It seems I’ve developed a new allergy of sorts. I’ve had these boughts the last week or so of nearly unbearable itching with some redness – but no rash, no bumps, but sometimes tiny little welts. When it happened again today, a nurse offered to look at it for me. She took one look at it and walked me over to dermatology to get an appointment.
It’s something called pressure urticaria. Exacerbated by pressure on my skin, we found out through a fascinating scientific test: the doctor scratched me with his car key. (Lightly, mind.) It made the normal little white scratch mark, but a minute later there was a raised, red welt. No known cause (usually) and no cure, but the itching is controlled with antihistamines till it goes away on its own (which takes, on average,5-10 years).
Bizarre. But at least I don’t have to itch anymore.
EDIT: I did a little more research on some medical dermatology sites; apparently there’s another version of this called delayed pressure uritcaria in which the welts are more painful and larger and don’t show up till hours after the pressure is applied to the skin. It apparently can’t be controlled with antihistamines, just pretty hefty doses of steroids. Looks like I got off pretty lucky, all things considered.