Itchy New Year

For some time I've had an intermittent rash on my hand. If I remembered to use enough cream - mostly E45 - on it, it died down and then flared up again. Since just before Christmas it's been on the move and I now have rash on both hands, up my arms, along both legs and this morning it started in the small of my back. It's not a continuous rash, just little patches of raised red spots that then fade into a rough disc about the size of a 20p piece. It's very itchy. My GP has no idea, but has prescribed cortisoid cream and antihistamines. They help with the itching a bit, but haven't stopped the spread of the patches. Pretty certain that it's not a Vasculitis rash, so any ideas would be welcome.

14 Replies

  • I think I would be asking for a referral to dermatology! On the other hand - have you started any new medication just before it started?

    I was put on an ACE-inhibitor a few years ago and a couple of days later I noticed a rash around the neck area. It then spread outwards and downwards in all directions! Then it started itching - OMG did it itch! Stopped the medication - all gone rash!

    And in the early days of my vasculitis I had a rash - in various places but always the same ones. It was just itchy in skin folds and then would weep. Later it would be small patches that started by burning and then a blistery rash would appear - around my ribs and then on the point of a shoulder blade. The only thing that calmed it down was trimovate cream, nothing else worked. But I tried a low carb diet to try to lose some weight - and the rash went away, coming back after eating pizza and pasta when in Italy on holiday. Eventually I identified it was something in the structure of highly commercialised wheat that I was allergic to! Not gluten, I couldn't eat the Juvela gluten-free flour based on a washed wheat starch, and I'm fine with rye, spelt and kamut as long as they are pure. No wheat - no rash! The local gastroenterologist who was a coeliac specialist reckoned it was an autoimmune problem - like or caused by the vasculitis?

  • Thank you, I'm very interested in your idea that it might be yet another part of the general autoimmune problem.

    I've tried various ideas but none of them have made sense yet. I've not changed any of my meds and can't really identify anything that I've done differently. So no changes in soap, washing liquid, diet etc either.

    I'm prone to drug allergies, but this rash is not like any previous ones that I've had, and also struggle with things that I can't eat, but again this is different. So far the new cream and antihistamines have had no effect, so I've got an appointment with another GP in our practice in about ten days time. He's got a reputation as being good with skin problems, so I'll see how that goes. But its getting no colder, and all my warm clothes have a high itch factor!

  • By the way - I forgot to say that the reaction to wheat wasn't immediate. Once I'd realised what it was and stopped eating wheat, about 20 mins after eating something with wheat in it (salad dressing for example on a pub salad when I ASKED) I would start scratching around my neck, but it wasn't bad, just enough to notice. The rash appeared a couple of weeks later! Of course, while I'd been eating wheat all the time it was there all the time near enough but when I stopped it became more obvious there was a delay. Apparently this isn't unusual and it - obviously - makes it all the more difficult to identify what it is. It isn't unusual either for people to have a problem with commercialised durum wheat but to be able to eat sourdough bread or French bread which is both sourdough (if it is good) and made with soft Canadian wheat which has a different structure of course. It's a minefield!

  • Dear BronteM,

    Sorry to hear that you are suffering so-it IS 'rotten' when this happens to you. it seems like whatever you do it itches and Itches!

    It is worth trying to identify any foods, soaps/'smellies' and so on that might be causing a problem-you never know! The chances are, that like the 'tummy problems', aches & pains, odd smells and so on there won't be a definite 'cause', as such. We will all just have to pick ourselves up, take stock, be happy that we are all still alive and 'put up' with it, as normal! You could even have a good scratch whilst straining to 'go'!

    Sorry that I can't be more help Bronte, Happy New year anyway.

    Best wishes AndrewT

  • Thank you, Andrew, and Happy New Year to you too. And you made me smile which is the most important thing at this grey time of the year! I think I do need to go back and look at my diet/smellies etc. I just hope it wasn't the Christmas pudding that caused all the trouble!

  • Has anyone suggested a biopsy of the rash Bronte M?

  • No, but I think that has to be the next step ....but can't get an appointment until the end of next week. The E45 helps with the itch, but new patches are appearing each morning, so the problem must be ongoing.

  • Hi Bronte

    Sorry to hear you are suffering. I had a similar itch/rash which no one could identify and nothing helped, mine was from under my nose to the top of my chest then my back and legs it turned out to be a histamine reaction to certain foods. I can't touch tomatoes, bread etc and I have severe sensitivities to yeast.

    May well be worth looking at diet but I do think it is a Vasculitis issue yet unidentified, hope it helps.

    How are you after your fall?

    Sending you kind healing thoughts.

  • Thank you...healing thoughts definitely needed. I'm still in a neck brace which definitely makes the itch more complicated to deal with! But I've an appointment to see the neurosurgeon on Tuesday and am hoping that I'll be able to wear a gentler collar after that.

    Sorry to hear that you've had a similar problem- I think that you may be right and it is either a food allergy and/or linked to the Vasculitis. Food sensitivities (and sun rash) have been a bit of a problem for years but they've never produced a rash like this before. Yet another medical mystery, something that we are all having to cope with!

  • There is a skin problem associated with Gluten intolerance. This is the link ( it has some pictures! )

  • Thank you, that's very interesting. There's a picture of someones feet looking quite similar to mine, so that's something thing I'd better follow up. But we have a superb baker in the next village and I can't imagine getting on without their sour dough!

  • I had persistent problem with itchy blisters appearing between my fingers which sometimes spread further and looked more like a rash in places. Turned out to be fungal (ringworm ... which has nothing to do with wurrums!). Had it on and off for years, tried steroid cream and all sorts, but it cleared up instantly and hasn't returned since locum said, 'hmmm, one could almost imagine that looks like a ring' and prescribed suitable cream!

    Disclaimer: not saying this is what anyone else's problem is, but it's something to consider!

  • Good idea, thank you. I had wondered as I had ring worm years ago, but don't think this is quite the same. My rash is in roughly circular patches, but doesn't have the hollow centre. Funny thing is that the treatment for this sort of rash seems to be steroid creams, and then steroids or immunosuppressants if it gets too bad or doesn't improve....but I'm already on steroids etc?

  • Just seen the skin minded GP. He thinks the rash is discoid eczema and should settle. Apparently it can flare up and die down for no obvious reason...a bit like Vasculitis! It's very like ringworm, and easily confused with it. So now I have a load of creams and things, and must keep away from soap and anything that dries my skin. If it doesn't work, I might try another look at the gluten issue. Thank you for all the good advice.

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