You are not a doctor, but maybe you can help me with a weird skin thing.
March 28, 2013 9:34 AM   Subscribe

I have something rash-like going on. It started on my face, spread to my torso and back. It's migrating quickly. What the hell is it?

Of course I should see a doctor...can't afford to until a major hang up with my health insurance is resolved. I don't know how long it will take, maybe be next week, maybe two months from now.

Me. 37 y/old woman. About 6 weeks ago I had what I thought was an unusual acne break out on my right chin from the corner of my mouth downward. The skin has raised red bumps and is dry and flaky. The red bumps spread to the other side of my chin/mouth. Then it started to run up in the lines between my nose and mouth. Make-up can deal with most of it, but still. About 10 days ago the guy I'm seeing pointed out a smattering of small, red, slightly raised bumps across the small of my back. A few days after that I noticed the same smattering red bumps on by pelvis/hips. In the last few days it's spread up my torso and the rest of my back. The bumps are most clustered, dense and flaky on my face. On my torso and back they just seem random and scattered, no flakiness...but increasing in numbers. It seems like it took several weeks for the rash to go from my face to the rest of my body, now it's spreading really fast.

This is brand new to me. The only skin condition I've ever had is very mild tinea versicolor, which flares up once every few years and goes away after a week of washing with dandruff shampoo. I don't have any personal or family history of skin allergies, eczema, psoriasis etc. I have not changed products in ages - all of my lotions, perfumes, cleansers, soaps, laundry detergents etc. are as they have been for ages. He hasn't changed products either.

I don't have a fever. The bumps are not painful, tender, itchy, or swollen and don't seem to have any fluid/puss or other gross stuff in them.

I'm not taking new medications. The only thing I can think of that changed around the time the rash stared is that I eat a lot more Trader's Joe's food.... sandwiches, salads, veggies etc. I can change that if it seems appropriate. I'm under more stress than usual, but mostly good stress.

Other stuff. Don't smoke. Drink on average 2 glasses wine/beer/mixed drink twice a week. My weight is fine, diet is fairly decent, don't exercise as much as I should. I rarely get sick.

What the fuck is this? Anything I can do until I can see a doctor?
Thank You!
posted by space_cookie to Health & Fitness (17 answers total)
Allergic reaction.
Food is usually the culprit.
Clothing second likely.
The good news is you can test immediately; stop Trader Joe's and monitor results. Process of elimination.
posted by Kruger5 at 9:40 AM on March 28, 2013

IANAD, obviously, but it sounds possibly allergic to me, too. Agree with Kruger5 that you shoudl probably stop eating TJ's foods for now and see if it clears up. What about your new man, has he changed anything? Maybe you're allergic to his new lotion. Or maybe he changed his fabric softener and you're reacting to his sheets. Or have any of your old standby products changed their forumation? Have you tried topical cortisone?
posted by hungrybruno at 9:43 AM on March 28, 2013

Thanks. I suspected that would be one avenue to pursue. That reminds me....Can allergies develop spontaneously? I've had long stints of the Trader Joe's diet in years past with nothing like this happening.
posted by space_cookie at 9:46 AM on March 28, 2013

No idea about allergies developing spontaneously, but just want to point out that it's possible that something in the TJ's food changed. Maybe the recipe changed, maybe they changed suppliers, maybe they changed the ink on the packaging, maybe a whole bunch of other variables changed. "Food from Trader Joe's" is a pretty broad category of products and possible allergens.

Good luck figuring it out.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:53 AM on March 28, 2013

Allergies absolutely can develop spontaneously. I have a good friend who became allergic to walnuts when she was 37.
posted by KathrynT at 9:53 AM on March 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

Yes to spontaneous allergies! My sister has been eating peaches her whole life until last summer she ate one and her face swelled up like crazy. No more stone fruit for her, it turns out. She's 28. I had no issues with lactose until I was a senior in college, now I have to use caution around dairy products.
posted by hungrybruno at 10:00 AM on March 28, 2013

My neighbor had something that sounds like your red bumps that started at the feet and slowly, then rapidly moved up: it was a fungus. If you don't rule out allergies, consider that possibility.
posted by mightshould at 10:06 AM on March 28, 2013

Why not go to Urgent Care and pay the full price? Rashes are tricky.
posted by discopolo at 10:14 AM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Or Pityriasis rosea. Starts with a "herald patch" then spreads in a couple of weeks around the torso, front and back.
posted by cocoagirl at 10:16 AM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

In that situation I would be inclined, just as a cheap sort of test, to try treating a specific patch of the rash with an over-the-counter antifungal ointment.
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 10:28 AM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Does "no new medications" include over-the-counter stuff, including stuff you've taken before in the past and took again recently after a long lapse? I know I always forget to include things like that when I'm asked about medications.

For example, if you had a mild headache six weeks ago and took a Tylenol but hadn't taken Tylenol in a long time because you prefer ibuprofen, the Tylenol still counts as a "new" medication, and is something to consider. Likewise for dietary supplements, herbs, or vitamins/minerals.
posted by jesourie at 11:44 AM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had a strep infection that did this to me. My throat was fine- I had no idea strep could do that.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 12:09 PM on March 28, 2013

Yeah, this could be so many things (fungal infection, celulitis, allergies) that we can't give you a diagnosis via internet. Get thee to a doctor.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 12:13 PM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Do you often wipe your face with your shirt? I discovered that I'm allergic to something in some black dyes when I worked out, wiped my face with a shirt with a graphic of an orca on it, and gave myself a rash of red bumps that didn't hurt or itch, but corresponded to the path my shirt-covered hand traveled as I wiped my face. (And then some blue fabrics started doing the same a year or two later.)

I also developed a sensitivity to something in regular clothes detergent, which makes me itch mildly if I wear clothes washed in it. I have to use the hypoallergenic/Free and Clear-type stuff to prevent that.
posted by telophase at 12:45 PM on March 28, 2013

"Spreading really fast": If this were me, I wouldn't be wasting time trying stuff on my own, and I'd also skip straight to a real, actual dermatologist, being sure to use that phrase when I'm making the appointment.
posted by sageleaf at 1:29 PM on March 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Just double-checking, but you didn't change dryer sheets, did you? I recently splurged on the more expensive Bounce sheets, and holy wow, did I break out. It took me a while to figure it out because I'd used them in the past without my skin freaking out.

So, keep in mind that it doesn't have to be something new—it could well be something you've been using for ages; formulas change.
posted by heyho at 2:32 PM on March 28, 2013

How is your Vitamin D? I had a similar problem a couple of months ago when the lack of sun from winter got worse - it went away when I started taking Vitamin D.
posted by Partario at 4:31 AM on March 29, 2013

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