Mystery Rash
November 8, 2018 12:51 AM   Subscribe

I woke up this morning with a small patch of tiny raised colourless bumps on the back of one wrist. It's very localised, there's no redness, and it's itchy but not terribly so. The bumps look like they could be tiny blisters, about the size of a pinhead, but I'm not sure if they're fluid-filled or not. What does that sound like? Dr Google hasn't been very helpful.

FWIW, I'm in the UK so it won't be the start of poison ivy etc, I haven't come into contact with any plants recently (that would have been my first thought otherwise, there used to be a plant in my parents' garden that caused something similar), and I don't have any allergies.
It doesn't seem like anything urgent, and I can go to the doctor if it gets worse - mostly I'm just really curious because it doesn't quite look like anything I can identify. Any suggestions?
posted by BlueNorther to Health & Fitness (10 answers total)
I occasionally get that as a very transient form of eczema. If I do anything, it's a dab of Antihistan for the mild itch; otherwise I just ignore it.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:05 AM on November 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

Do you wear a watch or bracelet?
posted by hollyholly at 2:05 AM on November 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

This sounds a bit like the Dyshidrotic eczema that one of my friends occasionally manifests. For him it shows up as little clusters of itchy pin-head sized bumps, with normal skin tone, on the back or sides of his fingers.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 2:23 AM on November 8, 2018 [8 favorites]

It might be eczema, as others have suggested, but as another possibility, it could also be scabies. I and a friend of mine ended up putting off a dermatologist appointment because we thought our bumps were heat rash or dyshidrotic eczema (we also did a lot of Googling). But a few weeks and a LOT of itching later, we both hit up a dermatologist and got to see the scabies mites they scraped off of us under a microscope. The cream we had to apply to get rid of it would have been annoying to have on our wrists, but we ended up having to apply it to our legs, torsos, and just generally all over.

It sucked to have a gross ointment everywhere, and it REALLY sucked in the middle of a Japanese summer.

Definitely keep an eye on it and get it checked ASAP if it migrates or expands.
posted by wakannai at 2:50 AM on November 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

I've had something that sounds very similar, periodically, for many years. I think it is dyshidrotic eczema but have never been to a doctor about it. Mine is on the sides of my fingers only, lasts for 2 - 3 days before new blisters stop appearing and it heals up. I think it happens to me when the weather turns colder and I turn on the central heating / use a heated blanket etc.

It is a little bit itchy and annoying but not very bad, it hasn't got any worse, so I mostly just ignore it.
posted by ElasticParrot at 3:01 AM on November 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Have you been in contact with children? Last time I had symptoms like that it was a school sore. If that's what you've got, the itching will get worse and worse until you finally break down and scratch it, at which point the blisters will tear open and you'll have a little skin-eating wound that will need antibiotics to stop it expanding, and it will itch like the devil the whole time it's healing.
posted by flabdablet at 3:23 AM on November 8, 2018

Not a very likely possibility, but a serious one: shingles. Mostly only responds to medication within the first three days, so get it checked sooner rather than later.
posted by mai at 5:16 AM on November 8, 2018

I also came to say shingles.

Fwiw, I've heard virtual horror stories re how some people experience shingles, which was not true for me. I had occasional slight tingling along a nerve running from my hip to my ankle for a couple of weeks prior to noticing a small cluster of painless little bumps/blisters next to my knee, which is what prompted the doc appointment. Had the blisters been behind my knee, I wouldn't have ever known I had shingles.
posted by she's not there at 6:00 AM on November 8, 2018

Thanks, guys. Some kind of mild eczema does seem most likely. I don't wear anything on that wrist, and I don't think I've come into contact with anything unusual, so maybe it is the change in weather, or just one of the mysteries of life.
Thanks for the heads up about scabies or shingles, though, I'll definitely keep an eye on it for the next couple of days just in case.
posted by BlueNorther at 10:40 AM on November 8, 2018

Perhaps a metal allergy? Maybe from a button, zipper, safety pin, or rivet on your jacket?

Metal that's against skin often enough can lose its outer layer and what's beneath can be allergenic. So a pair of jeans you've worn for years can suddenly give you an itchy rash where the back of the button touches your skin, for instance.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:14 PM on November 8, 2018

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