Surviving without antihistamines - terrible ITCHING!

liz_hFebruary 18, 2008

I'm not quite insane yet, but getting awfully close! If this itching gets worse by Wednesday I may well be.

Based on previous allergy tests, I am mildly allergic to every pollen that's out there. I'm off my antihistamine (zyrtec) for 5 days for some more tests. While I get all the typical allergy symptoms, my worst is all over itching. I've been taking the herb stinging nettle 3 times a day which has helped a lot. The first day off the zyrtec wasn't too bad, but the itching gets worse every day. As the last of the zyrtec gets out of my system I'm afraid this is going to get really awful.

Any suggestions for something I can do over the next couple of days to control this itching?

This next round of testing is for foods. They could do blood testing, but my insurance only pays for skin testing.

The nettle leaves help because they contain a sizable amount of histamine. I know several herbs are good antihistamines, but I can't take them. Right now I feel like applying a thick layer of cortisone cream to my whole body, but I'm not sure that's a great idea either. I will be putting in a call to the allergist's office tomorrow, but I'd love to hear any ideas you have.

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lindac

Ibuprofin...800 mgs every 12 hours...unless you are already taking asprine or tylenol or any other NSAID..
It's really magical what it does in reducing itching. you should see a lot of relief in about an hour.
However you may get along better by taking 400 mgs every 6 hours....it is a more frequent dose...and you get more frequent instant relief.
Ibuprofin is also known as Advil or Motrin.
Linda C

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 9:56PM
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liz_h

THANK YOU, LINDA!! That never would have occurred to me. I just took 400 mgs. - then logged back in to post. It would be wonderful to have something else in my arsenal for breakthrough itching. In the past I've added benadryl, but even at night I can't take it very often - it doesn't mix well with neurological meds.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 10:08PM
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mboston_gw

Try an oatmeal bath. Sounds yucky but if you mix the oatmeal in a blender first then pour it in the tub, it isn't too bad. Really works for measles, bug bites, etc. along with the meds, maybe it will help.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 9:33PM
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liz_h

Is the relief of an oatmeal bath very long-lasting? About how much oatmeal do you use?

I reached the point last night where I just couldn't take it any longer. I can deal with major pain better than major itching. I don't know if I'll try this again without sedation! The ibuprofen helped a bit, as did cortisone cream, but just not enough. I took a heavy dose of benadryl last night.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 1:17AM
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trianglejohn

Not sure if this technique will send you over the edge or not - when I get poison ivy or any sort of itchy rash I run very hot water over it and scratch away. The high heat will cause your tissues to dump all their histamines at one time (a powerful itchy sensation - I mean POWERFUL) which is nerve wracking but I often have around 8 hours of itch-free time afterwards. Supposedly it take about that long for your body to build up its histamine stores.

My hot water heater is not set all that high so I can just crank the shower control to the highest setting, it is not scalding hot but still very hot. You could try just soaking in very hot water for a few minutes.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 11:45AM
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mboston_gw

I can't recall exactly - we used when DS had chickenpox years ago and when he broke out from a reaction to the farmers using chicken manure as fertilizer. Seems like a cup slowly added to the water in the blender. Once it was mixed then added to the bath water. It seemed to help him get through the night.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 6:33PM
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mboston_gw

Forgot to mention that I think Aveeno now makes an oatmeal bath product. You might try that.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 6:35PM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

Why did you take Benadryl? That is an antihistamine just like Zyrtec. You had better report that to your doctor or the testing won't reveal what it should.

Why do you think it is pollen and not foods or medications?

I am just curious. I have major allergies, and have been taking shots for 25 years.

1 Like    Bookmark   February 24, 2008 at 5:56PM
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liz_h

- sammy - I took the Benadryl out of desperation. I know that it's a stronger antihistamine than Zyrtec, and I wanted the maximum relief ASAP. I canceled the testing.

I once had a crushed leg and several other injuries from an automobile accident. The first week in the hospital, I received a shot of mixed pain medications every 4 hours. Unfortunately it always wore off in 3.5 hours! Neither that pain, nor other severe chronic pains I've had bothered me as much as this extreme itching. I came close to a nervous breakdown that night.

I may go in and talk with the doctor about ways to survive without an antihistamine for 5 days. I presume I'm allergic to a lot more than the pollen I've been tested for in the past - if for no other reason than because the shots I took years ago didn't help much. The allergist I saw 20 years ago wouldn't test for foods. His only reason was that he couldn't treat them anyway - but avoidance goes a long way!

Have your shots helped? Are you allergic to a lot of things besides pollen? How do you handle food allergies?

- mobston & trianglejohn - Thank you for the great bath suggestions. I'll keep these in mind for the future. I'd like to think I'll never get a rash again, but I sure won't count on it!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2008 at 2:09AM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

I have had Eczema, and it isn't fun. My worst itching came from allergic reactions to mosquitoes, but that was an obvious cause.

My doctor said that food allergies are hard to identify, and that avoidance is the best way to find them. If I were you, I would go on a special diet of fruits and vegetables, and avoid those that are classic allergens. I could easily live on apples, oranges, grapefruit, and some other foods. I would try sweet potatoes, and some other foods that would give me the necessary nutrients for about 5 days, and I would eat those foods and no other.

I would wash my sheets in a detergent that has no scent, and would rinse them about 3 times. I would avoid any dryer thing (those bother me, and cause itching.) I would try to allergy proof one room in the house and spend time there without animals. I would avoid candles and perfume - even scents in shampoo and other products.

I know the itching you are describing, and it is very uncomfortable. It really is in another class besides itching because it feels like it is coming from your bones. You don't have shingles, do you? One cause of my eczema was HRT. I really wasn't allergic to it, but it was instrumental in drying my skin.

I am allergic to eggs - all eggs even egg whites. I am allergic to whey, but not cheese. If I drink milk, I become a little uncomfortable sometimes, but if I eat a Stouffers meal, I become very sick. They are loaded with whey.

My allergy shots have been great, but I have taken them for 25 years. I give them to myself once or twice a week, and can work outside whenever I want. I cannot mow the lawn, and must watch out for conditions where there is heavy dust.

Do you take any medications at all? Have you been in touch with a regular doctor who can test you for something other than allergies, like a reaction to something the allergist might not think of (2nd opinion).

My husband has bad allergies also, and got tired of the shots. He tried an allergist who relies on the blood test, and was told he had no allergies.

My allergy shots work because I kept a log of what I ate, and when I felt bad. I was able to take that to the allergist, and he found what was in the air when I got sick. It took about 2 years to get it under control.

I have had very bad reactions to medications, and the mosquito bites were serious.

Good luck.
Sammy

    Bookmark   February 25, 2008 at 7:05AM
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trianglejohn

I know this will sound crazy but it works for me:

Off and on throughout the year I break out in a terrible itchy rash. Looks like poison ivy, acts like poison ivy, fools everyone that it IS poison ivy (even doctors). But I know that I haven't been near poison ivy.

One day while googling to see what psoriasis and ecxema looked like I read where someone said that a major skin irritant is dust mites and other mites and their waste. Some people are just super sensitive to it. One of their tricks to lowering the number of dust mites and other microscopic mites from your life was to NOT MAKE YOUR BED! (not that I was all that religious about it anyway). What they said was that by sleeping with your skin touching the blankets and sheets and then making the bed in the morning you were providing a protected environment for the mites. But when you pull the bedding back and set a small fan to blow on the exposed bedding all day it dries out the bugs and reduces their numbers. I still get a rash sometimes but the severity and numbers per year is less.

Before this trick I was changing my bedding (complete bedding) every night. All bedding and clothing were washed in special detergents to control allergens. But the tiny bugs are a part of life and live on our skin throughout the day. Tucking into warm blankets at night was the perfect place to grow their numbers. Bathing with hot soapy water does very little to get rid of them - they are designed to stay on us no matter what we do. They live throughout our houses, on every surface. Mighty creepy but profoundly affected by something as simple as exposure to dry air.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2008 at 4:36PM
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Meghane

It may be better to postpone your test until a time of year when your allergies are not as bad, if possible.

I'm a fan of avoidance, but my biggest allergen is horses. They are not so difficult to avoid as pollens and such.

Some other things besides pollens you may be allergic to are dust mites like John mentioned, other insects (many people are horribly allergic to cockroaches), and molds. One of my dogs had allergies to certain foods, most pollens found in NC, but his worst allergen was dust mites. His requirement for allergy shots and steroids was GREATLY reduced when I tossed out the carpet and replaced it with laminate flooring. I also put a dust mite proof cover on his bed. I was so surprised how much it helped him. My goal was only to get rid of the carpet because it had become worn and stained- the help it gave Aleks was amazing. I also stopped putting houseplants in the bedroom where he slept, since the soil tends to harbor molds. He still needed allergy shots, but only every 3-4 weeks in the winter and every 2 weeks other times of year, and he never needed steroids again to control his itching (antihistamines don't work in dogs).

Here is a link that might be useful: Example of dust mite proof bedding

    Bookmark   February 25, 2008 at 9:12PM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

I have an opinion that may not be proven, but I think it helps. I seldom ever make an exception to taking a full shower after being outside. I always put product in my hair, and I think that it collects pollen, dust and mold if I am outside. Even if we are just sitting for an hour or so, I will shower off before going to bed. (I will still put on hair product, but won't go back outside.) This also goes for skin lotion and bug stuff.

We don't keep live plants in the house even though I have so many rose bushes outside. I enjoy them outside, not in.

I don't even discuss my dogs with my allergist. I have 2 golden retriever, and if you have them, you realize that just that breed says it all.

I hope you get help soon. The itching is awful.

Sammy

    Bookmark   February 26, 2008 at 6:22AM
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