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Make the bumps go away
December 20, 2009 8:33 AM   Subscribe

You are not my doctor, but you do know something about mysterious skin conditions that disappear without a trace every time I make a doctor's appointment.

For about a month now, I've been getting waves of these itchy, slightly reddened, mosquito-bite-looking bumps. They range from about a quarter-inch to an inch in diameter, and from one or two at a time to clusters of dozens. They tend to show up most often at night (before I go to bed), last anywhere from a few hours to a day, then disappear completely for a day or two. When it started they were always on my legs, but lately they've been showing up on my back and chest; right now I'm pretty sure there's one in my lower lip which feels all swollen and bruised. There's no discharge or scaliness, they just look very much like huge mosquito bites (which they cannot possibly be at this time of year where I live.)

I've never had allergies or anything of the sort, haven't had any changes in diet or household cleaning products or clothing or behavior lately, am not under significant stress, and haven't found any pattern to whatever might be triggering them. There was one day when we thought my wife might be showing the same symptoms but it was mild enough that we weren't sure, and it never recurred for her.

My doctor said it might be a viral skin infection of some sort, and suggested claritin to mask the symptoms (which does seem to help a bit) but wasn't able to make a better diagnosis because by the time I schedule an appointment they've always disappeared. If I schedule yet another appointment and show up symptomless again I'm sure I'll get filed under "hypochondriac".

So I turn to you, in the faint hope that one of you will say OMG I had those exact same symptoms, and was able to _________ to make the problem go away forever. Or at least reassure me that these things aren't eventually going to migrate into my vital organs and make a heart valve fall off or pop an eyeball or something.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I assume you've already considered these could be run-of-the-mill hives? (The varying size and quick appearance/disappearance seem like hives to me.)
posted by availablelight at 8:38 AM on December 20, 2009


I can't comment on what it might be, but I would suggest that you take photos when the bumps appear. Make sure they are clear and from multiple angles and if possible, taken from a bit of a distance showing other parts of your body to give a sense of scale. If the doc can't see them directly, perhaps the pictures will help in the diagnosis.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 8:40 AM on December 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


I had a come-and-go rash and took pics of it to take to the doctor. The doctor said she really appreciated them and was able to make a diagnosis with the pics plus my explanation/history.
posted by pitseleh at 8:42 AM on December 20, 2009


Hey availablelight, I think you linked to the wrong thread.

Try the hives tag.
posted by intermod at 9:00 AM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Those sound like hives to me...I had them a couple of times and could never figure out why. Avoiding too-hot showers and baths seemed to help, though.
posted by beyond_pink at 9:01 AM on December 20, 2009


(of course I am not a doctor)

That sounds exactly like hives, especially the lip one (lip hives are uncomfortable to painful).
You shouldn't rule out allergy testing. Serious allergies can kill you, they are nothing to mess with. You can develop them later in life. Or you could have another autoimmune issue that is causing the hives. Autoimmune stuff is also nothing to mess with.

Try benadryl, see if it helps your lip.

It doesn't seem like Claritin would mask a viral skin infection it sounds like it would treat/mitigate an allergic reaction.

I would get a second opinion or at least a referral to a dermatologist. You sound miserable.
posted by kathrineg at 9:03 AM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you're afraid of being thought of as a hypochondriac, maybe take a picture of them and bring it in next time? Might even help your doctor figure out what they are.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:29 AM on December 20, 2009


My household informs me that I am wrong--viruses can cause hives, hence the claritin for a viral thing.
posted by kathrineg at 9:32 AM on December 20, 2009


For about a month now, I've been getting waves of these itchy, slightly reddened, mosquito-bite-looking bumps. They range from about a quarter-inch to an inch in diameter, and from one or two at a time to clusters of dozens. They tend to show up most often at night (before I go to bed), last anywhere from a few hours to a day, then disappear completely for a day or two. When it started they were always on my legs, but lately they've been showing up on my back and chest; right now I'm pretty sure there's one in my lower lip which feels all swollen and bruised. There's no discharge or scaliness, they just look very much like huge mosquito bites (which they cannot possibly be at this time of year where I live.)

The description of them sounds a lot like fleas or bed bugs, actually. Try looking at images of both, and seeing if either seems close: flea bites; bed bug bites.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:53 AM on December 20, 2009


(Oh, and not everyone responds to insect bites in the same way, or is attractive to insects--it's possible for only one person in a household to get visible flea or bed bug bites).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:54 AM on December 20, 2009


I get hives when I'm incredibly stressed out. Like, day of my wedding, attendant still trying to fly in standby stress. Are you going through anything like that?
posted by sugarfish at 10:31 AM on December 20, 2009


Is your doctor willing to let you be a quick walk-in-and-look patient? Maybe tell him you don't need a whole undress appt, but can he just look on his way from one patient to another? Then come back at a scheduled time if you need more tests or treatment.
posted by CathyG at 11:22 AM on December 20, 2009


If they're super itchy, it might be dermatitis herpetiformis, usually caused by a sensitivity to gluten (which can go undiagnosed for a really long time). My mom has celiac disease, and they didn't catch it until she had waves of hives for a long time seemingly for no reason. Not saying you have that, but the initial test for gluten sensitivity is a simple blood test, so it might be worth checking out.

Also, nthing taking a picture of them when they pop up; keeping a log of when they come up, how long they last, and their location should be helpful to your doc as well.
posted by melissasaurus at 11:43 AM on December 20, 2009


This sounds like my body's response to ant bites. Our apartment has lately become the unwilling new home to a bajillion ants as it's gotten colder. I live in the south, though, so if you're in a colder climate, it might not be ants but fleas or bed bugs.
posted by runningwithscissors at 12:26 PM on December 20, 2009


I have totally had those, and they were hives in my case. I took Rx antihistamines for two nights, and they were totally gone. Like, forever.

(Extended complainy remix: I went to the doctor and said, "I need help. I'm breaking out in hives all the time. I don't know what's causing them." Apparently not hearing the "come and go frequently" and "disappear only to reappear elsewhere" part, she first speculated that I had ringworm, then eczema. Now I've had eczema, and this is not eczema, but I'm not a doctor, either, so I tried the eczema cream. But no, they just continued to itch, disappear, reappear elsewhere, etc. Finally on visit two she decided I had idiopathic urticaria. Uh, wha? "That means hives of unknown origin." Or "I'm breaking out in hives all the time. I don't know what's causing them." Antihistamine prescription, done. Like I was with the doctor.)
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 5:02 PM on December 20, 2009


I got those for a time back in my old apartment, and wondered what I was allergic to for months. Turned out it was the cockroach infestation we were having at the time; the rashes went away after multiple exterminator visits.
posted by brownpau at 7:32 AM on December 21, 2009


A DIY bed bug detector that I saw today. Seems pretty cheap and easy, for a chance at not having to go back to the doctor.
posted by anaelith at 9:29 AM on December 21, 2009


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