There is apparently no real known cause for nodular prurigo (NP) although insect bites can trigger it.
Generally it’s just something doctors say you have and which will go away when you stop scratching.
But boy does prurigo itch.
And it bleeds. Man does it bleed. It’s not like normal eczema.
It bleeds profusely, sometimes at the slightest touch and can leave you looking like you’ve just been stabbed… that lovely crisp clean work shirt now covered in blood stains.
Pruritis, which means itching is where the term comes from and basically they are hard, nodules or bumps which form on the skin. They can be very itchy and get thicker and larger when they are scratched.
And they just appear as if by magic from nowhere with no warning. Often in lines like little soldiers marching to battle. Almost like an insect has crawled along your arm and taken nips.
If scratched they get bigger, the skin thickens and they can last for a long time if you don’t control your scratching.
The picture on the right shows one nasty big bit of prurigo which is a little infected, some smaller ones which are healing and if you look really hard, loads of faint white circles, which are the scars left by years of torment from this bumpy itchy skin complaint.
I’ve written about prurigo before in a previous blog post and I have managed to slowly get on top of mine using repeated applications of steroids, loads of moisturiser and by covering them when they’re really bad to seal in moisture.
But what if they keep coming back? It’s a vicious cycle which just continues.
And what is causing it? I’m convinced I’ve noticed certain triggers for mine. Most noticeably eggs or processed foods of any kind. I’m almost guaranteed a cluster after eating either of these.
What causes prurigo?
The British Association of Dermatologists say the following:
It is not known what causes NP, or makes the skin react in this way. However, once the skin has become itchy, scratching and rubbing will cause the skin nerve endings to become thicker and cause more itching; this in turn will make the condition worse.
- NP may start after an insect bite in a few people.
- Patients, under stress, are more likely to scratch. Stress can therefore make NP worse.
- Up to 80% of people with NP are atopic (i.e. have asthma, eczema or hay fever).
- Other conditions can create lesions similar to NP. If this is suspected your doctor may request blood tests to confirm diagnosis.
So if you haven’t been bitten by an insect it’s not that.
If you’re stressed, and lets face it, most of us are these days, it could itch more… and you may scratch more. But stress may not be the cause.
AND if you’re atopic – chances are you might be if you’re reading this… you could get prurigo.
But it’s not really that helpful or conclusive. I don’t know anyone else who gets it. It is thankfully quite rare. I never had this as a child, it’s something which began to happen in my late twenties, early thirties and is now a regular unwelcome visitor.
Mine goes away and stays away when I avoid all processed foods. But maybe I’m just less stressed and it’s just a coincidence that it heals. Perhaps it’s completely random and just something we should learn to live. It could be that I feel happier eating a healthy natural diet and so I am less stressed and scratch less.
And when I am busy and over stressed, those are the times I succumb to the easy, quick processed ready meals or quick foods or freefrom cakes or biscuits. Am I wrongly blaming the processed foods?
But what if, by avoiding certain foods, you could get rid of it for good? I’m not sure yet but I’m keeping a record of what I’ve been eating before it appears. Watch this space.
Prurigo is relatively rare but amazingly there is a company dedicated to supporting people with NP. See the link below. Sadly no doctors have so far been aware of this website. I have only just discovered it today but there is the power of web research.
There is even a Facebook page for people with NP which you need to request to join but I’ve already learnt from other members of this group; it helps just to know you’re not the only one plagued with itchy and unsightly bumps.
Does anyone else get these hard, itchy bumps? Do you think yours is caused by anything in particular? Is it worse when you’re stressed?
Or am I living with a bug which keeps on biting me?
Further reading or information:
Nodular Prurigo UK
136 Bedford Street South
Liverpool, L7 7DB