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Skin reaction to heat/cold
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Skin reaction to heat/cold

My skin breaks out in a burning, itchy rash, sometimes with blister-like welts when exposed to heat or cold.  Does not have to be sun (although the sun will do it).  Just BEING hot doesn't do it (I can be involved in physical activity that might make me sweat and not break out).  Just a few minutes in the sun makes my arms and upper legs break out.  If I cross my legs or arms for a few minutes I break out in the area my skin was touching.  I must sleep uncovered or wake up burning and itching, especially on arms and legs.  Must take cool showers.  Cleaning out my freezer makes my hands swell, turn red, burn and itch.  Outdoors in winter, my upper legs break out and burn and itch in the same way.  Hands also, even with gloves.  I am trying to find a name for this condition so I can research it.  Any suggestions in dealing with this increasingly difficult problem would be greatly appreciated.  Problem began 17 years ago during pregnancy and has recently become worse.  My cat cannot even sit on my lap anymore because my legs break out almost immediately.  Just relaxing in my recliner makes the backs of my legs and arms break out.  I feel the burning and itching and know I have to change positions.  The rash goes away in 20 to 30 minutes when the skin cools down.
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242489_tn?1210500813
Dorothy:

You may be describing dermographism (which means "skin writing.")  This common and nonserious condition comes about when minor skin trauam releases histamine from mast cells, a normal part of everyone's skin.  Most people have this to a mild extent.  If it causes itch and other symptoms, antihistamines like Claritin can help.  You ought to show the welts to a dermatologist (when they're visible, if possible--if not, a photo helps) for more definitive diagnosis and treatment.

Best.

Dr. Rockoff
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