Medical Questions? Ask a Doctor Online!
**NOTE: this question was posted under "EYE" by accident; it was supposed to be a general question for MD's**
I am a 30-year-old male (non-smoker) with a long history of eczema. It started around age 10, on my hands. Since then, it has grown to include my ear lobes. I use a combination of elecon cream and urea-based moisturizers for my hands (using elecon only during flare-ups) and 0.5% hydrocortisone for my ear lobes.
In the last month, the skin underneath my eyes has begun to get dry and red, and also on the bridge of my nose and near my nostrils. I was worried it might be a thyroid problem or other glandular problem, but I had blood work very recently for thyroid, liver, and pancreas function, and they were all normal.
Could it be my eczema or could it be rosacea? I have looked at photos of rosacea online, and my redness is similar in distribution to typical cases, although mine is very mild in appearance -- at least at the moment. I know that rosacea is linked in many cases to gastrointestinal issues (such as bacterial overgrowth), and I have also had a worsening of my IBS in recent months.
Note that I generally do not drink alcohol, except on rare social occasions.
The following image is not a picture of me, but my redness looks very similar to it:
My redness is milder, and worse under my right eye than my left eye.
My question is: could this redness be my eczema or is it rosacea, and what tests would distinguish the two? At the moment I have access to the following topical medications:
-elecon 0.1% (prescribed for eczema on hands)
-urea 10% moisturizer
-retin-a (prescribed for mild actinic keratosis and acne on face)
Would any of these be useful for the redness I am describing?
Thank you for the response. I will have the my physician examine it, and I will not use steroid creams near the affected area.
In the meantime, can I ask whether or not you believe there is a serious underlying cause for the redness, in your opinion, given my description of the affliction and also given that all of my blood work is normal?
I read an article on the "butterfly rash" associated with lupus. The article I read mentioned that the rash is usually not itchy. In my case, the rash is itchy (although not severely).
At this point, perhaps I should say that I have had many health changes within the last 12 months: worsening IBS, migraines (lasting for much longer than the usual 72 hours), eye pains, neck pains, random lymph gland activity (lymph nodes rising in neck and armpits then falling a few days later), gastritis, a worsening of eczema, and other problems.
I have had a large range of tests, including cranial CT and MRI scans, ultrasounds on various parts of the body (including lymph nodes), UGI series, gastroscopy, stool tests, pathogen screenings (h. pylori, hepatitis A/B/C, etc.), and of course a lot of blood work, every couple of months for all the various functional tests and CBC count. Everything always comes back normal.
Could this be lupus?
Since our conversation, I did research on lupus, and found several checklists of common early symptoms. I feel I might have a large number of symptoms associated with the early stages of lupus. Here are the things I experience that appear on the checklist:
-butterfly rash on face as discussed earlier (comes and goes)
-chronic, worsening eczema
-chest pains during exertion and sometimes when at rest, during breathing (I have had chest x-rays, heart monitoring, and endoscopy to rule out pathologies of lungs, heart, or esophagus)
-tingling fingers (at least several times a week; I have had brain CT and MRI and glucose testing to rule out nervous system disorders or diabetes)
-increased frequency of headaches
-foamy urine (I have had urine testing in the past, but blood / pus / sugar is also negative and protein levels normal)
-pain in joints, especially in ankles and knees, and especially in last few months
-fatigue, even after sufficient sleep
-chronic prostatitis, with no accompanying infection, bacterial or otherwise
There are other symptoms, too, but these are the major ones.
I do understand there could be harmless causes for all of these, and that these symptoms are not necessarily connected. But given that all of these are common lupus symptoms, do you think I should seek ANA testing?