Chronic Pattern Body Rash
I am a 62 year old male. I have experienced chronic and recurring system outages with an associated overall patterned body rash since the late 1970s. The condition has defied diagnosis from physicians investigating dermatology, allergy, rheumatology, infectious disease, internists and family practitioners. Everything has been thoroughly checked including blood, urine, stool, skin biopsy, and overall general work ups. Nothing remarkable has ever shown up. Contact allergy, Lupus, Lyme, Kawasaki, bacterial attack and toxic shock have all been ruled out. The "outage" has the same progression with a recurring beginning, middle and ending. It is my belief that the rash is an external expression of an internal cell battle (immune response to unknown trigger) and is secondary to the episode. No trigger has ever been identified but numerous outages have been associated with physical challenges (personal illness, auto wreck, hernia surgery, significant exertion) or emotional stress (job loss). I believe I have experienced an episode in every month of the year and during all of the four seasons. Hot or cold weather, wet or dry conditions make no difference to experiencing an episode. My only known allergy is to moulds.
A typical episode often starts with moderate joint pain (shoulders, elbows, lower back) and a runny nose. A red pinpoint rash starts on my legs, forearms and lower back. Flu-like symptoms start and generally feeling poorly sets in as the pinpoint rash advances to red splotches. Some attacks are mild, others cause significant distress and severe episodes put me in bed for one or two days. The overall feeling of unwellness (accompanied by a low fever of ~100 F) advances as the rash continues to spread and coalesce to most body parts. The rash becomes bright red, extremely hot to the touch and settles in as a recurring body pattern (most of my arms, legs and trunk). There are sharp rash lines around my wrists with the rash very hot to the touch and the unaffected skin has normal temperature to the touch. The rash stops as a lower ring around the front of my neck (looks like a T-shirt sunburn) and a 4 to 6 inch strip of unaffected skin down the middle of my chest. The hot, red rash pattern and unwellness feeling lasts 24 to 36 hours and the outage episode and rash slowing ease and ultimately fade. The rash-affected skin flakes off in 5 to 10 days and the soles of my feet peel. For the past several years, I have had one to two episodes per year.
I served in the US Army for two years and was in Korea from 3/1973 to 4/1974. I may have unknowingly been (lightly?) exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicide. I have discussed the possibility of contracting some rare Asian disease. No connection to my Korean service, however, has ever been proven.
I would appreciate any comments regarding similar experiences or symptoms by other readers or any physician ideas.