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Skin Care and Diseases

A Slew of skin problems

12/15/2005

Question:

Hi I have been plagued by skin problems all of my life. The problems have varied and I believe they have mostly gone undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. They have never been serious or big problems but I am very frustrated. My earliest memories were of scratching my legs all winter and my mother slapping my hand and saying `stop scratching` I still have those problems and think it is something more then the dry skin the doctors said. My problems have been varied but I think they may be connected: 1)I get what I believe is Psoriasis - mostly on my scalp and also on my hips, shoulders and elbows. The areas on my body are round redsplotches that get flaky and itch. The scalp has red patches that flake 2)On my knuckles and my legs I get splotches. They are very different to the round spots. On my legs the splotchy areas sometimes appear almost white and it is intensly itchy. A doctor has suggested this may be eczema. 3)About two years ago I was diagnosed with Shingles. The spots were in an arch over my back and the doctor said they were in a tight area that followed the nerve. They also said I was extremely young (30) for Shingles but it was a high stress period. 4)For the last two years I have been going to a dermatologist for him to remove spots. He said they were age spots (again I was 30!). I went to have the spots removed by laser every two to three months. Each time he removed approximately 50 spots (I probably had 6-8 treatments). They were continously growing and would get bigger (although still small). They were primarily the same color as my skin. Today I went to the doctor for a massive outbreak of spots along my back and in the trunk area. They are slightly itchy but I mainly wanted to rule out Shingles again. The doctor said that he thought it was Mollescum Contagiosum and that he expected that the previous spots that were removed were also Mollescum Contagiosum. What is going on? Is it normal for someone to have all these things happening at once? Is it possible that some things are being misdiagnosed and that these things can be connected. Although they are not as bad as they could be I feel that I can`t get control of any of these things. Any recomendations? Thanks for any help you can give me. Sincerely, Frustrated Skin Person

Answer:

As I read your list of many complaints and multiple diagnoses, I think it is important for you to realize that you need a physician directing your care who is familiar with many of the disease processes that have been suggested.  It may be important for you to seek the care of a medical dermatologist that has great experience, is willing to take the time to examine you thoroughly, look at your past record, review laboratory findings, and even perform small skin biopsies.  Facilities that can accomplish that, often are affiliated with medical center programs, and I would urge you to seek their care.  For me to comment on each of your complaints might well lead to erroneous conclusions and that probably has led to your multiple frustrations.  I hope you have good luck in finding a diagnostic physician to coordinate your the care of your multiple problems.

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Response by:

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