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Prairie Fairie 10-30-2013 09:36 PM

Rash, misdiagnosed as shingles, returns -what is it?
I wasn't sure where to put this thread. I'm unsure if this is an allergy, a symptom of possible gluten intolerance (the stage down from celiac sprue), stress, thyroid or other hormone issue.

Briefly, I developed a rash two days after starting as a letter carrier. I do not recall coming into contact with anything like poison ivy. At first I thought it was heat-related. This was back near the beginning of July. The rash got worse, itchy, spread from my forearm and was moving up to my armpit. I mentioned the rash at a doctor's appointment and she immediately said it was shingles. I took anti-viral, threw everything at it I could and it did virtually nothing. I then went for antibiotics (although I didn't think they'd work, but I wanted to try it in case it was a bacterial infection). I used cortisone cream, bee propolis, regular paraben-free moisturiser and calamine lotion. Virtually all of them, except the bee propolis salve, drove me nuts and flared my skin up. I then got put on some prednisone about a month ago and finished it about a week ago. The rash is returning. I never really felt it go, although visibly it looked a lot better while I was taking the oral steroid (but the steroid made me feel like crap - I have epilepsy and it made me a bit jittery). I could still feel the dull tingling under my skin. I knew it would probably be back. I was right. It's only a matter of a day or two before I see an angry red rash back on my forearm. I also noticed this evening my right foot (on the top) has got little red dots and was a bit itchy earlier on. I put more bee salve on my arm and let it soak in and that seems to have helped a bit. Back around the time the rash on my arm started, I had a few marks on my right foot as well and it was itchy. Also, my legs were itchy, but they haven't started up again.

I know I have a mild gluten sensitivity, which since giving birth in 2011 may have become more extreme. I went gluten-free for about 6 months last year after I found I was having various random issues, including an itchy scaly scalp. It didn't help the scalp, but internally, I felt a bit better. There is celiac in my family (aunt and cousin). I don't think I consume a lot of gluten in contrast to the average person. However, I am fully aware that if someone is gluten intolerant, they should avoid it completely.

I am prone to quite bad dermatitis on my fingers, but that's not all the time and it depends on what I'm doing. My hands are a bit dry at the moment, but lanolin moisturizer kind of helps. My hands are so sensitized from years of abuse and contact dermatitis that if I were to wear rubber gloves, after a time the sweat from my skin would start reacting badly to my hands and cause a dermatitis outbreak. That's initially what I thought the issue was with my rash, but it made little sense. The forearm area affected is the underside, so it's fairly hairless naturally. I don't suspect it's folliculitis.

I'm due to get a thyroid test done because I have had a few flutters (like the butterfly in your throat), but I wasn't able to do it while taking prednisone as it might be a wasted test. I had an under-active thyroid briefly post-partum, but it came right. I guess I'm wondering what the cause of this rash might be. It could be stress, but I've never broken out in hives or anything like that before and I have read (I'm sure some will disagree) that hives is not actually caused by stress (but could be symptomatic of other things that might be stress-related). I haven't been bitten by bugs, nor animals. I'm reluctant to go gluten-free again at this moment. I have no health insurance, so any test I do, has to be sparingly and with great thought.

Any ideas? Could this be symptomatic of an auto immune disorder, a thyroid issue or is it just an allergy? I see my doctor again in a couple of weeks. I'm almost positive the rash will be back in full swing and do not want more oral steroid. I know I need an allergy test done, but I'd like to work out if it's that or something else.

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