The atopic march or allergic march describes the typical journey seen in atopic people, beginning with hay fever, eczema, asthma and building into life threatening and often multiple allergies.
The way I understand it, when a child is born with dry skin and eczema, often the first sign of atopy, this is the beginning of the march.
Eczema is often not treated seriously at this stage and can lead to sensitisation to allergens through the open skin. The way we treat eczema seems to be to moisturise at the first line of defence and then prescribe steroids if that doesn’t help. Typically you’ll get prescribed cheaper emollients and creams and will go through loads of different brands before you find one that doesn’t irritate the child’s skin more. There is also nothing natural or healing about these prescription moisturisers.
No one looks at what is causing the eczema. No one asks why?
I strongly believe that early interventions at these first signs of eczema would potentially identify allergies that could be treated. Some allergies such as grass, pollen and dust can be treated with immunotherapy but this is not easy to get on the NHS.
Push for allergy testing if your child has eczema and you don’t know why. Try everything else before you resort to any steroids and because of my own personal experiences, don’t go down the topical steroid route. I’d avoid immunosuppresants too if you can.
Once we are on the march we go through life reacting and trying to dampen that response with anti-histamines, emollients and steroids.
We never look for the cause and try to fix things internally.
And the body continues to react. I think of it like a bucket. When your bucket has a little bit of water in it you can carry it easily and not spill any water. As the bucket fills, or the allergens get worse and you get more allergens, your bucket quickly fills up, begins to overflow and you can no longer carry it.
The body becomes so reactive to outside triggers and allergens that you are now on this march and you can’t stop it!
I believe that you CAN and should be able to stop it and work with your body to reduce inflammation but it’s not easy.
There is no cure, no pill or sticky plaster to fix an atopic person.
But I’m finding that as I navigate through my journey with TSW I am slowly removing things from my life that I don’t think are helping and trying to promote better operation of my organs, less allergens, food that’s easier for my body to process, hydration from fruit and vegetables.
I really believe that if anyone had explored my childhood chronic eczema that the dairy allergy would have been identified. I may have been able to find a way to navigate life better and I might not have anaphylaxis to dairy now. I will never know for sure but it makes sense to me.
I decided to cut out dairy in my twenties which did indeed help my body heal and my eczema almost disappeared. However when I next consumed dairy I had anaphylaxis to it, not just eczema flare ups. Why would my body do this? How do things move from inconvenient and unpleasant to life threatening?
I also became allergic to more foods as I grew older. It began with an egg allergy, then peanuts, then other nuts, then dairy, then wheat, then soya…
You can read about The Allergic March on the World Allergy Organisation website to find out more.
And if you love the further reading, check out also The Atopic March: Critical Evidence and Clinical Relevance
More studies are needed into how we can stop this happening.
Have you experienced being on this march? Collecting new allergies along the way and not being able to stop the process?
And can we reverse this march and heal? That is the next big question…