Joyce didn’t think too often about eczema, the scourge of her youth, anymore. That is just how it is when something that once ruled your life is long gone, you rarely think about it. But the magazine article brought it all back, the discomfort and often pain, embarrassment,  and the never ending search for the right product that would help. Joyce remembered as a child going to her mother’s dermatologist, yes, Joyce’s mom also had eczema.

Hard to believe today, but those many years ago the dermatologist had Joyce, in her pre-teen years start on Valium for her condition. And on Valium she stayed for many years, until she and her mother finally received relief with the new wonder drug cortisone. And that is what Joyce and her mom believed for many years, that they would have to use gentle scent free cleansers, special moisturizers, oatmeal baths and of course the powerful cortisone.

Now the magazine article brought it all rushing back, and the crushing news that they estimated there are 30 million people still suffering. And the heartbreak that many of them are children. Joyce remembered how it was to suffer from that itch that couldn’t be stopped. She hadn’t found her cure until she was an adult and her mom was in a nursing home.

Joyce had started to reading about food intolerance’s and decided  to eliminate some food items and see how she felt. When she eliminated all citrus fruit from her diet, to her great surprise her skin stopped itching. She had always loved citrus, especially oranges. Her mom had always made sure that she had oranges and grapefruit available for her family, while Joyce was growing up. Joyce had continued that tradition with her own family, fortunately her daughters didn’t take after her the way she had taken after her mother.

Joyce couldn’t believe it, that after all those years, it had always been oranges? So, Joyce experimented by re-introducing small amounts of citrus fruit back into her diet. She soon found that she could tolerate lemons but even the smallest amount of oranges or grapefruit brought her skin condition roaring back.

Joyce arranged meetings at her mother’s nursing home with the dietitian and nursing director. She impressed upon them the seriousness of restricting her mother’s diet and removing any citrus products. Over the next weeks seeing the red angry spots on her mother’s arms disappear and her no longer stressed by that constant itch was such a relief.

For those 30 million still suffering, the answer may not be citrus, but most likely the cause is lurking in the kitchen. And the cure won’t be found in a pill or lotion just as it wasn’t for Joyce.

Virginia Garberding RN

Certified in Gerontology and Restorative Nursing