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itchy skin
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amcate posted:
Perhaps I should put this on another board, but I've never gotten a firm diagnosis. Both my PCP and allergist say, "oh, a lot of people with asthma have those types of skin problems" and they gave me triaminocolone acetonide (basically, topical hydrocortisone type cream) and told me to put it on the sores when they come. It does heal the sores quickly.

However, over the last year or so it's gotten really bad. I read on the internet, and started to take antihistamines (they used to use these anyway for my asthma) to help with the itching. I also noted that dry air makes it worse, so I have to humidifier. I went to the natural food store, and they had an itch relief lotion and recommended I put it on twice a day, once right after showering to help keep moisture on the skin. I've also experimented with different soaps and detergents.

This all helps, but yet still my skin feels like its burning from the inside out, like its on fire. When I take a bath, if the water is the least bit hot or warm the skin gets all red and it gets bumps on it (I don't know for sure, but I imagine the bumps are perhaps hives?). Anyway, it's terribly uncomfortable and the skin is constantly on fire.

Is there anything else I can do? Have any of you had this? I've gotten good asthma education, but not skin education since the doctors aren't as concerned with it since its not life threatening. Thanks. By the way, I did ask the allergist, but they said they didn't know other than using the triaminocolone acetonide cream/ointment on sores.
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Aqua14 responded:
Amcate, I haven't had exactly that, but I have sensitive skin that often itches madly with no apparent cause. I also used to get itching and hives after exercising, but that has stopped since I'm taking Zyrtec every day. My skin is definitely worse in winter, too. I try to use nonscented creams like Curel Dry Skin or Aveeno Unscented frequently.

From the reading I've done, people with allergies often have skin that is more permeable than other, non-allergic people, and allergens and other small particles are able to penetrate and cause a reaction. Are you allergic to something that is omnipresent in the environment, like mold or dust mites? The article I read pointed to dust mites as a culprit.

I also recall reading that, when released in large amounts, histamine can cause pain.

It does sound as though you may be getting hives when taking a bath. From my reading on hives, sometimes an acid reflux med (H2 blocker like Zantac) is added to an antihistamine (which is an H1 blocker) to treat chronic hives.

Maybe a consult with another allergist would help. This is clearly a quality of life issue for you (as it would be for most people) and it deserves investigation as to the cause(s).

The other thing that comes to mind when I think of 'the feeling of 'skin on fire' is nerve damage. Do you have other medical conditions that could cause nerve damage?

Hope these few thoughts help. Take care & good luck. Judy
 
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amcate replied to Aqua14's response:
Thank you for your thoughts. The anti histamine I added on my own is a generic form of Zyrtec, and it helps a lot, but still there are problems and itching and a burning sensation.

I'm not certain they are hives when hot water touches my skin because I don't know what hives look like, but the whole skin gets red, burns, itches a lot, hurts unless I scratch it like crazy, and then after the bath there's these red bumps on the skin that go away if I take a cold bath for several days.

I'm allergic to mold and dust mites, but the last allergy test I had done was over 10 years ago. I now live in the desert, and my allergist said levels of these allergens are small here. A few years back, my current allergist thought of doing Xolair, but found that my IgE was normal. I can't remember how many years ago it was, though. They don't redo allergy tests because when I lived in Houston I had exposure to a lot of other triggers (ie, pollution) and my asthma would go haywire with the injections so I was unable to tolerate them. The allergist says to just experiment if I suspect I'm allergic to something by removing it and reintroducing it, especially regarding food allergies, since you can determine allergies that way as well and doesn't see a need to redo allergy tests. I use humidifiers, and they were growing mold, so I changed to one that uses UV to kill mold and that boils the water to make steam which also kills mold. I get dust in the apartment, but the allergist had said it's different than dust mites. I think I tested as slightly allergic to household dust, but I have to check the old test results.

When I mention the skin feeling like it's on fire, it feels like its burning. I get the same sensation with the warm water as well. I'm not aware of having nerve damage, except I don't recall things very well which is why I repeat myself. I read that happens with asthma sometimes, either due to severe attacks (which I've lose consciousness before from them) or due to prednsione or other meds.

Today, I went to a physical agent modalities continuing education and they did ultrasound for deep heat. The instructor kept asking why all the skin abrasions, and I tried to explain it...so they did it where the skin was intact. All I got was a tingling feeling, but no sensation of warmth. They told me that meant the ultrasound was getting a nerve response, but she also was curious why I wasn't feeling warmth when they had it on 4 delta and highest level intensity with continuous and not pulsed. I said, "I look down, and the skin is cut or a lot of bruising, I never knew I was bleeding...I just don't notice. I can go out in 30 degree weather and ride my bike and I can feel the cold, but it doesn't really phase me. My jaw joints were dislocated, but I didn't know for years because there was some pain, but it wasn't that bad." She joked around that she was worried about my sensation abilities, but was laughing. I guess it's weird. They wouldn't let me do any estim modalities on myself since the skin abrasions would result in ununiform contact with the electrodes.

But that's all I know. I've never been diagnosed with a nerve issue. The burning and feeling the skin is one fire go together with the itching. It's a similar feeling that my lungs had after the industrial accident in Houston and they deteriorated rapidly. They felt sunburned from the inside out while I was coughing up fluid and fluid was getting trapped and the rescue drugs weren't working and using pred and making a mad dash for nebulizer, etc. It's a similar feeling to that one time, but under normal attacks the lungs don't feel like they are on fire or burning.

Anyway, thanks for your thoughts. I can't sleep at night and sometimes the skin hurts a lot from it all. Going to another allergist makes sense, or maybe dermatology would know. I think they just get concerned with asthma and forget the skin.
 
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cwille replied to amcate's response:
just this year i started to itch like crazy on both arms, i have severe asthma, and the doctors kept saying that it was the prednisone, what would happen is that my arms would itch real bad than i would get red spots and sometimes blood. Well, i decided to try something natural, i went outside and chopped off an aloe vera plant, cut it opened and spread the ointment on my arm, it took a few days but the rash went away and the itching stopped. Now i am off the prednisone and still get the itching hasn't stopped , but everytime i itch i put on the aloe vera and it stops. so maybe it can work for you, who knows can't hurt i don't think and it's one less medicine, i saw aloe vera leaves in the store for 1.99. anyway good luck

cwille
 
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amcate replied to cwille's response:
Thanks for the idea, cwillie. The natural food store I go to has various herbs and tinctures and such in their health and beauty section. They even have herbal teas to treat various conditions. I can ask if they have aloe vera extract and maybe its less expensive than the lotion they suggested before.

The doctors told me the prednisone should help the skin overall since the sores they said looked like some type of excema or atopic dermatitis, but they weren't sure and so it was not really a diagnosis that was firm. That's why they gave me a topical corticosteroid that was stronger than hydrocortison because at first the hydrocortisone worked, and then it didn't work. They didn't want me to use prednisone for the skin since the skin is not life threatening.

The itch relief lotion that I got from the store has tea tree oil, vitamin E, chamomile, soybean and safflower oil, sesame seed oil, vitamin A, sunflower oil, among things. It works, but the effects don't last long and I can't put over a sore otherwise the sore gets angry. The sores seem to like the stuff the doctors gave me better.

The strange thing is that even if I don't itch, the skin sort of falls apart on its own anyway. It's a bit puzzling because I've switched around the detergents and soaps but still its there.

Anyway, thanks for the idea, and like you said it can't hurt. That's pretty much my attitude when the doctors don't know, I try things and see what works. Some doctors are not open to this, but then I ask them, "well, you don't have any other ideas."
 
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cwille replied to amcate's response:
thankfully for me my doc is pretty open minded, after all we have tried everything we can think of for the asthma , so as long as it isn't going to hurt or kill me , what the heck, i am the patient anyway. well good luck.
 
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amcate replied to cwille's response:
Your asthma is much worse than mine. In my case, the main concern is how much prednisone I have to take. Still, I've done all I can and so has the doctor, so I'm with you...if it won't hurt me and I'm already on a disaster course with the pred, then why not try it?

I went to the natural food store today to get more anti itch lotion. I noted they had added two other items made by the same manufacturer. One is a creme for psoriasis and eczema (it has neem, burdock root, bearberry, Fagara bark extract, and a bunch of other root and leaf extracts.) It is thicker creme and looks like it stays on longer than the lotion. It says it both soothes dry skin and relieves itching and it moisturizes dry skin. They had another creme with antibacterial stuff (like tea tree oil, which is a weak antibacterial agent). The lady said she didn't know the difference, but since the doctors said I probably had atopic dermatitis or eczema then probably the creme for eczema and psoriasis would be best. She then said, "but the best supplement is the one you don't have to be on for the rest of your life....so if you can do something internal, you should. What are you doing wrong that you have to use this stuff consistently?"

Well, that goes to show the amount of support you get from those who don't understand that sometimes a person has a medical condition and doesn't do anything wrong in accordance to current knowledge and yet still has it. I'm doing all I know to do, perhaps I'm ignorant of what to do, but ignorance is not the same as negligence.

I'm glad your doctor is open minded. Thanks again for your support and thoughts, both of you. By the way, I bought two of the creme to see if it will work better. I'll just keep trying new things until something works. Thanks again.
 
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cwille replied to amcate's response:
also go to a dermatologist and they put me on some hydocortisone creme, i just tried the aloe vera and it worked it took longer but it did. Anyway good luck
 
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amcate replied to cwille's response:
Thanks for the suggestion, cwillie. I was originally on hydrocortisone over the counter, but it stopped working so they gave me the other ointment I mentioned above (triamincolone acetonide). The problem is the triamincolone acetonide doesn't easily cover the whole area that is problematic, though it does wonders for individual spots that are especially bad. The whole area is from my neck down. I might end up trying the aloe vera. I'm just experimenting with different stuff to see what works. I knew the lotion from the natural food store (has no hydrocortisone or related medicines, it's the one with tea tree oil and the vitamines and all the different oils) helped but didn't last and since the cream from the same company (again, no hydrocortisone or related medicines-it's not a conventional Western medicine thing, it's the one with the Burdock root) stayed on longer I thought maybe it will last longer since it's on longer. It looks like a paste that you put on poison ivy and is rather thick, but goes on the whole body rather easily. The aloe vera is also a good thought, though. I'm just gathering ideas since I'm just going to try one thing and if that doesn't work then try another. I put the triamincolone acetonide on the really bad areas and then the natural food store cream over everything else and we'll see. I'm still keeping the aloe vera suggestion in mind and also others as well since I don't know if what I'm doing will work or if I'll be able to do it from a cost perspective long term. Thanks again.
 
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amcate replied to cwille's response:
The allergist told me the triamincolone acetonide ointment was a stronger type of hydrocortisone creme - it's in same family but a stronger version of the over the counter stuff.
 
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jelani0707 responded:
amcate, I am having the same issue. Just this evening I took a warm bath, set in the tub for about 15 minutes. After I got out, my skin started itching, then it felt like it was on FIRE. this has happen to me before, so I had stopped taking baths and only took showers.
today i told myself I would try again, what a mistake, I looked at my skin, I have hives on both of my arms, my legs and my foot is red, and my feet is the worst. I thought maybe it was my soap, don't have the problem when I take showers, Changed the temperature in the water, still the same thing, Now I am beginning to believe it's what i am using to clean the tub. I was running out of ideas until I googled this. In the past I have had major surgery and did have some nerve damage. I need to find out what keep causing this,
 
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amcate replied to jelani0707's response:
Hi, jelani0707. I was recently talking to a patient who has had chronic illness since 1965 and also has 5 doctors in his family. The main problem where I live is its an underserved area, and most doctors do the best they can, but they just don't have much time, and in fact he verified that and he stated that his family members who are doctors tend to like patients who are understanding of the situation. The doctors who are here get paid a lot less than they would if they moved to another state. So, something like itchy skin gets brushed aside especially when the doctor is trying to deal with a lot of asthma cases coming at them. However, what I have had going on is a bit like hell, in that the skin literally feels like it is burning from the inside out and there have been times when I've scratched and screamed and the pain. It really makes it hard to sleep, and others look at me weird if they see my skin.

So, I posted here and also investigated on youtube under "atopic dermatitis". As I said above, my doctors never got a firm diagnosis on the skin issues as most of the time they are dealing with life threatening issues, but it's a good guess anyway. Years ago, I switched from regular soap to organic soap and I switch the soap I use frequently to try to avoid becoming allergic to an ingredient. What I got from youtube (and I don't recall the specific channels, but I think DermTV was one of them) was to not immerse myself in water, to not use hot water (evidently hot water aggravates atopic dermatitis), one said to minimalize soap use and gave instructions on how to stay clean, and then to moisturize when getting out of the tub without using a towel to dry the skin. The alternative health creme I tried works, but is cost prohibitive. So, then I went to the supermarket and found Aquaphor (I get the generic equivalent) as I wanted something without parabens. It doesn't work as well as the alternative health creme, but it does seem to help. I've started to use it after showering/bathing at night because it's rather thick and shiny and would not be cosmetically appealling to use in the morning before going out to work. It does get on everything, though, so I've started to wear parajamas with pants and long socks to avoid staining the furniture. When I wake in the morning, my skin is rather soft and bad look from the Aquaphor equivalent is gone.

I recently got upset about something, and didn't put the creme on for a few days, and the skin was burning and itching and feeling like it was burning in hell again, so I've started it up again. It takes a few days to start to work, though.

Anyway, don't know if that helps and I still have some problems, but it does seem to lessen the intensity of it. It's a pretty thick creme or ointment, it's not thin like a lotion. I still use the anti itch lotion in the morning time and as needed as well as the triaminocolone acetonide ointment that is a corticosteroid as needed for bad areas.

My thought is that since the worse areas are where my skin contacts the water during the shower/bath that in my case it may not be the soap, but maybe something in the water itself. However, the temperature makes a huge difference in my case. My skin tolerates luke warm water much better than hot water, which the channels I saw on youtube said is consistent with atopic dermatitis.
 
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amcate replied to jelani0707's response:
I went back to youtube to try to find some of the direct links. So, I put in the search box, "atopic dermatitis" and I ended up watching some videos by ACAAICOLA (2nd one down on the list) and also the ones that National Jewish had that came up on that list. Also, if you put in "DermTV" and then search that chaneel for "eczema" on that list it has episode 147, 173, 178. There were others I watched as well, but it gets you started anyway. For some reason, when I put the links here they often don't work, so this is the best way I know of how to reference the videos I saw. I'm not a doctor, though, so of course can't diagnose you or tell you what is causing your specific problem. I had already been to both my PCP and my allergist who, while they didn't do anything to ensure their diagnosis was certain, basically said it was likely to be atopic dermatitis given I have asthma.


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