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Incredibly random, crippling itching condition - any ideas?

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Old 04-12-2009, 07:24 AM   #1
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forloveofbirds HB User
Incredibly random, crippling itching condition - any ideas?

(I know there is alot here to read, but please bear with me and read as much/all of what I have posted, as I am incredibly desperate for some answers/help.)

I have been suffering from a skin rash/itch that comes and goes randomly. When it does surface, it is only during extremely cold winters, and the condition typically stays until mid-spring (December - April, roughly). It doesn't bother me every winter – it seems to appear abruptly at random. In fact, prior to this winter (08-09), the last time this skin disorder surfaced was during the winter of 03-04, and prior to that was roughly winter 95-96. So as you can see, it shows up very randomly.

Quick details to take into consideration: I live in northern Ohio, where the winters can be maliciously cold and dry (-20 degrees, via windchill, somedays). My diet is a lot better now than it was during the other skin rash outbreaks, though not flawless (I am very certain that this condition is not related to a food allergy). I'm under stress now, but I wasn't during the last two winters when the rash broke out. I don't smoke, drink, do any drugs, nor do I have any food allergies that I'm aware of, and nor do I have any sort of disorders that require medication. I do not “sleep around,” and have no STDs. Also, I'm a 31-year-old male.

Now for the skin rash itself. It seems to only show up during winter, and once the stage is set, so to speak, by the cold weather, a number of things can set off this rash. If I suddenly get nervous or angry - as in, sudden changes in mood or in emotion - that will set it off (e.g. If I almost drop a glass object but catch it just in time, that sudden shock and surprise can trigger the rash, or if someone says something to me that I take offense to, that also can trigger my condition). Just getting really nervous can triiger the rash. If I try to exercise or do any sort of physical labor, that can set it off (e.g. Sometimes something as simple as picking up a heavy object and moving it 5 feet can trigger it). Moving from extreme cold into somewhere very warm will do it. Having hot air blow on me (from a heating vent, for example), can do it.

The itching itself only lasts for a good 3- 8 minutes, depending on how severe of a flare-up. The itching sensation is EXTREMELY painful, and burns SEVERELY – like hot pins or boiling water under the skin - and if I itch it the pain and burning increase dramatically. The itching starts of as a tingling sensation, which slowly builds up to the painful itch. Little red bumps (slightly bigger than the size of a period at the end of a sentence, roughly) begin to appear, mainly on my forearms, legs, and chest – the more intense the itch is, the greater the amount of bumps. Also, much of my skin will just turn bright red, mainly in spots where the skin is sensitive, like on my back and chest. The itching typically starts on either my hands/wrists, lower legs, or back, though usually spreads to my chest, forearms, and sometimes forehead. The bumps/rash will typically go away within 5-7 minutes if I don't itch my skin. If I do itch, my sensitive skin becomes very red in the places where I itched it, and the redness lasts roughly 15-20 minutes.

After a severe flare-up, I almost feel relieved, as if my skin has just successfully removed something from my body and can now “breath” or function correctly, if this makes sense. It is almost like my body is trying to sweat and can't - something is making it difficult for my body to relase toxins or sweat, thus creating the painful sensation. Just a theory. My skin is often times fine for awhile after this – sometimes for the rest of the day – though on some days I get multiple flare-ups. Perhaps there is a problem with my pores? I have no idea.

I take a multi-vitamin, vitamin B, E, D, & C, omega 3, calcium/zinc, and saw palmetto supplements. I take zyrtec (sp?) x1 pill daily, I drink lots of water, and I use unscented lotion all over my body the moment I step out of the shower. I also found that when I'm experiencing a flare-up, going somewhere cool or cold or rubbing cold water on my skin can help to calm it a bit. (Though I have been outside in the cold, all bundled up, and still experienced major flare-ups, so being inthe cold doesn't always equate no rash. again, maybe a problem with my pores and not being able to sweat properly?)

I've come to the conclusions that being exposed to bitter cold weather over a lengthy period of time, stress, and some unknown unbalance in my body are the culprits. On the other hand, I have gone through many winters where my skin was perfectly fine, and I have been very stressed at other times in my life and my skin didn't break out into this heat rash then. Other than winter time, there is nothing consistent enough to single it out to a single cause of this crippling rash, which makes identifying this horrible condition all that much more difficult. I DO have sensitive skin, as I have fair, pale skin overall, but there is something more at work here, and my condition is not merely a result of it just being too dry during the winter (unless the overly dryness is what's keepingme from sweating normally). (I also sometimes get eczema on my hands during cold bitter winters, but I believe that this has nothing to do with the skin condition detailed in this article.)

Lastly, I have seen a few dermatologists about this back in the 90s and back in '04. the first merely put me on benedryl (didn't help) and gave me some anti-itch ointment (didn't help). The '04 dermatolotogist (did I misspell that?) put me on claratin and Paxel. the claratin helped with my allegies, if nothing else. And to this day I am not sure if the Paxel helped, as I started using it in April - right when the weather began improving - and my skin was better by the end of the month. (She put me on the Paxel because she believed that my itch/rash was nerve-related.) I am currently seeing a naturalpath doctor for my skin, who believes my adrenals, somewhat low WB-cell count and liver (producing a bit too much belarubin) are the cause, and has placed me on some all-natural supplements. It has been 2 weeks and so far my skin still isn't any better.

I thank those of who stuck it out this long. I had to quit my job as a teacher because of my skin, and I'm seriously considering relocating to a much warmer climate, even though I dislike the constant hot weather. I haven't worked out since October. As you can see, this condition is very crippling, and I'm anxious to have it at least under control, if not cured. Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated.

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Old 04-12-2009, 08:34 AM   #2
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Re: Incredibly random, crippling itching condition - any ideas?

Research a condition called 'cold urticaria'. What you have described sounds like this. Cheers, Sera

Old 04-12-2009, 06:35 PM   #3
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forloveofbirds HB User
Re: Incredibly random, crippling itching condition - any ideas?

[QUOTE=Seraph;3953220]Research a condition called 'cold urticaria'. What you have described sounds like this. Cheers, Sera[/QUOTE]

Thank you for the reply! I did research on CU (cold urticaria) back in 2004 and concluded that I might not have this condition, as I do not have all of the symptoms. Unlike those afflicted with CU, I'm not sensitive to cold objects - e.g. I can place an ice cube on my arm and nothing happens. In fact, it feels quite nice (until my skin goes numb, of course, like it would on anyone). Those who have CU will develop a rash by doing this.

Also, according to the research I've done, CU typically only lasts 5-6 years. My condition has been bothering me off and on for about 15 years.

And judging by all the pictures I've seen of what a CU rash looks like, I do not think I have this condition; my rash looks different.

Also, my rash seems strongly tied to emotions/adrenaline/stress, and CU is not, according to my research.

Lastly, I know I mentioned in my opening post that my itchy condition would sometimes flare up even when I'm out in the cold. I think this happens because my body begins to get too hot while all bundled up in my winter clothes, not because I am alleric to the cold.

Anyhow, perhaps I have a mild case of CU, as well as some other disorder(s) that are resulting in my condition, I'm really not sure. All I do know is that these bitter cold, dry, lengthy Ohio winters are the staging grounds for my condition, and moving somewhere with far less harsh winters will be necessary if I don't ever figure out how to get this rash under control.

Old 04-25-2009, 09:17 PM   #4
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forloveofbirds HB User
Re: Incredibly random, crippling itching condition - any ideas?

Anyone else? Seriously, I'm about to take a bath in acid, justy get rid of my skin all together, not have to worry about this misery anymore...

Well, maybe not, but my skin is so bad that I actually had to turn down a job in Wisconsin because I'm too scared that my skin will break out again and prevent me from performing my job effectively. Talk about life-altering...

Old 04-26-2009, 10:25 AM   #5
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Re: Incredibly random, crippling itching condition - any ideas?

You should get back to your dermatologist - he probably figured it'd just go away on it's own. You know docs, they always start at the mildest/most common dx they can think of and work they're way up. I could go into my GP with my head in a basket and he'd tell me to take some tylenol.

It does sound like it's getting worse and it's certainly effecting your life. There are serious disorders can cause chronic itchy rash/hives (though not triggered by physical causes like cold or emotion) like a viral/bacterial illness, autoimmune diseases (lupus, autoimmune thyroid) and leukemia. Heavy H. Pylori infections, the bug that causes stomach ulcers, has been implicated in chronic rash/itchiness too.

I'd bet the farm you have physical allergies, including occasional cold urticaria. You needn't match the textbook description to have one or more of these disorders, in fact they're quite unique to each person.

Physical allergies include allergic type reactions that vary person to person (from mild itchiness that goes away in minutes, to life threatening anaphylaxis) to heat, cold, sun, water, sweat/exercise or strong emotions. Many people are triggered by a single PA, some two or three of the above, very few react to all. I have cold and water "allergies" - which is why I now live in Florida.

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Old 09-09-2009, 03:53 PM   #6
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GreenTruckGuy HB User
Re: Incredibly random, crippling itching condition - any ideas?

You researched cold urticaria, did you also look into Cholinergic urticaria, it seems to basically be "hot" urticaria.

After reading this thread and one on another site that you posted this link on I believe we have the same issue, I have always lived in SoCal and have hated air conditioning so it was never an issue, but I got heat rash two weeks ago and over compensated by refrigerating my room, and now I have the same symptoms as you describe, and suffer excruciating pain whenever out of an air conditioned room. Heat rash is gone though!

The **** for Cholinergic urticaria says that mixing H1 and H2 receptor antagonists has good results, there are two that I recognize as being over the counter, Claritin and Zantac. I'll report in and let you know if they helped.

Old 11-19-2009, 07:51 AM   #7
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daddyomar78 HB User
Re: Incredibly random, crippling itching condition - any ideas?

This is very intersting. I have been dealing with the very same issue for about the same amount of time (15 years). I've tried the same treatments that you have mentioned with no solution. However, I do find some relief from Zyrtec, but I'm not sure if the effects of taking an antihistimine for extended periods of time. This condition usually rears its ugly head in the Winter months only and subsides in the Spring. I wish I could find a solution to this problem. It definitely limits my ablility to perform "normal" activities.

Have you found any solution to this issue at this time? I've consulted with my GP as well as other dermatologist, but none have been able to provide me with a solution or cure for this condition.

Old 11-28-2009, 10:53 PM   #8
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helmo HB User
Re: Incredibly random, crippling itching condition - any ideas?

You wrote something stomach ulcers ? Actually I have the same itching problem since I was 15, Now I'm 21 and this painful itching comes normally in Winter. This time when we have college Olympiads I can't participate as I'm too good in athletics. When the itching starts I can only stop it if I flush my body with cold water.
If I bundled up I feel the itching to come when my body "heats up" due to stress, emotion and all the things described here.

But Now you mention something stomach ulcers I have repaired that I have an acute pain in my stomach when I do certain activities like: jogging, playing football and dancing. Excessive efforts "no matter the whether" makes my stomach to pain a lot. I don't know whether this is the cause of the Skin Disorder. And going in more details whenever I go for "pooping" a thick liquid which looks like sperm comes along with the feces, I have been with this since long back. Can anybody tell me whether this is causing my skin disorder or not.

I feel really bad with all this and doctors are too helpless. They gave me hell lot of medicines which had no effect at all. Please suggest me what to do.

We can't simply keep moving here and there find better location to live there has to be a way to annihilate this disease.

I hope to hear from you thanks !

Last edited by helmo; 11-28-2009 at 10:55 PM. Reason: mistake in typing

Old 01-03-2010, 01:56 PM   #9
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Wechtery HB User
Re: Incredibly random, crippling itching condition - any ideas?


Hello, I have severe itching of my forearms also and have had this for maybe the last five years. I'm 49 yrs old now, male, in excellent health with zero chronic issues really. This year seems to be the worst year for my itching, or maybe I should say "season". It seems that this only happens in the winter when it is colder and dryer. I never have this issue in the spring, summer, or fall and I spend many days outside in the sun playing tennis and golf, but always use sunscreen and moisturizer some so I don't get dry. It just doesn't happen except in the winter. I disagree with members like drrajgopal18 who throw out a ton of VERY SCARY conditions when they have not examined this person or reviewed their entire medical history. We aren't on these forums to get scared, but to get logical common sense feedback to our inquiries so we can think them through better.

As for how I deal with my itch, it really isn't a debilitating thing to me, even though it is very severe. I use VASOLINE to manage it. You simply rub fresh Vasoline on the area that itches and it will subside. If it's one of the worse episodes, it could take a few minutes, but for some reason VASOLINE works. My wife had severe psoriasis when young and this was how they treated it then. She told me to use Vasoline. Previously I was putting cortisone creams and other similar things, some doctor prescribed, and even ice, but they were not enough. My "season" is usually about three months long, but have noticed that this year after the first month of using Vasoline it subsided considerably on it's own.

Good luck to any of you reading this and I truly hope you all have a very prosperous New Year!

Austin, TX

Old 01-18-2010, 09:36 PM   #10
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cyclist79 HB User
Re: Incredibly random, crippling itching condition - any ideas?

Hello, I have the same condition as you. I am a 30 year-old male; the last time I had this was the Winter of 03 and it just came back in the Fall of 09. I went to the dermatologist and was diagnosed with Cholinergic Urticaria - < edited > She gave me a prescription for Hydroxyzine. This causes drowsiness so she said to take one of these at night and Claritin in the morning to keep the levels of antihistamine up.

I just got the drugs so I'm hoping these will work, but I have had some luck with other treatments to lessen the occurences - humidifier, Aveeno moisturizer applied directly after showering, exercise to work up a sweat. The exercise is probably the most effective tool; my skin feels so much better after a good sweat. If I feel an attack coming on I try to breath deeply and relax and sometimes that can stop it short.

By the way, I live in Los Angeles as well! It doesn't get very cold here but even if it just gets cold enough to need the heater that dries out our house and sets me up for an attack.

Best of luck...

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Old 01-30-2010, 01:49 PM   #11
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Dumbone4 HB User
Re: Incredibly random, crippling itching condition - any ideas?

Ok buddy I just saw your post while researching side effects of saw palmetto because i started this stuff like 4 days ago and the itch and heated skin im feeling is enough to drive me mad!! Im going to start taking benadryl and hope it gets out of my system I would suggest droping the palmetto

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