This summer, I started having a problem with being extremely itchy. I have been very dried out so in the beginning, I just chalked it up to dry skin. I put cream on but that only seemed to help a little. There was one spot in particular on my back that I wasn’t able to reach to put cream on and that seemed to be the worst. I bought a lotion applicator so that I could get cream all over my back and that still did not make the itching go away. My head was also very itchy. My hair is also dry now and I went from using my once a week conditioner to using it every day. Using that daily did not help the itching but my hair does not seem as dry.
One day I looked at my back in the mirror and could see a very small white bump where most of the itching seemed to be coming from. It was very hard to see and there were days that once I knew it was there, still had a hard time finding it. My first thought was it was a spider bite. I thought that I would give it two weeks to see if it went away.
The bump did not go away. I was worried about skin cancer because I had a lot of bad sunburns in my younger days. I read that skin cancer could be itchy, but none of the pictures I saw online looked anything like what I had. I knew from what I had heard in the past that it was very hard to get in with a dermatologist. I was able to get an appointment with a nurse practitioner at a dermatology office but still had a two month wait. I actually just had that appointment on Tuesday.
While I was waiting for my appointment, I kept thinking that the itching started after I bought some new bras this summer. I would then think that can’t be it and I would dismiss that. One day I decided to Google bra allergies and discovered a lot of women had problems with bras. I immediately quit wearing those new bras. At first I was reluctant to put anything on the bump because I didn’t know what it was but I decided to try using some Cortisone cream. That seemed to work better than the Benadryl cream I tried first. The bump didn’t go away but the itching really subsided, including the itching on my head. I put one of the bras back on and the itching came back full force. Mystery solved, or so I thought.
When I first started reading about bra allergies, it seemed like women had problems with certain ones but not all of them. They had reactions to bras they had always worn before. I ordered a different brand from a different store. That came and I washed it and wore it for a day. The itching came back again but this time, I also ended up with hives on my chest.
I mentioned something to my sister who is a nurse. She thought I had a latex allergy. She told me that this summer when I broke out in hives after my lip biopsy. I had a heart catheterization two years ago and also broke out in hives then. I didn’t think it was a latex allergy because the doctor I see for my foot always puts gloves on as do his nurses. When I Googled latex allergy, several sites also talked about spandex allergies. I looked at the labels for the bras I bought this summer and the last one – they both had spandex in.
I also read that it is not the spandex itself but the chemicals they use to treat the fabric with. I believe that is the case with me because I have old things I am able to wear without a problem. I figured something just changed in the way they are treating the fabric.
One day I started looking up fatigue and allergies. My fatigue actually started a year ago in October and was getting better for awhile but then got bad again this summer. I looked at several sites and can’t find the one I originally looked at, but I know it was a legitimate site. I did find it mentioned on the NIH website, which you can read the full list here. The one thing that stood out on the list I originally looked at with fatigue was:
Symptoms of a moderate or severe reaction include:
• Cramps or pain in the abdomen
I have had cramping and pain in my abdomen for a year now. A year ago in November, I even went to get checked for a UTI thinking that was the cause and it wasn’t. One of the health boards with women talking about their problems mentioned the spandex in underwear. My original thought was that I did not have any kind of itching so something changed after the last time I bought underwear. I went back to some really old ones I had and the cramping went away.
Some of the women on the health boards were also talking about problems with memory foam. I use a memory foam pillow and also just got a new memory foam mattress this summer. Just in case that is a problem, I decided it would be safer to sleep on the couch for awhile with a different pillow.
Although I have a small amount of itching on the spot on my back, my head is no longer itchy, I no longer have cramps and the edema in my good ankle (the ankle with the foot that was infected has permanent swelling from Lymphedema). I can’t say whether it was the bed or the underwear causing the edema because I don’t remember when that started, but I think it is safe to say it was from an allergic reaction.
When I had my appointment with the nurse practitioner on Tuesday, she did not think the cramping was from allergies. I disagree with that. I would consider the NIH a legitimate website and it is listed there. The cramping would not go away when I quit wearing the underwear and come back when I put them back on if it were not some kind of reaction. She suggested laundry detergent but if it were the laundry detergent, the problems would not go away.
She wants to wait six months to do patch testing for allergies. She said to just try to avoid wearing things with spandex in. I would prefer to find out exactly what I need to avoid so I am going to make an appointment with an allergist. You can’t return things once you wash them and wear them and it is getting expensive finding out I have a problem once I wear something. My old stuff isn’t going to last forever – I quit wearing them because they were old and I replaced them. I am grateful I didn’t toss them!
I thought I had one little bump on my back but I actually had two. She froze both of them and said I might be itchy for about a week. I also had an odd shaped mole that I did not know was there. She said she didn’t think it was a problem but to be safe, she wants me to have it removed. I have an appointment in January with a plastic surgeon to do that.