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Rash on arm. Bumpy, red and itchy. Could this be poison oak or shingles?

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Posted on Tue, 29 Oct 2013
Question: I have a rash on my arm that could either be poison oak (my husband did wildland training although he took all his gear off outside and I did not tough his things) or shingles. It covers most of my forearm, started with looking like eczema on friday and now is very bumpy, red and itchy. How can I know if it's poison oak or shingles?
doctor
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James (2 hours later)
Brief Answer:
shingle is painful

Detailed Answer:
HI, thanks for using healthcare magic

Shingles is associated with pain, normally moderate to severe. It is actually one of the causes for unrelenting pain in some persons and usually requires the use of pain killers.

In addition, though the rash can vary from person to person, there are normally small fluid filled 'bumps' seen among the rash.

Based on the description and appearance in the images, it is more likely to be an allergic reaction.

You should consider the use of an oral antihistamine and topical steroid. Most topical steroids are applied twice daily , using the minimum amount necessary for a response.
Both of these should be available over the counter though the topical steroids available without a prescription are usually mild. IF there is no response with the mild creams, you may need a prescription from your doctor for a stronger one.

I hope this helps, feel free to ask any other questions
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Follow up: Dr. Michelle Gibson James (15 hours later)
Thank you! What do you recommend as the best over the counter topical steroid?
doctor
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James (9 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
hydrocortisone

Detailed Answer:
Hi

The topical steroid cream available over the counter would be hydrocortisone acetate.

The others would normally require a prescription because they are stronger, this includes cutivate, betnovate

Please feel free to ask anything else
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
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Dr. Michelle Gibson James

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2001

Answered : 16811 Questions

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Rash on arm. Bumpy, red and itchy. Could this be poison oak or shingles?

Brief Answer:
shingle is painful

Detailed Answer:
HI, thanks for using healthcare magic

Shingles is associated with pain, normally moderate to severe. It is actually one of the causes for unrelenting pain in some persons and usually requires the use of pain killers.

In addition, though the rash can vary from person to person, there are normally small fluid filled 'bumps' seen among the rash.

Based on the description and appearance in the images, it is more likely to be an allergic reaction.

You should consider the use of an oral antihistamine and topical steroid. Most topical steroids are applied twice daily , using the minimum amount necessary for a response.
Both of these should be available over the counter though the topical steroids available without a prescription are usually mild. IF there is no response with the mild creams, you may need a prescription from your doctor for a stronger one.

I hope this helps, feel free to ask any other questions