After 20 years of putting up with incredibly itchy patches on my left buttock and, in the last 18 months, my elbows too, I’ve discovered this week what it is all about.
Really? Shouldn’t I be suffering with diarrhoea, losing weight and malnourished? Apparently not.
These most irritating of outbreaks which make me pretty ratty and leave red scars on my bum cheek (hence the modelling career is over!) are an auto-immune response to me eating gluten, and it not agreeing with me. Why it wasn’t discovered some 20 years ago when I first got it is a mystery, but it would appear it’s pretty unusual and easily mistaken for other skin complaints. Oh! and it’s usually men who get it.
It’s called dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) and has been coined “one of the itchiest skin conditions you can experience”. Yep, I’ll vouch for that. I’ve made my skin bleed from scratching the damn things and walking around literally scratching your arse cheek or your elbows ain’t pretty or ladylike!
I discovered this revelation by chance. I was reading the very wonderful book called ‘Wheat Belly’ by Dr William Davis. I was already wheat free (generally) and was catching up on the new research into the problems linked with gluten intolerance. The section on skin complaints was right at the back, (you know, when you start to skip bits just so you can finish it?!) And I was stopped in my tracks by the description of my problem. So clear and concise that there was no doubt. But a coeliac? I could understand gluten intolerant I had already suspected I was, but coeliac?
It appears that if you have this condition you will have coeliac disease. However you won’t necessarily get this condition if you have coeliac disease. I could get it tested for confirmation, but I need to be eating a gluten full diet for the skin biopsy to be effective and quite frankly after the horrendous outbreak I’ve had since having just half a bottle of beer and some oats last week I am not doing that. It seems pretty clear to me that I have it.
The more I read about dermatitis herpetiformis (DH), the more I see that I have suffered with this since I was a child. Despite the recognisable symptoms of coeliac disease of diarrhoea and weight loss, I’ve had the opposite problem for as long as I can remember. That’s another clue.
Bloating, abdominal discomfort, extreme tiredness and itchiness when eating wheat or gluten foods. Yep, that’ll be me too.
So what does this mean?
Well it means no sneaky Cornish Pasty Co. pasties anymore :-). It also means much more label reading. For me to get rid of this ruddy awful DH condition I need to go gluten free. Maybe for as long as 4 years before it stops reoccurring. And then of course, keep that up for fear of reigniting the flame again. I’ll definitely need to get my gut healthy again and that is going to take some time too.
I now feel so pleased I KNOW WHAT IT IS! I am on a mission for gluten free food freedom! As you know I love to cook and bake and eat well. So this is a foodies dream really. It also ties in beautifully with the eating plan at Fit Camp and my love of all things health through nutrition. So watch this space.
You are about to witness a slow but sure return to a healthy functioning digestive system. A clearing up of itchy elbows and scratchy buttock cheeks and a range of new recipes to keep me happy in the kitchen.
So today…a vehicle for butter or cheese or toasting…a peanut butter and almond bread. It was divine!
If you are interested in my next and new dietary journey, follow me as I undertake to improve my health beyond anything I’ve experienced before. How exciting!
If you are interested in good health and nutrition please come along to my next talk
“Is your food healing or harming you? - The simple guide to feel-good eating.”
on Wednesday 22 May 14.00 at Wokingham Library.