In which I identify with old trees

In that I appear to have lichen (planus).

In lieu of extensive and horrible detail, let’s just say that one of the other likely diagnoses would have been scabies.

Here is the blurb from Mayo clinic website on it:
“Lichen planus is a very curious and poorly understood skin condition. Its name is descriptive in that to some it resembles a simple plant, a lichen, that grows on rocks and tree bark, whileplanus is Latin for flat.”

It leaves out the bit about how it itches enough that I am only prevented from tearing out my flesh by the realization that it STILL ITCHES when I do so.
Oh, and the rest of the time it hurts, like sunburn.

Luckily, it seems – and I will know for sure when they finish looking at the Hunk of Me they took out of my neck – as if it is caused by my blood pressure medication, which they switched off for another one.
And the new one only lists lichen as a rarely seen side effect, instead of as a side effect.
The nice dermatologist lady says the two operate on different paths, so the new one probably won’t just won’t turn around and bite me from a different direction.

So they sent me home with a new blood pressure medication.
With instructions to watch out for dizzy spells, and a mixed bag of other side effects, 
Le sigh.
And also with a prescription for gigantic amounts of prednisone (16mg X 4 = 64), with a complicated schedule of decreasing by 8 mg/week through sometime in October.

And, since I am on a new bp medication, I am to monitor m bp daily.
As in, go buy a better monitor for at home, before you go home, monitoring.
With explicit instructions to take an additional bp pill, then run to the emergency room if the numbers do anything exciting.
Because apparently the steroid stuff raises bp.

If it is indeed caused by the medication,  it should go away soonish, like IN A FEW WEEKS.
Rather than in 9 to 18 months, to who knows, maybe never, which is the prognosis for the plain old, who-knows-why-people-get-it variety.
And they can tell the difference by counting the rings on the bits of me that they scooped out.
(I haz a stitch!)

I have rashes in the palms of my hands, and the soles of my feet.
Which itch, and are peeling, and have little open sores.
And basically anywhere you can think of where the skin is thin, or touches other skin.
Consider that a moment, yep, there too. And there.

I wonder whether trees itch.



18 responses to this post.

  1. How absoloutely unpleasant. I am so sorry this is happening to you. Itch is awful.


  2. Oooooh nooooooo.
    All I can say is I’m glad it’s not scabies! Maybes? A poem and a joke. Just what you need.
    I’m so sorry. This sounds just horrible. I sure hope the prednisone kicks in quick and you start feeling better with no side effects.
    I’ll say it with you….BLAAAARRRRRGH!


  3. At least it doesn’t involve insects.
    Or arachnids.


  4. Oh how awful. This sounds much worse than scabies except that scabies is contagious and you would have to do lots and lots of laundry etc. But I never had oozing stuff and nothing on palms, soles or scalp or I would have been absolutely out of my mind. And the added problem of the cause and everything you have to deal with with the BP and pills. I think I had a steroid and they also gave me hydroxyzine that helped the itch. But once I took it in the evening and it kept me up half the night itching.
    I hope you feel better as soon as humanly possible. I feel terrible for you.


    • Well I’m glad not to be fighting biting thingies.
      But I’m not so much oozing, as covered with creams and random scabs.
      And itching.
      Less itching than yesterday, but itching.
      Another week or so and I’ll be out of it.


      • Well that’s not tooooo bad then I guess. Good luck. btw scabies isn’t from bites. It’s an allergic reaction rash from having them under your system. Which is still gross but it’s a result of only a few dozen (as long as you get it before they multiply) rather than thousands of bites.


  5. My mother got lichen planus on her scalp earlier this year. We had no idea how she got it, nor did her doctor. She wasn’t taking blood pressure meds. I wondered if it was because she was always compulsively rubbing her head and she never washed her hands. She did furiously scratch her head, so badly she eventually created a bald spot in the middle of her head. I wince when I recall this, but at one point I called her Benjamin Franklin because her hair was beginning resemble his.

    The doctor prescribed some sort of lotion, which I applied to her head twice a day. She still scratched it, and we eventually had to put mittens on her hands. I hope you feel better, and can get some rest in the meantime. I think chronically itchy skin rates somewhere with flagellation and being flayed alive in terms of torture.


    • Your poor mom.
      Probably the lichen – as I like to call it – preceded the spot and was why she had the itching.
      And one of the things it can do is make permanent bald spots.
      Luckily I didn’t get it on my scalp, or on my nails, which it can also damage.
      But that was the lichen, and not her scratching, which is why it didn’t grow back.
      And it can also turn up in your mouth or lips and be terrible.
      I had some on my back gums, which was only weird rather than painful.
      But some people have issues with taste and pain with oral lichen.
      Which makes me wonder about some of your mother’s issues with foods.

      But anyway, you can’t cause it, because they have No Idea what causes it.
      There are a couple of other medicinal causes, and some weird things like color film developing fluids, and some fairly rare family history things.
      But otherwise people just get it.

      Yes, I was contemplating gloves myself.
      Luckily the cortisone is knocking it out pretty quickly.
      There are still some hot spots, and I’m still sprinkled with raised red bits, but I’m a step down from the needing-to-tear-at-my-own-flesh-and-howl stage.
      Now, if only the new bp thing wasn’t giving me a headache and minor dizziness, things would be cool.


  6. Ooof, that sounds terrible – I hope the condition improves quickly now that you are on new meds!


  7. Druidic is definitely the better thought pattern. But holy crap, is there ANYTHING humans don’t get!!? maybe a scanning electron microscope image would be diverting. No, stop, it wouldnt… Poor lauo, I hope it clears up very soon. At least it’s not parasites. Sort of… 😦


    • It isn’t actually related to the stuff on the trees, it’s just an unwontedly poetic name for something.
      When the sores get old and expand, they dry out and have a lichen-like appearance with layers of lacy dead skin edges.
      Which look sort of real lichen like.
      The lab people get to look at the images, which apparently will tell them stuff.
      Mostly along the lines of Yep, Nothing There.
      Cos this is an autoimmune thing where my skin is attacking imaginary foes.
      The medication is just to calm it down long enough that it get distracted and forgets about it.


  8. Ouch!!! So sorry you’re going through this. I second (and third and fourth) the other commenters in hoping you get some rapid resolution to the problem, or at the very least find some relief!


  9. Yes, trees itch. Haven’t you ever seen them “in the wild” with their branches rubbing in the wind? that’s them scratching.


  10. Immune systems are so wacky. Tumbleweed’s immune system wanted to evict all his teeth from his mouth, till we did it pre-emptively (to spare many anesthesias and extractions). An ex BF’s immune system went into double-paranoia batshit overdrive when he got some poison ivy so his feet swelled up like they were inflated. I hope yours is convinced to calm down very soon.


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