039: How Probiotics Turned My Hand Eczema Around w/ Nora Ureste

If you’ve been listening to the Healthy Skin Show for a while, you've probably heard me talk about my battle with debilitating hand eczema (Dyshidrotic Eczema). This painful condition made me miserable until I was able to put myself into remission. Today's guest is here to share an inspirational story about how she too managed to put her hand eczema into remission.

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My guest today, Nora Ureste, lives in Austin, TX with her husband and two girls. She is passionate about learning everything she can about how the indoor environment can impact human health. This led her to study the principles of Building Biology, and she is currently working towards becoming a certified Building Biology Consultant.

Nora has a bachelor's degree in Interior Design from the University of Texas, had a successful career in sales and event planning, and was an Airbnb Host; all of which have prepared her for her current pursuit to design, build, and operate vacation rentals for travelers who are environmentally sensitive.

While we are all different and a one-size-fits-all treatment is simply unrealistic, there are still some common threads in trying to heal hand eczema. Hopefully, this episode can give someone struggling some hope and a few useful ideas to try out!

Do you have hand eczema? Tell me about it in the comments!

Hands with Eczema before and after being healed with probiotics


In this episode:

  • Nora's hand eczema symptoms 
  • Simple, day-to-day activities that Nora could not do because of her hand eczema
  • What the dermatologist recommended
  • What happened when she started taking a probiotic
  • How Nora changed her diet
  • A few things Nora can do now that she couldn't do before



“I really couldn't close my hand without them cracking and bleeding and weeping. They were extremely itchy…I couldn't turn a doorknob. I couldn't pick up laundry…Putting soap on it really burned, so I couldn't use any soap.” [5:04]

“I had the MegaSporeBiotic… within two or three weeks, the itching really subsided. And within another month, my hands stopped getting blisters, and stopped weeping.” [7:20]



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Click here to try out MegaSporeBiotic


“I really couldn't close my hand without them cracking and bleeding and weeping. They were extremely itchy...I couldn't turn a doorknob. I couldn't pick up laundry...Putting soap on it really burned, so I couldn't use any soap.”

039: How Probiotics Turned My Hand Eczema Around w/ Nora Ureste FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jennifer:              Hi everyone. Today I have a very special guest with me, someone who has been on my newsletter list for awhile and she shared with me this story that was super inspirational. And so I invited her to come and share her story about having the same exact skin condition that I had called dyshidrotic, so it's eczema that happens to affect your hands and it can be very, very debilitating. And so I was really appreciative that not only was she willing to come and share her story about her, the trials that she had gone through and trying to figure it out for herself, but also what has worked for her. And so we're not saying that whatever is shared today is going to work for you because everybody's journey is a little bit different. However, I would love for you to pull from this inspiration and hope and maybe some ideas of keeping an open mind and saying, oh wow, look, this is what works for her.

Jennifer:              Maybe I should give this a try or would this be right for me to try and asking those questions. So my guest today is Nora Ureste and she is from Austin, Texas. She lives there with her husband and her two girls. And she and I, it's interesting, we both share a passion for learning everything that we can and she specifically loves to learn about indoor environment and has, is studying right now on the principles of building biology and working towards becoming a certified building biology consultant. She has a wider range of array of passions and even including having been an Airbnb host. So you never know. You may have rented from her at one point, but I just Nora, thank you so much for joining us. It's much appreciated that you're here.

Nora:                     Sure. My pleasure.

Jennifer:              So why don't we start off by sharing a little bit about how did your eczema start, like how long ago was that and what, what were the symptoms that you experienced?

Nora:                     So I had, I had hand eczema on and off,since probably my early thirties. But in very small patches for the most part, and they would last for maybe a month.

Nora:                     And then they will, they would go away. They would, you know, flake and you know, just kind of go away. I attributed it to seasonal allergies cause I live in Austin and there are so many allergens in the air, like, like 365 days of the year. But they started to get more kind of intense back I would say in January of 2018 where they didn't heal. And I was getting patches around my kind of around my palm and up into my fingers,to the folds of my fingers. And so they just kept getting I guess worse. They wouldn't go away and no matter how much I moisturized or kind of did, you know, just other things to, to kind of help with like diet and things like that. It just didn't really seem to help. It just seemed to spread and get worse. And so I've, I mostly ignored it and it, by the summer it got really bad. We went traveling for the summer last year and then by the time I got back my entire hands had on my left hand had basically gotten inflamed with eczema and they were weepy and flaking and bleeding and cracking.

Nora:                     And so that's kind of, you know, where I kind of freaked out.

Jennifer:              Before we started recording this, just like how much having eczema on your hands directly on the palms of your hands really impacts your life.

Nora:                     Yes.

Jennifer:              You know for me I was saying I used to teach cooking classes and so number one I always had to wear gloves. I'm sort of vinyl glove touching any food. But then it came to the point where I was like standing in front of a class of 30 some people with either gloves on my hand or really messed up hand. And the first thought is a, why are you wearing those gloves? And B, did you touch that food with those hands? And cringing. Aside from not being able to shower, not being able to wash my hands, not being able to like pick things up or touch things, not being able to exercise. Was there anything that like, you know, you were kind of impaired from doing as a result?

Nora:                     Yes. All of those. So I'm much like you, I couldn't at that point around August September-ish, I really couldn't close my hands without them cracking and bleeding and like weeping. They were extremely issues. So even though they were weeping and I knew I shouldn't, you know, you know, aggravate the skin further, I couldn't help myself from the itching cause there was flaking. And so you know, I couldn't turn a doorknob. I couldn't pick up laundry. I couldn't like all the things you just do at home for yourself and for your family. It was really hard for me to do. And yeah, just like putting soap on it, like really burned, so I couldn't use any soap. And so at this point I decided to go to a dermatologist. And they did. I knew, you know like we were talking before, my daughter has eczema, so I knew they would, you know, mostly recommend a steroid.

Nora:                     But what they also recommended was that I keep my hands moisturized, like heavily moisturized or like just moisturize like as much as you can. And so I took heart to that and I did, I moisturized as much as I could. And then they recommended that I wear gloves anytime. I just touched anything like you know, when I was cooking or when I was you know, washing dishes or anything like that to wear gloves. So I did that. But, you know, I didn't do any of the I didn't do any of the, the antibiotics or anything, but what I did have them do is to do some tests. So I did a fungal test and bacterial test and they said I was clear I didn't have any of that. So hopefully that was not contributing to any of the eczema.

Nora:                     But then from there, I believe in October is when I started using the MegaSpore Biotic cause I was always on some kind of probiotic. You know, your doctor recommends like, you know, go ahead and diversify your gut and whatnot. And so I use, you know, I had just finished like some bottle, I don't remember which one it was. And I had the MegaSpore Biotic and within like two or three weeks, the itching really subsided. Which was good, cause you're not damaging, you know, you're not wanting to scratch and damage your hands. And then, you know, within another month like my hands actually stopped getting blisters and they stopped weeping. And I had the eczema also all over like the tips of my fingers. And so the inflammation there actually stopped around my fingers and in between my fingers also.

Nora:                     It kinda had spread just kind of in between my fingers and almost kind of coming over to the, the top part of my hand also. But that stopped. And so, yeah, I think around December it was, I would say December, but December I was kind of felt like almost back to normal. You know, my hands are soft now and not cracked and flaky and I can do everything. I'm still really cautious and that I put gloves on all the time and I try to moisturize as much as possible just to be cautious. But that's, that's kinda my story.

Jennifer:              It's really cool too because, with everybody listening, the way that this happened was that many months ago I had shared, I had shared an email about someone else in the community who had gotten really good results adding MegaSpore into their diet. And I believe the email you had read, right, that gave you that idea?

Nora:                     I think so. Yeah.

Jennifer:              And, and so then Nora had emailed me and I definitely have photos too, which will show her hands before and after in the show notes. That way you can take a look at them for yourself cause it was pretty astonishing. That, you know, you were able to get that cleared up. Now that may not work. I want to be very clear, that may not work for everybody. It may be a piece of the puzzle for you, but more you are also doing other things too. You were on a paleo diet.

Nora:                     Right?

Nora:                     For the most part, I, our family has been a paleo for a long time, like 10 years. So and it's, and I am kind of a relaxed paleo, so usually, you know, during the week, you know, I do my best to not eat dairy and you know, we do no gluten and but come the weekend I would usually have a little bit cheese or might have a little piece of bread or something like that. And so when I, when my eczema got really out of control, I thought, you know, I know all these things can inflame the gut, so I really just want to cut all that stuff out. So I cut all of that out. I also cut out a few other things that we were eating, like repeatedly, like we have a lot of coconut flour, so I took that out of my diet.

Nora:                     And we also eat a lot of nuts. So I took, you know, a lot of those nuts and seeds out of my diet. And then I also took chocolate out of my diet cause I heard you talk to Dr Kara about low nickel diets. So I thought maybe that was, so at the point, at the point, right before I started taking MegaSpore, I was trying all kinds of diet things like elimination things, trying to kind of figure out what might be setting this off, you know to where I'm, you know, flaring up like, you know, day after day with the new blisters and a new, you know, just like cracking and I'm not healing and things like that. So at the point that I was trying MegaSpore Biotic, like I was, there was a lot of things out of my diet.

Nora:                     It was mostly eating just the vegetables and you know, just proteins. And that was pretty much it. Very restrictive. So I don't know if that helps with once I started taking the MegaSpore, if that helped in any way, the combination of the two. But what I do know is that I have put some of those things back into my diet. I'm still paleo, but like I have done a little bit of cheese here and there on the occasional, you know, whatever weekend. But, and I haven't really flared up like I have in a bad way. Sometimes I do, there's a middle spot in the middle of my Palm that still gets a little bit flared up, but nothing, nothing the way it had before,so.

Jennifer:              I also want to specify too, that, you know, for many people who've listened to this podcast, they probably heard me at this point talk a bunch of times about being careful and taking too much stuff out of your diet because it's really easy, right? It's the first thing you can control. You're like, well, I'm going to take this out and this out and this. And oftentimes we have this, I consider them buckets. So people may have like three to five different buckets where change needs to happen or support needs to happen. So maybe some dietary changes are helpful, but you can't just typically stop there. You probably are going to have to say, okay, what can I do to support my gut? Right? So in this particular case, this probiotic really worked for you. Uand then also taking that extra step and making sure that you're keeping the skin moisturized, the moisture barrier, which,uI, Dr Peter Lio talked about in the first episode of this podcast, if keeping that barrier moisturized is so important and we can definitely link to that in the show notes for anybody who might've skipped over it.

Jennifer:              Because I think that you gotta look at this from as many different perspectives as possible. Don't just stop at the food piece and think I'm going to keep pulling this out and this out and this out and this out until you're finally on this little iceberg that is shrinking quickly underneath you. You want to broaden that perspective. And I love that you were open Nora, to this idea of saying, okay, well what else could be causing this issue? And one really nice thing about MegaSpore, which is why you use it in my practice. And, and for those of you listening, this is not an ad. It's just like this is was Nora's journey. This is just what happened. But one of the reasons I like using it is it they have a lot of great research about the way that it can help support repatterning essentially the microbiome in the gut and the interesting connection between how the gut microbiome communicates with the skin microbiome.

Jennifer:              And because I know too that some of you may be really interested in that. I also will link in our show notes to Kiran's double episode because he's going to talk extensively about how that happens. And so that can help you guys to, who aren't really too familiar with the gut skin connection to understand it a little more clearly. But Nora just as to kind of like top things off. I mean obviously you tried a bunch of things, some things work, some things different didn't. But now being on the other side of that you know what, I've been like two or three bright bright points or highlights to the fact that you're kind of, you have that in your rear view mirror and now, I mean I recognize you're doing all this stuff and I do the same. I still wear gloves, I still moisturize my hands. I still, I still have some maintenance things that I do and I'm willing to do them because I don't want to go back and it's not out of fear, it's more out of self care and self love. But just for people who are still struggling with this, what are some things that you're able to do now that you know really you couldn't do before?

Nora:                     I mean there's a lot of things could do now.

Nora:                     I mean definitely like just all the everyday stuff that you, that you do, you know, just the cooking and just, you know, I guess just your everyday like things activities. But what I will say is they, I'm doing those things with kind of precautions I guess. You know, like I'm making sure that I don't, you know, have soap all over my hands for, you know, 15 minutes. I'll make sure to, to wear gloves. But yeah, I think also too is just don't stop trying things if you're, you know, suffering from eczema. It's just like don't stop trying things because I, like you said, everybody is different and what may work for me may not work for, for everybody. So yeah, I guess I feel like, you know, I stumbled upon this, you know, in my research and it took me a while to even try the MegaSpore cause I had been on other probiotics and I thought, well, you know, what, how is one different from another? And so, you know, stumbling kind of on this and you know, taking the time to try it I think is being open to new things is probably, I dunno, my biggest advice.

Jennifer:              I appreciate you sharing that. Your entire story. I know that for you, I asked you to be on a podcast and you're like, wait, what I just loved your story. And I love that you kept an open mind and it can be really easy to lose hope through this whole process. I mean I was on the verge of losing hope before I, you know, like you said, keep an open mind. So before my mind got opened back up, I was at that point where I'm like, I am going to be doomed for the rest of my life like this.

Nora:                     And I was definitely at the point where I was ready to try steroids. Like if the MegaSpore hadn't really worked for me, I was at the point where, you know, I couldn't sleep and you know, my sheets were sticking to my hands whenever I did sleep. And so, I mean, that's a really kind of very awful place to be. And so, you know, I was feeling like a bit hopeless. So I am glad that this works for me and that I didn't have to, you know, do steroids, but I mean I would have, if it hadn't have worked, had, if it had been just like any other probiotic that you know, didn't necessarily have any change make any change with my eczema. So that's kind of at the point that I was at. So.

Jennifer:              And that's a good point that you bring up too, is just that you've got to keep an open mind. But in the same respect, you know, the one big piece about the big piece to the healthy skin show is that this is a place of non-judgment. So everybody's journey is your own. And you know, I used steroid creams. I had to, I was, I was suffering so much and I, you know, the “natural stuff”, I'll put that in air quotes for everybody who's not watching the video. I mean, it took a while to work and I, in the meantime, like I needed to sleep. I needed to be able to function, I needed to be able to touch things. I needed to like not have to be wearing gloves at like business meetings and different things. Like it just was not, you can't live your life like that. People ask questions, they stare, they don't want to shake your hand, they don't want to touch you.

Nora:                     I didn't want to shake other people's hands cause it's like my hands were weeping. I was like, I don't want to get my fluids on you.

Jennifer:              Wait. And then you've got to wash your hands cause you don't know what they touched. I mean it's just like, it's awful. Yeah. And so I just want to give everybody permission to know that you know, whatever your journey is, it is your journey. And that's really important and I just, Nora, I would just want to thank you so much for being brave enough for coming on and for sharing your journey and I hope that you'll stay in touch with us and, and keep me posted on how things go.

Nora:                     Yeah. Thank you.

Jennifer:              Be one of those. I really appreciate it cause it's, you're inspiring to myself and other people in this community who are looking for reasons to not give up hope, you know, and to know that it is possible. I think a lot of people don't realize it is possible to get to the other side. They're, they're stuck. They've been sick for so long, struggling with their skin that they really think that all that is out there for them. It's just how do I manage this for the rest of my life and I want to utilize our community so that we can remind each other that it is possible to get to the other side. That you don't always just have to be fixated on the management of wrecked skin to some degree. So thank you so much for sharing.

Nora:                     Well, thanks for inviting me. I'm, I'm glad to share my story.

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS is an integrative Clinical Nutritionist and the founder of Skinterrupt. She works with women who are fed up with chronic gut and skin rash issues discover the root causes and create a plan to get them back to a fuller, richer life.

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