Q: Hair on the Face Sensation- What Could Be Causing It?
I have been diagnosed with bipolar, post-tramatic stress disorder,
A.D.H.D, and manic depression. I've been on alot of meds. so far only
wellbutrin sr I can tolerate. 2 yrs ago severe itching episodes started out of
the blue. We thought it might be the die in the meds. It seemed to be it. Or
it was some outside offender. I stopped all meds (except wellbutrin) under
supervision of course. I stopped using lotions, fragrances, laundry soaps,
soaps with fragrances, dust, animals, using air purifier, still 2yrs later I am
still suffering from this itching. My doctor says im hypersensitive. No, I
think differently. I've been to an allergist and tried nasal sprays, allergy
shots, nothing phased this. The nasal sprays seemed to aggravate it.
Pseudophedrine also aggravated it. Musinex (guafecin) aggravated it. laundry
soap aggravated it. Just recently my doctor started to treat my A.D.H.D. with
amphetamine salts and that was terrible. We stopped those and tried Ritalin.
That was less intense. We also tried strattera at 10mg and that was tolerable,
but This is still interfering with my life. Hours of digging in my eyes trying
to find the alleged hair in my eye. The itching starts as a sensation of hair
on my face. As if I had walked into a spider web. The sensation grows more
intense and I feel it all over my body. The feeling of hair caught on my
eyelashes is overwhelming. I've seen the eye doctor after visiting the emergency
room for scratching my cornea. He diagnosed Blepharitis. I think that might be
true, maybe a result of the years of rubbing and digging for the hair in my
eye. He stiil hasn't explained the roppy discharge on my eye I Have to remove
and that feels like a hair on my eyeball. Iv'e been on the internet about
Blepharitis and It's real close, but it doesn't explain the sensation I feel.
The hair sensation feeling. I did find something like allergic conjunctivitis
that can cause blepharitis or visa- versa.
It still doesn't explain the medications making it worse. Why does some of the
medication in the nasal sprays aggravate it. I thought they were supposed to
stop allergic reactions not make them worse. Do those medications have some kind
of stimulant in them? I don't know if it really is a hair on my face or in my
eye or on my face or arms. I don't know if It's real.
Am I allergic to
this psychosis? I can't understand this. If I am allergic to stimulants. That
doesn't make sense. I am 3yrs clean and sober from using and smoking cocaine
and that never caused the hair sensation. But, I did use crystal meth one time
and I had an episode where I had a sensation I had a hair or something in my eye
and I spent hours trying to get it. It was only that one time. That was way
before I was clean and sober. I was already clean and sober 1yr before It
started again. Is It the medications? I can't stand this. I spend hours on the
computer trying to find an answer.
My Dr. is not as concerned. She is more about working on finding the right
medication for me to be on. But, I am suffering! I am in tears. Please help!
On top of being severely depressed and other issues. I need this to stop.
Hello Ms. N' --
Yours is a very complex situation. I'll not try to figure it out, at this
distance, but here is one idea you can throw into the process as you're trying
to get this figured out. Just an idea, certainly not a sure thing, in fact I
don't know if this is playing a role at all but if it was, you'd definitely want
to consider it, and if it was and you missed it, you could go on searching for
quite a while for solution. So, here goes. But brace yourself, you may not like
the sound of this. Remember, it's just an idea to try on. If it doesn't fit, you
can move on.
There is a psych' diagnosis called "body
dysmorphic disorder". People get an idea stuck in their head (sort of like
obsessive-compulsive disorder, OCD, when they get stuck on the idea that their
hands are contaminated with germs) that there is something wrong with their
body. Their nose is too big. They have some sort of asymmetry. That kind of
thing. The most striking aspect of it is the way in which they are unable make
the idea go away.
Similarly, people with bipolar disorder can become "hyperesthetic":
they feel body sensations (light, sound, touch) to an extreme degree. This is
sort of like what happens when people have migraines: they want to be in a dark,
quiet room. They want to avoid dealing with people. A crowd of people,
especially strangers, would be the worst. But sometimes this hyperesthesia
(literally "too much feeling") can be in one sensory system and not the others,
or so I think. I hear about this from my patients. I've never seen this written
Putting these two things together, what if that
sensation in your eye was sort of like the thought that your hands were
contaminated? It does seem to completely dominate your experience at the time.
You can't stop thinking about it. You have to do something about it, yet the
actions do not solve the problem. The actions become extreme, like the person
who washes her hands so many times they're cracking and bleeding.
Add one more line of thought: sometimes what looks like
OCD is really bipolar disorder; and sometimes the two condition intertwine so
tightly they really can't be separated. The trick is not to use the serotonergic
antidepressants (e.g. fluoxetine/Prozac, and several cousins) because that can
make the manic side of bipolar worse (which once in a while might manifest
itself as the hyperesthesia I was talking about, perhaps). Sometimes the
anti-manic medications for bipolar disorder can make the OCD symptoms settle
down. And there's also an OCD-specific psychotherapy called exposure and
response prevention, ERP.
Anyway, if something like this was going on as the
basis for your symptoms (or complicating something that originates in an
allergic skin reaction of some kind), the good news would be that this opens the
possibility of trying to treat those symptoms in a very different way. That
might even include taking the stimulant medication out, as these can worsen
bipolar manic symptoms, at least until the manic-side symptoms, if that's what
they are, are controlled (and sometimes this even treats ADHD symptoms well
enough that the stimulants don't need to be put back in).
Just an idea to consider and talk about with your
doctors. (Please don't let me get quoted as saying that this is what's going on
with you; it's just a diagnostic angle to consider). Good luck with that.
Published December, 2006