Skin Health

Eczema Diaries #14: Sulphites 

I reached breaking point. Last Monday my skin was so bad I cried in the middle of a shop (which obviously made it worse) and I felt like I would be itchy forever.Earlier that day I had made some amazing flax gingerbread muffins and a low-fat hummus and Linda McCazzle sausage sandwich, after which my upper lip and cheeks inflamed so angrily, I could barely think about anything else apart from the burning itch! I decided that I had to make some drastic changes in order to really see any change in this ridiculous skin problem I’ve had for almost two years.

I had a vague idea where to start so I went back to histamines, remembering that tomatoes (which i have a noticeable reaction to) are high in histamines and started to research other foods like this. I found that a lot of food in my diet contained high histamine levels, which react with the histamines already in the system to create an allergy type affect. Most people with a histamine intolerance tend to have thresholds so cutting them out completely and reintroducing them seems to be the best course of action.

From here i was also led on to some articles about sulphites (sulfites, sulphates, sulphur) which gives the sufferer inflamed blood vessels around the nose and sinuses, causing itchiness and breathing problems. I recognise these symptoms in myself, so began to look at a list of foods containing sulphites.

Surprise, Surprise the histamine and sulphites list are pretty much the same:

Histamines Sulphites Food additives
Alcohol pickled foods and vinegar E220 Sulphur dioxide
Pickled or canned foods – sauerkrauts dried fruit eg dried apricots, prunes, raisins etc E221 Sodium sulphite
Matured cheeses maraschino cherries E222 Sodium hydrogen sulphite
Smoked meat products – salami, ham, sausages…. tinned coconut milk E223 Sodium metabisulphite
Shellfish beer, wine and cider E224 Potassium metabisulphite
Beans and pulses – chickpeas, soy beans, peanuts vegetable juices E226 Calcium sulphite
Nuts – walnuts, cashew nuts some soft drinks E227 Calcium hydrogen sulphite
Chocolates and other cocoa based products grape juice E228 Potassium hydrogen sulphite
Vinegar bottled lemon juice and lime juice E150b Caustic sulphite caramel
Ready meals condiments (bottled sauces etc.) E150d Sulphite ammonia caramel
Salty snacks, sweets with preservatives and artificial colourings guacamole
dehydrated, pre-cut or peeled potatoes
fresh or frozen prawns
some processed meat products

This list does not show everything, other foods that contain sulphites: nuts, beans, alternative milks, pre-ground spices and herbs and chocolate. SULPHITES ARE ALSO IN STEROID CREAMS. BE WARNED.

Here is another useful link about sulphites in food but is written by someone in the US so some things may not be applicable.

I’ve been keeping a food diary to have something to take to my doctor later to see if I could be tested for a food intolerance. The skin on my face was starting to look (at least feel) better last week but I did have some takeaway food, cake and alcohol this weekend which has caused the flare up to come back. Today I had trouble breathing, which has happened more often recently. To help myself and my housemates out, I’ve put up a list of foods that contain sulphites, including the additives to make negotiating packaging a bit easier. However, as I have a mostly vegan diet up until this point, cutting out some of these foods has been very difficult. A lot of tinned beans contain sulphites, as do alternative milks and cheeses. I can’t eat frozen vegan food and I’ve had to kiss goodbye to baked beans (WHY GOD WHY?). In my desperation for some damn protein I’ve resorted to buying eggs and some fish again. This is something that I really, really don’t want to do, so I hope that I can figure out the root of this issue soon. I have enjoyed eating more sweet potato and porridge though.

Also at the weekend we went along to the Bristol Zombie Walk in town, Ivo and Rah looked disgusting and amazing as the undead and I, having such irritated skin couldn’t dress up so I improvised and went as a Zombie Rights Activist. Here are some pics (you can see where my skin had really improved from a non sulphite diet!)


I’ll keep you updated on how it goes.






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