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quick & boring health update - helen-louise
baratron
baratron
quick & boring health update
Still covered in itchy rash. Doctors are uncertain what it is. Suggestions include:
* intertrigo - a fungal infection that likes to live in moist places like in armpits and under breasts. Possible because lots of my rash is in those "skin meets skin" places.
* urticaria - allergic rash, hives. Possible because I'm allergic to all kinds of interesting things, and carbamazepine in particular is known for causing this in ~10% of people.
* ezcema - the third member of the unholy trinity along with asthma and hay fever/allergies. I have the other two, it wouldn't be surprising for me to have the third.

Thing is, if you look these rashes up in Google image search, you'll see they all look completely different. The rash under my breasts consists of large red merged patches like intertrigo, the rash on the inside of my elbow is scaly like ezcema, and the rash on my arms is spotty like urticaria. It's also possible that a lot of the rash has been caused by my scratching of delicate itchy skin and that my skin is spotty and red because I've injured it in scratching too hard. Really it's all a mystery, and I don't like being a medical mystery, thankyouverymuch.

So I am currently carrying out a scientific experiment on myself. I am treating the skin on my neck, under my belly and the right side of my body with a cream that merely suppresses itching (not very well). I am treating the skin under my breasts and on the left side of my body with the cream that contains hydrocortisone plus an antifungal. The experiment is not properly controlled because for that, I'd need a patch of skin left untreated to see if it gets better by itself, and a cream with hydrocortisone + anti-itching stuff to go in yet another place. When my skin is this evil and itchy, leaving part of it entirely untreated is just not going to happen. Nonetheless, I'm going to see which side gets better more quickly in an attempt to figure out what's wrong. Currently, my left armpit and under my breasts are winning over my right armpit and under my belly - but my right leg is winning over my left leg. You work it out, I certainly can't.

Results of my blood test were boring - all types of white blood cell look normal, everything else is normal except that my TSH is way high. 5.16 uIU/mL- it was 3.81 uIU/mL in August. However, carbamazepine can cause false high TSH readings, so they're not terribly bothered about it - "retest in 6 months". Hmm. Should I look into this more? Does being hypothyroid make you itch all over all the time?

Tags: ,
Current Mood: confused confused - and still itchy

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Comments
geminigirl From: geminigirl Date: 12th January 2009 23:40 (UTC) (Link)
If carbamezepine can cause falsely high TSH readings, it might be worthwhile looking into whether it can also affect the rest of the thyroid panel (T3, T4, etc.) and if not, discussing with your doctor whether it makes sense to look at those numbers instead of the TSH.

And AFAIK, 3.81 is still in a range where treatment might be good if you're symptomatic.
barakta From: barakta Date: 12th January 2009 23:45 (UTC) (Link)
iirc being hypothyroid can make your skin flaky and cause itching from that. After my mum got her diagnosis she realised the itchy skin on her arms was that.

Sounds like it might be worth testing the other thyroid panel stuff and asking whether the carbamazepine is causing thyroid issues as well as fucking up the results.
geminigirl From: geminigirl Date: 12th January 2009 23:53 (UTC) (Link)
A good point-one of the signs that my thyroid medication needs to be adjusted upwards is dry, itchy patches on my upper arms. I know someone else who has that happen on her nose.
nitoda From: nitoda Date: 14th January 2009 10:44 (UTC) (Link)
Um, this may be a silly question, but could the rashes have different causes? Surely they don't all have to be the same thing, do they? The one that looks like eczema might be eczema, the one that looks like intergrigo might be that, etc? As for urticaria as a diagnosis, I thought it was merely the Latin for itching?
baratron From: baratron Date: 15th January 2009 21:02 (UTC) (Link)
Not a silly question at all, it's along the lines of my current thinking. The medical term for itching is pruritus, which took three attempts at spelling to get right - hooray for typing things into Google and it saying "do you mean...?" and repeating until I get recognisable websites like Medscape and the Merck Manual :) Don't ask me to pronounce it, it'll be another of those words like brewery that I can't say without severe embarrassment. Urticaria is specifically itchy/allergic rash/hives.

My current and subject-to-change thoughts on the matter are that the rashes where skin-meets-skin are almost certainly intertrigo because a) they are in the right places for this to be the cause, b) they look like the pictures of intertrigo on the internet, and c) they have responded very well and quickly to the antifungal medicine. I'm not quite sure about the ?ezcema on the inside of my elbow because it was in the exact same shape as the plaster that I'd had over where my blood test was done - I think it's more likely to have been an allergy to the plaster glue, but... I'd used a hypoallergenic latex-free plaster of a make that I've never reacted to before! If I can't use that type of plaster then I'm completely screwed when I injure myself, because I react to everything else, even Micropore tape. I'm hoping this was a transient allergic reaction because my body was full of... er, sensitivity to whatever's causing the bulk of the allergic reaction. Immunoglobulins? Not sure, my biochemistry isn't great.

I'm still incredibly unsure as to the cause of the spotty rash on exposed skin like arms, legs and back - it looks like some sort of allergic rash, but to what?
nitoda From: nitoda Date: 16th January 2009 09:47 (UTC) (Link)
allergies suck. I've been doing quite well on this trip - the hotel we're staying at is well geared up to look after people with food intolerances, but I'm getting very fed up now seeing my partners tucking into things I would have loved and enjoyed last year but which I now daren't eat. It's not that it would kill me either, probably just give me a tummy ache and maybe nasal congestion ... but I'd rather not have the reaction. The main problem is not knowing what's in stuff - I'm fed up with asking! I now have a much better understanding and empathy for those compulsive food labellers that list ingredients on everything. I wish it were more common practice. One of my biggest frustrations is that there *may* be more choices available to me than I know but because I can't say whether or not something contains milk I'm avoiding it. Oh well. At least I can still remember what a treat it is not to have to snuffle and take antihistamines daily!
Hope your skin clears up soonest!
baratron From: baratron Date: 19th January 2009 02:25 (UTC) (Link)
Heh - I certainly empathise with "seeing my partners tucking into things I would have loved and enjoyed last year but which I now daren't eat". I've been dairy-free for, what, 4 years now? It was awful at the beginning, but believe me, the urge does go away eventually. I occasionally feel really frustrated, if I'm hungry and wandering round an unfamiliar shop trying to find *something* that I can eat, or in the summer when there are ice cream adverts everywhere, but most of the time it doesn't bother me.

You do realise that most food sold in supermarkets has an allergy box on the back? It'll say in big letters if something Contains Milk. That helps a lot. I also started buying vegan chocolate years before I became vegan - if something is safe for vegans then you know it's dairy-free. You don't have to *be* a vegan to eat vegan food! There are also an awful lot of cakes and biscuits (particularly in Waitrose) that contain egg but not dairy - none of them are suitable for me because I'm intolerant to egg as well, but you can eat them :)

Another real lifesaver is going to the same restaurants on a regular basis, so the staff get to know your particular needs. On the whole, places that make up meals from scratch won't mind leaving out butter or cream if you're a regular customer and it's possible for them to do so. (It depends on how many sauces are premade, etc.) If you're ever in an unfamiliar part of the UK, I recommend Pizza Express as an emergency - their bases and tomato sauce are dairy-free, and they seem to be familiar with the idea of dairy allergy. I generally have dough balls with garlic oil instead of butter, some sort of salad without the dressing (unless it's balsamic vinegar & olive oil, which is just fine), and a pizza with interesting toppings but no cheese.
nitoda From: nitoda Date: 19th January 2009 07:22 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks - I'm also finding kosher foods can be helpful! No dairy if there's any meat content ... although, bizarrely, the only tomato soup I've found that's dairy free so far is a kosher packet soup. It's very good for an instant soup and I keep a supply at work. I was interested to see that in Hinterglemm it was easy to get a dairy-free spread (butter substitute) but that milk substitutes were not available in the supermarket. So even more thanks to the hotel for managing to get my soya milk. To be fair, on arrival they did have rice milk - but I'm not fond of that and I was grateful for the soya milk when it got there on Tuesday.
I had wondered about cheese-less pizza - do you know if most pizza bases are dairy-free or is it something special about Pizza Express' bases?
How are airlines generally speaking? It was too late for me to bother this time and I took a packed lunch with me on both legs of the journey, but do they provide dairy-free as an option? Vegan would probably do, of course, if that's available but dairy-free isn't! Ah, the joy of life with interesting allergies - and yes, I know mine isn't *nearly* as interesting as yours! ::hugs::
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