Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

Skin rash off and on for 18 months! Please please help!

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 5 Replies
  • Posted By: Sara2000
  • July 3, 2007
  • 05:41 AM

I really hope someone is able to help me with this! I have never had ANY skin problem or any allergies until this!

December 2005 my roommate bought a chinchilla that had some kind of skin disease. I often cared for the chinchilla, and developed what appeared to be ringworm. It was in a large faint red ring shape located on my shoulder blade. I tried using over the counter lamisil and lotrimin lotion (one, then the other), but it hadn't gone away after several weeks, so I went to a dermatologist (chosen at random) whose professional diagnosis was that it must be "winter allergies," although I had lived in a cold climate for 6 years with no problem. He took no cultures, made me buy his special "soap," and then as an afterthought prescribed topical Oxistat.

Nothing helped. I looked at it under a Wood's Lamp, and it did not fluoresce (so it was not the most common type of ringworm.).


February 2006 A 2nd dermatologist took a scraping for a culture, and prescribed Lamisil for 14 days, and a topical Clotrimazole lotion to be applied twice a day. The rash immediately began to go away. At the end of the two weeks, it was completely gone except for one small, faded little spot at the very base of my back. I continued to put the lotion on for awhile, but it never went away, and I thought that maybe the skin was just discolored at that point, and it would eventually fade. I called to ask for the results of the skin scraping, and they told me that the culture had been contaminated, and so they didn't know what it was!

July 2006 5 months passed and the tiny spot never faded, and looked like a little bruise, but everything else was completely gone, and seemed fine. Then, out of the blue, the rash started coming back. I had not used any unusual products, or been living anywhere unusual (and not with the chinchilla!). The small spot started getting larger, and another spot developed in the middle of my black (the original one on my shoulder blade stayed gone).

I put over the counter hydrocortizone on them, and they all disappeared. But then they came back again, and it couldn't even soothe them.

They again looked like rings, and I asked my internal medicine Doctor about it. She suggested rubbing some Lamisil cream on it for 4 weeks.

August 2006 A third ring appeared, and there was no affect on the first ones. Next, I tried putting the leftover prescribed Clotrimazole lotion on it. This caused my skin to get very dry around the rings, and for a whole new type of rash to start forming on my shoulders. Unlike the light-red rings I had up til this point, the shoulder rashes were bright red, and very angry looking, and not in a ring shape. They would look like angry scratches, but were not raised from the skin (nothing was). I temporarily stopped using the Clotrimazole, and they seemed to fade a little. Then I used it once more, and they came back permanently.

I STILL had the rash on my back though they no longer looked like rings, but more like faded blurs. There were two large spots on the middle of my back, and the smaller original one at the base. The angry rash on my shoulders came and went..

October 2006
Another Chicago dermatologist prescribed oral difluconazole and ertaczo cream for 3 weeks, with no effect at all. The rash appeared to change almost daily -- sometimes faded, and looking as though it would disappear, other times very red and angry. The rings were more like blurs, and the streaks still appeared and disappeared from my shoulders.

December 2006
I was prescribed a 2-week treatment of oral Lamisil, combined with over-the-counter Tinactin cream. At first this seemed to again work, though slowly, but at the end of the treatment, my skin seemed very dried out, and the spots still there. The rashes on my shoulder come and go with no pattern, sometimes clear, other times angry, with streaks, spots, and very dark bruise looking spots.

The Tinactin helped more than anything, heading off new rashes in other places.

March 2007 Tinactin could no longer control. At this point, there were large faded rings in several places on my back, and a new one forming. I would still sometimes get angry streaks on my shoulders.

Derm. gave me several samples of "Topicort" saying that it could be eczema capillaritis or a persistent fungus, like ringworm. She said that after applying the Topicort, it should go away, whatever it is. If it is fungus, it would come back though, and then I should put on the sample Oxistat that she gave me.

The rash went away quickly, and stayed gone for 2 months. I was delighted!!!!

Late May 2007 It began coming back in late May in the form of irritation on my shoulder (especially if I wore anything tight, like a spaghetti strap), and a small round filled-in circle on the back of my shoulder blade. Unfortunately, I live out of town, and this doctor was on vacation the week it began coming back, when I was there. The Topicort kept it controlled. Then, I got a few small red bumps on my belly. For the first time since this whole thing began, they were slightly raised. I applied the Topicort, and they would rapidly go away, looking almost slightly scab-like on the day before they disappeared.

Late June 2007
The red bumps began multiplying, and I decided that maybe this meant I should be putting on the Oxistat she gave me. I have been putting it on, with no effect. If you recall, Oxistat was what the very first doctor had given me back in 2005, also to no effect.

More red bumps have appeared, all over my stomach, small red splotches on my chest, a small bump on my left upper leg, and bumps on my upper back. My shoulders occasionally show the same old irritation, but the bumps are the main issue. I feel like I'm breaking out in hives! There is no itching though - just the bumps!


Nobody seems to know how to diagnose this, and I just don't know what to do anymore!!!

My thoughts have been:

1) I really don't think this was ever plain, randomly- occuring eczema of any kind. It is too coincidental with the chinchilla disease timing, and my never having had anything before. I really wonder whether the chinchilla had some sort of exotic disease.

2) It has only occasionally been itchy

3) Is it possible that I still have some kind of ringworm fungus, and have become allergic to it? The very first round of Lamisil did cure it ALMOST completely -- except that it came back! There was this description on wrongdiagnosis.com:

Ringworm – this appears as a red, raised ring, with almost normal skin in the middle. Itching is common. There can be any number of these rings, from just one to 10 or more. A fungus causes it. It is transmitted from other infected animals or people. A general rash of fine, red bumps can appear elsewhere on the body – this is an allergic reaction to the fungus that causes the rash. The treatment is over-the-counter Lotrimin AF (clotrimazole) twice a day for several weeks, or until clear. Click on ringworm for a more detailed discussion and a photo.

4) I don't know if this is a skin bacterial infection, ringworm, or what it could possibly be, but need any advice possible now. I have even felt like I may even have 2 different types of rashes -- one on my back and torso, one on my shoulders!! Or maybe it's one big allergy?

5) I have never had anything "raised" from the skin, until this week!!!!!!!!!!


This has been so incredibly expensive and upsetting. Thank you so much for any information you can provide.

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5 Replies:

  • Maybe it's time for oral steroids such as prednisone? Ask your doc.
    rad-skw 1605 Replies Flag this Response
  • You could be having a re-exposure. What ever happened to the critter? Do you have contact with him in any way via friends? Has he left his mark on your couch or personal items??? Now, I've been treated for a whole body fungus and my doctor stressed how important it was to leave the medicine on your skin for an entire ten minutes. I had to do it every other day for five weeks...including my head!!! You have to somehow twist your arms and make sure you cover your back and feet and all little undersides of your arms. I think you leave a few spots and then it keeps re-growing. Also, not only do I do this for five weeks for then for the next few months I shampoo, but not as frequently...like once a week... then in the Spring, I go back to once a week...it's all rather confusing and I need to write down all the instructions, but it was not just a couple weeks affair. You need to find a good doctor who will go into detail about how to apply the stuff and how long to leave it on and keep with it for several months. I just don't think you are taking all of it off or you keep getting re-exposed through items or friends.
    Monsterlove 2921 Replies Flag this Response
  • Find some ointment called Blue star ointment, It can work for ringworm and sometimes fungus. You may be able to find it in the store. If you can't look it up online. I know that it is found in the southern region of the U.S. I'm not sure if it will work for your case but you can try it to see if it could. It may also sting and itch at first but that is how it works too.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • hi! i know you wrote this a while ago, but i'm curious if you ever found an answer? i was thinking possibly lyme disease?
    jennyrwalk 1 Replies Flag this Response
  • a patient of mine was diagnosed with ringworm today so reading up i came across this. i know its been a while for this particular case but simply for the benefit of anyone else suffering this problem i'm gonna put my two cents in. ringworm can be such a resilliant fungus. especially if all the spores floating around your house are not gotten rid of completely. which is amazingly difficult if your pet/s are the cause. the spores can hang around in your carpet for a good 18 months and are happy to re-spread themselves about if your vaccume cleaner was not properly cleaned or thrown out after the initial clean up or if pets and their bedding etc are not fungi free and they come in pracing all over the house dropping their hair and skin on your nice clean carpet, clothing, beds, couches.... get the picture how much work it can be if your one of the unlucky people out there that is affected by the fungus? for anyone having trouble getting rid of it. stick with the most useful fungal creams and start from scratch with every outbreak. clean clean clean. and i mean everything. it's annoying as ***l but keeping up that almost impossible level of cleanliness until your outbreak has cleared will help the headache of going through this all over again in the longrun. toss the vaccume cleaner. bleach the ***l outta everything, clothes and all and try to keep your skin clean and dry. all the little nasties we pick up generally enjoy warm, moist and dark places. good luck.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
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