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This week I had a call from a lovely lady at my local doctors surgery to tell me that I would no longer be able to get anti-histamines on prescription.

Just an average month of prescriptions for the allergic girl
Why? Because I can get them over the counter. Well yes, technically, I CAN get antihistamines over the counter, but not the ones I am prescribed where I can get a box with lots in, and also stronger doses than the over the counter drugs. So I’ll need to buy more for one dose!

At my local chemists I can pay anything from £7 to £14 for a small number of between 12 and 24 tablets, or buy the liquid stuff, which works really well for me.

When you’re paying in advance for a Prescription Prepayment Certificate it makes living with a long term health condition manageable. If I had to pay a single charge for every item I got monthly on prescription from tubs of emollient, to two inhalers, antihistamines, adrenaline, steroids and immuno suppressants… I’d be penniless!

I would struggle to afford the drugs I need to stay healthy at the moment.

I know the NHS is struggling and probably needs to make cut backs but this is the very system which got me addicted to steroids at a young age in the first place. This the very system which never treated any of my allergic conditions, instead throwing drugs at me.

This system is now slowly letting me go, showing me I may need to cope alone.
I am facing the terrifying proposition of trying to wean myself off topical steroids as their effectiveness begins to diminish and my skin needs ever more frequent doses to just keep under control. Just google TSW for some real horror stories. I’m going it alone and won’t do this without medical supervision and help. They got me into this mess, they can bloomin well help me out.

I will be pushing back and speaking to my doctor about his but the lady who phoned was just doing her job, it wasn’t her fault. I told her I wasn’t happy but there was nothing she could do. She said she would ‘see what she could do’ but it was very much in a voice which said… don’t hold you breathe and I probably won’t tell anyone how you feel.

I annoyed about this but it just makes me sad. I will hopefully keep on getting these because I’m not going away quietly but why should I have to fight? There will be other people who cannot fight or don’t have the confidence.

Perhaps I will not have to add £30-40 to my monthly expenditure on antihistamines to get me through the hayfever season and incessant itching of eczema skin and allergic reactions.

But on the other hand, perhaps I will have to stump up yet more cash just to lead a normal life?

Has anyone else had this call? Can you still get antihistamines on prescription? Is this widespread?
Should I be paying for them? Or am I within my rights to demand this is still available to me?

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Recently I was invited to speak on BBC West Midlands radio about a recent report detailing the number of deaths caused by asthma in the UK.

Up early for BBC West Midlands, Asthma and Allergies
It makes for pretty shocking reading… read, UK asthma death rates among the worst in Europe to find out more.

And it has always baffled me why there is a huge disconnect between asthma funding and allergy funding. The two are so intricately linked that it just seems crazy not to share resources, not least to prevent so many people suffering needlessly and being prescribed endless and increasing doses of steroids for what could be an allergy in the first place.

What causes asthma? It’s never a simple answer but I wonder how many of these asthma deaths could have been avoided had those patients been tested for allergies; thus understanding better what those triggers might be.

About four years ago I finally had a soya allergy diagnosed after worsening asthma. I didn’t think for a moment that I could be allergic to one of the very plant milks suggested in replacement of the cow’s milk that I was already allergic to, but cutting out soya led to a dramatic reduction in my asthma symptoms.

It’s not rocket science.

Many of my allergies cause asthma as a direct symptom including; hayfever, dust allergy, latex, soya, milk and nuts.

Asthma gets lots of funding and I am regularly seen by an asthma nurse to keep my asthma under control but this is not the case for allergy treatment. I am very lucky to see a dermatologist who also treats me for my allergies but not everyone is so lucky, and getting to even have allergy testing can be impossible in certain areas of the country.

Why are we so behind our neighbours in Europe?

Will this report to lead to changes? Or will we still be talking about this in ten years time?

I suspect the latter… I find myself blogging over and over again about the same things year in year out because nothing does seem to change much. Apologies for the pessimistic comment there but it’s true.

And this is why I blog, because by doing this I can maybe help a few people not to feel so alone in the struggle for answers and normal life. Strive not to be normal people!

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I’ve talked about this in a previous blog post, 30 tips to help you stop scratching but there is one really important factor in all this and that’s you. If you have things in your life that are stressing you, making you anxious, unhappy or scared… you need to fix those first. No amount of clever tactics will work until you sort out that stuff first. Trust me. It’s taken me far too long to work this out for myself.

And clearly I’ve never really got the better of the itch yet since I’m still here writing about it.

My last blog post about mindful scratching is about my current aim, my life strategy right now, to see whether by finally learning to love myself I can truly see myself as someone worth saving from the scratching. Can I do this? Can I stop scratching? For good?

I rearead old blog posts and especially the one above about 30 tips… did I really write that and then forget it all so easily?

I won’t lie, I’m not finding this easy at all, there are times when it’s impossible not to have a scratch e.g. in the bath (loofah), at night when I get hot, any areas I can’t see I’m struggling not to scratch. So it’s a battle but I am making progress.

So for now, I will be putting the loofah away in a box with all the other things I cannot be trusted with right now…

Items to hide away as I am not responsible enough to have access to them:

  1. Tweezers – Kept away from easy reach. I do need these as no one wants to see my unibrow
  2. Finger nails (my own) must be kept completely short
  3. Loofah
  4. Finger bookmark which I used to scratch – in the bin
  5. All combs – Hidden with the loofah

So I thought I’d share with you some of the key things that are actually helping at the moment.

  1. Love yourself – And I mean really care for yourself. You are amazing and if you are reading this then the chances are you or someone you know is struggling with eczema, psoriasis or a similar itchy skin condition. It’s not your fault. You are precious, beautiful and worth all the efforts you can make to help your skin to heal. Do everything you can. It’s worth it.
  2. Be gentle – Slow down. Be gentle. Apply your moisturisers slowly, calmly, deliberately and mindfully. Aggressive rubbing and rushing to apply emollients can just set off an itch fest and aggravate your skin. Do this whenever you itch, and as often as you need to. And when you think you’ve applied enough, slap on some more.
  3. Emollient – Have loads of it, everywhere. Tubs downstairs, tubs in the bathroom, tubs in your bag, in the bedroom, at work, in your car. NEVER EVER run out.
  4. Treat yourself – Don’t just stick with the bog standard prescription emollients, though when you are using a lot of the stuff, it’s good to have this as an all over smothering option, but also buy your favourite brands. Mine are Pure Potions Skin Salvation and Gems Dry Skin Balm. Use these on the soreist bits and use lovingly.
  5. Silk gloves – Perfect for sore hands. Slather on the best emollient you have, then some more, then a bit more and then put on these amazing silk gloves for as long as you can. Jasmine Silk Ultmate Pure Silk Moisturising Gloves Adult Eczema Hands Skincare One Size – Unisex
  6. BigTed I was reluctant to include this one as I am a little embarrassed to hold so much importance on a giant teddy bear, but there you have it. He would sit on end of the bed looking at me balefully saying, ‘please don’t hurt yourself like that human’. And all he had to offer was a cuddle but I began to reach for him and hold him while I rocked myself in a ball of angry pain and delirium as the itch consumed me. And I discovered that sometimes just having this bear in my arms and feeling as if I was being held, cuddled and supported in return was incredibly helpful. He is a pretty huge bear so it is almost like having real living breathing human in your arms. Obviously if you have a real person to hand this will probably be far more beneficial but actually, when you are in the depths of despair it’s hard to tell another human how you really feel and harder still to demand that they are there for you whenever you need them with nothing given in return.
  7. Hold – I find this hard as once you are holding an area that itches it can easily turn into a scratch, but just hold, tightly and firmly and count to 30. See if the itch will subside without needing to be scratched.
  8. Tap – Same principle as above, gently tap the spot that itches and all the time try to relax, breathe deeply, ground youself, release the tension in your shoulders and try to resist the itch.
  9. Pinch or press – these all sound similar but are slightly different. I can sometimes get more relief from those liquid filled blistery things that pop up by just gently digging in a finger nail (if you have any left) or just pressing hard or pinching. Sometimes you can release the pressure without the raking damage of a full on scratch.
  10. Stroke – This one works really well for me. By gently stroking the itching area, in a smooth movement away from the centre of my body, so outwards towards the end of a limb for instance, it as if I am calmly erasing the itch out of my body. This doesn’t always work but every time I conquer an itch is a success in my book.
  11. Tubi-Grips – Call it a bonus tip, I can’t stop yet. I have found these really helpful. Before bed I smother the sore bit, at the moment feet, ankles and lower legs in emollient and healing oil such as tea tree, then put on a tubi-grip. A combination of the pressure and preventing me from scratching works really well and I’ve been sleeping better, avoiding scratching in my sleep and itching less.

Don’t be disheartened, the skin can get worse when you start to be successful at avoiding itching. The inflammation wants you to scratch it. In fact it’s so used to you doing that that it will keep on teasing, prodding and urging you to itch again and again and it can take months to break this itch scratch habit or cycle. Keep persevering. Every itch you don’t scratch is a win. Every time you succeed is a step closer. You may never have completely eczema free skin, but hopefully we should all be able to get to a place where we can avoid most of the itches.

I also found the following sources helpful:

Breaking The Itch/Scratch Cycle: One Young Woman’s Story

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Before I begin I strongly believe that berating a person for scratching their is the worst kind of well meaning advice. Trust me, if you have eczema and it’s in full force, you cannot stop scratching. And sometimes that is OK. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t resist that horrible incessant itch that seems to live deep inside the skin, and only subsides when you’ve damaged your skin.


I wanted to share with you something that I’m trying at the moment. It’s an idea I’ve seen discussed before in a book called The Eczema Solution.

But whilst I tried to break the ‘habit’ of itching back then, it didn’t work. Because if you have things in your life that are triggering allergic reactions and hives your skin will be on fire and almost impossible to avoid scratching unless someone ties you up!

If you can take a step back and notice that what you’re doing is often habitual then there are huge benefits from learning to acknowledge, analyse and then begin to reduce the amount of times you itch.

First of all, why do you itch? Can you teach yourself to scratch less? Because there are definitely different kinds of scratching:

The many differnt types of itching/scratching:
  1. Unavoidable scratching – when the irritation or allergic reaction is too strong to avoid
  2. Little Scratching – when you have a minor itch, tickle, pain… call it what you will and reach to relieve it.
  3. Habitual scratching – When it becomes so commonplace that you scratch every time you do certain things, like apply emollient, go to the loo, get changed, shower, overheat… It’s almost like you just scratch regardless of whether you are itchy and then once you are scratching, your skin is itchy because you itched it! Make sense?
  4. Waking up the itch – When you are just rough with your skin and you take it from calm and OK to furious itching just by rubbing, not applying moisturiser gently… whatever it is. You can ‘wake up’ your skin and cause itchiness by mistake.

If this sounds familiar to you then think about reducing some of these, because there are so many times when it would be possible to reduce scratching

I think I scratch for a number of reasons and not just because the act of tearing at an itch can feel amazing, and it the only way (our brain tricks us here) to stop the annoyance and pain of the itch. I think that I often scratch almost as a punishment to myself. I could treat my skin better but it’s almost like I’ve decided it’s not worth it, that my skin is awful anyway so I give myself permission to destroy it. I might as well. Not nice to read or acknowledge really. But this is mindfulness.

What is mindfulness?

First of all, mindfulness is NOT about being happy all the time and seeing the positive in everything. I am not suggesting for a moment that if you were more in control, more positive, more confident or kinder to yourself and lived every second in the moment that it would be any easier to avoid scratching. Far from it. It is more about truthfully accepting a situation and then looking for ways to improve things, if you can. And if you can’t, learning to live with things the way they are. It’s not about being happy all the time. It’s OK to feel bad about having eczema. It’s not fair, but it is what you have so you need to accept it and learn to control it, rather than it controlling you.

What I’m suggesting is merely that you see it for what it is. It’s the first step to understanding the itch and then in turn learning how to control it, even just some of the time.

When you scratch, don’t try to stop, just notice it. Think to yourself, ‘Oh there I go, scratching again’, and just see it. Really see it.

  • Why did you scratch?
  • What made you scratch?
  • Where were you?
  • What were you doing?
  • How were you feeling?
  • Was there a trigger or did it seem just gratuitous orgasmic itching it?

To start off with just acknowledge that you itch and think about why. Don’t stress. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Don’t feel bad. It is what it is. The book, The Eczema Solution suggests getting a clicker to count every time you scratch. I did this and it easily ran into the thousands. Quite shocking to acknowledge the sheer level of discomfort.

You have eczema, psoriasis or whatever skin condition makes you itch like blazes and it’s a natural reaction. It’s evolution; if you go back to caveman times, the instinct would have been to brush off the insect from the skin in case it bit you.

Just be. Just be the eczema person you are. The next step, after days or weeks of assessing the status quo is to begin to change the habit of a lifetime. No mean feat! But there are many techniques for doing this. These will be the subject of another blog but it’s not rocket science. You’ll have to keep reading the blog to find out, but think about just observing, looking at the itching area, if you can see it. What does the skin look like? It is raised? Bumpy with hives, or red, sore, scabbed etc. Think about whether you could avoid scratching. Just ignoring an itch can be very distracting, but can you stroke, hold, press, tap or employ avoidance tactics or keep your hands busy.

It’s not going to be easy but can we do this chaps? I think every potential scratch avoided is a minor victory so good luck! I have so far seen off an avalanche of potential skin destroying itches but I have given in to lots too. It’s going to take time… but I am determined to try this.

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And I don’t mean the people are crazy… haha, I mean nuts, particularly peanuts make an appearance on a regular basis where I’m living at the moment.

I did grow up in a house with peanuts; my father used to make his own peanut butter, my siblings both used to eat nuts and even the eczema bath oil I was prescribed contained nuts – not surprising that I had such appalling eczema really…

Having a lifelong and life threatening allergy to all nuts has meant that as soon as I had the choice and control over my living space I have never had nuts in the house. Well why would you? If you hate the smell and one tiny crumb could send you into an anaphylactic shock. It meant I had one place that I didn’t have to worry about avoiding my allergens.

Not so in my current living situation.

Living in a shared house with THREE nut eating men was worrying me a lot to start with.

Not great when you are already learning to cope with anxiety on a daily basis.

But I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

There are three single guys living here. One vegan and one coeliac amongst them which does mean they understand what living with food restrictions is like, even if they don’t have allergies like me.

But how cool is that? Without any prior knowledge before choosing this room to rent, I have found two fellow food group avoiders! I immediately felt at home.

After the ‘house talk’ about what my allergies meant for me and how serious they were they’ve gone from a degree of ignorance to fascination and we will be having an adrenaline injector demonstration soon with some old pens I’ve been hanging on to. We even have the orange standing by for its special fate.

Practise by injecting expired adrenaline autoinjector pens into an orange

And it’s actually OK that they cook with nuts. I make sure I’m not using the kitchen at the same time if they are, but I’m fine to be in the same room; my allergy to nuts it not air borne, thank goodness.

They are also very well house trained in the kitchen too; so all nuts are stored in sealed containers and hidden away and they all clean the kitchen thoroughly after they’ve cooked.

Me and nuts living alongside each other, who’d have thought it?

Good job really as peanut, spinach and kale soup with chickpeas is a speciality of the vegan housemate. I have to say, I am not even aware of the smell of nuts when he’s cooking, which usually does make me wary, like my body is just letting me know nuts are near and I need to be careful. I HATE the smell of peanuts too but I’ve hardly noticed it.

What do you do? Do you ban nuts from your living space? Would you only live in a shared house where no nuts were allowed? Because if you start thinking along those lines, do you ban the dairy, soya, wheat… Multiple life threatening allergies make things a little more complicated.

I think not. The world will always contain my particular potential assassins so I must find a way to live alongside them. But never ever trust them or let down my guard. Normal vigilance always applies.

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Sponsored post

First things first, GladSkin sent me a free sample of their Eczema Cream to review and since I’ve got particularly dry, sensitive, eczematous skin it’s a tough test for any cream or moisturiser.

This is how it works (from their website)

GladSkin Eczema Cream
Billions of bacteria live on our skin. We now know good bacteria are essential for the protection of our skin and vital in maintaining a healthy skin condition. But there are also bacteria, like S. aureus, that can cause inflammation and symptoms such as itch, redness and rashes and trigger flare-ups.

Gladskin Eczema is the world’s only product that targets just the harmful S. aureus bacteria. Unlike conventional products, Gladskin leaves the good bacteria – essential for healthy skin – intact. It is a harmless but real active solution, suitable for long-term daily use.

Why is Staphylococcus aureus such a problem for eczema skin

Scientists have proven that people with atopic skin and eczema have far higher populations of Staph A than those with clear eczema free skin. Add this to the lack of Filaggrin, the filament in skin which binds healthy skin strongly together and you have a bad combination. The poor Filaggrin in eczema skin allows any bacteria to get right into the cracks in dry skin, as detailed above, causing redness, itching and infection.

BBC Two’s Trust Me I’m a Doctor featuring Micreos technology?
Watch BBC Two’s Trust me I’m a Doctor feature Micreos Technology here.

Testing GladSkin Eczema Cream

Firstly this is totally safe and not a steroid so already gets my thumbs up.

I did notice that my skin improved using this cream. It is cooling to apply, smooth and didn’t irritate my skin. It also went a very long way for a small 50ml sample.

I do have very dry skin though so I used GladSkin is a base layer and applied emollient on top when my skin felt particularly dry and tight. I wonder if the gel may be better for particularly dry skin.

What I like most about GladSkin is that it’s actively addressing a problem with eczema skin, ie. the bacteria. So many products sold for eczema are just sticky, gloopy stuff, especially the prescribed tubs of lard that I use, because I can’t afford not to. There is nothing healing or beneficial to skin in any of the emollients I use that I get on prescription. All they do is smother the skin, and they do help moisturise but they are not pleasant to use.

GladSkin is also in a pump dispenser so is more hygienic than dipping fingers into a pot.

The only thing I found uncomfortable was the feel of it on the palms of my hands. I always want to wash the layer off from my palms, which are not affected by eczema anyway. Everywhere else it felt lovely on my skin, so I guess maybe it’s just me being weird.

You apply this cream to clean skin twice a day and it really did seem to reduce itching and redness for me. Time will tell, I need to use it for a bit longer to see if it really works but I’m very confident.

So thank you GladSkin. I enjoyed trying this eczema cream and would definitely buy it again, though I will probably try the gel and need a larger pot!

Has anyone else tried this? How did you find it on your eczema? Would you recommend it?

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If you’ve been using topical steroids for your eczema for many years and are worried about overuse, please read this. When you get a flare up of eczema do you find that nothing helps except more steroids?

Prurigo eczema on my hand a wrist. Shows how dry my skin is

Have your steroids stopped working and you get prescribed stronger and stronger creams and emollients? If the answer is yes, you may have a topical steroid addiction. And let me tell you now, coming off Topical Steroids is like something from hell.

Just google Topical Steroid Withdrawal or TSW and be prepared for the stuff of nightmares.

I have considered cutting out steroids and going through withdrawal myself but honestly? I’m not strong enough. I would not be able to work, I just know how hard it would be.

I was recently contacted by the ITSAN Red Skin Sydrome Support Group to ask me to complete this questionnaire to help them ascertain the size of the topical steroid overuse problem.

This is what they said, “Hi Ruth, I’m currently serving as the Executive Director of ITSAN and we are running a campaign to encourage members of our group to report their adverse effects from Topical Steroids to the FDA. It’s super easy and only takes a few minutes. If we get enough people to report, this will be a GAME CHANGER in the re-evaluation of Topical Steroids, future research, changes to drug labeling, educating Dr’s about TSW, prevention, and proper treatment for those suffering. Will you take a few minutes and fill it out? The link below will take you directly to the FDA’s reporting site. *You don’t need to live in the US to fie a report. Also, if you aren’t sure about the answer to every question, that’s okay. You can just fill in what you know. Thank you for your consideration!! And let me know if you do fill it out! “

Who should complete the ITSAN survey?

Do feel you are addicted to steroids which are not really helping heal your skin? Are you too scared to stop using them and go through withdrawal? Are you worried about the amount of topical steroids you use? Have you heard of ITSAN, researched TSW and don’t know what to do? Does your doctor or dermatologist just tell you not to worry and to keep using steroids?

If this applies to you, why not complete this short survey. You have nothing to lose and it might help the industry stop over prescribing and help us find other ways of healing our skin conditions.

Complete form as Consumer/Patient

You may also like to read this previous blog, Topical Steroid Addiction and Withdrawal and what it means here..

What other options are their besides TSW

There are other options to consider that do not involve Topical Steroid withdrawal, one of which is Dupixent so I shall be looking into that. However this also concerns me as it could just be fanning the flames with more drugs. I am terrified that I will have to go through TSW and through no fault of my own. I’ve followed medical advice and found steroids the only thing to relieve eczema and now I am faced with a truly horrendous journey of years of withdrawal. Personally I’m not going to even attempt it. If you think you would like to consider cutting out steroids please do not do so without consulting your Doctor and/or Dermatologist. You will need medical support and advice. This is serious stuff. Please also contact ITSAN as they have a support network out there who can help you.

Please share your stories of going through TSW, do you think your addicted? Did you manage to cut out and stop using your steroids? How long did it take?

I look forward to hearing from you all… and maybe this survey will help prevent over prescribing of steroids by the NHS in the future and research into safer medication and understanding of eczema.

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Food Matters Live is the UK’s first cross-sector event which brings together the food and drink industry, retailers, foodservice providers, government and those working in nutrition, to enable collaboration and innovation to support a sustainable food landscape for the future.

New Push freefrom chocolate coming soon in 2018
The three day event has been running now for a number of years at the Excel in London. Visit the Food Matters Live website to find out more.

My advice is to plan ahead. Study the programme and work out which events you want to attend. Certain events, like the Allergy UK Catering session required pre-booking so do this early to avoid missing out. Others get full up quickly to make sure you get to the room on time.

  1. Free Seminars – There are so many subjects, streams and speakers to choose from that it’s actually hard to decide and there were many clashes that meant I couldn’t attend everything I had ear marked but I did cram in a lot of learning. As well as a whole afternoon crammed with speakers in the FreeFrom seminar series you could learn about so many things from The Future of Food to Tackling Obesity to name just a few.
  2. Allergy UK ran a seminar – Catering for those affected by Food Allergy – I was lucky to be able to attend this and it was so useful for me, not to mention timely after my recent experience in America. Find out more here.
  3. Skinny gluten free beer
  4. New Products – It was exciting to discover a new Dairy Free Chocolate from Push. It is dairy, soya and nut free and also very low in sugar. I was lucky enough to try to some it was really delicious, not too sweet and great cocoa flavour. It’s not on the market yet but look out for news in 2018. Remember, you hear about it here first!
  5. The FreeFrom Eating Out Awards were hosted in the main glass theatre room to a packed audience. This was the highlight of the show for me and main reason for me attending. As a judge for the awards I’m so passionate about finding safe places to eat where I feel included and not like I’m awkward or not welcome. To see the Winners of the FreeFrom Eating out Awards visit their website here. More blogs soon on the amazing restaurants I was privileged to be able to judge.
  6. Networking – I managed to catch up with so many friendly faces and fellow bloggers and enjoyed coffees, catch-ups, wine, cuddles and support. Thank you Natalie (Intolerant Gourmand), Vicki (FreeFrom Fairy and the best freefrom flour), Carly (Gluten Free B), Sue Cane (GF Beer expert), Michelle, Cressida and Hannah, Jenny (The Lunchbox Doctor), Steve Walpole and so many more of you… you really don’t know how helpful those three days were for me.
  7. Meeting new people – I also made a few new contacts, including a blogger who I have been following on Twitter and not met properly before. I think we had met but I’d not connected the dots. So lovely to meet you 7 Years to diagnosis. You can read her review of Food Matters Live and the FFEO Awards 2017 here.
  8. New Skinny gluten free beer – A chance meeting on the train home on the last day meant I had a bottle of this to sample and it’s delicious. It’s not as sweet at a lot of gluten free beers and was really refreshing. I would definitely drink this again, and the creative in my just loves the brand and labelling. So clean, fresh and modern. Find out more about Skinny Brands lager here.
  9. Low FODMAP diets – Dr Megan Rossi presented a really informative talk about this very complicated area of food and diet.
  10. Most importantly, take a packed lunch (Courtesy of Warburtons GF, Violife, Lazy Days and Nairns)
  11. Histamine Intolerance – If you want to know about this check out Dr Janice Joneja who has written two books, one for the layman and another for professionals. This was such an interesting session as I hadn’t really grasped quite what histamine intolerance was or how it could be controlled. Read, The Beginners Guide to Histamine Intolerance here.
  12. Fecal Microbiota Transplant – don’t be squeamish, this isn’t a disgusting as it sounds and could really change the lives of many people with allergies. Visit the Taymount Clinic website to find out how introducing missing, healthy, clean and tested bacteria could help many immune conditions to improve.

Don’t go there expecting to find loads of FreeFrom foods. There were some of great brands there but many were not offering samples and none of them were selling their products. The lovely ladies from Angels and Cookies were there showcasing their delicious and totally freefrom cookie dough. Yes of course I had to try some of that! I did get to try some amazing Sprouted Rye Bread which was so moist and tasty, as well as Freedom Vegan Mallows. And Don’t forget the chocolate and beer – see above!

If you’re interested in food, science, the future and more, you should consider attending this next year. It’s completely free and well worth the horrible train journey out to the Excel Conference Centre.

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If you are very allergic to dust, cleaning the house is probably NOT your favourite job and you wouldn’t be alone. No one likes vacuuming… ha ha. So imagine how excited I was recently when I was given a Dyson V8 to try out. This is a sponsored post, I did not pay for the Dyson vacuum – Thank you Dyson! I really love it. It’s fantastic for anyone with a dust allergy because it’s so cleverly designed…


This is a very long overdue blog about my amazing new Dyson. I’ll bet they’re regretting giving me one to test because I’ve had it months, after which I travelled around for ages while I house sat at rather lovely houses with cleaners and already plumbed in Dyson hoovers so I had no need to get mine dirty.

Finally this beautiful Dyson V8 emerged from its box for some proper testing a few months ago.

I’ve given it a thorough test and I LOVE it!

Pro’s and Con’s of the new Dyson V8 for your dust allergy The Pro’s of this fantastic vacuum
  • It is so easy to empty – This is by the far the best bit about the Dyson V8. I mean I love everything about it. It’s space age look, it’s streamlined curves, but it’s eject button is just the best! No puffs of dust, just a very swift jettison of all that horrid dust… Having used a Dyson before (my Mum has the Dyson Animal) I wasn’t so impressed with the way you tip out the dust, in a huge puff! But you do get used to that, and can empty it at arms length and keep your head away. But the new design of the V8 is very much improved. All you do is press the red button and it very neatly sort of shovels the dust out in one lump. No puff of dust, and it does empty much more reliably, as long as you don’t over fill. With the animal you often needed to fish about up the sides to remove huge chunks of dust that was lodged in hard to reach places. Again, overfilling prevents some of this. All Dyson vacuums should be emptied regularly when they reach the level. Never over fill! Something we all did in the days of horrible hoover bags.

    Also, when you do empty it, do this twice. Close the clear bin, then eject dust again for a second time, just to get rid of all particles and do this carefully over a bin or bag or outside in the compost bin.

    Dyson V8 cord-free vacuums - Emptying the clear bin (UK) - YouTube

  • You can see all the dust – For someone with quite a severe dust allergy I’m surprisingly pleased to see it all filling up inside the Dyson cylinder. You would think the sight of all that dust would offend me, but it just amazes me how much you get from a small house, and I know I’m removing these bits of dust from my home so it pleases me
  • So smooth to use – It’s light, easy to manoeuvre
  • Simple to dismantle and use – It really is easy to use, dismantle, attach any of the many handy tools for cleaning the car, stairs, corners etc. It’s push and click, so simple you don’t even need any instructions.
  • Looks pretty nifty! – With Dyson behind the design it’s bound to be stylish but it really does look cool. It’s a vacuum anyone would be proud to own. It’s colourful, sleek, stylish and fun and easy to use. Yes cleaning your house has never been so fun!
  • Well designed – Not only does this vacuum cleaner look good, it’s also very clever. Both assembly, emptying and dismantling are so cleanly designed. It fits easily into a small storage space, is light and easy to move around the house, light enough for your kids to carry upstairs so they can clean their own rooms. What’s not to like?
  • Long battery life – I’ve been testing the V8 now for a months and months (sorry for the long time for testing Dyson, but every time I thought I’d got this blog finished I thought of a new cool thing to add. The battery life is one of the best things. It lasts for at least 45 mins so is plenty long enough to clean your house or car. That obviously depends how dirty your house is. I’ve been taking this hoover around with my in my car to clean other people’s houses and if there is a lot of dust you may need to charge it to finish the job, but once your Dyson has broken the back of the job, it’s never as dusty again. Hoover regularly and you’ll notice less dust is collected and you can clean the house quicker.
  • Great capacity to hold dust – The v8 does have a larger cylinder which will hold more dust but I would caution against overfilling. I find it works best if you empty it regularly, when it’s between half and two thirds full for optimum operation.
  • New found love of vacuuming – This may sound crazy but I actually don’t mind hoovering any more. I actually enjoy it. It really is so quick and easy and if you empty it carefully, dust reaction free.
The Con’s of using my new Dyson vacuum
  • Recharging is tricky – Once you’ve got it set up it’s a doddle but I really struggled to get my charging bit working. You have to feed the cord through some hole or other and it’s really rather fiddly. Don’t ask for advice getting yours sorted, I’ve done it once and hopefully don’t need to ever do it again. I’m ashamed to admit that I actually needed help from my Mum to get the charger sorted… You can fit the docking station to the wall, which I plan to do when I get sorted. At the moment it has to kind of lie on the floor while it charges but this does work fine.
  • Needs looking after – This could be seen as a negative but I’ve got used to the extra attention and maintenance that the Dyson cleaners need. Basically, it’s not like your old hoover that you could just fit the bag and fill it to bursting and empty it when suction began to reduce. With the Dyson vacuums you do need to remember to check the filters, empty regularly, not hoover up large objects so check the area and sweep up large items, and clean those filters with the brushes provided. If you do this you’ll have no problems.
  • Cleaning the filters – This is an essential if boring chore that must be done regularly if you own a Dyson. It’s actually pretty easy to do, just run them under the tap or use the special brushes supplied for the purpose. However remembering to clean them isn’t so easy if you have a scatter brain like mine! It’s worth doing this regularly as the vacuum can go wrong if you don’t. The filters should last quite a long time if you clean them regularly and can be replaced easily through Dyson.
  • Cost – These vacuum cleaners do not come cheap at around £400.00 but I would say it is well worth it. (I would like to add at this point, I am reviewing this for Dyson and have not paid. This is a sponsored post.) Especially if you want your dust allergic kids to be safe using it too. There are also other smaller and cheaper models, like the Animal; I know several people who are thoroughly pleased with theirs. The Dyson v8 is just sleeker, more powerful, better designed, holds more dust and holds charge for much longer. The decision of which one to get is up to you! You’ll never want to use your old vacuum again. Click here for prices: Dyson V8 Absolute Cordless Vacuum

You may also like to read other blogs about Living with a Dust Allergy or a completely bag free water based vacuum cleaner here.

Sponsored Blog Post: Special thanks to Dyson for giving me this hoover. Sorry it’s taken me so long to write about but the Dyson v8 is absolutely brilliant for anyone with a dust allergy.

I would love to hear what other people think of their Dyson, do you have one? Do you love it? Or do you have another vacuum cleaner that you find better for your dust allergies.

(Apologies for posting twice. First post appeared to have no comments option. Second time lucky…)

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