Three weeks ago, we moved into our new home. Overall, the process was surprisingly easy for me. I usually hate change – even good change, but this was a much-needed change, and I embraced it the best I could. I already feel like my home is, well, home. I’ve adjusted far better than I thought I would, and yet, here we are. Two weeks of panic. All because of a rash.
A few days after moving in, I noticed a small rash on my chest and stomach. A few days later, I noticed the rash had spread to my arms. It was red, itchy, and blotchy. I had no idea what it was, so I went to the doctor.
“It looks like some sort of skin reaction,” My doctor told me.
This was terrifying to me, because I have a phobia of allergic reactions (developed after I actually had a severe reaction to a medication when I was 12 – an anaphylactic reaction).
My doctor tried to reassure me.
“Because of where the rash is, it looks like something your skin came in contact with – NOT something you ingested,” she said. “But of course, I can’t know for sure, it could be food. But whatever it is, it’s nothing serious.”
Since my doctor was convinced it was something my skin touched, like a soap or detergent. I was completely stuck, so I called my mom and asked if anything had changed before we moved.
And yes. It had. Our dryer broke days before we moved. My mom used a friend’s dryer to dry my sheets and some of my clothes. Guess who forgot our sensitive skin dryer sheets and instead used a scented fabric softener I have never used before?! Yeah.
Even knowing this – that it would be a HUGE coincidence that at the exact same time I come into contact with a brand new fabric softener (which is apparently, the number one cause of skin irritations along with soaps and detergents), I somehow developed a food allergy that didn’t present itself in a typical way, – that small chance it could be a food was enough to keep me panicking over the next week.
Logically, I knew it was likely the fabric softener so I changed all my sheets, re-cleaned my clothes, and took one Benadryl every night before bed. Over the next few days, my rash began to disappear.
Except on Sunday night, right before bed, it flared up again.
I had such a huge panic attack about this flare-up, on the off-chance I was having a severe reaction, that Jefferson actually took me to the ER.
The ER was surprisingly empty that night, and I was seen within the hour. The ER doctor told me the same thing my doctor said.
“If it was a food allergy, or something you had ingested, we would normally see a rash all over your body. If it was something your skin came into contact with, it would be concentrated in the spots that your skin touched the irritant.”
My rash was only on my upper body, in the exact pattern of a shirt.
“But still, it could be anything, there is no way to tell for sure just from looking at you. But right now, your reaction is not serious.”
And once again, that off-chance it could be something else, even with all the logic and reasoning behind two doctors, was enough to keep me scared.
The next day I had a follow up with my doctor and my rash was significantly better. She was convinced it was not a food allergy. I was still scared.
It has been 4 days since I saw my doctor. My rash continues to fade, albeit slowly. Every single night it gets a bit itchier and redder than during the day, which is apparently normal for skin irritations.
But as you guessed it, I can’t. stop. worrying.
I have been trying a new method though; I’ve been trying to talk to myself. Use logic through the illogical thoughts.
I’ve been trying to tell myself it is way too coincidental that a food allergy RANDOMLY sprung up at the exact same time new fabric softener was used and would very well account for the rash.
I’ve been trying to tell myself that my acid reflux often makes it feel like I have difficulty swallowing or a lump in my throat; that those are symptoms I have dealt with forever and have nothing to do with my rash (i.e. I can breathe just fine).
I’ve been trying to tell myself that rashes take a long time to go away – that is normal, skin irritations don’t disappear overnight and just like the doctor said, if it’s not getting WORSE, it is not something you are currently reacting to.
I’ve been trying to tell myself that on Sunday night, the night I went to the ER, was the first day I wore a tank top that my husband is convinced was washed with the rest of the clothes – and dried with the new fabric softener.
I’ve been trying to tell myself all this, with more or less success depending on my mood.
Tonight is a bad night. But I will still try to talk some sense into my nonsensical brain.