A little information on this arm rash I keep talking about and what carpet beetles have to do with anything (with a not-too-horrible pic)

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Summary: One week ago, I had an allergic reaction to something. Only *after* I had gone to the doctor and started treatment, did I realize it was carpet beetles.

BLOT: (14 Sep 2013 - 08:03:41 PM)

A little information on this arm rash I keep talking about and what carpet beetles have to do with anything (with a not-too-horrible pic)

I skipped posting last night, partially due to the medicines (some anti-inflammatories, antihistamines, pain killer, and some steroids that pump me up in the morning but leave me pretty sleepy at night) related to condition in this blog post, so I guess it will be ok. It had time to percolate.

The background: Last weekend, I had some bumps appear on my arm. I thought they were mosquito bites. The only weird thing about them is that they went from one or two bumps right at the crook of the elbow to several at the elbow, then several down the arm and a few back up unto the side of the bicep. The bumps seemed to be following the path of the vein in my arm, which made me think maybe the mosquito bite had somehow gotten into the blood stream (etc) and spread, but by Sunday morning, they looked nothing like mosquito bites. I still referred to them as such, since I had not really been in a position to get poison ivy (etc), but I was starting to get concerned.

These bumps included one of the most painful itching sensations I have ever had. Would make my whole arm twitch. I was losing sleep, even by my standards. Calamine lotion (and hydrocortisone) were basically useless, though Calamine, to start, would at least knock the itch out for a couple of hours. I finally found that I could put the arm on a cold compress and that would help. The bumps would fade from bright red to a lighter pink and the itch would subside enough I could get a couple of hours of sleep at a go.

After walking to work in the heat of the day on Tuesday, and having a busy day with Open House, and having the accumulated lost sleep catch up with me, my body started to crash. And the bumps started spreading some more and the pain/itch was getting worse again. On Tuesday night, the itch was pretty much unfazed by treatment. Only keeping it cool worked, and even that wouldn't really knock it out. On Wednesday, we got me to the doctor. He gave me some steroids to take in cycle. Those started working almost immediately, though combined with the increasing itch, still spreading bumps, and overall stress of the situation, the steroids ended up keeping me up all night. By Thursday, though, I had started to win the battle. By Friday, the bumps only itched once. Today, not really at all. With a couple of days of healing and fading, the once kind of nasty looking rash has calmed down enough to look like this:

Throughout the week, I did the thing you do where you go through a bunch of websites, trying to find causes. Was it shingles? Was it scabies? Could it be a reaction to poison ivy some neighbor had cut and tossed into a pile of debris near the road, close enough that I brushed while walking? Could it be hives? A byproduct of the heat? An allergic reaction to something I hadn't previously been allergic? Had something in that laundry room fire's smoke compounded the issue? The doctor basically said not to worry about it, that it was likely something that had hit and then moved on, a localized dermatitis.

Had it not been for a coincidence the next day, while I lay in bed unable to sleep, we might still be treating new spots as it kept spreading. You see, I was sitting there, reading in bed, and I saw a certain bug crawl up over the wall near the head of the bed. I thumped it out of childish spite, and then pulled the mattress back and searched the carpet and, sure enough, we had varied carpet beetles, mostly just the larvae. Which look like this:

Take a good look at those sons of bitches, because here comes the nightmare box. Apparently they are attracted to the heat and CO2 of humans, so they crawl on you. And some people, but not a whole lot, are allergic to the larvae. People like me, who are allergic to them, know they were there because we get the bumps. People like you, who are not, sleep soundly as the little larvae crawl about your person.

At any rate, we vacuumed and we called in an exterminator and we cleaned all the bedclothes and all the stuff that might have any contamination, and will do it again in a cycle a couple/three times more. And my arm is getting better and I'm actually sleeping (10 hours last night, haven't exactly woken up at any point today).

Something something something..."He's afraid...of bumps in the night!" *CUE THE WHO*!

Me in 2013


Written by Doug Bolden

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