There are certain things we experience in childhood that we hope will stay there. Chicken pox, skinned knees, bubble gum in the hair — ideally, we leave those things behind in our early youth and never have to deal with them again. For Kristen Bell, it was eczema that plagued her as a kid, but she never expected it to return at age 39, decades after it disappeared. I However, she tells Women’s Health in a new interview that she’s been dealing with the itchy, rashy skin condition all over again, and she’s doing everything she can to get it under control.
“About six months ago, I started just having severe eczema in my armpits,” she tells Women’s Health, explaining that she assumed it was a shift in hormones or the deodorant she was using. But even though she stopped using deodorant and started applying hydrocortisone “every couple of days,” it didn’t clear up; in fact, it got worse. “Then about two months ago, I woke up with everywhere but the alcove of my face a bright red, huge eczema rash. Everywhere.”
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is essentially hypersensitivity of the immune system, not unlike an allergic reaction, according to Doris Day, a dermatologist and clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York University Langone Medical Center, who has previously told Allure that finding and avoiding triggers can help you manage it. So naturally, Bell sought out answers. “I didn’t want to just go take prednisone and get it knocked out,” the Good Place star says in the interview. “I wanted to know what caused it. I went and had 11 blood panels done, and she was like, ‘You are really not allergic to anything.'”
Frustrated with the lack of answers — and an abundance of itchiness — Bell, who’s already a vegetarian, decided to try an elimination diet in hopes of figuring out if any particular type of food triggers her eczema. “We’re trying to do no gluten, no grains, no lectins, no nightshades, no dairy,” she says. She’s already seen some improvement, but there’s a ways to go. “I mean, this is 100 times better than it’s been. I’m still crazy itchy, and when I get hot, it gets even itchier.”
Find yourself in a similar situation with eczema? Check out Allure‘s guide to all things atopic dermatitis right here.
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