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Red lump on cheek, itching, sore, triggered by stress. Any ideas?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2001
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Hello. 5 times in the past 6 years I've had quite a large red lump appear on my cheek, always in the same place. The skin feels itchy and sore before I even see anything and it lasts for 2-3 weeks. It sort of looks like lots of red lumps in a cluster. I tend to get it when I've been very stressed out. Any ideas?
Posted Mon, 17 Sep 2012 in Skin Hair and Nails
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 1 hour later

It sounds like herpes zoster or what persons refer to as shingles. Herpes zoster can follow chicken pox infections in some persons.Anyone who has had chicken pox can get shingles.
The initial infection is with varicella zoster virus which, after the chicken pox has resolved, is not eliminated from the body. It remains in nerve cell bodies and can cause recurrent symptoms.
In terms of spread, when the lesions are present,it is possible to transmit the virus to persons who are not immune.

The recurrences tend to occur as a result of psychological stress, or if the immune system is impaired by illness,medication or age.

They are characterised by pain, burning,tingling or numbness in the area before the rash occurs.The red rash begins a few days after. Itching, as you stated, can also occur.

There is no cure but the use of antivirals when the rash occurs can speed healing.
If the rash is painful then your doctor can also prescribe medication.

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

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Red lump on cheek, itching, sore, triggered by stress. Any ideas? 16 hours later
Thanks for your reply. Are there any other possibilities? What would you think it could be if I hadn't mentioned chicken pox?

Thanks for your help.
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 4 hours later

There are other causes of rash but they tend not to occur in the same place, varicella , because it affects a particular nerve distribution tends to reoccur in the same area.
I've had persons where a similiar rash reoccured on their chest or back.
If you hadn't mentioned it , I would have inquired whether you'd ever had chicken pox.

Other possible causes of rash would a allergic response (if there was something in contact with that aspect of your skin that you were reacting to), fungal infection- this however tends to be scaly with central clearing. Bacterial infections can also occur but they are usually associated with a purulent discharge and the area might be warm.
Another condition called lichen planus can also cause recurrent rash- characterised by small flat top bumps that may grow together into a scaly plaque.
When the rash next occurs , you can consider visiting your GP for them to take a look at it, the best way to diagnose a rash is to see it.

I hope this helps , feel free to ask anything else
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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