New cat makes me itchy, but not sneezy?
April 2, 2013 9:19 AM   Subscribe

We got a new cat a few months ago, and I've noticed that I've been itching all over more and more, and I seem to be developing a rash on my arm, and possibly even some eczema on my ear. I didn't actually make the connection to the cat until this week, but the itching, etc, has been bothering me for a month or so, and I never had any of these symptoms prior to the cat. The thing is, I haven't had any kind of sneezing or sinus or runny nose problems at all, just the itching, and most descriptions of cat allergies describe mostly people having problems with sneezing and runny nose. Is it possible to just cause skin irritation in some people? Would Claritin or Allegra help with it? What else can I try?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It may not be your cat. I always thought I was allergic to cats, but it turns out that I'm allergic to trees and grasses, things cats roll around in. I now have indoor kitties and I have no itching, scratching or sneezing.

Yes, Claritin, Allegra, Zyrtec (or their generic alternatives) will help alleviate your symptoms. Benedryl will too (but will also zonk you out,

You may want to go to an allergist for a skin test.

You may also be having a reaction to spring. Allergies build up, so you can go around not allergic for a couple years, then WHAM!

Consult an allergist, but OTC stuff will keep you from feeling miserable.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:23 AM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

There is also the possibility of the cat having (or being a carrier) of ringworm. Sounds scary, but it's really not. Did you get the cat checked out at a vet after you got it?

(Note: happened to a friend of mine. Cat was a carrier, but displayed no symptoms.)
posted by Gneisskate at 9:34 AM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

If it's only your skin, make sure you haven't switched soaps or something like that. I'd expect your eyes to at least water/itch a bit if it was the cat.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:38 AM on April 2, 2013

Yes, this sounds a lot like ringworm (a fungal infection which can hang around and around and around unless you get rid of it). It doesn't make cats itch, but it does make their fur fall out in little patches. Humans, it itches like a mofo. Take the cat to the vet. If it is ringworm: Jock itch cream for your affected skin, serious washing for everything the cat hangs out on.
posted by tomboko at 9:41 AM on April 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

My cat irritates my eczema but doesn't bother my eyes and nose all that much, at least from what I can tell. Whatever OTC 24 hr allergy pill you find should help, along with your normal salves.
posted by Think_Long at 9:47 AM on April 2, 2013

If it's ringworm, Oxydol a laundry detergent is said to kill it. In the 'hood, where I grew up, people would make a paste of it and put it on the affected areas. (Anti-fungal cream is better) but if you're washing stuff, my old-fashioned, superstious self would source some Oxydol to do the washing.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:47 AM on April 2, 2013

Is it possible the cat has fleas? Even if it is indoor-only you can sometimes track the eggs in (as I learned myself once, yuck).
posted by Keter at 10:03 AM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am another person who has a skin-only allergy reaction to cats. As a child I would break out in tiny little hives anywhere cat fur touched me. I remember having to take lots of baths with baking soda in the water to relieve the itching.
As an adult, I rarely get hives anymore, but the skin around my eyes will itch badly if I touch my face after touching a cat. I never have sneezing fits or itchy nose stuff.

I take a daily zyrtec (the Costco brand is super-cheap and super-effective), but half a tablet of benadryl works great for any cat allergies I experience, and that small a dose doesn't make me drowsy.
posted by Brody's chum at 3:21 PM on April 2, 2013

When I was a kid I often complained of being itchy - I remember coming home from school and my skin just absolutely crawling. I remember being in third or fourth grade, and running to the car at the end of the day and tearing all my clothes off before we'd even left the parking lot because I couldn't stand the feeling of my clothes touching my skin for one second longer. YEARS later, my mom read an article about how one symptom of asthma was itching, as the skin responded to the lack of oxygen in the body. Bingo. I was always itchy when I couldn't breathe - hot dusty days in a desert climate, around my grandma's cats, etc. Inhaler fixed it; Benadryl helped too.

I was only mildly asthmatic, so it doesn't take much, and I didn't use my inhaler enough because (aside from the itching) I was "fine" - not obviously wheezing or anything. I'd get itchy long before I started noticeably wheezing - I should have been using an inhaler regularly/preventatively, not "as needed". (If I waited until I was obviously wheezing, I was well on my way to an asthma attack.) YMMV, and eczema may be related or not... but yeah, it's definitely possible. May not be allergies, but maybe kitties are triggering mild undiagnosed asthma or similar?

Oh yeah... I'll nth ringworm too, or some other fungal thing. Fungal - no biggie, just itchy. Try dabbing vinegar helps. It doesn't necessarily cure, but it does help. My husband just had some weird fungal thing and ended up with prescription anti-fungal cream, but it cleared up almost immediately.
posted by jrobin276 at 6:33 PM on April 2, 2013

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