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Itchy red patches appeared on forehead. Not cured by medicine. Dermatitis, rosacea or allergy?

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I am simply seeking your thoughts.....I am 40 year old man, Irish/very fair skin, good health, take no medications. Two months ago I woke up with bright red patches on my forehead - very angry looking one, raised, scaly...burning/itching...very obvious. Soon, I had bright patches on my two cheeks. Very red, skin peeling, etc. I went to my doctor who said it was an allergic reaction - put me on prednisone for 5 days which helped about 50%. It never really went away. So I went to a Top Dermatologist in Boston - drove two hours. He looked at my skin with a light and magnify glass for 5 mins....he said I had contact dermatitis. He gave me 2.5 Hydrocortisone and told me to apply twice a day for a week...which I did and it did not improve. I went back to him this week....he did a long facial exam and said it was an allergy...but it could be Rosacea which he has prescribed an antibiotic. He said it was not fungal at all, it was definitely not Seborrheic Dermatitis, but it was either Rosacea or allergy related. He said give the Rosacea pills two months and if it doesn't go away come back for some patch testing... I sought a second opinion at a major teaching hospital - they think it is contact dermatitis - it actually looks a bit like poison Ivy on my face (but it is not). They said it was NOT Seborrheic Dermatitis, it was not fungal related...etc.

Nothing seems to work..... moisturizer makes it worse....water makes it worse when I shower.....It is making me so depressed and anxious. I had a great skin before this.....If it is an allergy, I have no clue what it could be. Stress makes it really bad!

Any thoughts?
Fri, 4 Jan 2013 in Skin Rash
Answered by Dr. S. Murugan 5 hours later

Welcome to XXXXXXX

Thanks for posting your query.

I can understand the difficult phase you are going through. Please do not get depressed about this condition as it will improve with time.

Allergic manifestations are usually itchy. In contact allergy over face, you can avoid using recently applied soaps, talcum powder or some other chemicals. If there is nothing like that, you can rule out contact dermatitis. It doesn't seem to be insect bite allergy from your description.

In your case, the most likely possibility is rosacea. It will not be itchy too much. It may persist for 2-3 months and will vanish completely. As fungus and seborrheic dermatitis you need not fear.

As your dermatologist told you, follow him up after two months and you will be alright.

Wish you a speedy recovery.
Dr S.Murugan
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Itchy red patches appeared on forehead. Not cured by medicine. Dermatitis, rosacea or allergy? 14 hours later
Thank you for your calming words. I was just checking - did you see the picture I attached in my original email?

Also, I would like to moisturize the skin - but it stings to use - do you recommend any? I am on Doxycycline - how long do results typically take?

Thank you!
Answered by Dr. S. Murugan 8 hours later

Pleased to answer your follow up questions.

Yes, I had seen your picture. So I could answer your query.

Certain Moisturizing creams contain irritants like urea and other chemicals. That may cause burning sensation of already inflamed skin. So you better avoid moisturizing creams. You need to continue just an antihistamine. Regarding the use of Doxicyclin, kindly follow the advice of your dermatologist. You can observe reduction of the intensity of the lesions after 4-5 weeks and a complete cure within 3-4 months time.

You will be alright soon.
Dr S.Murugan
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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