My face is on fire.
June 27, 2013 7:45 AM   Subscribe

I'm having problems with my skin and I can't figure it out.

On Friday I noticed that my face was really bumpy and irritated. I could see and feel very faint red dots. I assumed I was just having a break out and slapped on some concealer. The bumps persisted all weekend. On Saturday I stopped using all beauty products, except for Dr. Bronners, which I've used for years, just to see if it was one of my beauty products. It didn't get better. My skin was itchy and irritated. By Monday is was really uncomfortable and had spread down into my neck and chin area. It wasn't super obvious but I could see tiny red dots and my cheeks seemed even more red than usual (I normally have reddish cheeks). I took lots of Benadryl and it didn't seem to help. I put a little hydrocortisone on my cheeks and that didn't help either.

So it's Thursday now and my skin is still burning and itching. It's very inflamed. I'm itching all over now. I had a really hard time falling asleep last night because I was itching all over. It's still concentrated in my cheeks/chin, and my right arm is pretty itchy. All of my skin seems inflamed and hot, and even the feeling of air from my desk fan is hurting. I keep getting chills and shivers. I also feel really achey and exhausted.

I can't figure out what it is. I went up 50mg on a med I've taken for a year about 3 weeks ago. No new beauty products. We switched detergent about 2 weeks ago, and it's the no-dye hypoallergenic kind that I've used before. No new foods.

I was out in the sun on Thursday quite a bit (maybe a half hour), without sunblock. I also got a new dress from Romwe on Thursday. It's black polyester. I know a lot of clothes are treated with formaldehyde etc or have toxic dyes. It could be an allergic reaction to that, but I only touched it when I took it out of the package on Thursday. I wore it on Monday without washing it...and I thought it might be an allergic reaction to the dress, so I went home early and showered and washed the dress 4 times. My partner hung it up in a back closet away from everything. I haven't touched it since then (Monday evening), or even been in the same room with it, and I'm still itching/burning. Could it leave residue on my work chair/car seat or something? I washed anything that came in contact with it too, any dresses next to it on my clothes rack, my canvas bag, etc, but I can't wash my work chair. I've never had an allergic reaction to clothes.

I also have multiple autoimmune conditions, so I wondered if it was some new nonsense with that? Or it could be some random rash that I picked up from someone else. I've never had that happen.

I know what an allergic reaction feels like. I'm allergic to shea butter; when that comes in contact with my skin, I puff up and get big hives. This is nothing like that. And those hives go away after I wash my face a few times...within hours, not days.

Of course I'm considering going to the doctor now, but the rash isn't super's less bumpy than it was, but it's more painful. So I know I'll just explain how it feels, and the doc will be like, uh yeah, whatever, take some benadryl, that'll be $35 please.

Any ideas? Any way to mitigate any possible dye residue etc on anything the dress touched? Should I get the dress out of my house? I'm kinda bummed about throwing the dress out because it's super cute, but it's not worth all this. And I'll always wash new clothes from now on.
posted by hotelechozulu to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
well, you could try a benadryl cream or gel right now, to answer that question, and then get to your doctor! autoimmune background issues make this seem nontrivial to me!
posted by acm at 7:48 AM on June 27, 2013

oh, and when I wore the dress on Monday, the itching was mostly confined to my face/chin. It's seemed to spread to the rest of my body yesterday and today. If it was the dress, I would have had the rash on the rest of my body.
posted by hotelechozulu at 7:49 AM on June 27, 2013

Call the doctor who prescribed the medication. It often takes several weeks for new doses to take effect. I've had reactions to medicines 3 days, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, and 4 months after starting a new medicine or upping the dose.
posted by barnone at 7:52 AM on June 27, 2013

It is more likely to be the new medication than the dress. Or possibly something new that you started eating a couple of weeks before the reaction. It could also be something more serious. How is your energy level? Have you been feeling off or is the rash your only symptom?

With it being confined to your face, I would first look at a food allergy. Go over your diet for the last few weeks. You can develop an allergy to something that you have always eaten. Or maybe you ingested a new pesticide that your body doesn't like.

My son had a rash like that after visiting a local nursery. It went away in a few days. I developed a rash like you are describing after using a nasal saline solution containing grape something or another. The rash didn't develop right away. It took a few weeks. It went away within a day of me not using the solution.
posted by myselfasme at 8:02 AM on June 27, 2013

Stop ALL skin products (especially the hydrocortisone--sometimes steroid creams can exacerbate skin issues).

I keep getting chills and shivers. I also feel really achey and exhausted.

This worries me a little--please go to the doctor.
posted by lovableiago at 8:28 AM on June 27, 2013 [7 favorites]

....Have you ever had chicken pox?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:45 AM on June 27, 2013

It's possible it's some kind of infectious disease rather than an allergic reaction... The fact that the rash started on your face makes me think of Fifth disease. In adults it can present with joint involvement, which could explain the achiness.

IANAD, but I don't think you should throw away the dress; it seems like an unlikely culprit.
posted by slenderloris at 8:56 AM on June 27, 2013

It sounds like you have insurance. Do you have a nurse hotline you can call, where you can explain your symptoms to an RN? They'll usually make a recommendation - see a doctor today, try to treat it at home, call back if xyz . . .

Personally, if I was in that much discomfort I would definitely go to the doctor today (and urgent care if I couldn't get in to the doctor).
posted by insectosaurus at 8:57 AM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Your mention of being out in the sun the day before your rash developed makes me think it could be a sun allergy. They can develop in adulthood seemingly out of nowhere (this happened to my sister) or can be exacerbated by medications. Do an image search--does that look like what you have? I think an allergy to the new clothing or detergent is less likely, since that would tend to result in a rash on your body, where your clothes touch you, rather than on your face.
posted by Jemstar at 9:03 AM on June 27, 2013

Also, quit using the Dr. Bronner's and only use cold water to wash your face. Try that for at least a week.
posted by Lynsey at 9:18 AM on June 27, 2013

Fatigue and chills worry me, and I'm pretty uncomfortable, so I made a doctor's appointment for this afternoon. I also called my psychiatrist to see if the medication increase could be the culprit. I've had chicken pox before, so I don't think that's it. We'll see what happens.
posted by hotelechozulu at 9:20 AM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've had rashes like that after taking sulfa drugs, and another time I think it was caused by a mango lassi (I seem to be mildly allergic to mango peels, and thus poorly peeled mangos). I got the "yeah, take some Benadryl, go away now" reaction when I went to a lousy doctor, but if you have a regular doctor they shouldn't treat you that way.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:22 AM on June 27, 2013

I had a slow moving hive reaction to Prozac after being on it for nearly a year with no issue. I also got hives from an antibiotic.

You may need steriods to knock this out, but the fact that it's intensifying, not abating and that OTC remedies aren't working indicate to me that you need to get to the doc ASAP.

Anaphalactic reactions are NO FUN and nothing to pooh-pooh, especially with your medical history.

Anecdote. I was so miserable with the hives that when I finally caved and filled the Rx for steroids, I drove through the Walgreens in my PJs. The guy said, "Seven thirty two." I thought he meant $732.00. I handed over my card without a wimper because I was THAT uncomfortable. Turns out steroids are really cheap and he meant. $7.32

So yeah, doctor, now.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:58 AM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Is the rash contained specifically only on one side of your body? All of the pain, fatigue etc would lead me to think it may be shingles if it is just on one side. However if it is on both sides of your body it can't be shingles, so that would be the determining factor there. Obviously going to your doctor is good, especially if its shingles, those can be super painful and lead to further complications if you let it go on untreated.
posted by Quincy at 10:36 AM on June 27, 2013

I live with someone who has dermatomyositis. Some of her symptoms during flare ups sound like yours, specifically the redness and itching on her face, neck, and chest, along with bumps. Also, it is an autoimmune disorder. A dermatologist can do a skin test for this.

The fatigue and chills part, not as similar, but there are various types of this. (Please do not freak yourself out by over-researching this on webMD. There are many types of this. Seriously.)

The other place it cropped up for her was her knuckles - she mistook it at first for eczema, before it spread to her face.
posted by instead of three wishes at 10:55 AM on June 27, 2013

When I had a similar situation a few years ago, my doctor diagnosed it as a virus. Not chickenpox, but 'one of the many viruses that present a bit like measles but aren't actually measles'.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 11:34 AM on June 27, 2013

You mentioned that you had autoimmune conditions. Rosacea is often a symptom of autoimmune disorders and can be triggered by sun exposure.
posted by tenaciousmoon at 2:19 PM on June 27, 2013

Just to make sure, you're current on your vaccinations for measles and rubella? It doesn't sound a lot like either measles or rubella (measles usually gives you a fever first and then the rash, and rubella rashes don't usually last as long as you're describing), but just a thought.

If it was just on your face, I might think it was herpes simplex -- the kind that usually causes cold sores. After initial infection (which for a lot of people happened when they were babies or small children), the virus lurks in the facial nerves. While it usually just causes a small cold sore next to the lips, it can also break out on the cheeks, causing an itchy and painful rash. But if the rash is spreading to your right arm, that doesn't sound much like herpes simplex.

I'm not a doctor, though, so I could be completely wrong about any or all of this.

I'm glad you made a doctor's appointment! I hope you got some answers and some help.
posted by snowmentality at 7:50 PM on June 27, 2013

UPDATE: I went to my GP. He did an autoimmune panel and everything was fine. He said it was probably from the sun and/or having dry skin, and he gave me some steroid cream. I also talked to my psychiatrist...she said it could be a sudden allergic reaction to any of my meds, but it's very rare.

The steroid cream made the bumps go away, but my face was still burning. It was really bad on Saturday, and I was having new symptoms: jaw cramps, throat pain and ear pain.

Earlier in June I went up 50mg on Seroquel, from 200. I decided to go back down to 200 on Saturday night, and by Sunday my face was feeling better. Monday it was almost normal and yesterday it was normal. I went back up to 250 last night, and my face is burning again and my throat hurts.

So I'm pretty sure it's the Seroquel. idk if it's an allergic reaction or a side effect. I have a call out to my psych. I was going to change bipolar meds in the near future, so I guess I'll do this sooner rather than later.
posted by hotelechozulu at 8:03 AM on July 3, 2013

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