Adventures in the skin trade
May 15, 2014 9:20 AM Subscribe
I have a rash I have been dealing with unsuccessfully for the last four months, and need deciding how to proceed. General interest (well, if you're interested in rashes and bug bites and other matters dermatological), but people who know the Baltimore medical scene are particularly invited to read on. Red, blotchy snowflakes inside.
posted by ubiquity to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
I went to Caicos last December for a week. Near the beginning of my trip, I noticed some minor itching under my beard, but I get that sometimes, and ignored it. But the itching persisted, and then on the 4th day i noticed three little bites on my arm. The next day I noticed three little bites on my chest. I went to the nurse, who said "sand flies."
I returned home, thinking everything would subside. It did not. The itching under my beard continued. A rash started to appear where the chest bites were. Things got worse. Periodically, new clusters of bites appeared.
I went to see my dermatologist. She said they were NOT bites, and that the chest/abdomen stuff was not the same as the beard stuff. The beard stuff, she said, was dandruff, and she prescribed daily anti-dandruff shampoo. She didn't know what the other stuff was, but she prescribed a strong steroidal cream and said it would go away.
Neither helped. I religiously shampooed my beard daily for two weeks with no change. The cream didn't seem to help either, so she switched me to a foam which helped, but didn't actually make anything go away -- and as soon as i stopped applying the foam, the rash came back.
The dermatologist took two biopsies, which came back "spongiform folliculitis (probably allergy)." I have no known allergies and there's nothing in my environment which seems to have changed in the appropriate time period. The dermatologist thought maybe it was eczema, which seemed to me to be grasping at straws, but i tried the moisturizer she gave me with no results. I decided to see another dermatologist.
This dermatologist took one look at the latest outbreak of bites and said bedbugs. He told me other things which fit with that theory. He said get rid of the bedbugs and the rest of the rash would go away. So I had exterminators in. They found nothing. They said I may have brought back one or two with me from the islands, but they couldn't do anything about just one.
So what should I do now? I think my old dermatologist probably doesn't have anything new to contribute, and I don't think going back to the other one will change his mind. I've been sleeping on a couch two rooms away from my bedroom for the last two nights, and there have been no new outbreaks. Should I keep doing that for a few weeks and see if the problem goes away? Should I see a third dermatologist? The new one lost interest once he diagnosed bedbugs, but I still think I might have more than one thing going on. Other ideas?
If you think I should see a third dermatologist, got any recommendations? I'm in Baltimore, and so is Johns Hopkins, so I can pick one of their dermatologists out of a hat, but if I'm going to see a third doctor I'd really like to make sure it's a wonder-doc.
All suggestions and advice welcomed.