hell on earth – the lamictal rash

For those of you who’ve been keeping up, you may have heard me reference The Lamictal Rash. Here’s my attempt at explaining my experience! (Disclaimer: It’s an entertaining + horrid one. Disclaimer2: There are graphic photos of the rash on my skin, a ways down.)

The start of an era

In May, I switched drugs and was put on sertraline (Zoloft, antidepressant, v common) and lamotrigine (Lamictal, commonly used in bipolar disorder/for mood swings, mood stabilizer). My doctor told me that a side effect of lamictal is The Lamictal Rash. He instructed me to check my body in “the next couple of days” to see if I have a rash anywhere. I said, Ok. Where will this rash be? He shrugged: It could be anywhere. DUN DUN DUNNNNNN

Guys, it was so cute of me! The first few days on my new medications I checked my body after showering or changing. I looked up close at my ankles. With help of a mirror, I checked out my back. My armpits. Everywhere really, since I didn’t know where the rash would be.

Apparently about 5% of people who take lamictal will get The Lamictal Rash. 2% will get the deadly Stevens Johnson syndrome (literally… deadly, you can die).

Luckily – nothing! No rash! In fact, for the next three weeks, I was doing well on both of my medications. I had kind of a “blah” feeling which I had been longing for after being up down up down. I just felt neutral. My facial expression was always neutral. Was loving it.

A wart? Not again!

One Friday morning I went to therapy pretty early in the morning. I sat through it. Twas fine. Got back in the car. My mom was with me this morning – thank God, because I had some lil blemish type-deals on my fingers, like on the side of my pointer finger. Is it a WART? Because I’ve had one of those on my feet when I was little and they had to FREEZE IT OFF. Better not be!

I pulled my sweatshirt up a little to see my wrist. Splotchy maybe? I pulled it up further. I think I was already in tears. I was yelling for my mom. I didn’t put together what it was. I checked under my shirt. My stomach was covered. I pulled up my sweatpants. It was on my legs too. My mom said It’s ok, it’s a rash. It is just a rash. I had legitimately never had a rash in ALL MI VIDA. No allergic reaction. Never a hive. NOTHING! And whatever the fuck this was was covering my entire body shoulder to toe (i.e. it wasn’t on my face, hence why no one had noticed).

Now do you understand why it was so cute that I was “searching” my body for the rash a few weeks ago? Ya don’t gotta search for it, honey. You’ll see it just fine.

I freaked out the whole way home, stripped down and sure enough. It was everywhere. My whole back, legs, shoulders, BUTT. I am offended. Talk about not being emotionally neutral anymore.

At the time, the good news was I didn’t feel it. It wasn’t hot. It wasn’t uncomfortable. Twasn’t itchy. It was just there. It just “looked.” But boy is that enough to freak a girl out.

For the pictures…

THESE PHOTOS ARE GRAPHIC SO IF YOU’RE A QUEASY SOUL, PLEASE DON’T LOOK. JUST SCROLL PAST QUICK.

Day 1 looked as such. Essentially red circles. They weren’t bumps. My skin was completely smooth.
A picture of my back on Day 1.

But then day 3 happened. Basically my entire body was just the red part… Here are before and afters of my skin changing, transitioning from dotted to solid:

Eventually my stomach was 100% red. No more dots. It was a red sunburn. I could press my hand on my stomach and it would show white, then turn red again.

BACK TO NON-PICTURES NOW

It’s so cute that I was so freaked out by the appearance! All those photos I took. Very cute!

Because then came The Itching.

The itching – wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy

About three days in the entire rash started to itch. I. Did. Everything. to stop the itching. As one of the doctors said “Can’t get no relief.” I did Benadryl and that was crap. Doesn’t even knock me out! Ice ice ice. A baby’s oatmeal baths. A million lotions. They gave me a frickin steroid shot in the butt at midnight in the ER. They gave me steroid pills. When you itch, you can’t do anything. I was out for 10 days.

IF YOU HAVE THE LAMICTAL RASH, THE BEST I'VE GOT FOR YOU IS ICE ICE BABY.

I laid on the couch with a bag of peas on each arms, corn on my stomach, ice packs on my legs and wet, cold washcloths draped over my feet. The feet were the worst. Obviously when you itch you cannot sleep. My feet kept me up the majority of the time.

It was in urgent care and the ER many a times in this era. Not only because of the rash and itching but because of the Benign Positional Vertigo (BPV) that the steroids gave me. I will never take that again!!!!!!! They also didn’t do CRAP for the itching. There was no relief. You just had to ice and wait it out.

#grateful

If there is one thing to be grateful for, it’s that I didn’t have Stevens Johnson syndrome (aka death syndrome). Every time I talked to a nurse and doctor they would check my mouth, ears, etc. first because SJS starts in the membranes. They would first ask me if I could breathe because SJS = your throat will close up.

(I really don’t think anyone should look up SJS. It is actually sickening.)

So needless to say, no more lamictal for me! And they took me off the Zoloft too b/c who knows! It was time to start all over again.

This was one of the lowest points in my journey because when I was doing okay mentally, I got hit physically. Do you know how hard it is to stay okay mentally when you have physical issues? Awake for 10 days, laying on the couch bored out of your damn mind. I don’t think I can explain how hard that is. But if you know, you know.


Follow me over on Instagram!

Read about my Meds Journey!

Read about my Road Rage!

Read about scheduling your weekends!

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