Sudden Rash on Face
July 1, 2015 9:22 PM   Subscribe

Woke up Monday with a rash on my face. Now little bumps are appearing on my right forearm. I haven't done anything out of the ordinary. Can you develop sudden allergies to something and react this quickly?

So Monday morning when I was washing my face, I noticed my cheeks felt dry and scaly. It was slightly pink, not raised, not super noticeable unless you touched it. I do have sensitive skin, but this came on so suddenly it felt like an allergic reaction to something. I was hoping it'd get better with time, but it didn't. It got redder throughout the day and felt slightly swollen by night, a bit itchy by this point. I put some benedryl cream and a tiny bit of old clobetasol on it that night.

Tuesday the rash felt less swollen, but still slightly red, like I'm blushing, and skin still dry and irritable. I didn't apply anything else.

Wednesday it's still about the same. Cheeks and nose feeling like sandpaper. Around noon, I noticed my right forearm had tiny little bumps all over, kind of like goosebumps. Not red or itchy, but slightly bumpy all over. It is now Wednesday night and bumps has spread more over the arm. Still not red or itchy, but looks as if I brushed up against something I'm allergic to.

I have no idea what is causing this. I haven't eaten anything new or put anything new on my skin. I went swimming in a public pool Sunday for less than 20 minutes. It is chlorinated, but I've never had issues with it before. I do have a cat that's been with me for seven months now. Could I be suddenly developing an allergy to cats? Is that even possible considering how quick this was? I'm in Texas if it matters. Could it be heat? Sun? Fleas(just got the house treated on Tuesday)? Anyone experienced something similar? I'm thinking if it doesn't change tomorrow I'll call a doctor.
posted by monologish to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Could it be shingles?
posted by kschang at 9:25 PM on July 1, 2015

Once and only once in my life I got hives all over my body after an afternoon in the sun on the beach without skin protection. I lived two blocks from that beach and walked on it daily so I don't think it was an environmental allergen, I think it was a weird reaction to a mild sunburn.

My sons have eczema and pool chlorine basically makes their skin look like they have measles, lots of red blotchy patches. In short, bodies are weird and this could totally be a one off reaction to something. But the usual questions apply - new soaps or detergents? Anything in your neighborhood just now blooming this week?
posted by annathea at 9:29 PM on July 1, 2015

Contact dermatitis is something I get occasionally after using a shower or pool somewhere that I'm not used to using. It's not so much an allergy as it is just an inflammatory response. Maybe you could start there?
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:29 PM on July 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've had lots of weird reactions to things that are extremely shortlived but dramatically bad looking. Triggers have been mostly plants. Have you been touching or exposed to any strange plants (or food items[Turns out I'm allergic to pawpaws, who knew!?]) Those have made me break out in itchless bumps.
posted by Ferreous at 9:45 PM on July 1, 2015

From my experience, there's no slow escalation of allergic reactions: essentially, between one moment and the next you go from no effect at all ever to DRAMA. If it's spreading, don't wait to see the doctor - even if you're overreacting, overreacting is better than anaphylaxis!

To contextualise: I was, for a number of years, taking blood pressure medication. It had virtually no side effects (unusual for BP meds, I understand), my doctor was delighted, etc., etc. Then I woke up one morning with what i thought was a lump of phlegm in my throat, which i was trying to cough out.

What I was trying to expectorate was actually my own hugely inflamed and enlarged epiglottis. If you haven't tried this trick, let me be the first to encourage you not to. After explaining to Ladyfriend7 that "I'g god sugging gaught in my ghroat" and she had a peek, everyone panicked and off we went to emergency. One short dose of Phenergan (yes, they make it for adults, and it's AMAZING) and 20 hours sleep later, I was fine. But not to take the medication ever again or I might die. Let me stress again that I was taking this medication for years with no issue, then I'm suddenly coughing up my own throat and at risk of sudden death. So go to the doctor!
posted by prismatic7 at 10:57 PM on July 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

I got some kind of mites in my pillows a few years ago and had a similar reaction. Wash your pillows and the rest of your bedding and then do it again.
posted by mareli at 3:03 AM on July 2, 2015

Some people who can have a skin reaction to sun exposure called polymorphic light eruption. It is not sunburn but can be somewhat prevented with sunblock. So yes, could be sun, and the placement of your rash seems consistent. Some medications can increase photosensitivity and likelihood of this reaction. Preventing sun exposure on the rash could help even if it's not caused by sun though.
posted by zennie at 3:31 AM on July 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

That sounds so much like what happened to my son after field day two weeks ago, which included a slip and slide. He had one little spot on his face and one on his right arm and they spread. Doc said it was a virus and that there was nothing to be done. She'd seen a few other kids with it. Aloe helped with the discomfort.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 3:35 AM on July 2, 2015

If you take any meds, search on the medicine name plus "photosensitivity."
posted by zennie at 3:35 AM on July 2, 2015

Nthing sun. I had that on my whole body as a child, though not on my face.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 4:11 AM on July 2, 2015

This happened to me when I took my comprehensive exams in grad school. It did not, unfortunately, clear up once I got my degree, but lingered on annoyingly for a few weeks. It shows up still now and again when I am too stressed.

Sorry I don't have any practical help for this, except Benedryl.
posted by chainsofreedom at 4:32 AM on July 2, 2015

Recently (as in just this summer) I've started getting sunburns that, instead of being evenly pink/red, are splotchy and a little bumpy. It looks just like a typical hivey allergic reaction does on my skin. They spread over the course of a few days usually, sort of like you're describing.

Anyway, not saying that's definitely what's going on with you, but it's a thought. Either way, probably not a bad idea to see a doctor if it doesn't start clearing up.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 5:49 AM on July 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

You haven't finished any antibiotics in the last four weeks, have you? I had a delayed reaction to penicillin like this once after I had finished the medication.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 5:59 AM on July 2, 2015

Call your doctor. I doubt it's anything serious, but there are a couple of autoimmune conditions that can present with rash on face and arms initially. No matter what it is, you'll benefit from treatment sooner rather than later!
posted by kythuen at 7:39 AM on July 2, 2015

I don't have much too add to the advice above except see your doctor, as rashes are hard to diagnose over the internet.

But please don't use clobetasol on your face without talking to your doctor first! That is a very strong steroid and it should not routinely be used on the face.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:47 PM on July 2, 2015

try Shea Butter. i had a weird, similar sounding patch on my leg for a while. a combo of all your symptoms that i self-diagnosed as something like eczema (although it didn't really look like anything in the google image searches i did). mine was red, splotchy, tiny bumps, occasionally itchy, slightly raised and felt dry to the touch and sandpapery, like shark skin. i ended up using 100% Shea Butter and it went away fast. like maybe 5 days at the most to be completely gone. pure shea butter isn't cheap but it is cheaper than a doctor visit.

HOWEVER, if what you have progresses and spreads you should go to a doctor.
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 8:08 PM on July 2, 2015

I have psoriasis. It made its very first appearance under my eyes and a little on my cheeks and then showed up on other parts of my body throughout the week, including my arms. Never again did I have it on my face, but it was definitely shocking that first day.
posted by sandwiches at 1:25 PM on July 3, 2015

I get this - I am allergic to most sunscreens and this sounds exactly like the rash I get.
posted by annie o at 1:49 PM on July 5, 2015

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