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Dorothy Reports from the Veil and Cave

Posted by Dorothy on 5/23/04 at 00:53 (151060)

Hello ~

Well, it's late Saturday afternoon. I did start the prednisone today. I am still red, swollen, and itchy! I would scare babies and puppies! Avert your gaze while I write to all of you who were so kind and helpful.
I appreciate so much your sharing your own experiences with hives, with other outbreaks, with treatments and with oral steroids. Your words gave me assurance and courage and insight. You are dear people.
Wendy - I don't know the cause. There are a number of possibilities, I guess...I think. I have eaten a lot of strawberries lately, some kiwi, but those are not unusual.(I have a longstanding allergic reaction to eating fresh (i.e. not cooked) bananas. Most people who have probs with bananas also have probls w/avocados, kiwi, maybe latex; I don't so far – just bananas – so I avoid them.) I did try a new face lotion with different ingredients. I also tried a new shampoo, but with pretty standard ingredients. I was out in the sun A LOT last Sunday for graduations and maybe that provided the combination needed with some/all of those other things. I was around lots of perfumes and grassy/polleny quads and campuses. The pollen is horrific and I have a lot of rhinitis/sinus stuff going on a lot of the time. I felt some stress around the graduation ceremonies, emotional etc. I really don't know.
John, Marie, Suzanne - normally I would go for the Caladryl or calamine lotion for itching. I also use a 'natural' anti-itch product for bug bites and such called SssssstingSssstop that works well. I also like Aveeno colloidal oatmeal products (in fact I did try some of the diaper cream that often works really well on rashes and itches - but didn't help with this; just made me look really, really extra scarey!!) So I'm leaving it bare and open so as not to introduce anything else to it.
Suzanne, Marie, Wendy - my husband has terrible reaction to sulfa drugs, life threatening once; and it is suspected that his father who passed away from renal disease had damaged kidneys from sulfa drug treatment during an emergency. It is important to know these things but unfortunately we usually don't know until after the fact - so, Wendy, good that you 'know too much about antibiotics' and your family is lucky you do. That must present a big challenge, staying on top of the problem as well as finding antibiotics that will work. Marie – the saltwater soak sounds pleasant, especially if done in an ocean, so maybe I need to take my hives – like Carole did – to Hawaii – and then while they are asleep on the beach, I'll slip away and leave them there! However,they are almost entirely confined to my head-region, so I must ask: are you suggesting that I go soak my head?? :-) Just kidding. (maybe one side affect of prednisone is silliness….) Seriously, I felt for you with your son's awful experience and how terrible you must have felt. Suzanne, too, - how awful! it's bad enough on its own without our 'adding fuel to the fire', isn't it! I am glad - and comforted - by the good outcomes that did finally come for you all.
Diana – I hope you will post more! Thank you for your comments and experiences; they were very informative – but it sure sounds like you had one heckuva time of things during your bout with hives - head to toe! You poor thing!
Pauline – Your 'pep talk and encouragement, as well as sharing your own experiences were very helpful and were part of giving me the 'oomph to take the leap. I know I'm being very silly about this, but what can I say … so the fact that you understood the fear of the meds but also the possible over-concern about it helped. So I'm in it now and before long will know more about this…
Kathy G. – again, I want to thank you for your very helpful post! I really appreciate it.

I began writing to you all earlier today and now it is late Saturday/early Sunday and I am about to take the last of today's Prednisone. I really have not felt well today and as the day has gone on, seem to have gotten worse. No change in the hives, but it's early yet; some spreading still. What is also happening that is very unnerving has to do with my body temperature: these waves of intense heat, really unbearable feeling, will come over me. I will ask someone else to feel my head/neck/cheek and sometimes they can't feel any unusual heat, sometimes they can, on one side. This is even when my hair and face are wet with sweat. Taking temperatures shows widely varying temps. from time to time and from one side of body to another; one side is hotter than the other on the thermometers. Also tonight I have a growing headache and kind of 'hot feeling eyes. Anybody remember anything like this heat experience with prednisone? That's about the end of the report. I think I am going to become one of science fiction's 'spontaneous combustibles !! Sorry to go on and on about this. You know, among the adverse side affects are mood swings and even psychosis – so my husband promises to tell me if he notices any changes 'if he can tell! Ha. Everybody's a comedian. Seriously though, among the adverse side affects that really do worry me is the risk for rupture of Achilles tendon ( yes, even with oral steroids!), destruction of hip joint, and other joint and muscle pains and deterioration. I read that even with short-term use of Prednisone, destruction of the hip joint occurs and is not uncommon. If anyone here knows of anything that one can do, should do, or should not do about those two problems WHILE taking Prednisone, I would like to know. For example, should one continue or stop calcium/magnesium/Vitamin D supplements? What about Achilles tendon exercises DURING prednisone? And does that risk disappear when one stops taking the steroid?? Prednisone causes excretion of calcium and potassium so I wonder if one should increase supplementation either through diet or supplements?? So many questions. Sorry. I guess I should be on some Hives website – but I like and trust you people! So just pretend it's about hives on the feet only – and let's talk hives. Ok – thanks to all again. Good night. Tomorrow is another day; Scarlett taught us that ( and look where it got HER! )

Re: Dorothy Reports from the Veil and Cave

Suzanne D. on 5/23/04 at 07:24 (151061)

Dorothy, I am so in hopes that after waking this morning, you see some improvement in your hives. Hopefully, you were able to sleep last night and the prednisone has had time to make a difference.

My husband has, over the years, had outbreaks of hives - always in the springtime, but not every spring. They come in huge patches on the trunk of his body and upper, inner thighs. He's been to three doctors, and the cause has never been determined. They itch mightily, and he says the best relief he gets is from taking hot showers. He has tried many different lotions, etc. The last dermatologist he saw said he hadn't seen anything quite as bad since Vietnam. At times he has taken steroids and sometimes not. They always go away in a couple of weeks. Thinking about it, I don't think he's had a bout for a few years.

But he's never had hives on his face. And, in college, I had a severe allergic reaction to ampicillin which caused huge whelps on every part of my body except my face. I have no medical training, but I am wondering, since your hives are on the face and neck and nowhere else, if the cause might be the new face lotion you mentioned trying or perhaps the shampoo. I have read this morning on several sites about hives to see if there was any mention of the cause being related to where the breakout is, but I found nothing about that. It's just a thought.

I wish for you a better day today with improvement to give you encouragement!

Take care,
Suzanne :)

Re: Dorothy Reports from the Veil and Cave

Pauline on 5/23/04 at 10:13 (151065)

If you have any doubt, head for the ER. especially if you think you are getting worse.

Re: Dorothy Reports from the Veil and Cave

R C on 5/23/04 at 10:23 (151066)


Sorry to hear of your discomfort. I have had two similar experiences involving extreme hay fever attacks. In each case my allergist prescribed prednisone - 3 pills a day for 3 days, 2 pills a day for the next 2 days, the 1 pill for the last day. He says that this taper helps to prevent a lot of the side effects. The prednisone works fast, too. I remember getting relief almost immediately, and certainly complete relief before I finished the pills. I hope it is effective for you.


Re: Dorothy Reports from the Veil and Cave

wendyn on 5/23/04 at 10:43 (151069)

Dorothy, I think it's very important that you tell the doctor about the temperature changes.

Re: Dorothy Reports from the Veil and Cave

Dorothy on 5/23/04 at 10:46 (151070)

Thank you R C for your reassuring words. So far I haven't had that quick result that you had. That was the ONLY attractive thing about taking prednisone for me - that it was reportedly so powerful that it would work quickly and effectively - but not for me so far. Maybe I'm being not only a 'bad' patient (i.e. not too merry) but also im-patient!

Re: Dorothy Reports from the Veil and Cave

Dorothy on 5/23/04 at 11:06 (151071)

Suzanne - Thank you so much. Your posts are always so very thoughtful and kind and helpful. I think that you may be right (lotion/shampoo), especially the lotion lead but so much that I read about this doesn't really have any clear,definitive information. I eally am not better yet but at least I feel a little calmer today - so far. (I read some in Jeremiah last night - even though sometimes I feel a little like Job in recent years - if you'll allow me a bit of hyperbole!)
I also am one who thinks that there are things we are to learn and know from each experience and so one of the things that I am thinking about, because I have been so embarrassed/self-conscious/ashamed of my appearance with this is the people who cope with disfigurement of any kind (birth marks, injuries, disease) and carry on. There was the book (I hate to misstate title and author but I am blanking on them right now - hives on the brain!) that might have been called 'Face' - not sure - about the woman, a writer, whose face had been very much disfigured as a young girl from cancer/surgery; she wrote so marvelously about her experience/life which eventually ended as a still young adult (maybe 30s or so) from the same disease. So she lived with disfigurement and the disease and its threat all her life - and yet she lived fully. Yes, I know I am waxing too much - and I have hives, not cancer - but these things make you think - don't they. Well, I'll take my windbaginess away for now and just say thank you. My best wishes to you and your family and your daughter - I was happy to read of her participation in the concert and hope that she takes from this some satisfaction in herself for 'forging ahead' in spite of whatever comes her way; that will be more valuable to her than memories of performing as she had thought she would -even though she wouldn't think so now, probably. And that's not to say that the sadness/anger/feeling of being cheated out of something so important to her is not very real and powerful; it's just not the 'core' thing of what has happened, in the long run. She is so lucky to have YOU for her mother (and teacher, as all mothers/fathers are)so she has an excellent guide and helper. Thank you, Suzanne.

Re: Dorothy Reports from the Veil and Cave

Suzanne D. on 5/23/04 at 11:14 (151072)

Dorothy, thank YOU for your words. Actually, as is usually typical of me after stressful situations, I find myself rather depressed today. I 'make it through' the rough happenings in life with hardly a tear or complaint, and then in a few days or weeks, I find myself gloomy and frustrated, along with finding something to blame myself about for the situation, and that makes it worse!

Well, I didn't mean to write about me. Here is a link I found which you might want to read as it is about facial rashes in general.


The poison ivy connection makes me wonder. I don't have the answer to whether or not it could be spread through your friend's letters, but it is worth asking a dr., I believe. I know how much worse my toe got while I was being treated for a spider bite rather than poision ivy. Once I got the prescription cream, I noticed almost immediate relief. One time I got poison ivy from smoke from a field being burned across the road from our school. It seems if one is highly allergic to it, it can be contracted quite easily.

I hope you see improvement today!
Suzanne :)

Re: found some info. - yes, the letter could spread poison ivy...

Suzanne D. on 5/23/04 at 12:41 (151076)

Dorothy, here is a quote from a source I'll post below:

'First the bad news: Since urushiol oil can remain potent for up to five years, you can get a reaction from touching tools or clothing that were used to dig up poison ivy years earlier. The good news: If you wash yourself and those items in soapy water within 15 minutes of contact, you can help avoid the rash.'

So it would seem logical that your friend might unknowingly have contaminated her stationery with a tiny amount of the posion ivy oil, and that could have spread to your hands, and then your face when you touched it after reading the letter.

Here's the source:


I hope it's not a poison ivy rash, but I searched some and found the above article and was amazed that the oil from poison ivy was potent for 5 years! I just wanted to give you the information since you mentioned about your friend's letters.

Take care,
Suzanne :)

Re: P.S.

Suzanne D. on 5/23/04 at 12:48 (151077)

I didn't mean to set myself up as an authority about the spread of poison ivy. Someone more knowledgeable than I am might be able to tell us that it could not spread through your letters. But, the article I posted says, 'Get as little as one-billionth of a gram on your skin and you might be scratching yourself silly'. It just seems to me that if your friend had scratched herself - which is hard not to do with poison ivy! - and then touched the stationery, she might be able to spread it to you since the oil is so potent.

Anyway, it is always useful to get more information on a topic!

Suzanne :)

Re: P.S.

Diana on 5/23/04 at 20:56 (151090)

Dorothy, I was so sorry to hear that you aren't feeling better. I wanted to tell you that my bout with those ghastly hives was not my first bout. Some time ago, I was trying to help my parents who were not well and I was driving back and forth (about 200 miles) to help them, when I developed the hives. My daughter became concerned when she came over late one evening and took me to the emergency room and they gave me an epinephrine shot. It managed to control them at that time. I think stress was a factor then.

I too am very susceptible to them, but taking a hot shower (such as your husband did) did nothing but make them worse! I wish I could send you my Doxepin pills which, as I stated before, put me to sleep and I think that did alot in calming me so the prednisone could work. This is only my theory. However, this whole 'hive thing' is not about me, so I won't go on anymore about it. I just hope that you can feel better soon. I enjoy your posts and your sense of humor is marvelous even through all of this.


Re: P.S.

Dorothy on 5/24/04 at 00:22 (151094)

Diana ~ I certainly understand that kind of stress, having gone through similar experiences with my parents who lived eight hours away, one-way, at the time. Very, very difficult so I have an idea of what you mean.
I think it was Suzanne's husband who took hot showers and found them helpful but I don't think that would be good for me as I am burning up much of the time. The doctor said to avoid hot and cold showers, but to take tepid showers. (She says the same thing about beds, chairs and oatmeal and always calls me Goldilocks, for some reason! Maybe it's time for me to stop seeing a pediatrician, eh?)
You are right about being able to sleep, relax, calm down since, even if the hives have some other origin, a heightened emotional state or lack of sleep sure doesn't help. Thank you again, Diana, for your nice note; I do appreciate it.

Re: P.S.

Dorothy on 5/24/04 at 00:37 (151096)

Suzanne ~ As I wrote in post above to marie, wait 'til I tell my friend she is playing 'Typhoid Mary'! I won't do that really. I thought about it some more and realized that since I didn't have any on my hands/arms it seemed less likely, but who knows... However, your dermatology information (thank you! what a great link..) was really interesting. I went immediately to check the ingredients on the new shampoo and lo and behold, there was the cocoa ...something something.. betaine! So I thought: this is it! Then I looked at some of the older shampoo containers that I've had forever - and they also had that ingredient. So, who knows....it's one of several good possibilities. My husband wondered about graduation 'outfits', too - caps and gowns - that had been rented and just taken out of their plastic bag/carriers with strong chemical smell to them; lots of hugging going on with face and neck contact with those garments. Oh, well, this 'wondering' could go on forever; I just hope the hives don't.
Thank you again so much; I hope you have a wonderful week and that you let go of any regrets and sadness and realize what a dear person you are! I think your reactions are natural ones - maybe a little mini-version of a post-traumatic stress reaction, the let-down and analysis after the 'storm'. But you did well and good - and you're a very special human 'bean' - and we all think you're terrific!

Re: P.S.

john h on 5/25/04 at 10:59 (151191)

Dorothy only in the past year has developed this sense of humor from hanging around people like me. You never met the old Dorothy.

Re: P.S.

john h on 5/25/04 at 11:41 (151197)

Suzanne. Once the poison ivy oil gets on the skin it quickly combines with the skin and can not be spread to other people. All the scratching in the world or even an open wound from the poison ivy cannot pass it on. You need direct contact with the oil. the oil can be retained on clothing,pets,towells but once it hits your skin and combines you cannot pass it on. Your local deep woods expert.You can get it from the smoke when poison ivy is burned. Technically speaking I do not know how this is done but I assume the smoke contains particles of the oil. Do a web search on poison ivy and you will be shocked at how bad some people have become infected. They look like they have leporsy or something worse. I once as a child got into it and got it around my eyes. Yuk! Here in the south and woods of Arkansas we deal daily with poison ivy, oak, and summac and not to mention ticks,redbugs,knats,fleas,and big mosquitos. My wife refuses to go into the woods and will not wear DEET or some of the poison protection products that are out there. There is some special poison ivy soap such as 'Bees' that is good at washing the oil off if you catch it within an hour or so. Health food stores such as Beans & Grains carry it. My cats are always wondering around out side my back fence where there is a lot of poison ivy but they must not be getting the oil on them as I pet them daily. I guess animals must be immune. I guess if you had a hated enemy you could get a bunch of poison ivy and squeeze a lot of oil on to a piece of paper and mail it to your enemy. I do not know how long it would last but I do know it can be retained on clothing for up to 6 months. It is active all year long even when it turns red and appears dead.