Unknown allergies are hard on everyone

As I have mentioned numerous times on this blog, my daughter Lexie has allergies to many, many things. They have done blood tests to determine some of those items, but a lot of our discovery is just by trying something.

Sometime last year, we looked down at Lexie’s legs as she sat at the dining room table. There were little red spots on her legs. We were unsure what they were but thought maybe they were bug bites she had scratched. You see scratching and Lexie go hand in hand. She has eczema and scratches a lot. Many of her allergies don’t cause nasal congestion or hives.  They cause her to scratch.

CIMG1960Anyway, back to the story. The red spots went away, and we didn’t think about it again. Those same red spots didn’t reoccur until this June. When Lexie came back from a backyard Bbile camp at a neighbor’s house her legs were covered in red spots again. We thought it might be because they were outside (she is allergic to grass) or possibly something in their house. This time the red spots didn’t go away as fast. In fact, almost two weeks later, they were still looking bad, so we made an appointment with the allergist.

The allergist took one look at them and decided we need to use an oral steroid to clear them up. She also prescribed an antibiotic. It took a good 6-7 days before the spots cleared up.

All seemed good until a Friday morning in July. I recall that on Thursday night Lexie’s eczema on her legs was flaring, and I told my husband that we would need to watch it. Friday morning we were bowling. At the alley, I looked at her legs. They were covered in red spots. This time it wasn’t just her legs but also her bottom too. By Saturday, she had them on her arms, back and face.

We tried treating them with the prescription hydrocortisone medicine the dermatologist had prescribed for her eczema and used antihistamines prescribed by the allergist. Lexie wasn’t really uncomfortable but her legs especially looked horrible, so we decided to take her to the doctor on Monday.

CIMG1959At our pediatrician’s office, you can get same-day  appointments, but you rarely see your doctor. Many of the other doctors know Lexie, but we ended up with a doctor we had not seen before. By the time we had made the appointment, I had already spent time sitting down and trying to recreate where we had been the few days before each instance. It was then I found the connection – the bowling alley. We had gone there the morning of Backyard Bible Camp. I first noticed the spots this time at the bowling alley. Even the spots we saw last year might be from our trip to the bowling alley because we had gone around then.

I don’t know if it is the disinfectant on the shoes, what they clean the alley with, floor treatment or what, but I feel certain that it is something at the bowling alley causing these outbreaks. The doctor agreed that it was probably allergies. When I said I had taken her to the allergist last time it happened he asked if they had diagnosed what she was allergic to. Obviously, he doesn’t know Lexie.  When he heard about her allergies, he asked if she ate anything that day at the bowling alley. She had pretzels from home. Of course, she tested allergic to wheat, so he thinks that it could have been that she had TOO many pretzels. Yeah. Right. She eats pretzels almost every day. Why hadn’t she broken out in the past 532 days of pretzel eating? He talked about body thresholds and allergies which I already know just through my own experiences with her. She can eat a little of some items, but if she eats too much, then she does itch. But this was the only food she had had that morning. And since the last incident happened at the bowling alley (without pretzels) I am sure it is something there.

He prescribed oral steroids and another ointment to try on the spots. After six days, the spots faded. He didn’t prescribe an antibiotic, and I wish he had. Whenever she scratches a lot, infections generally occur, and she did develop one on her leg.

So now we have resolved that we just won’t go bowling – or at least not this summer. The doctor had suggested some precautions – wearing long pants, taking steroids before we go, wiping down anything she might touch with Clorox wipes and bringing a blanket for her to sit on – before we go bowling again, but I don’t think I want to take the risk.

The hardest thing is everyone seems to think that finding out what caused an allergic reaction should be easy. But it isn’t. The allergist knows this. Tons of articles online reiterate this point. But some doctors, friends and family all seem to think that it should be easy to discover. You come in contact with so many different substances in the day, how do you narrow down what caused the reaction, especially when the reaction can happen minutes or even hours later? All of her food allergies usually happen within 30 minutes but none so far have happened instantly.