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Unbearable skin rash, cannot find the cure

Hello all,

My mother has been suffering from an extremely itchy, painful rash on her hands and fingers for about 12 years. She's seen doctor after doctor and they have suggested all kinds of creams and medications— one even suggested taking a vacation to Puerto Rico! A few months ago, my family became unable to afford health insurance, so she has been living with absolutely no relief in sight, and the rash has started to appear on her feet and in between toes.

It starts as a bubbly, itchy rash similar to something you'd see if you'd been playing in poison ivy. After a few days, the bubbles begin to turn to blisters, which are insanely painful and unsightly. The skin begins to peel, leaving raw skin all over her hands and feet, causing them to bleed at the slightest bump or paper cut.

Doctors have pretty much been stumped. She has tried numerous home remedies, cutting out dairy from her diet, changing the soap in the laundry/sink, wearing gloves, globbing antibacterial ointment on her hands before bed, wearing socks to sleep, and so many prescription drugs. The only thing that seems to ease the rash is Prednisone, but only temporarily. After she finishes her dosage, the rash comes right back.

Please throw any and all ideas out there, the quality of her life has been so affected by this horrible condition that she can't drive, leave the house, shake hands with anyone, garden, fold clothes, wear shoes— anything the rest of us can do with our hands and feet.

Thank you so much for any help you give

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replied February 11th, 2014
Atopic Dermatitus and Mayo Clinic Phoenix (Dr. Anna Levin)
My name is Bob. I got a rash like the one described. It started on my legs, about the time that went away, it jumped to my hands, about the time that went away, it jumped to my forearms. Red welts, turn to blisters that pop. Very itchy, could not sleep. Could not get off of Prednisone. Finally ran out of Prednisone and had a huge breakout on chest, arms, back, neck, torso. Tried a new doc who put me on 80 mg/day of Prednisone until this got under control which was about two weeks. Went to several doctors and finally to the Mayo Clinic. Where it was determined to be atopic dermatitus. I was to take Prednisone, Doxepin and use Triamcincolone. After three months I began a very slow, flat taper to get off the prednisone, going down 5 mg every other week. I also did a Triamcincolone Wrap where I smeared the stuff all over my body and wrapped myself in a plastic sheet on the bed for 15 minutes, every day. I was sicker than a dog. The Mayo Clinic in Phoenix was great and I ended up taking lighbox treatments 3x a week. It took a long, long time. I was allergic to something and had what one Dr. called an ID reaction. I was never afraid for my life, but I was miserable for a long, long time. But, and this is why I post, it got better, slowly. Over months and now I"m off prednisone and take light box once a week. Long Term Prednisone led to cataracts and high blood pressure, but I'm getting control of that. So don't lose hope, it can be fixed. It just takes time. Good luck.
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