Eczema and pierced earrings?

As noted in this thread, Moon Unit is having some trouble with eczema. The pediatrician prescribed Elocon (mometasone, a steroid) cream for the inside of her elbows which works beautifully - but every time she stops using it, within a week the elbows start to break out again. And now it’s on her torso and neck, though not as “concentrated”. Poor kid right now is very itchy and unhappy…

I don’t want her to slather herself in the medication because of concerns over side effects from overuse (enough topical steroids, and systemic effects become a concern). Also, we see the allergist tomorrow, and I want the allergist to see her in all her itchiness. Though I may bring the 'roids along and dose her in the car on the way home!

We actually did take the extra step of putting hardwood flooring in her room and we’ve got a HEPA set up in there. She hates the HEPA unit however - it’s a little noisy and though I think I’d get used to it, it bugs her. So it doesn’t run as much as we’d like. But basically we’ve done all the environmental controls.

I wracked my brain and tried to think “what’s changed?”. Well, the eczema started in June, and she had her ears pierced in March. Although we’ve restricted her to only 14K gold earrings, and she’s never had any breakout near the earrings, I can’t help but wonder if there’s a connection. Any thoughts?

These links:
would suggest that widespread eczema might be linked but I haven’t been able to find any reliable-looking sites that bear this out. This site and similar ones all appear to be hawking titanium-based jewelry.

We’ll be discussing this with the allergist tomorrow of course. My hope is it’s not a problem; Moon Unit’s itchy scalp was certainly a problem before the piercing happened and I think that’s connected. Not that I mind buying a couple of pairs of titanium earrings for her if that’s what it takes; she really wants to keep the piercings and we could save the gold for special occasions.

I have eczema, at times very very bad, and I have pierced ears. I restrict myself to 14K or better, nickel-free. I don’t think it’s related, though it’s very weird. I have a near-constant patch on the knuckle right over my wedding/engagement rings, and on no other fingers. My dermatologist tells me it’s a total coincidence. And what’s more, I believe him.

I think you’re doing everything right. When my eczema flares up really badly, I have gotten a shot of Kenalog, which does the trick and keeps things in check for months. It’s a big painful shot in the butt, but it takes care of business.

Sorry, I don’t have anything to add about the earring issue. On a related note though, have you looked into low-dose antibiotics as a treatment option for the eczema? IANAD, but it often works in kids when it doesn’t work in adults. Atul Gawande mentions it in his book “Complications”. I also know it worked for my cousin when she was younger. YMMV or course.

I had not heard of this (in my earlier thread someone mentioned topical antibiotics). I’ll definitely ask the allergist tomorrow.

:eek: I’d bet it does!

Moon Unit would be a tough sell on this one. Maybe I’d better bring along a couple of pairs of earplugs (for me and the doctor) tomorrow in case this is recommended. Handcuffs and/or chloroform might helpful too.

I used to have pretty bad atopic dermatitis as a child and grew out of it in my early teens. (I got vitiligo instead. :dubious: Oh well, at least the spots don’t spread and don’t itch.) Anyway, I had eczema well before getting my ears pierced, so it’s possible that there isn’t a connection. But keep your eyes open for complications, as my sister developed a sensitivity to nickel after getting her ears pierced. Meanwhile, the youngest in the family has three piercings per ear and not a shadow of trouble, which only goes to show that genetics is a game of roulette. Earrings are a bit too high-maintenance for me, so I’ve got four carefully selected pairs that I wear for formal occasions.

Even if you avoid medicated creams, some kind of hypoallergenic body cream may be beneficial. The urge to scratch is worse if the skin gets too dry. Dad and sis, who have been the worst sufferers in my family for a couple of years, swear by a cream that contains ceramides, though I doubt if it’s available in the US. And I’m sorry if I’m stating the obvious here, but what kinds of laundry detergents are you using? Hypoallergenic or not makes a huge difference for us. Getting a washing machine where it’s possible to add an extra rinsing cycle helped a lot too.

IANAD, but I have heard of nickel allergies causing an eczema-like rash on the face and neck - given that sensitive skin and eczema tend to go hand in hand, it’s not a huge leap to consider that switching away from cheap nickel-based earrings to a hypoallergenic metal like titanium would solve the problem.

Since 14K gold is considered hypoallergenic, I’m guessing that in Moon Unit’s case it’s just a coincidence that the ear piercings and the eczema breakouts were a few months apart. You can splurge on titanium if you’d like to have an alternative for the gold from time to time, but I doubt it’ll be the solution you’re looking for.

(Random trivia moment: Another big culprit for this type of rash is cellphones with metallic accents, as the “chrome” coating often contains nickel. In my call centre days, I also got a small outbreak on my cheek because of the metal tip on my headset’s mic)

As far as my personal experience goes, I had absolutely vicious eczema outbreaks as a kid and have the occasional flare-up now as an adult, but never any problems that could directly tie back to my earrings or any of my other piercings.

Cerave, a line of skin care products, is not too hard to find. They are not prescription, though sometimes you have to ask the pharmacist for them. I think they’re pretty good.

I have never had my ears pierced, yet I have battled eczema off and on all my life. Sometimes you just can’t find a permanent fix for things (though of course I keep hoping!)

For the first time, two years ago I came down with eczema around my eyes. Go figger. Anyhow, an OTC steroid cream has so far been both successful and so far the only thing that works. Sometimes, there just isn’t a trigger, my skin just decides it’s time to go whacko.

I realize that this is not terribly encouraging, however, both my parents and I have spent far too much time over the years getting stressed out over finding a root cause or seeking permanent cures. The fact that stress can trigger an outbreak just doesn’t help! I have finally come to realize that this is a chronic condition that, while it can be driven into remission, never entirely goes away. It’s always lurking, lurking, lurking just beneath the surface. Sometimes, the only recourse is treatment rather than a true cure.

Looks good from my perspective as well. It’s interesting to see what brands dermatologists around the world recommend for day-to-day skincare, though it makes it difficult to recommend stuff across borders. The cynic in me wonders if French experts get commissions from the olive oil industry for promoting green Marseille soap (though I must admit, it’s good stuff.)

Thanks for the suggestions - I’ll look into having Moon Unit slather herself with lotion once the current flareup is done.

We saw the allergist today. She immediately pooh-poohed the idea of the earring connection, which was nice, then zeroed in on the fact that we have guinea pigs. Moon Unit tests pretty allergic to cats, not so much to guinea pigs (as of a year or so ago), and the allergist is convinced this is the problem.

Never mind we’ve had guinea pigs for 5 years… and symptoms just started this summer… so I have my doubts, but it’d be foolish to discount the possibility. So we’ll reduce her contact with the pigs, set up a HEPA filter in the family room (large open space so it may not work all that well but better than nothing), and require her to cover up when handling the pigs.

We’ll retest (skin or RAST) in a couple of months - we’ll have to take her off the antihistamines for a week for skin testing but she was freaking out at the thought of RAST (blood testing - i.e. needles).

My dear daughter glommed onto the suggestion of getting a reptile pet in the future. She wants an iguana. Urk. Not so sure I’m onboard with that.

Strangely enough, my eczema actually improves with doing certain things that are definitely contraindicated by conventional wisdom due to their drying effect on the skin - ie swim in chlorine pools, or the ocean, or a mineral spa, or use alpha-hydroxy wash as hand soap.

Mine’s stress triggered, and isolated to my hands, and doesn’t itch, and has gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. So I have a freaky case. But from chatting with other sufferers, it seems that everyone’s case is freaky in some way.

Eczema - a mystery wrapped up in an enigma.

She does know that the skin testing involves more than one needle, right?

Best of luck.

LOL - yeah, though it took me 4 tries to interrupt the “I HATE NEEDLES” howls to force her to listen to the alternatives: one quick needle stick, then you’re done, vs. a bunch of little pinpricks, followed by 20-30 minutes of increasingly itchy skin (she did not enjoy the last round of that, last year). I hope she goes for the RAST testing - it’s faster, and doesn’t require that she skip her antihistamines for a week+ beforehand.