Revenge of the crab: rashes and their treatment
September 16, 2011 5:31 PM   Subscribe

How long can I expect to enjoy my new seafood-related rash and is there anything I can do to speed this up?

I tried soft shell crab for the first time the other day and woke up the next morning with an all-over rash. I look sunburnt. The odd thing is that I've had no other symptoms. No upset stomach, tingling, difficulty breathing or any of the really scary allergy signs.

It really doesn't even itch that much except in occasional HOLY SHIT waves of pinpricks. Benadryl at night helps, but I'm interested in hearing about anything else to try (I came across a reference to vitamin C) or how long this might last. You are not my doctor, I get it. This is just really annoying.
posted by jquinby to Health & Fitness (14 answers total)
Have you tried calamine lotion?
posted by TheBones at 5:57 PM on September 16, 2011

You mentioned Benadryl - pills? liquid? Because they also make a topical anti-histamine cream.
posted by janepanic at 6:03 PM on September 16, 2011

Response by poster: Benadryl by mouth, I should have said. And only at night. It's manageable by day, but if there's anything I can do shorten the duration of this...whatever it is...I'm all ears.
posted by jquinby at 6:26 PM on September 16, 2011

Just to give you an idea of the potential severity of this... People die of shellfish allergies.

I don't mean to scare you, but, at least consider the possibility before committing suicide-by-food.

And to respond to others - Calamine won't help for non-contact-dermatitis (things you actually get on your skin). If Benadryl helps and Calamine doesn't - That means you have a systemic reaction happening - ie, consider "death" as a possible outcome.
posted by pla at 6:42 PM on September 16, 2011

When I've had an allergic reaction (contact allergies) it usually ends pretty fast, like within 24 hours it's either gone or almost gone. If it's lasted for a couple days, you might need to go to a doctor.

Otherwise, I take generic loratadine, take coolish baths with baking soda, and use over the counter hydrocorisone cream (1%).
posted by hydrobatidae at 6:44 PM on September 16, 2011

Best answer: IANYD, etc., etc. Benadryl is an antihistamine that works on the part of your body that males allergic reactions like the one you are experiencing. It has a very short half life. If you read the label, it probably suggests using it every four or six hours. Just taking it at night is not going to give you continuous relief.

As an aside, I first discovered my allergy (at the age of 36) it was just like your symptoms. The next time was worse and next time was even worse. You need to see a doctor and have him/her prescribe medication to have on hand for the next time, because you'll never know where you will run into shrimp, crab or lobster. Ultimately, you will probably allergic to all of these.

Best wishes.
posted by Old Geezer at 6:46 PM on September 16, 2011

Response by poster: because you'll never know where you will run into shrimp, crab or lobster. Ultimately, you will probably allergic to all of these.

Well rats. I've enjoyed all of those things for years now. Curse you, soft shell crab.
posted by jquinby at 6:52 PM on September 16, 2011

Yup, I used to love them all until they stopped loving me.
posted by Old Geezer at 7:06 PM on September 16, 2011

I'm in this boat. Had a bad reaction to contract dye for a CAT scan and every since have had a sensitivity to various shell fish. They are not all the same though. I'm no allergy expect, but I can't eat a lot of crab without getting tummy craps, shortness of breath, and tunnel vision. I can eat small amounts without annoyance, and I can eat shrimp without a problem.

Adult onset allergies suck.

I can't speak to the rash, as I've only had that once, but it went away pretty darn quick for me.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:23 PM on September 16, 2011

Best answer: There are other seafood related rashes that are not necessarily classic allergic reactions, they are reactions to toxins in the seafood. Not sure what your rash is ilke but you can look at the pictures here of scombroid toxicity. It usually occurs with GI symptoms too, but if you don't have hives, then that sounds less classic for a typical allergic reaction anyhow. IANYD. The treatment is just Benadryl and time.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:11 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

When I went to the ER for my first ever allergic reaction (I had facial swelling and hives but it didn't end up being life-threatening), they gave me anti-histamine pills straight away. Then they gave me a course of the steroid prednisone to take if the swelling didn't go down over the next couple of days. I didn't end up needing it, but perhaps you could ask your doctor if steroids would be appropriate for you?
posted by embrangled at 11:14 PM on September 16, 2011

Best answer: When I took my best friend to the hospital for a food-related allergic reaction, they gave him benadryl plus pepcid. Benadryl acts on one histamine receptor, whereas pepcid, Tagamet, and Zantac all act on a different histamine receptor. The ER doc said that they work well together and are more effective on food allergies together than either one is alone.

So try that, and see an allergist, because it sounds like you may have developed a shellfish allergy.
posted by bedhead at 9:50 AM on September 17, 2011

I should add that I am not a doctor, is is not medical advice, and before taking additional medication you should ask a doctor or pharmacist. Pharmacists in particular can be very helpful with this kind of stuff since they know drug interactions very well.
posted by bedhead at 9:53 AM on September 17, 2011

Response by poster: Well, I just got back from an allergist and am officially not allergic to shellfish or any other seafood. He described my reaction as consistent with something more akin to food poisoning.

I did, however, discover that the true culprit of my seasonal allergies is oak pollen and some weeds. And that I should also get a mattress cover to control dust mite nastiness. Thanks to one and all.

If you're reading this in the future, go see an allergist if you're in any kind of doubt. The discomfort of the testing (for me, 3 groups of 10-pinprick thingies on my back and a 15-minute wait for reaction) was well worth the peace of mind.
posted by jquinby at 8:52 AM on September 27, 2011

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