Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Spotty (but not the fashionable kind)

Yes..I have considered hiding.

My posting, as regular readers will notice, has been absent for a couple of weeks.  The reason for this is that I have been struck down. Admittedly that does sound rather dramatic but when one is feeling rubbish, one is allowed to wallow!  My poor followers on the tweet-sphere have been regaled with an almost blow by blow account of the progression of the spots.

It started, once upon a time on a Thursday, with a small patch of a rash on my tummy, red, raised little spots that were a bit itchy but not cripplingly so. I assumed it was a wool rash as I've suffered with these on and off for years and had been wearing a Cos wool dress that day.  I hadn't changed my washing powder, cosmetics or anything like I slapped a bit of hydro-cortisone on it and life went on as normal.

The rash spread.  The spots got bigger and more itchy, eventually they were all the way up to my chin and down to my knees, front and back.  On Saturday I sat down on the sofa and fell asleep for nearly three hours. On Sunday I was not only red and itchy but exhausted. I didn't have a temperature or any other symptoms though.  Monday came and I decided to whizz to the doctor. I'm from a family of doctors but an external opinion is always good and Daddy was in an Indian jungle with no email access.

After the interminable wait in the waiting room....where I tried not to scratch my boobs..I eventually made it to my doctor.  He took a cursory look at me and said, "I think it's pityriasis rosea, there's nothing we can really do about that. Try a hydro cortisone if the itching gets really bad."
"It is really bad.  Seriously. My entire body is covered in angry red welts and I want to scratch my skin off and you're telling me there's nothing I can do about it? What causes it?"
"The causes are unknown but don't worry, it's not contagious and usually doesn't spread to the face."
"Wow..ok so my face MIGHT not get covered in horrific rash and I don't have to make the Boy sleep on the sofa. How long does it last for?"
"6 to 12 weeks. Did I mention that the side effects are chronic fatigue and nausea? It tends to get worse before it gets better so expect more spots."
(collapses to floor in despair)

I left the doctors feeling VERY despondent..and still itching. The tiredness was almost as bad as the itch. I could barely get out of bed in the mornings and by three pm was ready to climb under my desk and snooze.  In despair, I decided to Google it.  Now usually this is the quick path to Crazy Town with a subway through Paranoia Alley but because this virus/ skin condition is so odd and so little has been known about it, people have been doing their own thing. The British Association of Dermatologists was helpful in terms of background but not in terms of relief.  It was on line patient forums, particularly one called Healthy Pages that proved to provide some helpful advice..although of course read them with a good dollop of common sense.

One of the suggestions was washing in Head and Shoulders all over, twice a day.  I can't remember what the active ingredient was..but people had reported good effects. By Thursday, I was utterly miserable and went back to the Shire for some TLC. My dear family, who could see the rash in all it's glory, were hugely sympathetic. Hot water made it flare up even worse so relaxing baths were out! We bought the Head and Shoulders and fortunately had a giant vat of a skin cream called Dermol to hand.  This cream is used as a moisturiser or cleanser for those suffering with severe eczema.  Mummy ( a nurse) suggested taking a Benadryl once-a-day allergy pill every morning and so the regime started. I'd wash in the morning, all over with the H&S, then cover everything in Dermol and take my Benadryl as well as milk thistle and vitamin C supplements. If patches got particularly bad, I would apply H45 (like E45 but hydro cortisone). I also had a sunbed for 5 minutes on the Saturday. I would never ever normally advocate the use of sunbeds but exposure to UV light is apparently helpful to this skin condition and it certainly helped me.  Only for a very short period though..not enough to get a tan or certainly not burn! This intensive treatment we kept up over the whole weekend.  I also ended up sleeping for 12 hours every night and during the afternoon.

Back to London on the Sunday and with work approaching on the Monday, the rash seemed to be calmer than it had been.  I have kept up my routine (Head and Shoulders, full body coating in Dermol, Benadryl tablet and supplements) and have been going to bed at 10pm every evening. The patches do seem to be getting drier and darker in colour.  I am continuing to wear all natural fabrics and have also been alcohol free for about 5 days..just as an added health benefit!

I'm still cream-crackered and no-one would want to see me in a bikini yet (SERIOUSLY) but I'm praying that I'm over the worst of it.  Keep your fingers crossed for me and if you see someone with rash patches up to their chin and sitting on their hands on the tube, give them a friendly smile, it might be me.

Slightly more fashionable spots at Louise Gray, LFW 11


  1. I had exactly what you have in 2007. It was a side effect virus from strep throat. The doctors told me the same thing. Nothing I can do, it's not contagious, avoid bathing and showering in hot water and doesn't spread to the face. I didn't have nausea or overfatigue though so I'm feeling for you!

    Stop using head and shoulders girl! Drug store shampoo contains lots of harmful chemicals and it will just end up drying your skin too much if you use it all over your body.

    Use Argan oil. Spend the money. It's expensive buy worth it. It's known for healing psoriasis, so your condition is in the same catagory. That's what I used and it helped reduce the itchiness and swelling. It's not immediate so you'll have to be patient but I swear your skin will thank you for it. The oil will definitely help reduce the scaring from scratching as well.

    ARGAN OIL - tell your boy to get you a bottle!

    1. Wendy thanks so much for that! The H&S has worked a treat but I'll definitely splash out on the Argan Oil too. Good news..apparently once you've had this horrid thing, there's only a 2% chance of ever getting it again. Fingers crossed!x


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