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Skin Care and Diseases

Sharp itching sensations?

11/07/2005

Question:

I am 23 years of age and male. Starting a couple of years ago, I noticed when I would bathe or shower I would get this sharp (needle prick) sensations all over my body, but mostly on my back, neck, chest, and stomach areas. There are little red marks that form, but they fade in a few minutes time. The itching does not stop until I dry off. It only happens once in a while and only with water. It`s not the soap I use because I`ve changed that many times. I always shower in warm water. My skin is sensitive, but do not suffer from any other ailments. Any answers would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time!

Answer:

Your story is an interesting one.  The onset of prickly sensation over the body suggests that you have what is called aquagenic urticaria described by Walter B. Shelley in the 1960's/early 1970's at the University of Pennslyvania. It was found that the individuals were getting mast cell degranulation from contents of the water supply, not the soap or other topical creams and ointments that might have been used.  It would be my suggestion that you create the same process but using water from a different source and/or you might try water softeners. 

In Dr. Shelley's cases, the causative agents turned out to be contaminants in the water supply that are infrequently identified.  In the same city, water may come from different sources and he found that simply by changing water supply the process ameliorated.

If this does not result in improvement, I would urge you to see a board certified dermatologist so that more definitive testing can be done to help discover the problem.

 

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Response by:

Charles L Heaton, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati