Dermatitis & lactose intolerance.

It all starts with just a few little blisters or bubbles that itch. And itch. And itch. At first, I thought I must have been allergic to something, and it would go away. But, that middle finger kept getting itchier, and redder, and angrier. Then it started to ooze something yellow and orange and leave crusts that stung when I closed my hand into a fist, because the dry skin would crack and weep again. I was told I had “contact dermatitis” when I spent hundreds at a dermatologist… read on below.

Finding a more holistic approach has helped a lot.

But it turns out that all those topical creams, moisturisers and steroids actually did nothing. The derm told me to wear cotton gloves – I got nicknamed ‘Michael Jackson’ by friends, because I had to wear these gloves all the time, with ointments underneath. It was terrible, and I did it for a year, off and on as the dermatitis came and went. What started in one finger eventually spread to all 10 fingers, and did terrible damage to my cuticles. As a lady, that’s a bit rough!

A friend of mine was doing a naturopathy degree, and I mentioned it to her one day while I was furiously itching one finger (even though I was told strictly not to). I always did my best not to touch detergents, soaps, or anything with my hands, lest it worsen the condition. She asked me if I had tried cutting out dairy – or, more specifically, the lactose in it. Being of part-Asian ethnicity, I knew dairy didn’t agree with me that well anyway, but I was curious as to why the two would be linked. She explained the effects the lactose enzyme has on the stomach and intestinal wall, and the reaction your body has to try and contain it once it’s free-flowing in your blood.

Deciding that dairy wasn’t a big part of my life anyway, I switched to a lactose-free milk and avoided other forms of dairy such as milk chocolate and yoghurt for a while. It was only after a few months when I noticed I hadn’t had to put moisturiser on 6x times that day, or, in fact, for several days. In order to test this theory out, I had a hot chocolate at a cafe the next day – my skin seemed okay, so next I threw in a good dose of chocolate and yoghurt. Lo-and-behold, the next day were a dozen or so bubbles on my pinky. Emboldened, I cut it back out, and my hands were back to normal within another day or so.

Since then, I opt for dairy-free or lactose-free options wherever I go, and only indulge in small amounts of dairy that I seem able to handle. Dark chocolate is a great alternative to milk chocolate, just like the WDOM lactose free range is to normal milk. If anyone is suffering from “contact dermatitis”, or dermatitis of any kind, I urge you to consider the place it’s coming from, and if you have always had it! If you’re sick of creams that do nothing, then look inwards. It has changed my life for the better.

– Kate S.