I ended up having two doctor's appointments this week. The first was with my family doctor on Tuesday to get refills for the SSRI I take. I'd made the appointment week before last, and it turned out to be a lucky thing that I did, because on Monday I woke up with a pulled muscle(s) in my lower back. I'm not sure how it happened, but I could hardly walk, so in addition to giving me a refill on the Zoloft the doctor also gave me two prescriptions for my back. That was good timing!
Along with the back pain, I've been having a massive eczema flare on my ankles and the tops of my feet. The itching, pain, swelling, and redness was making it nearly impossible to sleep at night, and between that and the back pain, it was really difficult to walk. I was miserable. On Wednesday morning I called my allergist's office and made an appointment for Friday afternoon after work.
Have I mentioned how much I love my allergy/asthma doctor, Dr. Stone? Any time I need to see him I can get appointments quickly, there's never any waiting past my appointment time, and he's always very kind. I was almost in tears when I got to his office yesterday. My feet were in horrible shape, so bad I was almost embarrassed to show them to him. I know that's silly, since he's my doctor and, as Gregg pointed out, has surely seen worse. It was pretty bad, though.
Dr. Stone was wonderful, as always. He held my feet gently in his hands to examine them while he questioned me about what's been going on. It turns out the triple antibiotic ointment I'd been slathering on the skin (in an effort to avoid infection when I couldn't help but scratch myself bloody) is an irritant that makes eczema worse. Oops! And I did indeed have infection setting in, which of course explained the extra pain and itch and swelling. Then after examining my skin closely for a few minutes, he decided that the pattern of eczema on the tops and sides of my feet might be a sign of something called shoe dermatitis, an allergy to materials and chemicals used in making shoes. That would explain why the regular eczema treatments haven't been working very well and why the rash is all concentrated on my feet. In a few weeks, after the current infection and inflammation have been dealt with, I'll be going back to the office for patch testing, which will determine if I have it or not. From the website I just linked to:
"Shoe dermatitis represents approximately 10% of all persons attending for testing. The culprit agent can range from products found in leather, colourants, rubber, or adhesive components, and can occasionally be mimicked by an to agents on socks or stockings."
In the meantime, he prescribed a course of prednisone as well as oral and topical antibiotics to clear up the current crisis. He advised me to get several pairs of all cotton socks and to change them out a couple of times a day, maintaining a dry barrier between my skin and my shoes. Going barefoot or just wearing flip flops at home would be a good idea, too.
If I do have shoe allergies, I'll have to see if any companies make allergen free shoes. And it will be expensive to replace all of my current shoes, but very much worth it if it solves the problem. At the end of my appointment, Dr. Stone said, "We're going to get to the bottom of this, and we're going to fix it." I could have hugged him!
I'm sorry I've been mostly absent in blogland for the past week, but now you know why. I hope to catch up with reading and commenting this weekend. Hopefully I'll be feeling better soon--between my back and my feet, it's been a rough time!