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Topic: Tamoxifen and Rash Anyone?

Forum: Hormonal Therapy - Before, During and After — Risks and benefits, side effects, and costs of anti-estrogen medications.

Posted on: Dec 21, 2008 02:41AM

PNWKaren wrote:

I've been on Tamoxifen for 2+ years now.  Experienced a few of the common symptoms--some hot flashes, a few joint aches, some wieght gain, but nothing really outrageous.  In September I had reconstructive surgery and ever since then, I keep getting this recurrent rash.  It starts in the folds of my elbows and behind my knees and spreads out to cover my arms and legs, maybe a bit onto my shoulders but never anywhere else--a nasty red lumpy rash that itches and burns like mad, progresses to small blisters then crusts over and heals, all over about the course of three weeks.  I get a short break from it, think I am in the clear, then boom, there it is again.  I'm on my fourth round.  Docs are clueless--saying things like contact dermatits but I know it's not.  Could this be a Tamoxifen reaction?  Anyone ever had this? 

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Posts 1 - 13 (13 total)

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Dec 21, 2008 09:05AM pclarky wrote:

Sure sounds familiar!  I am actually on a 2 week break from Tamox.  My red splotches are on my face - around my eyes and mouth - and hands.  I wouldn't call them lumpy exactly, but they sure do itch and burn like mad, as you say.  Mine have diminished since pausing the tamoxifen, but not entirely disappeared.  My current theory (of many, hah!) is that my skin is much drier because of the tamoxifen, and therefore more susceptible to whatever this is, contact derm, allergy or ?  My onc had me take zyrtec, which did seem to relieve the itching and redness. Then stopped it (the zyrtec), and all was well for a few days.  Then the red spots, super flaky facial skin and itching roared back.  That's when I called the onc who suggested the two week tamoxifen break.  I'm due to start back on tamox this Tuesday. 

Lumpectomy 7/25/08, Started Rads 8/20/08, Started tamoxifen 10/31/08, tamoxifen hiatus started 12/9/08. Restarted Tamox 12/23/08. Dx 7/10/2008, DCIS, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+
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Dec 21, 2008 09:20AM roseg wrote:

Did you refill your prescription lately?

The rashes I've heard about in connection with tamoxifen have been when gals have gotten a refill and they've changed manufactures. Apparently the stuff they suspend the drug in can cause reactions.

As to your post-surgery rash I wonder whether you might have a problem with an antibotic you've gotten? Or if you have a latex allergy. Sometimes once those get started they are difficult to get rid of.  Have they suggested a course of Prednisone?

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Dec 21, 2008 01:35PM , edited Dec 21, 2008 01:36PM by PNWKaren

I've tried Benadryl and every assorted cream/ointment there is and they don't touch it.  Maybe relieve a bit of the burning and itching but do not change the course of the rash. I can't do Prednisone--it sends my blood pressure through the roof. The post op antibiotic gave me a roaring yeast infection but that has long since cleared--it's been three months so I would think any side effects from that should be gone and I haven't been on anything else since then.  But now that I come to think of it, and check my prescription date, this did start about the time I got my last refill. Hmmmmmm. Thanks, ladies.  I knew someone here would have some input :-)


Dx 7/5/2006, ILC, 3cm, Stage IIb, Grade 2, 3/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Jan 5, 2009 03:25PM sirsmom wrote:

 I have been on tamoxifen for a little under 1 year now. During this time I have been experiencing various rashes, including what was thought to be a major herpes breakout, except that it was on my face and chest, and I've never before had as much as a cold sore. Recently I have developed an itch that travels all over my body. There is no visible rash . I ended up on prednisone over Christmas because I had scratched so much my skin was inflamed and heading towards cellulitis. I have also tried antihistimines, OTC and prescription, creams, lotions, oatmeal baths. Nothing really helps and my skin isn't even dry. My oncologist just told me  to take a 2 week break from tamoxifen . He wants me to have a bone density scan so they can switch over to a different drug if the tamoxifen is the culprit. I have read that some women in menopause can experience these types of rashes and itching. Given that tamoxifen supresses estrogen  this type of side effect probably isn't that unusual. 


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May 7, 2010 03:14PM lissyross wrote:

I have had a slight rash for about a month now, been on tamoxifen for 4 months.  Mine is not that horrible, more just annoying redness and a little itchiness, but it hasn't gone away.  It doesn't really get better or worse.  I thought it was eczema, but now you have me thinking that maybe the tamoxifen could be the culprit.

Everything in this moment is as it should be. Dx 11/10/2009, IDC, 5cm, Stage IV, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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May 7, 2010 04:15PM LINDAGARSIDE wrote:

This is so strange!  Today I developed a rash and wondered if it might be tamoxifen and so I thought I'd check out this link.  It looks like it might be.  My rash is VERY noticeable, on the top part of my right leg, from my knee to my thigh and partly on my left leg.  The rash is not bumpy nor is it itchy.  Very strange.  I take an antihistamine every day because of allergies to pollen etc at this time of year...  So pink peeps...do you think this is from taxmoxifen?? 

Linda Dx 12/17/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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May 9, 2010 05:09PM cs7777 wrote:

Hi PNWKaren - just fyi, benedryl is not supposed to be taken by women on tamoxifen because it negates the effect of the tamoxifen.  I'm unsure if you meant you used a topical version of it, and maybe that is ok, but I'd definitely check with your  doc.  See this page on BCO for a table of drugs that conflict with tamoxifen:  http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/hormonal/serms/tamoxifen.jsp

I wish I could say more about your actual rash.  I have a wierd one on my hand that ebbs and flows but its not red or itchy, so I've just put up with it.  My onc said he had no idea what it was.  Have you thought whether you're eating a balanced diet (lots of fruits and veggies) and whether you might be deficient in any particular nutrients that might be important for skin health?  I'm not super-knowledgeable in specific vitamins and nutrients, but you can find info about them generally and examine your diet and just see if its likely you're low on some common ones and try a supplement or eating more foods with them in it.  Just a thought...Good luck figuring it out!

Single MX, implant reconstruction Dx 9/2009, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/7 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 16, 2010 12:53AM feistybluegecko wrote:

I found this while searching to see if a rash I had developed could be due to Tamoxifen.  It turns out that it is shingles - I am gutted, just finished rads 6 weeks ago and chemo in April so this is just what I don't want to help my recovery.  Anyone else had shingles at this stage after treatment?

feistybluegeckofightsback.word... Dx 10/2/2009, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIIa, Grade 2, 6/15 nodes, ER-/PR+, HER2- Surgery 10/05/2009 Mastectomy (Left); Lymph Node Removal (Left) Chemotherapy 10/23/2009 Cytoxan, Ellence, Taxotere Hormonal Therapy 04/15/2010 Tamoxifen Radiation Therapy 04/23/2010 External Hormonal Therapy 07/15/2012 Femara
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Oct 26, 2010 11:23AM , edited Aug 20, 2013 03:01AM by BFlat

I am wondering about a rash related to Tamoxifen too.   The doctors think it is shingles, but the symptoms leading up to it are not typical of shingles.  We are waiting for results of a viral culture.  Is it too much of a coincidence?  Or can Tamoxifen weaken our immune system so that dormant shingles come to the surface?

Dx 10/22/2007, ILC, 6cm+, Stage IIIb, 3/10 nodes, ER+, HER2-
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Oct 31, 2010 11:37PM feistybluegecko wrote:

Apparently it was probably that chemo and then radiation had weakened my immune system and shingles is quite common here (I am in Myanmar) so there must have been some exposure which woke up the dormant virus.  My symptoms were pretty clear though - the more I insisted it could be tamoxifen and related my symptoms, the more my doc was convinced it was shingles!!

I hope that whatever it is, it clears quickly and painlessly


feistybluegeckofightsback.word... Dx 10/2/2009, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIIa, Grade 2, 6/15 nodes, ER-/PR+, HER2- Surgery 10/05/2009 Mastectomy (Left); Lymph Node Removal (Left) Chemotherapy 10/23/2009 Cytoxan, Ellence, Taxotere Hormonal Therapy 04/15/2010 Tamoxifen Radiation Therapy 04/23/2010 External Hormonal Therapy 07/15/2012 Femara
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Nov 2, 2010 05:48AM julia2 wrote:

I started Tamoxifen yesterday and today I have a rash :-(  Coincidence?  I guess I'll be calling the onc. today.


Dx 4/7/2010, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Nov 3, 2010 02:02PM kfm wrote:

I started taking tamoxifen in March, along with herceptin and avastin since last November. I've had a serious of minor side effects but haven't been sure which drug is responsible. For the last month, I have had the most intense itching mainly in my upper arm and shoulder. No visible rash - like sirsmom said - but nothing can relieve it. My oncologist has said to stop taking tamoxifen for 3 weeks and it was fine for the first week but it's as bad as ever now. Does the itching come and go? And how long to get it all out of your system?

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Nov 7, 2010 07:31AM BFlat wrote:

Per the culture, my rash is not shingles.  The doctor thinks it may be some form of dermatitis.  My oncologist said it was not likely the Tamoxifen because the rash was limited to my forearms and one leg, she said if it were a drug reaction the rash would likely be all over my body.  I suppose the dry skin and rash may be a symptom of menopause - thanks to chemo and anti-estrogen chemo I am experieincing all sorts of fun things with menopause...

Thank you for sharing your experiences. 

Dx 10/22/2007, ILC, 6cm+, Stage IIIb, 3/10 nodes, ER+, HER2-