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Building Construction = Gluten Problems?
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Hi, I am brand new here & this is my 2nd post. Here is a little bit of my story & I would love some info & advice if you have any to share.

 

I am a female that just turned 30 yrs old. I have worked at my current job going on 4 years. I have always been super healthy (Praise God) & never had more than a bad cold or flu bug besides some normal seasonal allergies (Ex: runny nose). This past Spring at work they started doing construction in my direct office area so that they could create some more offices for new employees. It is a fairly older building from the early 1960's. Well, even though they tried to use plastic drapes a bunch of dust and particles were in the air all the time. I seemed to feel fine, but I developed a terrible rash in several places & my ears & scalp were super itchy (user name :) ). As I look back now all of this started the exact same time the construction did. I have been to 3 Dr's and one of them had no idea, the other 2 seem to think it might be caused by gluten. I am now undergoing different medical tests.

 

They are still doing construction in other areas of the building now, but not directly in my office space. This construction is the only new thing that has changed in my daily life. My big question is: do you think my DH/Gluten rash could have been caused or aggravated by all of this office construction work? I never had any rash issues at home or work before this Spring. Sometimes I think it sounds crazy, but I REALLY think this could be the cause. If this is what is causing the issue I'm not sure if I should ask to be moved to another building?

 

Thanks for listening & I look forward to hearing your replies.

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I agree with you that it certainly points to the construction work.  Especially with it being an older building, they can be kicking up all kinds of particulates that irritate the skin and respiratory tract, and things like insulation and such can create little stabby fibers which can be especially bad for the skin.  

 

I feel for you because I, too, am super itchy all the time.  I seem to react with a rash to a lot of things in body care products so I have to really pay attention to what I put on my skin, or I will have a bad day.  You seem to have used your brain pretty well as far as eliminating other causes, so I won't lecture you on that.  

 

What I would do are two things.  First, go ahead and get tested for gluten issues.  You would kick yourself if you cut the investigation short now and found out much later that it was the problem.  I saw your thread about the skin test, but you need a blood test and possibly an upper GI endoscopy(a breeze compared to a colonoscopy-they just go down your throat real quick and you are knocked out)  so you may want to go see a gastroenterologist.  If they are doing skin tests for gluten, that won't fully investigate the issue if you possibly have DH.  So make sure you get a full possible celiac workup.  In the end, if everything is inconclusive, eliminating gluten for a test period may let you see what it does to your symptoms, but don't go gluten free until after you have had the tests done.  (you have to be consuming gluten for it to show up right on the tests)

 

Second, even if the construction has moved on to another part of the building, air handlers and stuff may still be moving the particulates around, and they can hang around long after construction is gone.  If you are able to get away with it without people thinking you are crazy, maybe buy a cheap air purifier and keep it by your desk, and clean up your area, dust etc. on a regular basis.  If someone comes in to your office once a month to vacuum, see if you can do that as well to suck up any stuff that settled and keeps getting kicked back up.  It may even win you brownie points with the boss, haha.  Of course I am a crazy clean person, so this may be a little too crazy of a reaction for you :)  I think being asked to move to another building would be reasonable.  Let your HR know that you think the construction work is causing this rash, and they can hopefully help you.

 

Also try to wash your hair at least every other day, and put on a new pillowcase each time you wash your hair.  With my seasonal allergies someone recommended this to me, and it has made a world of difference with my breathing at night time.  I went to Ross and bought 4 cheap pillow cases to rotate through so I am not washing mine every day.  Whatever is possibly in the air will stick in your hair so you want to get it out as much as possible.

 

I hope you are able to find out more soon!  If you end up having to try or permanently go gluten free, this is the place to start :)

 

Laura

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Thanks for the replies! I greatly appreciate your advice & info. I think I am going to have to talk to my supervisors & see if there is something we can work out... even if I try it for a month or so & just see if my skin improves or not (not sure how long it would take to even tell a difference).

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Hello everyone, thank you all so much for your replies & encouragement!! I finally got soooo itchy I couldn't stand it any longer and I asked to be moved to another building. I was so nervouce about asking, but my supervisor and facilities crew were so nice, so helpful, and only wanted the best for me and wanted me to feel better.

 

I moved to the other building on Oct. 16th and about a week later felt MUCH better!! I had to go back to my original building on Oct. 30th to pick something up & I was only in ther for 15min. max and about 10 min. later my rash was completely back, I was itching like crazy, and it looked horrible. I took pics on my phone to keep note of it and I had a coworker look at it & she was amazed at what happened to me in that short amount of time. YIPES! My coworkers have been wonderful though & they now try to always bring stuff over to me so I don't have to go back to my original office space. It took another week and a half just to somewhat get my skin back to normal again. I have heard if you have a bad allergy it will usually get worse everytime you are around that allergen.

 

My concern is that once the construction is completed which should be in the next week or so what will happen if I need to move back into my original office again? I wonder how long it takes for it to clear the space and the air? As bad as my last reaction was I really am afraid to even go into that building again.

 

Thanks for listening and if anyone has any more advice please feel free to share.

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In a way it is good that you have that rash because you had demonstrable evidence for a reaction.  What if it just made you feel like crap like happens with so many of us?  Do you think that you can get your area really well flushed out with fans and open windows or something like that?  It's not the best time of year for that, but maybe they will work with you to come up with a good idea.  I'd like to hear how it goes.

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