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Hello! I am a 19 year old Portuguese female. After suffering for so long in my condition (2 years now) without any proper diagnosis from my dermatologist or allergy doctor, I decided to search some forums, hoping of finding someone that is going or that went through the same as I’m going through or that could help me in any way. I apologize in advance for such a long text but I wanted to write down all the details and there are many variables to consider.
Talking about the before and after, connecting to my actual condition:
— Before —
When I was 13 I went to a gynecologist to be prescribed a birth control pill to shorten my menstruation cycles, which were long and with a heavy flow. The doctor prescribed me Valette which I began taking and continued taking for another 3 years without having any side effects.
Information about Valette:
- Active substances: 2 mg of Dienogest + 0,030 mg of Etinilestradiol;
- Excipients: lactose monohydrate, corn starch, maltodextrin, magnesium stearate, sucrose, liquid glucose, calcium carbonate, povidone K 25, macrogol 35000, carnauba wax, titanium dioxide (E 171).
— After —
These are the symptoms that I’ve experienced through the years, even before the period of 2 years that I want to focus on (2013-2015). I don’t know what caused them or what is causing them in the present, I only have guesses.
When I was 15/16 (2011), out of nowhere, my skin began to feel and appear very dry and flaky in my abdominal area, my chest, my back and my armpits. Specifically in my armpits it would be very flaky and tiny parts of skin would fall off. I tried to moisturize the areas many times but it wouldn’t do anything, the skin would still feel and look the same. I went to a dermatologist (not my current one) and I was diagnosed with atopic skin, which kind of shocked me in some way because I never had problems with my skin before, even though I’m pale. The doctor prescribed me two different thick and sticky balms to moisturize the areas. I used them for 3 weeks and nothing changed. Eventually, I was fed up, stopped using them and decided to just get used to the dryness. Meanwhile, a month passed and without me doing anything the flakiness and dryness completely disappeared and the skin was back to normal.
A few months later the skin had a second episode and did the exact same thing on the same areas and then the reaction would disappear again.
Moving forward in time, this happened on August 2013. I was sleeping in a house with some friends. I wake up the next day with a strange red hive on my upper leg. At first I thought that it was a mosquito bite because it was very itchy, so I didn’t make much of it. I went home and throughout that day it got progressively worse, with more small red hives appearing all over my body. I had an uncontrollable itching sensation, it was horrible. My father, who is a veterinarian, thought that I had scabies. After a week or two the sensation went away and the hives disappeared. It could have been an allergic reaction to a flea bite or maybe another thing related to my condition now.
This was a month later, on September 2013, when I moved to another city to go to college. I started having this extreme allergic reaction which consisted on many distributed small red hives all over my body that were very itchy, the same episode that happened on August. It was unbearable. I felt like cutting my whole skin off just to stop the itchiness. It wouldn’t let me concentrate or do anything. In addition to this I started having mild acne on my face which I never had, I always have had the clearest skin. I booked a medical appointment with my first allergy doctor (now current) to see what was going on but the waiting list was almost 3 months. Between that time I started taking Atarax (100 mg of hydroxyzine) everyday so I could be able to go to class and pay attention. During this time I also felt very weak, like my immune system wasn’t working properly.
Finally, I have my consultation on December 2013. I explained all of my symptoms, on which the doctor told me to draw some blood so that they could do some 1. Hematology, 2. Immunology and 3. Allergy tests, and prescribed me another antihistamine to take when I felt like I was having a big reaction. I also talked about my concerns about the birth control pill, on which she agreed with me on being a possible cause to my allergic reactions. She told me to stop taking it and to go talk to my gynecologist to change to a new one, just in case. I drew some blood on the same day, waited for the results and a few days later when I read them, to my surprise, everything was normal:
1. Erythrogram and Leucogram levels were normal;
2. IgE was 2.9 UI/mL and the reference value is < 87.0;
3. The results were negative to all tested allergies (which were eggs, milk, codfish, wheat, peanuts, soy beans, mites (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus), dust mites (Dermatophagoides farinae), storage mites (Lepidoglyphus destructor), dandruff and cat dander, orchard grass (Dactylis glomerata), spreading pellitory (Parietaria judaica) and olive tree (Olea europaea)).
Meanwhile I had an appointment with my gynecologist, which resulted in changing my birth control pill to Zoely, which I started taking. This one has two types of pills: the white ones that are the actual birth control pills and the yellow ones that are placebo.
Information about Zoely:
- Active substances
For the white pills: 2,5 mg of Nomegestrol acetate + 1,5 mg of Estradiol (hemihydrate);
For the yellow pills: no active substances.
For the white pills: lactose monohydrate, microcrystalline cellulose (E460), crospovidone (E1201), talc (E553b), magnesium stearate (E572), colloidal anhydrous silica, polyvinyl alcohol (E1203), titanium dioxide (E171), macrogol 3350;
For the yellow pills: everything exactly the same as said above with the addition of yellow iron oxide (E172) and black iron oxide (E172).
I began taking Zoely and everything was fine, I actually felt better. A few months later I started experiencing the same allergic reaction as before (small red hives and itching). I immediately thought about the birth control pill. I went to the doctor again on August 2014 and this time I drew some blood for a full exam (1. Hematology, 2. Biochemistry, 3. Endocrinology and 4. Infectious Diseases), plus a test to my hormonal levels. Waited for the results and everything was normal except my hormonal levels on two specific things:
17-Hydroxyprogesterone was 12.10 ng/mL and the reference value is < 3.0;
17-Beta Estradiol was 270.8 pg/mL and the reference value is < 238.4.
As you can see, these values are extremely high. After this, I went to my allergy doctor and she told me to stop taking the birth control pills during 6 months so that I could do another blood test to my hormones.
The following 6 months my acne got worse, I lost weight and I still got small hives here and there and some itching, some days more than others. Meanwhile, I went to my dermatologist to see if we could do something about my acne and she prescribed me, firstly, two gel substances (Epiduo and another thing that I don’t remember) which I reacted badly to (my face got all red like it was burned), and secondly, Zithromax (antibiotic) and Isotretinoin. In the course of 4 days I took 2 pills of Zithromax and 2 of Isotretinoin, which resulted in an extreme allergic reaction like the ones that I had on September 2013. I instantly stopped taking these pills.
Information about Zithromax:
- Active substances: 500 mg of Azithromycin;
- Excipients: pregelatinized starch, calcium hydrogen phosphate, croscarmellose sodium, magnesium stearate, sodium lauryl sulfate, white Opadry II (Y-30-18037), lactose, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, triacetin and titanium dioxide (E171).
Information about Isotretinoin:
- Active substances: 10 mg of Isotretinoin;
- Excipients: soy oil, DL-alpha-tocopherol, disodium edetate, butylated hydroxyanisole, yellow beeswax, Lipodan HP, gelatin, glicerol, sorbitol, red ponceau 4R (E124), black iron oxide (E172), titanium dioxide (E171).
The day finally came to do my hormonal blood tests on February 2015 and the results came back normal. At this point I didn’t know what to think because I was still having an allergic reaction to something. My allergy doctor, seeing these results, didn’t have an answer for me so I decided to do another blood test called A200, which basically tests for 200 food intolerances. The results were quite interesting: I’m allergic to cashew, soy, eggs, orange, buckwheat, kola nut and sunflower oil. Knowing this I am know keeping myself away from these foods and elements in order to see if I get better, although it is hard because soy, eggs and sunflower oil are pretty much everywhere. It’s been almost 2 months of me doing this and I still see no results, I still feel weak.
— My conclusions —
The only excipients that are similar between Valette, Zoely and Zithromax are lactose, magnesium stearate and titanium dioxide, and between all of them is titanium dioxide. Could I be allergic to titanium dioxide or magnesium stearate? Is there any way to prove this? Maybe I reacted to the Isotretinoin because of the soy oil also. If my theory is correct and I’m allergic to any of these elements, why do I still feel weak and have acne? Shouldn’t it go away now that I’m not taking anything and paying attention to what I eat and use on my body?
Thank you for reading.
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