Wednesday, August 26, 2009

TCP v Anthisan

Putting TCP on my hands and the blotches on my arms didn't work well overnight. In fact when I woke up my fingers were itching again and the weal had reappeared on the back of my hand.

Worse still the Ring reddened again yesterday, radiating a bright red circle around its rim. It was itching by the time I went to bed so I put Eurax on - and that seemed to calm it. The only thing I can point to is a glass of Jack Daniels I had with my meal. Although it's supposed to be zero-salicylate I still wonder whether whisky is a good thing, perhaps because it inflames the blood vessels

This morning I found a tube of Anthisan and decided to try that on the weals, welts and flea-bites. It didn't seem to work and when I put the tube down or put it away I couldn't find it again. This was probably a good thing as later in the day I got drowsy and slept for 90 minutes - even though I'd had a good night's sleep. I just had a look at some web references to Anthisan, which is mainly an anti-histamine, and few mention drowsiness as a side effect. Odd because my previous experience, some months ago, was that it left me incredibly tired.

The Anthisan didn't seem to work and everything itched even more over breakfast. So in desperation I smeared Eurax on everything and that calmed it all down. Tonight the blotches on my arms are still slowly shrinking but my hands and fingers are itching again. So I have used more Eurax.

I may have praised TCP prematurely - although I think I will try it again on the fingers tonight.

Wretched cat!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I wanted to write about the wonders of fish oil today - but instead I find myself writing about TCP.

When I woke up today my hands and fingers were itching like Hades. Then I spotted an old tube of TCP cream. It was a nasty brown colour and incredibly sticky. But nothing else had worked since the fleas on the cat attacked me on Friday night. Any port in a storm.

I squeezed the first, dirty, bit of TCP cream out and had a heck of a job trying to wash it down the sink and get it off my hands. I then applied a slightly cleaner looking section of cream to my hands but not to my arms. Amazingly, within a couple of hours the flea bite blisters and the itching on my fingers had gone. In fact the skin became quite wrinkled and pale, suggesting that swelling had subsided.

I didn't want to put TCP on my arms because of the smell. I would have stunk all day. So I tried a newer antiseptic from the first aid kit. This seemed to relieve things a little during the day but the blotches did not disappear as dramatically as on the fingers. A second application later on as had more effect. There are still blotches but much reduced.

This suggests that the fleas may have infected me with something quite nasty. I'm only lucky it wasn't bubonic plague or something equally unpleasant.

I think I'll try another dose of TCP tonight just to make sure.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Weals and welts

 Things have improved a little bit on my arms today, aided by a dip in salty sea-water. I'm still not sure there's not a flea or some other little creature active on or under my skin. There's an extra finger that's gone itchy and an inch-long weal across the back of my hand.

I've used a cream called Eurax to soothe the itching, which is still terrible around the weals and welts. Even if they stop itching, a single touch starts them up again. The cream leaves the skin all red, which seems worth it, although I fear it may be aggravating the problem. The spotty rash in the cradle of my elbow seems to have gone.

I am trying to avoid insects.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Papular urticaria

A dismal weekend spoilt by dreadful English weather, too many anti-histamines and a big scare on my arms. I'm hoping there won't be a big scar on my arms.

It started when I was nice to the cat on Friday night, the same cat that has been bringing fleas into the house. We thought she was free and I fondled her around the neck, only to get a nip on my arm from a flea.

Within a few hours my arms broke out into a rash. My immediate thought was to blame the biscuits I consumed during the afternoon - they were meant to be cream sandwiches but seemed to have quite a  gingery taste. I'm running low on montelukast so I took a one-a-day antihistamine. I thought this might help with The Ring too.

By Saturday there were welts and weals and red spots all over my arms, partly around the elbows but also on my hands and the fingers. It looked as if the cat had scratched me and then infected me with a plague of scabies.And my arms itched all over.

A montelukast and another antihistamine failed to relieve the misery on Sunday. As the weather deteriorated and the temperature plummeted, I developed that clammy feeling and sense of foreboding they say comes with anaphylaxis -along with the kind of rash they say to look out for with septicaemia. And after two days of anti-histamines I felt tired, despite sleeping for hours.

Eventually I found a little creature on my wrist and removed him. That may have helped relieve the misery. I tried smearing my arms with E45 and that relieved the misery but left the skin quite red. The same happened when I tried another cream Eurax yesterday.

So I turned to the internet and discovered it is probably  - or rather almost certainly - a condition called papular urticaria. Urticaria is hives and in this version, often triggered by those fleas, you do indeed get weals, welts, red rashes and lines of spots, often on the arms and exposed parts of the skin. It happens to people with hypersensitive skin, usually children. Well, perhaps the ginger biscuits made me hyper-sensitive on this occasion.

I am indebted to this page for helping me identify the problem. I am resolved that the cat will be confined indoors for ever so she cannot collect any more fleas.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Tuna con chips

 They came back with a meal from Kentucky Fried Chicken tonight and tried to persuade me to eat it. I refused.

The chips were cold, undercooked and meagre but I suddenly felt a hankering for chilli con carne. As I'm trying to stick to zero-salicylate and eat fish (to see if The Ring will go away), my imagination turned to tuna. On this occasion my imagination worked successfully. It was a variant of one of my pasta sauces - but came out very differently. Here's what I did, step by step:

warm rapeseed oil in frying pan;
slice golden delicious apple and add to pan;
chop a small amount of cabbage (small) and add to pan;
chop some leek and add to pan;
turn heat to maximum and stir vigorously until contents brown;
open tin of tuna in brine;
drain off brine so far as possible;
add to pan - watching for splash;
stir vigorously, cooking at max;
add more rapeseed oil to keep moist;
when tuna starts to brown, add Kentucky chips;
stir vigorously until chips start to brown.

Add topping of grated cheese. Garnish with lettuce.
Delicious! The tastiest tuna I have eaten so far. Lots of different  tastes and textures.

The difference from pasta sauce is that it is cooked at maximum rather than minimum and the brine is largely drained off, rather than used to make sauce.


The Return of the Ring

 It never really went away but I thought it was fading after I gave up blue cheese. This week it has been glowing bright red, one and a half inches across on my shoulder. It also started itching. Now I have been living salicylate-free for several days and also took several montelukasts. But it simply became brighter red.

I used E45 this morning and this has soothed the itching, but not reduced the redness. Having looked up
erythema annulare centrifugum, which is what it appears to be, I had feared it would start sprouting and spreading. Thankfully, there's no sign of that yet.

I can only think it's cheese again. I bought some extra "mild" Smartprice (ie cut-price) cheese from Asda earlier in the week. I thought it was a good way to restore taste to food. I had understood that the penicillin in blue cheese is found in the blue bits - but maybe there's something in the cheap cheese.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Invisible again

The Guardian newspaper carries a feature spread today on "living with food allergy". Sadly it completely fails to mention salicylates.

The number of visitors to this site suggest that quite a few people have this problem - or similar problems. My recent census found that 38 per cent of visitors here are salicylate sensitive. Apparently quite a few people with asthma also have the problem. So why the invisibility?

The Guardian piece mentions dairy, gluten(wheat) and nuts. These are serious - but they are also readily catered for. Try working with the list of fruit, vegetables and other organic substances that contain salicylate. The experts tell us that the prevalence of gluten-allergy is much exaggerated in the public mind. I know, because I spent six months living on Free From food because I had problems with pizza, pasta and beer.

The consultant ultimately decided it was everything else but gluten. He was right. I think I was lucky that my symptoms were severe enough to warrant the attention of an NHS consultant. Yes, nut allergy is very serious. If you have coeliac disease, gluten is very nasty indeed and Free From food is very useful indeed. As I say, I have been there and I lost half a stone trying to live on Free From food! It was expensive and it was difficult to cook with.

I think what offends me most is the heading of the feature: A Guide to Food for People with Allergies. Why did they not just make the piece about gluten/wheat allergy and intolerance and do a sensible round-up of the issues?


Monday, August 17, 2009


 I ruined everything by going to a fund-raising barbecue over the weekend. It was a great barbecue - there was steak and salmon as well as the usual burgers and sausages. So I had steak and salmon. There was a herbal garnish on the salmon - it did not seem especially aromatic so I just hoped it was parsley. There was no water so I drank diet Sprite. The salad looked as though it was lettuce but in fact had onions and maybe garlic sliced into it. It was hard to see in the dark.

It was a great night and I paid for it over the weekend. Today my arms are all red and the Ring is also bright red. More on that later.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Guidance for friends

 We had a very pleasant meal at our friends' of shepherd's pie and banana sponge with cream - all salicylate free.

This was the final version of the guidance I sent:

 In general:
 no pepper, spices or herbs (except parsley). Most fruit is out and quite a few vegetables.

 Banana and golden delicious apple are okay as are chips, baked  potato, cabbage, peas, sprouts, lettuce, leek and celery.

All meat, dairy and fish is fine, although fish is especially good.

 Small amounts of chocolate as in cake or pudding are fine.

Only drinks are water, milk or decaffeinated coffee( or whisky).
 Nothing  else.

 The general principle I work to is that sauces and pies are dodgy.
 Plain meats, battered fish etc are okay.

We use a lot of rapeseed oil and soy sauce for cooking as both are fine.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Soy sauce!

 Our friend who is cooking for us has just borrowed a bottle of soy sauce. She says she could not find it in the supermarket. Curiously, I had the same experience a couple of weeks ago in Asda. I looked everywhere, under sauces, exotic food, anywhere with small brown bottles, and could not find it.

It seems odd as Asda on-line confirms they sell a whole range of soy sauces, including their own brand. That's how we normally get it. However the deliveries come from local supermarkets so they must have it in stock somewhere.

I tried to cut down on soy sauce at one point as it is rich in omega-6 although it is supposed to be pretty well zero salicylate. However it puts a lot of taste back into the cooking and if the meal is zero or near zero salicylate does not seem to cause problems.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Eating out .... at friends'

 A generous friend has invited us to a meal. She then asked what she could safely cook for me.

I said I would let her have a copy of the guidance I drew up for a commercial caterer a few weeks ago. I then realised the guidance wasn't really adequate for somebody who wanted to cook as good a meal as possible so I made some additions. I mentioned that we use soy sauce and rapeseed oil as a base for cooking and that we can use parsley as a herb.

So far the main queries have been about ice cream, cream and custard. I'm never sure about ice cream and always suggest chocolate ice cream. When I was on holiday there were people selling genuine clotted cream ice cream - which was nice and probably quite safe. Vanilla is meant to be banned but I often eat vanilla ice cream.

It really is time I attempted a salicylate free curry.


Friday, August 07, 2009


 The cat keeps bringing fleas into the house. It's proved hard to eradicate them but I think we've got the message across that the cat is in quarantine - and should not be in the bedrooms or living areas.

Others seem to have been worse bitten than me. I've had bites but they have been little more than spots. It did not stop me itching all over however - so far as I can see I've come out in hives. At first I thought I was being eaten by fleas. I was itching all over and terrified when I was in bed. But when I woke up there was little evidence of bites.

The way I see it is this - the immune system kicks in and deals with the flea bites. But it overreacts. So the rash under my elbow returned.

I took a montelukast today and that seems to have calmed down the skin rash. I don't like taking montelukast when the immune system has real work to do. I'm not sure it couldn't leave me vulnerable to infection.