[Member Discussions and Questions] Rheumatoid Arthritis and Itchy Rashes?

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January 4, 2013

A message from a member. Can you help?:

I am almost 30 was now, diagnosed when I was 21 with RA. Do any of you get rashes? They are like hives and itch really bad at times, and also is it common that during a flare up to have lymph nodes to swell? I would appreciate any advice.  Thank you!

Thank you in advance for taking the time to help her out and answer her message. (((pain-free internet hugs)))

What our members have said so far:

Jojo – u need to have your rheumy test you for lupus

Sarah – Yes to both of those and vaguely wondered about them for a while

Theresa – I don’t get a rash but I get REALLY bad itchy spots that nothing will help. I have tried ice packs, benadryl, itch cream, etc.. Thought it was my meds but it isn’t.

Jill – I get itchy area’s and a slight rash and my lymph nodes swell with flares too.

Sarah – I had similar and Bloods showed a problem with my liver (caused by certain drugs) you should get it checked out. xx

Kelly – Lymph nodes swell due to the immune system response,, I’d ask for a check re lupus too. Good luck. PS I have RA to and always itch!!!!

Jan – Yes, I get really itchy sometimes…. but figured out that Jergens lotion really helps.. think maybe my skin just gets very dry.

Nina -Yes to both

Melissa – Yes I checked lupus, thank God no, but its a fungal infection I’m just prone to

Linda – had real bad itching spells. Dunno bout lymph nodes (literally I don’t know where they are) but my glands swell

Debbie – yes to both

Cici – Yes! I have had hives when I am under severe stress- very common in autoimmune disorders!!!

Margie – Yes to itchy skin, and lymph nodes – but I have Sjogrens & the swollen nodes has always been attributed to that.

Cammie – Yes, I get them all the time. At times me scalp itches too. Sometimes i just can’t take all the itching

Katrina – I have the same thing happening now! I have this huge patch that is covering my left elbow area and starting on my right; it looks like a cross between poison oak and a chemical burn. It has been growing since Tuesday. Been to the doctor and he thinks it is an allergic reaction to something. But my elbows and hands have begun to seriously ache again. I see the rheumy Wednesday for my first blood-work since starting Methotrexate. What meds are you on?

Jan – Mine are from steroid-induced diabetes (another lovely side effect of prednisone). You’ll need prescription cream to successfully treat it. I use clotrimazole & beta methadone cream (1%). They can check your A1C & also culture the rash to see what’s causing it.

Margarita – I’m full of hives right now too nothing helps. My labs are good but I get them bad during flares, My rheumy saw them but he didn’t do nothing about them they come n go but the itchiness is bad.

Heather – Definitely, for me an outbreak of hives was one of the things that helped lead to my diagnosis.

Pam – I am also very itchy from the RA and the dry skin. I have to put lotion on all the time, my skin just soaks the lotion up b/c the skin is bad.

Shelley – Yep, frequent rashes and dry skin. Very itchy. Yeah, my lymph nodes occasionally swell during flares. Not sure if this is normal. Maybe ask your rheumy or doctor?

Wendy – Every time I have a flare up, i get them on my face

Alicea – All the time,

Lisa – i get a burning type rash on my neck and upper chest, tested negative for lupus ,

Debra – I have rashes when I flare. Usually starts on upper arms and thighs and spreads from there. They go away with proper rest.

Jennifer – yes all the time i even have scars from the hives they were so bad (on my arm)

Mary – I had terrible rash/hives and found out I was allergic to one of my meds.

Raye – 27, diagnosed RA at 16. I get hivey rashes on my hands too, very sensitive to heat and ITCHY. Developed shortly after starting Actemra but Docs don’t seem to think they have anything to do with the meds or RA… I can’t believe someone else has them too wow. :U

Stan – Hives all the time! I take rx’ed Claritin for relief it helps

Theresa – I got shingles last yr…my lymph nodes were crazy swollen..rash..make sure u rule that out..the rash will be super painful if it is shingles, i had to get proper treatment for this! My rheumy didn’t have a clue this is what I had…we are alot more at risk from our compromised immunity. But i have a very dry scalp since starting my RA treatment!

Kathleen – Wow! This explains a lot! Never even thought their could be a connection! I had a rash on my wrist the entire time I was off meds due to insurance issues. Also hive like pumps on my face before diagnosis.

Jennifer – I have a rash right now on both shins. Really bad. Itchy? I scratch till I bleed. I didn’t even attribute it to the RA. A rash on the face would make me think Lupus. Lymph nodes are a no for me. @ Katrina, it sounds like psoriasis on your elbows. Also a lovely autoimmune disease.

Tami – Yes to both for me as well. My glands swell when I’m flaring, but not sure if that’s from RA or sjogren’s as I have both. The rashes I’m also not sure if they are from RA or lupus as I am on a “watch” for lupus due to many “cross-over” symptoms for lupus and have been for sometime now, so you should def talk to your rheumy about the possibility of lupus.

Chelle – Yesssss!!! Upper chest and upper back! Little pimple type bumps- itchy and burn a little – I use a 1% triamcinalone cream (there is also a greasy ointment- make sure u ask for the CREAM- prescription!) INSTANT relief. I also do not have lupus (allegedly lol) Glands in my neck and along jaw always swell when flaring also

Mona – I don’t get hives but skin itching drives me bonkers sometimes!! I started taking 30 mg Doxepin everyday and it helps enormously!!! Its an antidepressant but for some reason works on the itching…I don’t care as long as I get relief!! I have RA and test positive for Lupus

Chailine – for skin issues-Manuka honey(with or without bee venom) will REALLY help! I have skin infections and the honey clears it up and keeps it from coming back…I take the honey with bee venom-obviously don’t use that kind if you are allergic to bees! I also had horrible hives and haven’t since taking the honey-2 tsps a day. Nectar Ease is the only brand I know of…kinda expensive, but it comes from New Zealand(through distributors here in the US) and it’s worth it!

Cheryl – Itchy rashes on my feet and legs, lymph nodes swell. Dr said I have RA that tests negative, which is really rare.

Sara – my lymph nodes swell too

Ayasha – Never occurred to me that my rash might be a symptom of RA. I just figured that I had eczema. Well, I needed to see my rheumy anyway…..

Jilly – Same as Ayasha above I get eczema type rashes and never linked it as my mum gets them too so thought I’d inherited it. As for lymph nodes YES swollen and painful when I get run down, horrid, neither my rheumy nor my gp have been able to help with it though. I get lots of weird symptoms that my gp just says “oh must be a side effect” I do worry that lots of things go undiagnosed so if you are worried kick up a fuss and get it checked!

Jessica – I used to get a hive like rash when I was younger. The doc said it was from the type of RA I had…still’s disease. It was usually on my forearms and thighs

Nikki – I get random rashes all the time. A small welt will appear and itch like crazy. I put lotion on it right away and it helps calm it down

Katie – I have had a VERY itchy rash all over my body since August. I have been to my PC and a dermatologist. They have put me on a tons of meds, taken a skin biopsy, taken me off several meds (in case of an allergic reaction) and nothing helps except Prednisone. I had some relief for a month or so while on the steroid. I just came off of it and the itching is back. I scratch until I bleed and have scars all over. I have been in contact with my rheumy, who didn’t think it was an issue related to RA. I see her next week and will revisit this with her. I am going crazy….no sleep, showers are torture and wearing clothes just makes the itching worse! I will look into the Manuka honey – I will try ANYTHING!

Joanna – I have had flares with swollen lymph nodes. I have also had severe episodes with Hives and itching. Many, many times having to go to the doc to get steroid shots, several times was 3-4 shots in a week because they were so bad. The hives and severe itching was determined to be from an allergy to sulfa, sulfate, sulfer and anything even close to it, especially severe when I eat anything with MSG. Because of anemia I was given the standard iron (ferrous sulfate). now I take a different form of iron. I have to read and check every label for everything I eat and put on my body and I have had great success. You should keep a journal of what you are eating and see if you tend to react to a certain food type. Wishing you the best!

Donna – Katie, I had the same thing a couple years ago. Ended up in the hospital on IV pred, then 60 mg per day for 8 months until it finally went away. Had tissue biopsy as well that came up negative. I know how horrible this is. Between the “roid rage” and lack of sleep from all the pred I was a basket case. Between my rheumy, dermatologist and immunologist all they could come up with was that it was vasculitis and couldn’t figure out what caused it. I hope you feel better soon

Debra – I get rashes / hives when I am ill with an infection or virus – it’s like my body is allergic to itself. My sister, who also has RA, gets hives frequently for no apparent reason. Hope you are feeling better soon!

Veronica – I have eczema on my hands and feet that usually accompanies a flare. On a positive note, it is a visual sign to my husband that things are going as badly as I actually say they are. Usually, he acts like I’m a big wimp.

Shannen – Well a lot of u posted what I was gonna post but yes all the time damn Ra!

Elaine – I used get rashes all the time… Though since switching to Humira and plaquenil I have found my skin to be a lot better. I get less rashes and my skin is less likely to breakdown when it gets irritated.

Cheryl – I get Psoriasis. over my body but it is controlled with RA injection!…I’m wondering if anyone gets itchy on your joints?…and ribs get itchy as well!

Angela – my lymph nodes swell a lot!! the littlest thing sets them off!

Gina – I got a really bad case that lasted months on my stomach and hip area. I tired everything including steroid cream. It ended up going away on its own. I was taking prednisone, mobic, Ultram and humira and a few others for other stuff. My Dr couldn’t figure out what caused it and recommended a dermatologist. It sucked

Melinda – I get rashes and hives but the doctor gave me hydroxizine and it keeps it bearable when I have hives.

Andrea – I get hives that itch and are like little blisters. My allergist said its atopic dermatitis. I have an Rx with a mix of the antihistamine pramoxine and hydrocortisone that works for me. My sister with myasthenia Gravis gets it also

Meghann – Cheryl I get itchy at my joints right before I flare. It’s horrible.

Beatrice – I get rashes and hives all the time since I’ve been diagnosed. So far. I have been diagnosed wit celiacs which cured some hives and itches. Second diagnoses allergic to heat and exercise. Since i know how to control them i stay away. See an allergist. They told me its because of a compromised immune system

Trina – Wow. I’m finding out more and more what all goes along with RA. A lot of people don’t understand. They think just our joint hurt. But no no no! I to have had a rash on my back. I never thought it was related. Good to know.

Tammy – yes,even worse during stress

Tracy – i get rashes that itch good luck!

Debbie – I use witch hazel……can’t live without it!

Lori – When I get major flares, I get itchy rashes on my elbows, knees, and (sadly) butt. After the flare subsides, it goes away… but I still look ridiculous hobbling around, scratching my butt!

Terri – I get both; lymph nodes that swell, and patches of hives or itchy skin. I agree with @Andrea’s note, that is what I do

Shirley – I do. But i found out it is because of Sjogrens, another auto thing. it is one for those things no one really knows anything about, it is cousin to Lupus. can cause rashes and hive that are big and hot and painful, they will appear anywhere on the body. it took many years before they realized what I had. Sometimes they can last a few months or just a few days, have your Dr do a blood test for it. I hope you find some relief.

Kim – i had that happen in July and then it turned to red marks and then like a burn. ended up it was a reaction from one of the oral medicines I was taking along with my biologic. they took me off the oral medicine and never had the reaction again. I would call your rheumy now and tell them. I know I waited too long, turned to an infection and had to miss a month of my biologic treatment. Wished I would have not waited two weeks before I figured out something wrong the doc needed to know about. Good luck!

Susan – I have a rash on my back that like never goes away. Itches horrible. But at times more flared up! Nothing seems to help

Di – mine sounds exactly like yours and now it looks like a burn. Have had about 4 weeks now. Maybe I will call my rheumy on Monday, thanks.

Ilene – I’ve had RA since I’m 4 years old & now in 45. I went through this awful period in my 20’s with awful hives, everyday! My skin was super sensitive & if I just rubbed something the wrong way I would break out in hives. Went to an allergist & went through battery of test for them to tell me I had no allergies and this could be from my RA. Just as suddenly as it started, a couple of years later it just stopped. I wasn’t on any meds at the time either do it wasn’t from that. It was torture!! I hope you find done relief soon!

Deana – Some of these rashes sound like Psoriasis.

Danielle – That is actually how I began to start the series if test and found out I had RA. I got real bad hives. I still get hives now and again. But it is when my meds change or a flare. Take care

Heather – My doc prescribed me Atarax. It’s stronger than Benadryl, and definitely works.

Jeanne – Definitely get rashes/hives and itch like the devil… rheumy said it was because of increased liver enzymes….?

Allison – I’ve had a rash for about 3-4 years that started on my lower back then traveled to my front hip area and then to my thigh. It was extremely irritating. It’s finally gone and I’m not sure why. Have never put any medications on it just tea tree oil/grapeseed oil to help stop the itch. I’ve been drinking my Spirulina protein powder smoothie daily as usual but the thing I’ve done different recently…started drinking my son’s “juice” made of apple cider vinegar, honey, & water (message me for more info on that). Now I drink at least one cup a day of that juice. Have my 3 kids on it as well.

Brenda – A steroid cream seems to take the bite away when I get bouts of this on my arm.

Becca – I get random rashes on top of my wrist and lower arm area……so itchy! Usually when flare is coming or going on:-(. I feel for you……I was just diagnosed this past year and I am 36.

Kathy – I have the rash on my back at the moment, it is also that time of the year… I didn’t wear shorts for nearly 15 years due to rashes — until I was informed that the UV can improve the rashes, yes, the tanning booth. Check your local booth, they usually have beds for skin conditions. I haven’t been for over a year until yesterday actually, it already feels a bit better, also taking a shower or bath in,water that is not too hot is best; and aloe vera spray oil… or aveeno, a cream that water is the first ingredient I know it’s hard to avoid hot water because it feels so good. Lymph nodes ——- AWFUL PAIN THE WORST PAIN IN THE WORLD!!! Turned to ulcers all over my mouth horrible, I was finally diagnosed with Behcet’s Disease, there is no pain like this. I’d have a baby every week instead

Paulette – My skin is ultra sensitive to water that is too hot or the sun. It starts burning then it turns red and extremely itchy. Is there a good cream, medication or treatment that can help.

Nichole – Sounds to me like it could be psoriatic arthritis. I had a friend with the same problem and she was diagnosed years later.

Heather – I get crazy episodes of itching on my arms. It drives me crazy! I have tried to figure out what brings it on, but can’t link it to anything, meds, foods,???

Cindy – I’ve had hives before, they come when they want. Also periods of painful burning on my head that felt like I was on fire switched taking meds at different times and don’t get it anymore. I do get painful bumps on my tongue when I am warn down and going to flare or be sick.

Heather – I have Eczema (commonly called the itch that rashes) it causes hives and itchy rashes. that actually started a few years before my RA but it is also autoimmune. for me everything tends to flare at the same time. steroid pills and Triamcinolone and Eucerine cream usually help.

Kristine – From the Meds …. Try the holistic approach to RA … Try Gluten Free

Ida – I used to get red spots on my upper arms and legs.

RA Warriors Philippines -meds side effect most probably.

Rachel – I get the rashes my RA flips over to Lupus symptoms>>>>>>>sucks!

Vee – considering we all have then to some degree I suppose it is the RA but we need the doctors to consider it could be shingles. My mom asked me the other day if there was something I have not had!

Wendy – Wow!! I am so glad I found this site!! I got diagnosed with RA about 2 yrs now and I am weary at all the weird things it does!! I get strange rashes and swollen lymph nodes so painful it sends me to the ER for relief. I am now on humira, sulfasalzine and arava.. Not much relief from the stiffness, pain and all above but I am a stubborn redhead!!!

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The above is a discussion created by a member and with member generated responses from our Facebook community ( put into a format so that the discussion can be archived for future answers needed by others in a searchable format while keeping member anonymity. Member provided information, statements and opinions do not reflect on or all individuals with Autoimmune Arthritis. We encourage all members to seek professional medical advice for any specific questions and concerns as this does not substitute competent medical care.

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