2015_Day 227: Contact dermatitis puzzling, frustrating

I can't figure out what's causing this rash on my elbow and arm, which is itchy, to say the least.

I can’t figure out what’s causing this rash on my elbow and arm, which is itchy, to say the least.


I’ve been struggling the last week or so with a rash that I had hoped would clear up on its own. It started small, a couple of patches of red bumps on my hips. The next day it was also behind one of my knees. It wasn’t too itchy or painful, calamine lotion or Benadryl cream seemed to take care of that.

This was before I took daughter and step-daughter to Schlitterbahn Waterpark, and I didn’t say anything to them or husband because I didn’t want it to ruin the trip. And it didn’t. A few applications of the Benadryl cream during the day kept the itch in check. And it even seemed to get better mid-week. I woke up Thursday feeling pretty good, and even felt okay during the day at work. But it all ended there. I walked out into the 100-plus degree heat, got into an even hotter vehicle and immediately started to itch intensely all over. A burning, stinging itch. It was all I could do to get home and slather calamine lotion all over. By this time, the rash had spread down the front of my legs to my knees and on my arms between my shoulders and wrists.

I got into the doctor on Friday, who asked me all the same questions I had been asking myself the past couple days. Had I started using any new soaps, shampoos, detergents, cleaners, lately? Any new medications? Nope and nope. As much as I can, I use scent-free and hypo-allergenic products. I don’t wear perfume. And I’ve used the same products for quite awhile — like for years.

Other than the Schlitterbahn visit, I haven’t been hiking or walking anywhere to expose myself to anything different either. I water my plants and flowers in my backyard, many times barefoot, but I’ve got no rash on my feet or ankles. I even thought of the lawn service we use, but they came after the rash started. And again, the rash hasn’t affected my feet or ankles, which I think would happen if that was it and I walked in the grass without shoes.

The doctor told me I have contact dermatitis and gave me prednisone and a prescription-strength anti-itch cream. I’ve taken two doses so far, but if it’s working, it’s doing so very slowly. The itch was incredibly intense overnight and I got very little sleep because of the stinging and burning. It was better after I took a cool shower, but I can tell it’s starting up again. Over-the-counter Benadryl and calamine lotion seems to work just as well as the prescription-strength anti-itch cream.

I’m staying out of the sun as much as possible because the heat seems to aggravate the itch. If it doesn’t clear up in a week, the doctor said the next step will be taking a closer look at what my skin is coming in contact with to determine whether it’s an irritant or allergic form of dermatitis. I don’t have a clue what it is, but it’s driving me crazy. I just want it to go away.

This patch of rash is behind my right knee.

This patch of rash is behind my right knee.

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2 thoughts on “2015_Day 227: Contact dermatitis puzzling, frustrating

  1. Shannon

    It’s the downside to tubing! You probably got it there. We are just big giant vessels for microscopics. Rubbing your biggest organ against hot rubber tubes in dirty water for a couple of days is how it starts. It’ll get better; I hope you find adequate relief until then. I’ve had it many times. 😀

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