Scratch mine, and I'll scratch yours!
January 25, 2008 11:05 AM   Subscribe

HELP!!! My boyfriend and I are bumpy and ithcy everywhere!!! Nothing helps and it's a terrible nuisance. What could this be and any suggestions for remedy?

So, at this point I am too busy and low on funds to seek a professional's help... And not quite to my wits end with this. That's why I am asking for your advice. My boyfriend and I have had random, very small, itchy bumps EVERYwhere on our skin for the last month. They come in one area, we scratch them off or until they are scabby (yes, this is gross and probably not helping) then they heal and reappear elsewhere. At any time I might have a patch on the belly, one or two bumps on my leg, one on the underwear line, four on my arms and so on... They are terribly ithchy. The appear all throughout the day. I have scoured mine and his beds for bed bugs. We have tried bendryl and baking soda baths... I've switched my laundry detergent to anti-everything no allergy stuff. We can't figure it out. We are both very clean people. We both have a cat but neither of our kitties are itching. My roommates are not affected. We don't have any known skin diseases or disorders or other allergies. Any ideas???? A parasite??
posted by NotInTheBox to Health & Fitness (35 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you been spending time in a hot tub by any chance?
posted by ottereroticist at 11:07 AM on January 25, 2008

(I know folks who have gotten dermatitis from a hot tub that wasn't quite sparkling clean.)
posted by ottereroticist at 11:09 AM on January 25, 2008

Nope, no hot tubs... But thanks for the insight.
posted by NotInTheBox at 11:09 AM on January 25, 2008

Is it worse at night? Did it start around your wrists and hands? If so, could be scabies, which are unspeakably itchy little fuckers. More here.

If it is scabies, there's a prescription cream you can get that will cure them. You have to use it at night, after you shower, and you pretty literally have to cover every centimeter of your body, including the spaces between your toes and the bottoms of your feet. When I got scabies from a hotel bed, I didn't have health insurance and didn't want to pay for an appointment/Rx. The active ingredient in lice shampoo is the same as in the Rx cream, but it's a lower concentration. I used that shampoo topically a couple of times and it cleared them up. Took more than one application, but it did finally work.

On another note: I've had similar mysterious itchy spots since the new girlfriend came around, and they only appeared in her apartment. We never found bedbugs, and think that it was probably a type of hair conditioner that she only used there. If both of you are getting them, it seems unlikely to me that it's some toiletry that one of you uses (unless someone's using something new). Could be an allergy, though, so it might be worth going through your inventory of stuff like that to see if there's anything new and different.

My vote's for scabies, though.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:12 AM on January 25, 2008

Scabies or impetigo.
posted by infinityjinx at 11:14 AM on January 25, 2008

posted by thinkingwoman at 11:17 AM on January 25, 2008

Fleas? Do you tend to get a lot of the spots around the wrists/ankles? Flease like to bite people at those points, but will bite anywhere if desperate.
posted by de void at 11:21 AM on January 25, 2008

Does it get below freezing outside? If so, if you're worried about some kind of bug in your mattress/sheets, haul your bedding, mattress and box spring outside and leave it overnight. Put it somewhere where it won't get wet and any nasty biting thing will have frozen to death by morning.

And then if you're still itchy, well, it wasn't bedbugs.
posted by Nelsormensch at 11:29 AM on January 25, 2008

Suggestion for temporary remedy: Break open Benadryl capsule, dab itchy area with a little water and rub some powder from capsule into the water, making an abrasive paste. This is the best. It feels a little scratchy and satisfying and at the same time the itch will stop for many, many hours.
posted by Eringatang at 11:29 AM on January 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

Scabies? Nasty to have, but fixable.

As a kid, I got mine from my neighbor.
posted by unixrat at 11:32 AM on January 25, 2008

Infintyjinx may have it-it sounds like impetigo, which is easily spread via scratching. Last time I had it, I was given antibiotics and a topical ointment to use together.
posted by BridgetR at 11:32 AM on January 25, 2008

Scabies is also tricky in that dermatologists misdiagnose it occasionally. Go to a dermatologist and ask about scabies specifically.

The good news about scabies is that it is easy and fast to treat.
posted by ewkpates at 11:35 AM on January 25, 2008

This is soooo gross to me guys. Not fleas...checked. Going to the doctor today. Can't handle the thought of eight legged creatures inhabiting my skin. AAAHHH! Although, your help is still much appreciated because I'm not certain until I'm certain.
posted by NotInTheBox at 11:41 AM on January 25, 2008

Definitely seconding (cat) fleas!
They're hard to find if you've never seen them before (try shaking out your clothes, especially socks, over a white tile floor or big sheets of white paper, in a very bright room, and look quickly for the tiniest of little bugs, they will immediately jump away). The bites are terribly itchy, smaller than mosquito bites, often appear in rows of three to five bumps under the edges of underwear, socks or other tight clothing pieces.
Fleas usually do not to annoy cats very much (my experience), so kitty behaviour might not change at all, especially if your cat is adult and healthy.

If you don't like toxic flea powder stuff everywhere, don't worry, you can also get rid of them with the help of a Vacuum Cleaner!
posted by The Toad at 11:42 AM on January 25, 2008

Every time a pet of mine has had fleas, they've been really obvious. Even if they don't bite you, you can feel the little suckers hopping around on your skin.

Plus, they're big enough to be visible. Like, so visible that when you're sitting on the floor with a bowl of vanilla ice cream, you might find that it suddenly has unwanted buggy sprinkles.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:49 AM on January 25, 2008

We had that problem, which was cured immediately by raising our bed off the floor and onto a frame. Do you sleep on a mattress on the floor?
posted by sian at 11:53 AM on January 25, 2008

Sounds like impetigo. I've never experienced it personally (knock on wood...) but family members have. It did what you're describing -- moved around the body based on scratching. I remember thinking of it as basically 'infectious poison ivy.'
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:53 AM on January 25, 2008

I'm also going to guess sounds like you have had them in places where scabies like to hang out. Warm places like creases, in between fingers, where clothing is a bit tighter. They do travel, so you could be itchy in one spot and then be itchy somewhere else, though I think they tend to leave a a trail of small, red bumps (which, if you REALLY want to be grossed out and horrified, my old doctor told me that those red spots are scabies waste. Yeah. Bug crap. In. Your. Arm.). Yeah, it's gross and creepy if you get them, but as mudpuppie said, there is a cream that can easily get rid of the nasty buggers. I've had them once, from working with children. I was okay with getting their random colds and flues, but I draw the line at parasites.
posted by Bibliogeek at 11:55 AM on January 25, 2008

Yeah, definitely not fleas... I've had cats all of my life and have become an expert in that area. Thanks again guys for your advice. I'm entirely weirded out about by this, and wonder what we have encountered in order for this to occur. Another AAAHHH!!! (for good measure)
posted by NotInTheBox at 11:55 AM on January 25, 2008

Bed is raised off floor.
posted by NotInTheBox at 11:57 AM on January 25, 2008

Scabies. You can't see them, but you can see a doctor.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:02 PM on January 25, 2008

It does sound a lot like scabies. I had a bout of it a few years back; my then-GF crashed on a friend's couch one night while she was home for the winter holidays and brought them back with her. The remedy was a permethrin ointment. We slathered it on ourselves before going to bed one night, washed the sheets the next morning, and after a few days all the spots were gone.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:12 PM on January 25, 2008

Headed to the Doc's, will let you know the results when I return!
posted by NotInTheBox at 12:23 PM on January 25, 2008

It sounds kind of like scabies, although in my (limited, thank god) experience scabies bumps tend to stay--that is, they move around, but instead of having different patches, you just get MORE (the new + the old)--there was no healing.

If it's worse at night or if it's worse under a warm shower, though, that's a definite giveaway. It is possible to get rid of them without prescription stuff, but if you at all have the money for the prescription stuff I really recommend it... nasty, awful, poisonous chemicals are a good thing.
posted by anaelith at 12:33 PM on January 25, 2008

Could it be something to do with the detergent you are using for washing your clothes? Or maybe the clothes washer itself? Do you live in an apartment building with a shared laundry room? Maybe you should ask the super to run all the washing machines with bleach on the hottest cycle. I don't know what to do for the dryers though.
posted by spec80 at 12:53 PM on January 25, 2008

Sorry I just read your sentence about detergent, but maybe your washing machines could use a bleaching. Good luck!
posted by spec80 at 12:54 PM on January 25, 2008

Any recent travel to exotic places?
posted by winston at 1:24 PM on January 25, 2008

Wrong season for chiggers. Maybe you're allergic to something new in the house.
chiggers... terrifying.... :D
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:40 PM on January 25, 2008

Are you eating or drinking something new? Have you changed or added laundry products or body washing products? Once you've seen a doctor, you may find that trying Claritin or a generic equivalent over-the-counter, non-sleepy antihistamine may help. Good luck!
posted by Lynsey at 2:09 PM on January 25, 2008

I had that problem once and I thought it was scabies. Turned out to be the new hair lotion I was using. I would rub it in my hair and it would be on my hands and then everywhere my hands touched would break out in a rash. It drove me crazy for weeks until I figured out what it was.
posted by tamitang at 11:31 PM on January 25, 2008

Thanks all for your input! Sorry for the delay in response. As of now, and my visit to the doctor's, we have diagnosed the itchy bumps as scabies. Possitively disgusting, and the origin is even more upsetting as it is passed primarily through extensive skin to skin contact... Needless to say, the BF lied to me. This is another ask me issue, all to its own. At any rate, I have decided not to be a ragging bitch and to forgive the party foul... There's reasoning behind this. I'll leave it at that. Was prescribed the cream, and have since applied twice (calls for once, but I am thorough). Thanks again, and wish me luck. :-)
posted by NotInTheBox at 4:12 AM on January 28, 2008

Your boyfriend may/may not be a jerk, I dunno, but before you settle all the blame: It doesn't actually call for "extensive skin-to-skin contact". You can pick them up from casual contact, or skin-to-skin contact with an intermediate object--like improperly cleaned hotel sheets (usually in skeevy hotels) or a couch or borrowing a jacket or whatever. Also unless you've had them before, it's usually around a month before you start to show a reaction (itchy bumps), which can make pinpointing where you got them tricky and certainly adds to how quickly they spread. Lots of otherwise very clean, middle-class, non-skeevy people wind up having them at least once--and then pretend they've never even heard of them, because there's such a stigma around having had them.
posted by anaelith at 7:13 AM on January 28, 2008

Wait wait wait! Don't DTMFA! When I caught scabies, I hadn't so much as bumped elbows with another human person in months. (Well, maybe an exaggeration, but it certainly felt that way.) You can get them, like anaelith said, from hotel sheets, for example. Don't go accusing the boyfriend based on the itchies alone.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:17 PM on January 28, 2008

Not blaming him on the itches alone... But I appreciate your feedback and logical reasoning so as not to go crazy without cause. I asked him, he confirmed. Time frame fit. End of story. :-(
posted by NotInTheBox at 4:28 AM on January 30, 2008

Although, I must add "In his defense"... We weren't "official" at that point yet.
posted by NotInTheBox at 4:30 AM on January 30, 2008

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