Severe skin rash/inflammation

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Hi, a few months ago my problem started with small patches of eczema in my joints, but it has since spread and is covering most of my body. My back, legs and arms are particularly badly affected, causing me mean enormous amount of discomfort. I visited my GP, who prescribed me with steroid cream and an emollient. There was nowhere near enough steroid cream to last the 2 weeks I was told to use for, it lasted 3 days. One week later and my skin is just as bad if not worse. It is not dry because I am using the emollient everyday, but it red, inflamed, itchy and sore. I have another appointment booked but I am wondering if there is anything I can do until then? It is really getting me down.

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9 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Adam,

    I had eczema from childhood and the doctors kept giving me creams, steroid creams and emollient. ALl of them said that it was unlikely that I had an allergy or food intolerance.

    Eventually I saw an accupuncturist (a former GP who said he was tired of peddling drugs for the pharmaceutical industry.) He said that I could have an allergy or food intolerance. I then cut out all of the common allergens i.e dairy products, eggs, sulphides (food additives) nuts etc and after 2-3 months my skin completely cleared up. I was 25 then and am 50 now.

    As a result I now have clear skin again and do not have to face all the associated issues and itchiness.

    I hope that this works for you too.

    Best

    Stephen

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    • Posted

      Thanks for the reply. My doctor did suggest that I could be allergic to something that is irritating my skin. I was prescribed fexofenadine, a strong antihistamine, and it had no affect whatsoever. I have had allergy tests in the past and didn't test positive to any food, however I did test positive to dogs and a few other things. I have had dogs for years and have never had any problems providing I take antihistamines. So if it was an allergic reaction, I really don't understand why it would suddenly come on like this and especially given how severe it is. It's bizarre because 3 months ago my skin was fine, no eczema, no dryness or irritation. Now it's a complete mess and only seems to be getting worse.
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    • Posted

      Allergies and intolerances can develop at any time, they are not all predetermined at birth. 

      Apart from Milk, Egss, Nuts and Sulphides, Wheat and Fish can also cause reactions.

      I had to go on a very basic diet of Lamb, Rice and Pears to discover my allergies. 

      I hope this helps.

      Steve

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  • Posted

    I have few answers, had extreme perioral dermatitis for 15 months, currently feeling very much as you do.

    I do know steroid treatments can make things worse in the long run, it's person and condition dependant

    What emollients are you using?

    I want to send you my love. I'm so sorry if you're feeling like I've felt.

    God bless

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    • Posted

      I am using Diprobase twice a day. Apart from being messy it does a good job at keeping my skin moist, but obviously because it isn't an anti-inflammatory my skin is still red and inflamed. The steroid cream I was given (can't remember the exact name, began with a c) appeared to be working, my skin was returning to the normal colour and the inflammation was reduced. I was told to use it twice a day for 2 weeks, it lasted 3 days because of how widespread the rash is. A week later and the inflammation returned. I know there are regulations on how much they can prescribe to patients but if I had enough to use for 2 weeks then it might have the desired effect, only using for 3 days obviously had very little affect. I read online that they can prescribe steroid tablets for severe cases or eczema/inflammation (and mine is very severe) so I might ask the doctor about that when I go. Thanks for the reply, I hope we can find a solution somehow.
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    • Posted

      Protopic or elidl are good topical options.

      Also wet wraps are meant to help. I can't for my face obviously so can't give more advice.

      I've tried literally dozens of emollients and creams, react to every one. Having to use nothing.

      Let us know how you go

      X

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  • Posted

    I'm really sorry you're feeling down. I understand what you're going through because my daughter used to be covered by eczema from toe to top, including her scalp.

    It's been 2 months since she was diagnosed celiac a genetic condition that runs in my family and 4 months since she changed her diet.

    No gluten for life is the rule to keep her gut healthy, and she was also found to be allergic to Eggs and other triggers in food and also her immediate environment.

    These days The eczema has gone and her self confidence is back.

    I hope my experience helps to find a solution for your condition.

    Ana

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  • Posted

    Hi adam569, 

    I can only imagine how discomforting it must be if to have such a wide area of your skin affected by eczema. 

    What I would recommend is to keep a diary of any food you eat, products that come into contact with your skin (including cream, soaps, shampoos, detergents, etc), and medication you take. It might help you identify what is most likely to cause your skin reaction. 

    You mention that you have had allergy tests in the past and are allergic to dogs. Unfortunately, our immune response to irritants can change over time. 

    Could it be that your allergy has become more severe?

    You also say that you manage your dog allergy with antihistamines? Does that mean that you have been taking antihistamines for a long period of time? I am just asking because e.g. one of the side effects of Piriteze is skin irritation and rash. 

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  • Posted

    i hope you are doing better by now. i ended up here by googling 'skin rash forums' and this was the first place i tried. I came to learn and find something that might help me.  But i will share my experience fwiw.  

    I don't know when my rash started. Its possible that it started in 2006. i only say that because that was the apparent beginning of a very rare insulinoma tumor i had on my pancreas, benign but it secretes insulin haphazardly and then frequently depletes your glucose to an extreme degree. i did not know i had this until mid 2014 when i started having symptoms of seizures a few times over a period of months, in the morning on waking. Before that, i thought it was something purely psychological, as i abruptly but episodically became a basket case psychologically, it effected my high stress job really bad, i loved the job. Anyway, your brain needs adequate glucose so this tumor often causes psych symptoms. Once i started having obviously physical symptoms, it was diagnosed pretty soon. I had tested low for glucose in the past but it was assumed to be lab error, because it was too low for a person to be out walking around. but in retrospect, it wasn't lab error. That's why i say the tumor symptoms started in 2006, because after years, decades, of normal glucose on all blood tests, i suddenly had one in the low 30s, which is extremely low and they said it was a lab error, the lab said there was "contamination." i never even questioned that because i didn't feel sick

    Then, once it was diagnosed, it was quickly cured by major abdominal surgery to remove the 1cm tumor from my pancreas. After that, no more symptoms. 

    So i don't know exactly when the rash started, but it could have been some time after i started living with pathologically low glucose, chronic, i think it didn't start before that.  i don't remember when the first time i saw it was.

    Importantly, it doesn't itch.  It sometimes itches mildly, not to a point that i have to scratch it. Rarely, i do feel a need to scratch it, but mostly it doesn't itch, it doesn't hurt. But it's gradually spreading and is very extensive now and is destroying my skin. It's all over my body but not the face or neck, not the hands and feet. It's on both fore arms, upper arms, only the inner sides, it's more on the left, it covers most of the area of the arms. It flares and dies down, flares and dies down. At its best, it becomes dry and the red bumps become kind of skin color and flat, and it is fading, but it flares about once a week and the process of it fading and flaring is slow so it takes up a week and never comes anywhere close to completely going away. at worst, it's red, the bumps are enlarged, they give off some kind of fluid. 

    Thankfully it doesn't itch, but on the other hand, this has led to me ignoring it, being busy with other things.  but it is on my upper inner arms, it is all over my upper and lower legs, not symmetrical, just irregular huge red blotches, it's covering most of my left breast, not on the right breast at all. It's really bad on my lower abdomen and it really bothers me to wear things with elastic there, like underpants and regular pants, i don't want anything to be touching it, but that isn't an easy place to not be touched by clothes.  

    The texture of my skin is getting worse over time, very rough, thickening, dry in places, and while i don't harm the skin by scratching it, i do pick at the rough places sometimes, wanting to peel off the outer later of dry rough skin, to make it smooth again.

    I don't put moisturizer on it because i want it to be able to breathe. It's counter-instinctive to me. If i had someone i could trust, by which i mean a holistic healer, who recommended some kind of moisturizing substance, i would try it, but while i don't mean to imply that regular doctors are dishonest, what i mean by not trusting is, i don't trust their beliefs and their knowledge, and their lack of knowledge, about this and many other things. This is based on many experiences. I am always open to finding out what they know and what they recommend, i certainly needed their help to diagnose my tumor and remove it and they did a great job at that. I healed and recovered quickly. I remember when i had the surgery in 2014, wondering what the surgical team would think of my rash that was all over where they would be working. It was a lot less than it is now then. But it was there. 

    I went to a dermatologist a year or so ago, recommended by my regular doctor who i like and have a lot of trust in.  The dermatologist didn't have any answers about what it was or what was causing it. To me, if they don't know the cause, they don't know how to heal it.  But he just said, and this was no surprise to me, to put a steroid ointment on it.  i said that i was hesitant to do that, given that steroid are not good for the immune system, and this rash shows that something is not right with my immune system already, and i know that a little bit of steroid cream for a limited time, is not risky, but i have this years long rash that is on my back, my abdomen, my left breast, my arms and my legs, and my hips, so we are talking a lot of steroid here, enough that i would be absorbing a lot of it through my skin, enough that i would be worried about the risk.

    Doctors don't worry about steroid risk because it's such a common tool in their tool chest to treat inflammation that they don't have any other way of treating, like eliminating the cause, they use it a lot, for things all over the body, and it's a well known cancer risk, it increases your lifetime risk of cancer, which is kept in check by your immune system, steroids lower immunity, they are used to turn off immune reactions, one of which is inflammation.

    There are uses for steroids, but they are a lesser of evils and since my rash doesn't itch and isn't driving me crazy, i think ingesting steroids through a very large area of my skin, is not a worthwhile risk for me to take.

    i didn't say all of that to the doctor but i said briefly that it was such a large area, i was worried about it. I asked if he could take a skin scraping of it and look at it under a microscope. My dog goes to a chinese medicine healer who said my rash was caused by mold. i thought he meant mold on my skin, so i asked the dermatoolgist if he would check for that.  He didn't see anything under the microscope. He also took a biopsy and sent it to a lab. They said it was spongiotic dermatitis, which is a generic term , like eczema, which doesn't provide any information other than what you already know--it's inflammtion that is happening for some unknown reason. The lab also said eczema, i think, or the doctor did or both. And atopic dermatitis.  None of this provided information that would help guide treatement in a  way that works.  

    Doctors just don't know how to cure rashes. They can treat symptoms, and in some cases this will be the end of it, if the inflammation was temporary.

    Before i saw the dermatologist, i had been reading about a zinc cream on Amazon and read reviews of lots of eczema sufferers, and from reading those i learned that not only had steroids not helped most of them, but some said steroids made it worse, when the stopped taking the steroid, it came back worse than ever.

    I did not want to put steroid cream all over my body, only to have the rash be worse than ever when i stop taking the steroids. Where am i even going to get enough steroids to cover the involved area?  It would take several large jars of it to do it for a couple of weeks, but would a couple of weeks be enough to clear it up?  It take about 3 days for steroids to start working. What if i'm one of those people it doesn't work on?  Should i put twice as much on?  Twice as much of this known carcinogen, people who use steroids on a regular basis are simply at higher risk for cancer.

    it's a known risk that is taken when the alternative is considered worse, such as following an organ transplant when your immune system will reject the organ, or my friend's 11 year old daughter got a kind of chronic kidney inflammation which ran in her family and was life threatening, family members had died,  and she was put on steroids in the emergency room when her serious symptoms first suddenly started.

    My friend was very worried about it, devoted himself to researching it and researching alternatives and ended up working with nutrition.  

    when you use a nutritional approach to healing, it tends to be a very narrow kind of diet, which obviously can be difficult. it's not undertaken lightly, there has be very high motivation. My friend didn't give his daughter choices, very hard at her age, no pizza, etc etc, he controlled her diet , she did well, no symptoms, good blood tests, he weaned her slowly off the steroids, the doctors were pretty unhappy about it, it's just the way they are trained, but there is more to healing than medicine, it's just that it's not subject to their learning methods and they don't know about it, nutritional healing and the ways of supporting the immune system so that the body can heal itself. My friend's daughter did well for a long time, she is in college now, far from home, and he said she knows what she has to do.  He was always open to what the doctors recommended, and he would research it, to learn about it. Most people just do what their doctor recommends, understandable. my friend was different, this was his daughter and he had the time at home on the internet to do the reading and learning. He knows she might have to go back on steroids at some point, or, she might not. one never knows, it's not like there has been research into nutritional healing that would make predictions possible. but for now, he has managed to keep her safe from the known risks of steroids and other immune suppressants.   

    I saw a second dermatologist in that office.  She said that she would also recommend steroids. and she said "I have a lot of patients who plead with me to give them oral steroids for their problem, and i won't," she was acknowledging steroids , particularly oral, are not to be given lightly, and are to be minimized, but she said in my case she strongly recommended i take them, she would prescribe a course of Prednisone for two weeks and also cream or ointment that i would put on it.  But we are talking about places on my body i can't even reach, my back, and just so much area, can she prescribe enough?  She said she thought the oral steroids would get it under control and then the cream would be continued after stopping the oral steroids to keep clearing it up.  

    i hope i never have to take them, it's the last thing my immune system needs. but i don't know where it's all going to lead. It's getting worse over time, but a very very long time, it's spreading slowly over years, it doesn't spread in short periods of time. 

    I asked the dermatologist if they would recommend allergy testing. She said no, she said they could do it if they wanted to but didn't think it would help. I decided i was going to have it done anyway, just to rule it out. I've never had allergies to anything, no obvious symptoms, i don't have itching, or runny nose or anything like that, until i got this rash. i'm 68 years old now. i guess i've had it since around my late 50s. i wish i was more sure about when it started. 

    The allergist understood that i didn't want steroids, i wanted to find out what the cause of it was and deal with that directly.  He tested me for every known allergen and everything came back negative, no allergies. i wasn't surprised, though i was hoping for some magic bullet, like eggs which i do have one medium boiled egg every morning, for protein, plain oatmeal . 

    When i told my dog's healer that the skin scraping didn't show any mold, he said  he meant that the mold was in side the body, not outside.  He had recommended nutritional changes, and had given me a list, standard list that he gives everybody.  i hadn't done it yet but have studied it. I had a nutritional healer from 1994 to 2011 (i only consulted with her once a year or less), following her suggestions transformed my life, i could not believe how healthy i was and all the symptoms i had that brought me to her, that i had had for years and years and were getting worse, went away. For her, each person was different and she didn't give the same recommendations to everybody. So that is part of my hesitation with my dog's healer's food list, and i was wishing to find someone like the healer i worked with before, she died in 2014. 

    Reading these responses has been helpful to me, especially Steve and what he said about the nutritional changes he made.  When i was working with the healer who changed my life so much, i was off of wheat, dairy, nuts, sugar, salt, caffeine, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers (nightshade vegetables), no spinach, not much fruit. No chicken. It's easier to say what she did recommend, beef, fish (certain fish), lamb, liver (which i tried getting into but didn't), turkey white meat once a week only, minimize  bread, no wheat but she said a little pure unsalted rye bread and kamut and spelt bread was ok. About bread she said "Less is more."  Fruit, she recommended apples, applesauce, blueberries, peaches, that was about all, i think, and no melon, no starchy vegetable like summer squash. The vegetables i ate were zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli and green beans. She recommended oatmeal for breakfast, i could put applesauce and cinnamon in it if i wanted, years later, she said an egg for breakfast was ok.  i used to eat canned tuna and canned salmon, low sodium, for lunch with a rice cake, and an apple. With fish at dinner, she recommended one of the vegetables, zucchini, yellow squash, asparagus,  and brown rice. With beef, or lamb, she recommended only vegetables with it, no bread group (rice), i would have a huge pile of broccoli or green beans  That sums it up.  

    The way i felt after some time on that diet, even a little from the beginning, was like i had been let out of prison, after a years in prison, i was free. it was an incredible feeling and motivated me to stay on that diet, which made it hard to go to people's houses for dinner and things like that. Hard to find restaurants that i could get foods like that, and not get wheat, chicken, salt, tomatoes, that was hard. i did it strictly for 10 years, and began gradually liberalizing it around 2005. Interesting that evidence of the tumor showed up in 2006. Probably a coincidence. I still am influenced by 'the diet,' but have not been avoiding salt in a long time, and i'm just not on the low allergen diet anymore, bottom line.  

    i kind of know that if i did something like that now, or like what Steve described, my rash should improve. i just need to be desperate enough. 

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