rash under my eye – cleared up after a month on the AIP. Other patches have been steadily fading, including a bright red circle that was on my leg. Now I can only tell it’s still there if I run my hand across the area – the skin is still a little rough.

I should have taken more photos for documentation and proof, but, alas, I only thought to take a photo of the initial rash. As you can see below, it’s gotten a lot better:

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The darker spot is my biopsy scar, which has proven invaluable for me in determining just how much it’s improved. Both photos were taken under the same lighting conditions with the same camera and had the same corrective color balances applied.

Although the rash is better, it still has a time to go before it’s fully healed. I’m hoping it doesn’t take another three months, but I also won’t be surprised. In the meantime, I will keep reintroducing things up to being fully paleo and keep an eye on it. My prime suspect is still eggs, since they still stand out with the most severe reaction so far.

But at least I have some proof that all this no-chocolate, no-Mexican, but lots of offal and bone broth super-strict eating is actually doing some good.

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Paleo Autoimmune Protocol, Day 30 (!)

For the month of January I’m following the paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). It’s like a Whole30 – just minus eggs, nightshades, seeds & nuts. It’s a little insane, but the only way to truly find out if a skin issue I have is autoimmune in nature or not. For more information, see my preparation post.

Day 30? Really? I’m already on the last day? It seems like I was just at week two and despairing because I was tired of boring chicken and spice-less ground beef. Well then.

Wot I ate:
– Pot of black tea and a cup of broth
– Sautéed greens, sweet potato hash, and meatballs for breakfast
– Leftover beef soup, some blueberries & strawberries, and a cutie orange for snacks
– An avocado, cherry pot roast, arugula salad, and garlic roasted spaghetti squash for lunch
– Another cup of black tea for afternoon fortification
– A banana, tuna salad, and plantain chips for dinner

Dinner was kind of a thrown together on-the-road affair because we left straight from work to drive two hours to watch a live show of Welcome to Night Vale. I also didn’t get much sleep (BUT IT WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT), so we’ll see how reintro day one goes. 😛

All I’ve got planned for day 1 of reintroduction is some morning egg yolks. I should probably put my head down and think up some more, but I can’t quite get past the whole “I can finally eat something else!!” part. I know I want to make this breakfast cake, though. Either that’s some really good photography or it’s going to taste AMAZING.

I’ll see you on the other side.

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Paleo Autoimmune Protocol, Day 29

For the month of January I’m following the paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). It’s like a Whole30 – just minus eggs, nightshades, seeds & nuts. It’s a little insane, but the only way to truly find out if a skin issue I have is autoimmune in nature or not. For more information, see my preparation post.

Wot I ate:
– A pot of black tea
– Sautéed greens, sweet potato hash, and meatballs for breakfast
– Kiwis, cutie oranges, broth and some beef soup for second breakfast
– Chicken “pad thai” for lunch
– Roast chicken for dinner
– Coconut cream over blackberries and folate for dessert

One of my skin issues has been doing some weird things the last few days. It had previously been a seeping wound (hoorah!) for several worrying months, then it calmed down to just a bump, but now it’s swollen with obvious liquid inside. I’m going to lean towards it being in the process of healing itself instead of freaking out, though. :/

Not much else to report – sticking it out for one last day, then I’ll decide how I feel and see how far I’ve come.

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Paleo Autoimmune Protocol, Day 28

For the month of January I’m following the paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). It’s like a Whole30 – just minus eggs, nightshades, seeds & nuts. It’s a little insane, but the only way to truly find out if a skin issue I have is autoimmune in nature or not. For more information, see my preparation post.

If I hadn’t indulged in New Year’s Eve bubbly, then this would have been my last day. But considering we pre-make (almost) all our food every Sunday, it’s actually pretty easy to just keep going with the flow and continue eating this way up until Egg Yolk Friday, as I’ve decided to now call it.

Wot I ate:
– Sautéed greens, sweet potato hash, and meatballs for breakfast
– A banana, clementines, and broth with gelatin for snacks
– Chicken “pad thai” for lunch
– Afternoon grapefruit
– Seared tuna steaks with an AIP version of this dressing and half an avocado on salad
– Magnesium, dried cherries, and folate for dessert

I thought I’d be more excited by the time I got to the end of this, but mostly I’m just tired and done. All the improvements I saw were within the first week and a half, and I’m keeping on going at this point more out of an illogical hope that suddenly more things will clear up than anything. Also inertia. One can get used to eating any random or severely restricted way if one just gives it 30 days. You putter around for the first two weeks wondering what you can eat, then settle into a routine. That happened on my first Whole30, when I went vegetarian, and again now. So any time I wonder how any specific person can “eat that way,” I just have to remember that you can get used to anything.

I’m also surprised that for reintroduction, I’m perfectly okay with putting off coffee for a few more weeks. I’d rather have more food variety than caffeine, thankyouverymuch. Same thing with alcohol – still on the fence about whether I’ll introduce that for my wife’s exam, or if I’ll just let that one slide.

Just two more days? Just two more days.

Then it’s Egg Yolk Friday!

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