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I’m Doing My First Whole30

I’ve been hinting towards a nutritional clean up for the past few days and I finally have time to sit down and share with you the details. I’m currently on day four of my first Whole30.

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First, let’s quickly go over what Whole30 is for those who are unfamiliar.

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The Whole30 program was created in 2009 by Melissa and Dallasย Hartwig. It is explained in detail in their book, It Starts with Food.

It’s a 30-day program in which you remove food groups that have been shown to have negative or inflammatory impacts on the body. The idea is that by stripping them from your diet completely, you are able to let your body heal and reset. After the 30-day period, you go through a re-introduction phase in which you test the foods groups that were introduced one-by-one to really understand how they effect your body.

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So why’s the girl who has made a name for herself in healthy living blogging by eating all the foods doing a 30-day program that restricts food groups?

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My main motivation is to heal my eyes. I haven’t shared this on my blog because I was hoping to discover a miracle cure to share on the internet (which I haven’t…yet), but I have been dealing with eyelid dermatitis/eczema for two years now. It started on a tiny corner of one eye and has spread over the past two years to cover both eyes and has worsened in severity.

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My eyes fluctuate between two states. Red, itchy and burning or dry and flaking. It’s TERRIBLE. I’ve tried everything from switching face products to switching makeup to going without eye makeup. I’ve bought ointments, creams and tried home treatments like essential oils and coconut oil. NOTHING WORKS.

I finally broke down and went to see the dermatologist about 2 weeks ago because I was in so much pain. My eyes bothered me constantly…morning, day and night. I knew from tons of reading online that he would prescribe a steroid cream to me, and he did. I am grateful because they cleared up in two days and I got some relief but it’s already coming back. The last thing I want to do is get in a cycle of using steroid cream on my eyes because it’s thinning and damaging to the skin with long-term use.

My dermatologist told me that my inflammation was either caused by an environmental allergen or something systemic. Since nothing has worked yet with removing various products from my routine, I decided it was time for Whole30. It has a wonderful reputation for healing inflammation in the body.

I wanted to start the program back in November when I was at the end of my rope but figured I would be setting myself up for failure if I did so during the holidays. I also thought I might have some company if I waited until January 1 (I was right) so I held off. And let’s face it…I could certainly stand to lay off the sugar and booze after the holidays.

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I’m currently Whole30ing with my BFF, fiance and 20 of our other friends, students and clients. I can’t tell you how wonderful it’s been to have the energy and support of a group!

For those of you seeking more details on the program rules.

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You eat vegetables, fruit, protein and fats for 30 days. You skip sugar, grains, legumes, dairy and alcohol.

I wholeheartedly believe that food is medicine and plays a huge part in how we feel and how our bodies perform. Please note that I am not prescribing this as a blanket fix for everyone nor do I think that it’s something everyone should do but I do recommend checking out the book if you’re curious. It’s packed with great information. I wouldn’t do the program without the knowledge of what’s in the book first. I will be sharing my eats per usual during Whole30 but in more detail so others can get ideas and inspiration. I’ll also be sharing some non-program recipes and food products with you too so don’t worry, it won’t be all Whole30 over here for the month of January.

Please let me know if you have ANY questions. I’ll be back tomorrow with an overview of days 1-4.

Have you ever tried Whole30?

Has anyone else dealt with this type of dermatitis? Any advice?

{ 102 comments… add one }
  • 1
    Meredith @ Cookie ChRUNicles January 5, 2016, 5:52 pm

    I had that problem with my eyelids! Always in the winter! I finally got rid of it and it never came back when I switched to a vegetarian diet. I had no idea at the time that my diet change would fix that but it did. It was fascinating to me. My eyelids healing for good combined with no more seasonal allergies is why I will stay meatless. It’s just crazy how what we eat can affect us.

    • 2
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 11:30 am

      hi meredith – wow, i’m so happy to hear that you were able to beat the issue through diet…especially a vegetarian one. thank you!

  • 3
    Liz January 5, 2016, 5:56 pm

    Sorry you’ve been dealing with a painful skin issue:(
    I am on day 3 of my second whole30 (first was in July). I loved that it increased my energy levels and decreased my anxiety. My complexion improved and it’s true that starving the sugar dragon really works! I identified dairy as the worst for my skin.
    The blog/podcast “Harder to kill” just posted about a histamine intolerance with symptoms that sound a bit similar to yours

    • 4
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 11:32 am

      hey liz, i’m excited to hear about your decreased anxiety. was it an overall decrease or specific to food? thanks for the podcast rec. i will check it out.

      • 5
        Sara January 6, 2016, 4:43 pm

        I totally agree that food is linked to anxiety, at least for some people. I’ve been doing The Virgin Diet (another elimination diet that’s meant to illuminate food allergies) for several months now (I’m allergic to soy, dairy, eggs, and gluten), but fell off during the second half of December. I didn’t even eat as badly as I otherwise would have, but I was SO anxious and depressed and exhausted and just in a funk the entire time. I’ve been back to clean eating since January 1 and feel almost back to my old self. Good luck to everyone doing their own elimination diets this month!

  • 6
    Chrissie January 5, 2016, 6:00 pm

    I’m on day 2 of my first Whole30…I like starting things on Mondays ๐Ÿ™‚ I have the worst headache ever! I hear that’s normal, but I can’t wait to get through this part. I’m excited to see some of your recipes…i have a feeling I’ll need to start getting creative and trying new recipes soon!

    • 7
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 11:33 am

      so excited that we are so close to each other! keep me posted on how it goes for you. several people in our group had the headache the first couple of days. i’ll definitely be posting lots of food ideas.

  • 8
    Hillary | Nutrition Nut on the Run January 5, 2016, 6:02 pm

    Jen, oh my goodness. I had no idea about your eyelids. In all of your skincare/facial posts, your skin is absolutely glowing/flawless.

    I am having this exact same issue!! It is really new to me, maybe 6 weeks or so. It is mostly in my eyebrows (weird!), but around my eyes, too.

    Thank you so much for sharing this post. I will be really interested to hear how the Whole30 effects your skin/eyes.

    Keep me posted – thanks again!

    • 9
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 11:35 am

      hey hillary – yeah, it hasn’t been comfortable to say the least. i kept thinking i could get it under control but no luck so it was time to take more action. i’m sorry to hear you have it too. i will keep you guys posted.

  • 11
    Hilary January 5, 2016, 6:20 pm

    I read the book It Starts With Food and it really was eye opening! I really feel like this is such a great thing to experiment with if you are having issues like that, I have considered trying it out to help with headaches I have been having to see if it has something to do with food allergies I am experiencing! Can’t wait to read your journey through it!

    • 12
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 11:36 am

      i found the book eye opening as well. i think it’s a great reset and back to basics for many people on many levels!

  • 13
    Kelsie January 5, 2016, 6:37 pm

    I am so excited to see that you are doing this! I started yesterday. Please post foodie posts!

    • 14
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 11:37 am

      good luck on your whole30! i posted days 1-4 today with all the food photos.

  • 15
    Danielle DeJong January 5, 2016, 7:11 pm

    Just had to drop in to say I so empathize with the frustration and discomfort of dealing with a skin issue like that! Last fall I started developing a mysterious bright red rash that wrapped all the way around the skin around my lips (think a 1-inch border)– it would heal briefly and then recur over and over again– stinging, burning, flaking, painful and it looked HORRIBLE. I would stand in the shower and cry and it got to the point where I was feeling desperate and just short of a breakdown. Two docs diagnosed it as “contact dermatitis” but couldn’t figure out the cause. My naturopath had me stop any and all products and wash my face with nothing but warm water, moisturizing with nothing but high quality coconut oil- it was humbling to say the least. I have slowly shifted to a green/non-toxic skin care and makeup routine over the past 5 yrs so all the regular toxins/irritants were non-issues. It eventually went away and I ultimately chalked it up to the intense stress of being in grad school… until it returned again just this December months after I had graduated, moved to Charlotte, and was very happy and un-stressed. I only just got it to heal this week and my best guess for the irritant is the beeswax in some of my skincare products and/or the essential oils in my chapstick– both are ingredients that I have learned you can become “sensitized” to even if they’ve never been a problem before. I too resorted to a prescription steroid for a couple days but stopped it as soon as I could tell I had turned the corner. Now just getting the dryness to heal with a combination of coconut oil and Derma-E “Psorzema Cream” that I picked up at Healthy Home Market. I already eat mostly paleo and my naturopath did a food allergy test this spring which ruled out any allergies so I’m hoping I’ve got this nailed down now. I hope you enjoy your month of Whole 30 and get some answers for your skin- I know that can feel really discouraging not to mention so distracting and uncomfortable! <3

    • 16
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 11:41 am

      Wow, I’m so sorry to hear about your struggles Danielle. I can totally relate to the frustration of not knowing what’s going on with your body. I go through all of those same cycles and it drives me crazy…and it’s so uncomfortable! Thanks for sharing your process for healing and I hope you can keep it under control.

      Side note…how are you liking Charlotte?

  • 17
    Melissa January 5, 2016, 7:22 pm

    I had similar eye lid problem. Both my eye DR and dermatologist said it was eczema & to use Aquafor ointment. I use it after I wash my face 2 times a day. Also derm prescribed face lotion with only few ingredients. I was allergic to mascara, eye makeup, lotions. I do agree diet could be contributing to the problem.

    • 18
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 11:43 am

      I use Aquaphor allll the time. That stuff is seriously magical.

  • 19
    Amanda January 5, 2016, 7:41 pm

    I’ve had eczema my whole life… Years of dermatologists and steroid creams didn’t help, and I noticed my skin thinning. After a particularly bad flare up, my GP recommended another allergy test (I’d had one roughly 12 years before) and long story short, turns out I am gluten intolerant AND allergic to peanuts. Staying away from those has been an absolute life changer! I can tell a difference not only in my eczema, but also in my sleep and running performance! I hope Whole30 helps you!

    • 20
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 11:43 am

      This is encouraging. Thank you Amanda. I have to believe that there’s a non-steroidal fix out there.

  • 21
    Laura January 5, 2016, 7:59 pm

    I’m so excited to hear you are doing a Whole30! I just started my third yesterday. It was an eye-opening experience for me. I’ve followed your blog for years, and have always respected your recipes, so I look forward to the compliant meals you’ll be cooking up!

    By the way, your 3 Ingredient Pot Roast is one of my Whole30 standards. I am extra lazy and make it in the crock pot. It also freezes well for a great emergency Whole30 protein.

    • 22
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 11:45 am

      Wow, your third! Can you tell me a little about how you have been eating between them?

      Thanks so much for the kind words about my recipes and for following! <3

  • 23
    Amy January 5, 2016, 8:13 pm

    I was having a similar issue on my eyebrows! It was so itchy and painful, I had an esthetician tell me it was likely an environmental irritant. Anyways, numerous creams/ointment weeks later and I switched Grateful Body products, specifically to their extra gentle cleanser and extra gentle moisturizer and their moisture monsoon booster. I noticed reduced itching with the extra gentle line immediately but when I added the moisture monsoon within a few days the flaky/redness started healing and the pain/itching started to decline. I still have one or two bumps left, but I am hopeful that they will heal and disappear with all the others. Hope you can find relief soon!
    http://gratefulbody.com/ (I am not affiliated with the company in any way, just loved the product!)

    • 24
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 11:47 am

      Thank you for sharing! Always on the lookout for new products to help.

  • 25
    Elisse January 5, 2016, 8:15 pm

    Jen! I finally went to the doctor last week because of the red bumps around my eyes and on my eyelids. Sure enough, it is dermatitis. My doctor prescribed me a steroid cream as well but also encouraged me to try an elimination diet. I was already planning to give up alcohol for January, but I am also emitting gluten and sugar now.

    It’s amazing that you have a community to share this adventure! I think I would feel way better about doing Whole 30 if I had a crew to encourage and support each other. Way to go! I’m curious to see how your eyes do with the change.

    Best of luck and Happy New Year ๐Ÿ™‚

    • 26
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 11:48 am

      Maybe we can do a blog group Whole30 sometime in the new future? Might be fun!

  • 27
    Jill January 5, 2016, 8:24 pm

    I have seborrheic dermatitis, which is similar, on my nose & scalp. For my nose, I was desperate & tried a steroid too. Ultimately I found puremedy eczema & psoriasis free ointment that has really worked for me. Hope you find something that helps. I know how miserable it is!

    • 28
      Nicki January 6, 2016, 12:09 am

      Have you found anything that helps the seborrheic dermatitis on your scalp? I have that, too, and after so many years of trial and error between shampoos, ointments, oils, etc – nothing seems to keep it under control!

      • 29
        Jill January 6, 2016, 8:19 am

        This hasn’t “cured” my scalp, but it has helped me so much. I also recently got a scalp brush, so I use that in the shower after I put this on. I haven’t tried ACV yet, but I’ve heard that can be helpful too. You just dilute ACV with water & put it on your scalp (using a hair coloring type bottle) and let it sit for a while before rinsing it out. Good luck!! http://www.amazon.com/Home-Health-Psoriasis-Medicated-Scalp/dp/B0019LRDSQ

    • 30
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 11:49 am

      Thank you so much for the recommendation Jill. I appreciate any and all product recs.

  • 31
    Holly January 5, 2016, 8:49 pm

    I’m also on day 4 of my 2nd W30. So happy to follow along with you!

    • 32
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 11:50 am

      YAY! I’m so excited we’re on the same track! Keep me posted on how you’re feeling and doing!

  • 33
    Ana January 5, 2016, 9:06 pm

    I have that exact dermatitis/eczema. Mine flares if my gut health is a little wacky. Look into the candida diet and supplementation. Not all doctors believe that candida imbalance is connected to skin health but I’ve seen a pretty convincing pattern in my own life. My maintenance is a low sugar diet (i still eat sweets occasionally!), oil of oregano pills and caprylic acid pills daily, and an Apple cider vinegar drink as needed. On super dry and cold days, I do cortisone cream (otc) with aquaphor on top at night before bed. It seems like my eyelids are healthy when my gut is healthy (bonus when my gut is healthy: my skin is clearer, dark circles improve, and belly bloat is gone and digestion is normal). Email me if you want to discuss! I know it’s painful and exhausting!

    • 34
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 11:52 am

      Hey Ana, I’m so sorry to hear that this is something you struggle with as well. This is really, really helpful and I hadn’t even thought of the candida angle. Thank you! I will definitely reach out if I have questions/things don’t improve.

  • 35
    Shannon January 5, 2016, 10:07 pm

    I’m on Day 2 of my first whole30! So far so good, I’ll be interested to see what the rest of the week brings.

    • 36
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 11:53 am

      keep me posted shannon! good luck!

  • 37
    Emily @ My Healthyish Life January 5, 2016, 10:12 pm

    Crazy that you posted this today! My post about doing Whole30 will publish next week but I’m talking a bit about health problems tomorrow. Will be following along with you!

    • 38
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 11:54 am

      Oh Emily, I’m so sorry to hear about your stomach pains and health problems. Here’s hoping that Whole30 helps.

  • 39
    Nicki January 6, 2016, 12:08 am

    Good luck with the Whole 30! I’ve got a few friends who are doing it again. I hope it heals your eyes! (I’ve got seborrheic dermatitis on my scalp, which has gotten worse since moving to Colorado a few months ago where it is VERY dry…)

    • 40
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 11:55 am

      thanks nicki! i hope it helps and hope you get some relief from your SD.

  • 41
    heather @ fit mama real food January 6, 2016, 12:13 am

    Food can definitely help with healing! I’m excited to hear about your journey and I hope it helps your eyelid eczema too. That sounds like no fun. Can’t wait to see your first few days of eats!

    • 42
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 11:56 am

      Thanks Heather, I’m excited to share my journey with you guys!

  • 43
    Rebecca January 6, 2016, 2:21 am

    My family and I are about to start a whole30 together. Looking forward to reading about your experience!

    • 44
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 11:57 am

      so wonderful that you’re doing this as a family!

  • 45
    natalie Homesley January 6, 2016, 7:11 am

    I have heard about how great this is. However my question is…what happens when you go back to eating normally(grains,dairy etc). Only reason I have not done it is because I viewed as a diet of sorts and hard to maintain forever. But maybe it’s a way of eating forever…seems hard.

    • 46
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 12:00 pm

      hey natalie! great question. there is a ton of information in the book about the reintroduction period. the idea is to give your body a 30 day break from these foods and then to reintroduce them slowly and one at a time to really understand how they effect you. i don’t think it necessarily is the right solution for everyone to eat like this forever but you can pinpoint if certain food groups really don’t work for you. i don’t think it’s a “diet” as much as a lifestyle if you stick with it long-term. much like deciding to be vegan or something like that.

  • 47
    Jessica January 6, 2016, 7:57 am

    i did WHOLE30 last march for the first time – i dont have any skin issues, but i have lower GI issues, and when i stayed away from dairy and wheat, i felt a lot better! it is difficult (for me) to do it all the time, but i definitely found some recipes that i love and continue to make, and will consider doing it again as a reboot!

    • 48
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 12:01 pm

      hey jessica! thank you so much for sharing about your whole30. i’m glad it helped with your lower GI issues and helped you pinpoint the triggers!

  • 49
    Jill January 6, 2016, 8:00 am

    I had the same issue with my eyelids to the point they would bleed. I started using cetaphil creme 2x a day for the last five years and never have any problem. I think it’s just dry skin. Try and see!

    • 50
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 12:02 pm

      hey jill – i’m so glad you got yours under control. luckily, i have had no bleeding. unfortunately for me no amount of cetaphil, aquaphor, coconut oil or other moisturizers has helped my eyes. ๐Ÿ™

  • 51
    Joanna January 6, 2016, 8:59 am

    Hi there,
    I used to have HORRIBLE eczema on my arms, mainly while I was in college. When I started exercising more, sleeping better and drinking less alcohol, it basically cleared up on its own, so I’m totally convinced eczema is set off by something internal versus genetics. Def a great idea to try to limit certain foods and see what happens!

    • 52
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 12:03 pm

      SO happy to hear that a healthier lifestyle has helped your eczema!

  • 53
    Sarah January 6, 2016, 9:13 am

    So interesting that you posted this, Jen! I’m dealing with this same issue right now – I’ve had eczema since I was a kid but have only started dealing with the eyelid issues in recent years. I get flare ups every couple of months or so, and go through a cycle of eye doctor/dermo/prescription/a week with no makeup/etc. and it’ll clear up for a while but inevitably come back. I always thought makeup and sweat irritated my eyes (and other face skin) the most, so I’m super careful about showering ASAP after a workout and the products I use, but I’m so curious to learn how Whole 30 works for you!
    Keep us updated and thanks for sharing!

    • 54
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 12:04 pm

      i am so sorry that you are also experiencing this. it’s so uncomfortable and the cycle is crazy-making! i will definitely keep you updated on how whole30 helps.

  • 55
    Kelly January 6, 2016, 9:21 am

    On my third whole30, and on the same timeline as you. I am really excited to follow along! My biggest gripe is that I get bored with the food (I’m vegetarian). But the program is a real eye-opener.

    • 56
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 12:06 pm

      glad we are on the same timeline! are you doing the vegetarian version of whole30 with the few added things? hopefully i can help you with some food inspiration!

      • 57
        kelly January 6, 2016, 1:12 pm

        I am! Looking forward to your recipes for inspiration!

  • 58
    Alyssa January 6, 2016, 9:30 am

    I’ve had a similar issue, but with severe acne that has suddenly developed along my chin and jawline over the last 3-4 months. I’m on a journey to find out what’s causing it, rather than just a quick-fix from the dermatologist. Monday I met with an Allergist for a prick test and learned I’m allergic to many things — food and environmental! Today I’m going to get a thorough blood test for other food allergies. Hopefully removing those allergens from my diet and home will help, if not then I’ll be meeting with an endocrinologist to see if it’s hormone-related.

    I hope that you’re able to find the solution to your problem!

    • 59
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 12:07 pm

      hi alyssa – i’m so sorry about your acne. i have struggled on and off with deep, cystic hormonal acne on and off for years. it’s especially difficult to manage since i stopped taking hormonal birth control. getting on a very good, pharmaceutical grade skincare routine has been amazing for me. i hope that good skincare combined with dietary changes helps you.

  • 60
    tess January 6, 2016, 9:37 am

    WOAH. Thank you so much for posting about your atopic dermatitis on your eyelids. I have suffered with this for 3.5 years now, and the only thing that has gotten it under control has been alternating the steroid cream (topicort) with a short term use, and then long term use of protonic (very expensive prescribed cream that does not contain steroids, but still i don’t know if it’s good for years and years of use.)

    It is so frustrating and painful, and now that I am pregnant, I am not allowed to use my creams, so I am suffering so much daily from this. It makes me feel so ugly and old, too. ๐Ÿ™ It is so sad that there is no cure, and that doctors just keep prescribing these creams that can have damaging effects when used longterm, and don’t cure the disease, just stave off symptoms for a short period of time.

    I have not tried the Whole30. I am 10 years recovered from bulimia, but I am weary of elimination diets because of the triggering factor that restricting could have on my old ED. But, I will follow you closed and see how you react. Thank you SO MUCH for posting about this- I have been so upset about my eyes all morning. If the Whole30 teaches you something about your dermatitis, maybe I’ll be brave enough to try it.

    • 61
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 12:09 pm

      hey tess – i’m sorry that this is something that you also struggle with and that it’s worse now that you can’t use the creams you’re used to (but CONGRATS on your pregnancy!).

      i would encourage you to read the book it starts with food (or listen to it) because a lot of what they talk about is the psychological responses we have to food on so many levels and how to improve that.

  • 62
    Virginia January 6, 2016, 9:41 am

    I had a similar problem with my eyelids and after some quick testing, my dermatologist determined it was because of a nickel allergy. Most mascaras contain nickel and it was triggering the reaction. I get a similar reaction from cheap earrings (which also contain quite a bit of nickel). I also have seborrheic dermatitis and have found that Beautycounter products work well with my skin.

    • 63
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 12:11 pm

      hi virginia – i have thought about finding a non-nickel eyelash curler for this same reason. i’ve read that nickel is a common allergy.

  • 64
    Jessica January 6, 2016, 10:05 am

    It seems like everyone and their mother is doing Whole30. While most of the diet sounds good (removing sugar and alcohol), it is the meat consumption that wouldn’t work for me. I eat mostly vegetarian and taking out legumes and having animals as your only protein source is no good. I don’t see how meat (no matter how lean) isn’t considered inflammatory.

    • 65
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 12:17 pm

      there is a vegetarian variation of the whole30. you should check it out and see what you think. i firmly believe that what’s right for one is not right for all and i stated in this post that i am in no means promoting that everyone should do it. i ate a very heavy vegetarian diet for years in my mid-twenties and have felt so much better (everything from energy to digestion to workout recovery and less injuries) since i’ve reduced the amount of soy protein and legumes that i eat and included more high-quality animal protein. and who’s to know how that might evolve and change for me in the future? we are all so different.

  • 66
    Laura January 6, 2016, 10:07 am

    I’d say it is definitely diet, most likely inflammation caused by gluten/dairy. Do you read Wellness Mama? She has some great advise on home remedies: http://wellnessmama.com/12065/natural-eczema-remedies/

    I stick to a mostly gluten free/dairy free diet, but recently I’ve been trying to gain more muscle so I’ve done a macro approach and have added back in some grains and dairy. I’ve gained some muscle for sure, but my asthma has been a little worse, so it is back to gf/dairy free for me! Also probiotics really help–I take bio kult. Definitely let us know your progress!

    • 67
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 12:18 pm

      thanks for sharing the link! and i am so on and off with probiotics. i need to get back on it!

  • 68
    Susan Scarbrough January 6, 2016, 10:22 am

    I had/have that same condition. (Or at least, it sounds the same.) I went years trying to find out what was wrong, and just by accident/process of elimination, discovered that I am allergic to nail polish. It only affects the skin around my eyes. After more years, I realized that it is the toluene in the polish that I am allergic to. You don’t have to go polish free because there are polishes that do not have toluene in them. Hope this helps

    • 69
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 12:20 pm

      hey susan, yes on the nail polish! i have read so many things from derms who say keep your hands AWAY from your face for at least 6 hours to give it time to fully set and harden. apparently whatever causes the allergic reation goes away after it dries. what brands do you like that are free of toluene?

      • 70
        Susan Scarbrough January 7, 2016, 10:40 am

        My skin problems never went away until I completely took the polish off; in fact, it got progressively worse. That’s how I figured out what was going on!
        Manufacturers are always changing their formulas, so you have to read the labels. However, I think Revlon is toluene free and OPI used to be-not sure if it still is. I don’t wear polish anymore, so I’m not really current on polishes that don’t cause me problems. Gel seems to be ok though.

  • 71
    Amanda January 6, 2016, 10:41 am

    I started reading that book back during the summer and haven’t finished yet. I need to get on that because I’m really curious about Whole30. I think it would be helpful for me in several areas. I recently started couch to 5k and would love to up my game on eating healthier. Can’t wait to read your reports on your progress.

    • 72
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 12:21 pm

      i found the audiobook easier to get through! good luck on couch to 5K!

  • 73
    Leila January 6, 2016, 11:04 am

    I’m really looking forward to hearing how Whole30 goes for you!! Definitely please post updates on it!

    • 74
      Jen DeCurtins January 6, 2016, 12:22 pm

      i will! first post is up on days 1-4!

  • 75
    Teri | a foodie stays fit January 6, 2016, 12:59 pm

    I can’t WAIT to see how this goes for you. I’m having the EXACT same eye allergy issues. SUCKS.

    love ya!

  • 77
    DeeDee January 6, 2016, 1:35 pm

    I am also doing the whole30 this month. This is my first time, in the past having reset my eating habits by doing the 21 Day Sugar Detox program. I reaped a lot of benefits from 21DSD but really struggled with glycogen depletion during exercise–the most horrible feeling!–so I decided to try this instead. This is longer, but not as restrictive as 21DSD (you can have fruit, for instance) and so far I’m already feeling way better. Those holiday indulgences taste wonderful but have their price.

    I also had eczema–around my mouth and on my shins, of all places–for years. I combated it with daily hydrocortisone cream application, but if I forgot for a day or two it would come roaring back. It went away completely when I gave up wheat about five years ago. This wasn’t why I gave up wheat, there were a lot of other factors, but after few months wheat-free I realized I had not used the cream in months and the eczema was completely gone. A few days of indulging in wheat brings it back pretty quickly, on my shins first.

    Food affects everything. I try to remember that every time I pick up a fork. But…brownies! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • 78
    Annie B January 6, 2016, 2:43 pm

    I started on January 1, too! I’m loving this program, and it feels so refreshing to nourish my body so thoughtfully!

  • 79
    jodie January 6, 2016, 3:33 pm

    I had the same thing back 2012 , itchy, red and flaky and it also made my eyes swollen and puffy. I went to 3 docs before the right dermatologist prescribed the right ccream for me. Yes it too was a steroid cream . I used it for 2 weeks and it cleared it up.

  • 80
    Julie January 6, 2016, 4:22 pm

    Hi Jen, I’ve def been intrigued by the Whole 30 & am excited to read about your experience w/ it. Best of luck that you figure out what’s causing your eye inflamation. I am fascinated by the possibility that doing the Whole 30 will help you figure it out. It was smart to wait to start until after the holidays & is so great that your fiance & friends are doing it too. That should make it so much easier. Best of luck!

  • 81
    lindsay January 6, 2016, 6:53 pm

    Hi Jen, thanks for opening up about a problem on your blog – so refreshing. And a tip, I had something similar…I wash my eyelids and lashes with baby shampoo daily when I shower in the AM and the again when I wash my face at night. I wear only light mascara. It is manageable now. Good luck.

  • 82
    Katie H January 6, 2016, 8:23 pm

    Jen-
    I had a similar looking eye situation a few years ago and I tried all sorts of creams and prescriptions until finally an urgent care doctor prescribed allergy eye drops. Might be worth asking your doctor about if the Whole30 doesn’t solve the problem (but I hope it does!)

  • 83
    Stephanie January 6, 2016, 9:15 pm

    I ready just yesterday in the People’s Pharmacy column in the newspaper about someone who finally found the miracle cure to their eczema in a bottle of Selsun Blue. Might be worth Googling to see if there’s more info out there. I realize it’s a little crazy to be suggesting you apply shampoo to and around your eyes, but if it works…

    I look forward to reading about your Whole 30 experience!

  • 84
    tara January 7, 2016, 1:50 pm

    Just adding my experience here..
    one of the clues to my doctor to check me for celiac was i developed eczema. not on my eyes but some patches on arms, legs, and side of face like temple areas and had peeling nails, losing a small amount of hair, etc. i only had very very mild digestive issues so i never thought of it. once i stopped eating gluten eczema disappeared and has not been back once. nails stopped peeling, hair back to normal and my digestion is better. i dont wish giving up any food on anyone since its very hard but better to know and cure your ailments than to not ! another side note i had an eye reaction while on vacation (swelling, redness mostly) and it turned out my doc thinks it was from shampoo i used at the hotel. all other items were my normal items so fairly confident it was shampoo. seemed odd to me but it does run near your eyes when you rinse i guess. I’m sure you have already tried switching hair products but just thought i would mention for anyone else. Best of luck with whole30 !

  • 85
    Lindsay January 7, 2016, 11:38 pm

    Good luck with your Whole30, you seem to be off to a great start! Though I haven’t completed a Whole30, I have experienced the eye issue that you’re dealing with. For me, it helps if I regularly take an oral antihistamine at night before bed (Costco brand Zyrtec does the trick for me). Also, if I notice an eczema flare-up coming on, as controversial as it is, sometimes just a few (3-5) minutes of indoor tanning will do the trick. Finally, Dermalogica eye cream seems to help keep it at bay, and if I do seem to have a lingering issue, I’ll use a topical cortisone with aloe for just a couple of days until it resolves. I know that that the tanning sounds extreme, but I also know how desperate of a feeling it can be when suffering from chronic skin conditions, so for me a few minutes of indoor tanning once or twice a year is warranted.

    • 86
      Jen DeCurtins January 8, 2016, 8:14 am

      Thanks Lindsay, this advice is helpful, especially the part about the oral antihistamine and the tanning is interesting.

  • 87
    Lauren January 8, 2016, 5:13 am

    I have suffered with bad eye eczema previously too, it is horrible! I find the only thing that helped mine heal was a cream called manuka honey rescue cream by dr organic (http://www.drorganic.co.uk/honey-products.asp). It is the only thing that has ever worked and if I get a flare up which is usually triggered by stress or eating lots of gluten, it really helps alleviate the symptoms until I come back into balance. Worth a shot! I too am also embarking on a whole 30 starting Sunday to get back to basics and help heal my gut ๐Ÿ™‚ I look forward to following your journey with it and I hope that your eyes get better!

    • 88
      Jen DeCurtins January 8, 2016, 8:13 am

      I have been used that for a couple months before finally going to doctor and it didn’t work for me. ๐Ÿ™ Hopefully I can find what the trigger is and get back to basics.

      • 89
        Lauren January 10, 2016, 1:39 am

        Oh no! Fingers crossed this experiment will help you with finding the trigger! Xx

  • 90
    Lauren January 8, 2016, 11:08 pm

    Jen, have you tried being on a high quality probiotic, with guaranteed live delivery to the gut? What about your cleaners and laundry detergent? Are they truly non toxic? Also, have you tried pharmaceutical grade, ultra pure fish oil? I have a friend whose son had horrible eczema and she tried SO many different things, none of them worked. She finally found a solution for him with Shaklee supplements and cleaners…this is just one story out of so many I’d be happy to pass along. I help many people find natural solutions to their health problems, let me know if you’d like me to email you more information! Hope you get to feeling your best soon!

  • 91
    Kendra January 9, 2016, 10:56 pm

    Love your blog. I suffered from what looks and sounds like the same eczema off and on for 7 years. After years of steroid cream and believing it was certain make up products I finally took a food allergy test since it had been ten years. $2,000 later(yikes) I did find out I’m pretty allergic to almonds and hazelnuts. I literally ate almonds three times a day. I’m 100% healed now cutting out those two nuts. Your whole 30 sounds like a great way to investigate. I hope you find the answer and it’s not one of your favorite foods!

  • 92
    Mary Beth January 11, 2016, 10:25 pm

    Hey Jen, my mom used to struggle with horrible eczema all over, and it started around her eyes too. She tried everything (even humors shots) with no relief. Then, on a whim and as a last ditch effort, she started taking daily vitamin D. The results were dramatic and quick- not completely gone forever but very significantly improved. I have a tiny bit around my eyes too, which flares up when I skip a few days of vitamin D. It may be worth a try! It seems like lots of people who commented suffer from it too! And from what my nutritionist says, we can all benefit from some extra vitamin D! I take 2000 IUs.

  • 93
    Leslie January 14, 2016, 11:36 am

    Whole30 is such a game changer for skin issues!! I have had Granuloma annulare (GA) since high school – it looks very similar to Psoriasis. After doing Whole30, my skin was the clearest it’s ever been. Good luck and I hope it works for you!

  • 94
    Kaleigh Jones February 1, 2016, 1:43 am

    Hello Jen –

    I think you may have periocular dermatitis. I suffered from it for years before finally receiving a correct diagnosis. Started with a breakout in one corner of my eye and eventually spread throughout both upper eyelids, even under my nostril (perinasal dermatitis). Very painful, red, swelling, bumpy, itchy, flaky.

    At first an RN was quick to use the “contact dermatitis” catch-all and prescribe me with a topical steroid cream. The rash would disappear for a few days only to reappear with a vengeance. I eventually met with my primary care physician who correctly diagnosed me and said steroids (like accidental eyelid contact with a cortisone cream) were likely the cause of my rash in the first place. He put me on 90 days of a strong antibiotic and the problem completely went away. Its been 4 years cured….until I started Whole30. I am currently 20 days through and the rash reappeared last week. Still trying to look into the cause of the relapse.

    But I strongly encourage you look into periorificial dermatitis, especially if the description below sounds familiar. Best of luck!
    “Patient history commonly involves the use of topical corticosteroids. In some cases, patients may report a history of a mild facial rash medicated with moderately potent topical corticosteroids. While the use of these medications may provide transient relief, discontinuation is often accompanied by flare-ups of the rash. POD often follows a chronic, fluctuating course and may be exacerbated by overuse of moisturizers, cosmetics, and topical creams.”

    http://dermnetnz.mobify.me/acne/perioral-dermatitis.html

    http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/719639_3

  • 95
    Rachel February 2, 2016, 10:27 pm

    Thank you for your posts! I love seeing the pics of your food and how you prepare. I am about to start the Whole 30. I have read the book, but it seemed overwhelming – until I saw your post. I am going to replicate exactly as you have done it. THANK YOU!

    • 96
      Jen DeCurtins February 3, 2016, 11:17 am

      Don’t be overwhelmed! You’ll do great! Let me know if you have any questions or if you need support.

  • 97
    Nikki March 4, 2016, 11:40 am

    My mother was recently diagnosed with a very rare form of dermatitis( both her hands/feet crack, peel, and bleed. It is extremely painful and heartbreaking for me as she is pretty young and active. It was causing pain just to walk or open things.)She was also diagnosed with something called “lichens sclerosis”. After countless appointments with a specialist(s) and trying steroid injections, oral medications, a $350 medicated hand cream, she decided to do some intense research on her own. She identified an “emu cream” and I can’t tell you how amazed I am with her results. Even the specialist was amazed. It is not the cheapest $50 for a small container but I was so impressed and shocked. I have to say…..I have even considered purchasing this for my winter dry skin. If you get a moment I would try to research it a little.

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