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Suggest Treatment For Itching On The Left Arm In An Elderly Person

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Posted on Wed, 13 Jul 2016
Question: I am a 62 yr old woman, and like all baby boomers, I was vaccinated for smallpox as a young child.

Approx. 2 or 3 days ago I noticed my upper left arm itching, from what I thought may have been an insect bite. It itched, I scratched, it itched, I scratched and so on. Then I thought how odd that I was bitten right where my smallpox vaccination scar is... something I have not given 2 thoughts about for decades.

Today, it is still itching, and I finally decided to examine the spot in a mirror and noticed it had developed a perfectly round redness about the size of a quarter over the area. Upon further examination I really could not find any indication of a bug or insect bite, so now I am curious.

What would cause my old smallpox scar to begin itching out of the blue like that after 6 decades? And has this happened to anyone else?
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Answered by Dr. Ilyas Patel (1 hour later)
Brief Answer:
Insect bite dermatitis most probably

Detailed Answer:
Hi,

Welcome to HCM...

I read history and saw the photo. After that I deeply think that most probably you may be having insect bite dermatitis. It has no relation with smallpox vaccine scar. There seems wheal like lesions with minor ruptured skin at two places. You may be having burning and itching. The cause may be bite of haematophagous insect. It would be difficult to pinpoint the exact type of insect. The chemicals in saliva of insect would have caused hypersensitivity reaction leading to such ski. Lesion. You consult the nearby dermatologist to have perfect diagnosis.

However,I would suggest...

- tappering and short course of steroids
- Antihistaminics like levocetirizine
- apply mild steroid cream on the lesion
- if needed,take a short course of antibiotic
- avoid soap bath
- try to protect from insects further

I hope you might get recovery soon. So, do not worry.

Thanks.

Dr.Ilyas Patel MD
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Raju A.T
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Answered by
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Dr. Ilyas Patel

Dermatologist

Practicing since :1982

Answered : 4527 Questions

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Suggest Treatment For Itching On The Left Arm In An Elderly Person

Brief Answer: Insect bite dermatitis most probably Detailed Answer: Hi, Welcome to HCM... I read history and saw the photo. After that I deeply think that most probably you may be having insect bite dermatitis. It has no relation with smallpox vaccine scar. There seems wheal like lesions with minor ruptured skin at two places. You may be having burning and itching. The cause may be bite of haematophagous insect. It would be difficult to pinpoint the exact type of insect. The chemicals in saliva of insect would have caused hypersensitivity reaction leading to such ski. Lesion. You consult the nearby dermatologist to have perfect diagnosis. However,I would suggest... - tappering and short course of steroids - Antihistaminics like levocetirizine - apply mild steroid cream on the lesion - if needed,take a short course of antibiotic - avoid soap bath - try to protect from insects further I hope you might get recovery soon. So, do not worry. Thanks. Dr.Ilyas Patel MD