My Allergy Diary: Finding the cause of my skin rash, as told by Alison Marsh.

My mobile health and food tracker adds up all the clues of my diet, my medication, air quality etc, and creates a kind of pattern that's easy to understand. Eat this, do that - and this may happen

As told to the AlliApp Health Team Apr 18 · 4 mins read

It’s really upsetting when you are attacked by something you can’t name or understand and that makes your skin break out in sore bumps and patches. It was on my ankles, round my neck, in the creases of my elbows, on my wrists. My skin rash was really rough and itchy too. It first happened when I was around 14 or 15, well that’s what I thought, but my mum said it had happened before when I was really young, a toddler of about one or two. She said she got rid of it by tracking and changing my diet and not using certain soaps, shampoos or washing powder.

Atopic family

That seemed so easy for mum to say, and much less easy for me to do! How do you know what causes it when you eat and do so many different things? Why has it happened now, when I’ve been OK for years? (well, for my whole life, or so I thought).  Mum wasn’t that phased by it when I was little though, as she also gets skin rashes and said it runs in the family. Since that teenage outbreak, I’ve had my skin rash off and on for years. Apparently we are an ‘atopic’ family, and so are prone to allergies that cause skin rashes.

What type of skin rash is it?

Insect bite on female skin

So that you can work out what makes your skin erupt in a sore rash, you need to know what kind of rash it is. It’s a kind of riddle within a riddle – first, what is your skin condition and then, what has set it off? If a bee or mosquito had stung me, I’d know the trigger. My friend gets really awful, big red lumps around any mosquito or midge bite. She needs to use citronella oil or insect repellent if she plans to sunbathe abroad, or go camping in Scotland towards the end of the summer. But with me, my rash can just appear with no warning. My mum gets eczema so I thought that was a good start in working out what my own skin rash is, as she told me some allergies can be inherited. 

12 common skin rashes

Eczema/Atopic Dermatitis

This article tells you about 12 likely causes of your skin rash, with pictures and descriptions. When I looked through it I decided I probably had the first one – atopic dermatitis. I think it was the word ‘atopic’, that my mum told me about, that made me first look and wonder (and no, it wasn’t just easier because it was first on the list!). Atopic dermatitis is another term for eczema – that’s a family ‘thing’ and my rash looked like that rash. But to be honest, it looked like quite a few of the other rashes too and it wasn’t till I saw a doctor that I was told that yes, I was right, it was eczema. I was given some lubricating cream and they suggested I should keep a diary. Everything I ate, where I went, (was it hot? Cold? Damp?), what I did, etc would need to be recorded before I could find out what triggered off my rash.

What causes eczema and other allergic skin rashes?

There’s something called pruritis, as described in this article,  that basically, means itchy skin. Allergic skin rashes, like eczema, are often very itchy. Pets, clothes, food, chemicals, cleaning agents – there are so many things that can set it off. If you are very organised and like to write down everything you do, every day, then you can get a plan together to get to the bottom of your skin rash. My mum is organised and she said it comes like second nature to her. But I get bored easily, I forget and to be honest can’t be bothered to be so methodical.

AlliApp – tried and tested health tracker

Finding AlliApp, the optimum health-tracker that I could just download to my phone to help with my detective work has been, for me a bit of a mini-miracle. It’s also become a game – if I do (or eat) that – what will happen? AlliApp adds up all the clues of my diet, my medication, air quality etc, and creates a kind of pattern that’s easy to understand. Eat this, do that – and this may happen. It has helped me to find my allergy triggers and to avoid them. I haven’t got rid of my eczema, as it’s a lifelong condition with periods of being fine, and then others of having outbreaks. So having AlliApp on my phone means I can keep track of what causes it and keep my outbreaks down to an absolute minimum. It’s been a life-changer for me and (though she said she loves sorting it all out by herself!) even my mum uses it now.