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All TopicsForum: HER2+ (Positive) Breast Cancer → Topic: Rash With Burning and Itching

Topic: Rash With Burning and Itching

Forum: HER2+ (Positive) Breast Cancer —

Testing, treatment, side effects, and more.

Posted on: Dec 5, 2011 06:34PM

ALK wrote:

My body has broken out in a rash that looks like chicken pox/shingles without the blistering.  I'm taking TCH and have gone through 5 of the 6 treatments.  I couldn't have my last treatment because my platelets are too low.  I'm on an antiviral medication now, but feeling really depressed.  Is there anyone out there with the same symptoms?

Arlyce Dx 6/13/2011, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIB, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Dec 5, 2011 06:49PM flash wrote:

shingles does not necessarily blister but it will usually only be one side of the body.  there are also some other things in the strep family that can cause a rash. Definitely not worth suffering, ask your doc some more.  Good luck, hope all the symptoms goa away.

multifocal multicentric IDC, DCIS, pagets et al. - er+,pr+ her2+++, mast,chemo, ooph, hyst Dx 10/10/2007, Paget's, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Dec 5, 2011 07:07PM lkc wrote:

Hi Honey.Congatulations, you're almost done!

but,  Please call your dr and discuss the rash. Anytime you have a rash with chemo the doc needs to know. I am sure you'll be fine., but please call him

Linda K dx'd May 05 Stage IIIC erpr-, her pos, 12 pos nodes
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Dec 5, 2011 10:02PM ALK wrote:

I have gone into the doctor.  They weren't sure but are treating it like shingles.  She has never seen anything like it.  I'm just concerned about getting the last treatment.  I'm afraid that the rash will end up more severe.

lkc- Do you remember if you were her2 positive and what were your receptors?  Thanks for the congratulations.

flash- Thanks for your comment.  I'm hoping that something will help this disappear soon.  I'm on my third medication. 

Arlyce Dx 6/13/2011, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIB, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Dec 5, 2011 10:47PM mdg wrote:

I had a horrible rash that started after my 3rd taxotere/cytoxan infusion.  It lasted for 3 months!  It was horrible...burning, itching skin.  I did not have blisters though.  I was treated repeatedly with steroids.  My med onc seemed to say it was some type of skin issue and told me to see a dermatologist.  My internist tried to treat me and I saw a derm...she said it was from the chemo.  I got passed around for weeks and I was really uncomfortable.   I took antihistamines, used steroids, used topical steroids, and found temporary relief from some menthol type lotion my derm recommended.    I hope it clears up for you soon.  Taxotere has known skin rash issues.  I just wish my med onc and doctors could have helped me more.  I itched so bad I had bruises all over and was bleeding in some areas.  My skin was on fire and I had bumps everywhere.  I wish I could offer more advice as I know all too well how miserable you probably are. 

Maria Visit my BC Blog at breastcancerwontdefineme.blogs... Dx 12/13/2010, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 12/22/2010 Lumpectomy: Right Surgery 1/26/2011 Mastectomy: Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Chemotherapy 3/2/2011 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Hormonal Therapy 5/18/2011 Surgery 6/21/2011 Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Surgery 12/9/2011 Reconstruction (left): Nipple reconstruction; Reconstruction (right): Nipple reconstruction
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Dec 6, 2011 09:31AM ALK wrote:

I have one more taxotere to get through.  Is this something that I need to be concerned about taking?  Or does the benefit of taxotere outweigh the rash?  I'm confused and nervous that it will start up on my face and by my eyes.  

Arlyce Dx 6/13/2011, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIB, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Dec 7, 2011 01:53PM lkc wrote:


I was er pr negative and HER pos.

I understand  your worry about getting your last Infusion.  Sometimes patients can not finish their tx due to Side Effects. However I would explain to your Onc   your worries, and let him advise you of the risk versus benefit.

Good Luck!

Linda K dx'd May 05 Stage IIIC erpr-, her pos, 12 pos nodes
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Dec 7, 2011 02:36PM epgnyc wrote:

Hi, ALK.  I had a different treatment regimen than you (AC+T to your TCH since I'm not HER2+) but I also broke out in an itching, burning chicken-pox like rash over most of my body during treatment.  Like you, I had no blistering with my rash.  It occurred during my treatment with AC, which is unheard of according to my oncologist, but continued during my Taxol infusions.  It only disappeared after my chemo was finished.  My onocologist was alarmed when it first appeared (he called it an "impressive" rash) and sent me to see a dermatologist with a practice in the same cancer center.  She said that it was no doubt chemo related and prescribed a steroid cream that I used until the end of treatments.  I have to say the cream didn't do a huge amount for me.  I also tried Benadril cream and pills, but nothing got rid of it.  It really doesn't sound like shingles to me either.  Like Flash said, that occurs only on one side of the body.  At any rate, I think you need to have your oncologist refer you to a dermatologist. As IKC said, you're almost finished and I'll bet the rash disappears quickly once you're done.  Good luck.

Dx 5/2002, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Dx 2/4/2011, IDC, 4cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Dec 7, 2011 05:26PM ALK wrote:

Thanks to both of you.  There is another part to this that I'm not sure as if I should be sharing.  However, I don't remember signing a slip about not talking about it.  I am part of a trial for the shingles vaccine.  I'm not sure if I received the real thing or placebo.  I wish someone had some pictures out there of their rash so I could rule out something.  The study is double blind so I won't know if I got the shot or not.  I'm not taking my chances though with the fourth shot.  I'm opting out of the next one.

Arlyce Dx 6/13/2011, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIB, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Dec 8, 2011 02:16PM epgnyc wrote:

Hmmm, that adds another wrinkle to the equation.  When there are several possible contributing factors it makes it very difficult to sort through them to find out what is really causing the problem.  I think your decision to forego the 4th shot is a good one.  At any rate, congratulations on almost being done with treatment.  I'm 4th months out from the end of mine and I feel so much better!

Dx 5/2002, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Dx 2/4/2011, IDC, 4cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Dec 11, 2011 09:56PM rjbaby69 wrote:

Hello Alk.

I, too, have broken out with an itchy, blotchy type rash.  I am so uncomfortable right now!  This rash has just now appeared about a week after my 5th treatment.  I only have one more to go!  I am seriously considering calling the onc's office tomorrow to at least let them know what is happening.  I don't know what they can or will do but I am miserable!  I have my last treatment on December 22 and I hope that all my SE's will disappear after my body figures out I am not having any more treatments!  A girl can hope!  LOL!  At any rate, if you find something that relieves the itching, please share it with us.

Thanks and hugs to you!

Dx 7/20/2011, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 1, 2/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Dec 15, 2011 12:36PM ALK wrote:


I'm on Zyrtec now and that has done a great job with the rash.  However, I'm not sure whether it is the medicine or the fact that something else may have changed.  I'm wondering if I have too much softener salt in my softener.  Last night, after my shower, I started to itch again.  It had been a few days since my last shower because if biopsy on back.  What drugs are you on?  Doctors are wondering if it is my herceptin.  One week from today you will have your last treatment.  Congratulations!!  Any other steps after that?  I'm pulling for you:) 

Arlyce Dx 6/13/2011, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIB, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Dec 15, 2011 12:38PM ALK wrote:

What was your "C"?  Was it carboplatin?  I just finished my last hard treatment and had allergic reaction while there.  I still need herceptin until next August so hoping to rule out that.

Arlyce Dx 6/13/2011, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIB, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Dec 16, 2011 11:44PM rjbaby69 wrote:

ALK:  I am on Taxotere/Cytoxon.  It just seems that my SE's have gotten worse with each treatment and most of my SEs have to do with my skin.  My hands look like they are burning from the inside out.  Of course, my nails hurt and are trying to pull away from the beds.  Then I got this itcy, blotchy rash!  Dang!  I do thank my lucky stars that I wasn't throwing up or so sick that I couldn't work.  I been able to work throughout all my treatments except for the day of treatment and the day after.  So, I really been lucky.  I did/do have the neulasta shot on the day after treatment along with fluids.  Have suffered from aches and pains but I have been able to combat that with Claritin and Tylenol and it was much better.  I am really hopeful the next treatment goes well and maybe (I can hope) the SEs won't be as bad as they have been to my skin.  I have also begun to swell in my lower legs and especially ankles.  This started after the 4th treatment.  I wonder how long it will take me to get back to normal.  Hope it doesn't take too long!  I'm ready!  LOL!


Dx 7/20/2011, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 1, 2/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Dec 17, 2011 11:39AM Zelda1 wrote:

Hi Guys, (this is for ALK too)

I have just completed my last 4 treatment cycles of taxol and taxotere in early Nov.  I began the herceptin chemo during those as well.  Since my last taxotere tx (I was switched to taxotere after only 1 tx of taxol as I developed nuerapathy in hands and feet) I began the herceptin tx's on their own. This is when I noticed a rash that began on my right lower arm.  It spread to my upper arm and shoulder and now after completing my 2nd herceptin chemo it has worsend and is now on both arms and shoulders.  It flares up mostly at night causing major itching and burning.  I am not sure if it is related to the plethera of hot flashes I get.  Both seem to become most overwhelming at night when my day ends and I finally go to sit and relax whih is around 9pm or so.  I too have been to see just about everyone to seek treatment for it as it is causing so much disfunction in my daily activities.  AS IF ALL THE OTHER ITEMS I HAVE ARENT BAD ENUFF!  ya know?  Anyway.....here are some things I have tried...lyrica (nerve blocker), cortizone cream 10 extra strength, ice packs, and my most recent is Dermaplast (usesd commonly for wounds or sunburns).  Out of everything i listed?  I think the lyrica if taken regularly which is 4 times a day at 50mgs coupled with applications as need of the dermaplast seem to work best.  The dermaplast is an immediate relief however it requires frequent applications throughout the day (but who cares as long as your night suffering with rash).  I have an appointment after the holidays to see a dermatologist but am not anticipating much help to come from them as I am sure they will say the standard "it's from your chemo".  Well no shit?  Really????  Would love someone to prescribe something that will knock it out.  I have small chicken pox type blisters or bumps all up and down my arms with new ones forming just under the surface of my skin which I can feel if i run my fingers lightly over my skin between the ones which already have scabbed over.  That is my 2 cents on the subject.  I wish I could say that it ends with the taxotere but it seems to me that it is the herceptin chemo that might be perp.  I also have swelling in my legs, hands and feet.  This also started when my taxotere ended and my herceptin began in tx by itself.  So i feel that my side effects basically began after reg chemo treatments ended and herceptin was administered by itself.  I will not be done with the Herceptin until August like bluecowgirl.  I took effexor too for the hot flashes and have since hopped off that after a month because I felt it was making my rashes flare up worse at night.  No peace for the wicked!  Its amazing to me that our oncologists are unable to help us since most of the treatments to breast cancer with or without a positive diagnosis of HER2 people seems to be "cook book"!

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Dec 17, 2011 12:32PM Zelda1 wrote:

I also admit that I filled my tamoxifen prescription about 3 weeks ago and was supposed to start it.  I have not touched it to date.  I have seen so many women here within chat rooms state the neurological issues they have been experiencing since they have been taking it.  All beginning within the first 6 weeks or so.  The cook book regimen is, its to be taken for 5 years - most cases for HER2 women.  Anyone have a clear handle on the benefits of using tamoxifen?  I need to know because at this point?  I may not ever pull it out of my bag and digest it as most of those neurological side effects are irreversible.  I laready have neurapathy which is irreversible.  I have no desire to tack on a few more things!  I am 40! 

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Dec 19, 2011 10:25AM ALK wrote:

Do you have any problems with a super sensitive or numb tongue? I'm to be on herceptin until next August as well. I feel really blessed that all of you take time to walk through this with me. Merry Christmas everyone.

Arlyce Dx 6/13/2011, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIB, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Jan 10, 2012 03:08PM Patrithia wrote:

Finally!  Someone that has the same symptoms.  I have been searching and searching as the doctors treat me like this is so unusual. 

I started Taxol/Herceptin in September.  2 weeks into treatment developed a rash on my back.  It was manageable during the treatments (probably because of premeds - steriod/benedryl).  I had my last chemo on November 17 (12 treatments) and the rash got worse (arms, legs, stomach,and back).  Since then, I've seen a dermatologist (got a biopsy) and an allergist.  I took steroids (two - 6 day packs and two 12 day packs) and the side effects for me were worse than the rash.  The biopsy results showed that the rash is chemically induced. Ip don't know if it is the Taxol or the Herceptin.  I have postponed the herceptin (every three weeks until September) because of the rash. Right now I am taking two prescription antihistamines, 10 mg. prednisone daily (steroid) and a topical steriod cream.  

 Is there anything else that you suggest I do to get relief (I do soak in the tub and that's the only time I get relief).  

 You mentioned that your rash went away after 3 months (it's been two months for me after chemo).  Is her anything else that I can do for the symptoms that worked for you?  Did it get gradually better?  I'm not seeing any improvement at all.  

 Most of the time I feel uncomfortable; this rash is taking over my life (maintaining it is a full time job).

 Any advice you can give to me would be gratefully appreciated.  I have a nice wooden back scratcher that is saving me right now.   

 Thank you!  Patrithia 

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Jan 11, 2012 11:33AM Zelda1 wrote:

Hi Patrithia,

 I hope you are doing alright with your rashes.  I have the same thing and I feel the same way.  That it is too overwhelming! Harder than chemo regimen side effects I think personally?  I would rather go through the typical "crash" period following harder chemo then deal with this pesty rash.  I am going to my PCP on Friday after work and radiation to obtain some topical ointments & creams to try.  I was put on a 6 day prednisone pack and that worked well but was over when it was over.  I will pick up another one of those too just to take a break from the pain even though I am certain taking all of these things cannot be good for us.  I have since been back to see my ONC and she has temporarily pulled me off the Herceptin for the next 6 weeks just to allow my body a chance to reset itself.  I am hoping that is enough time to allow for that.  It seems to me that the hot flashes that I get at night are what throw my arms into a burning itching flare up.  I think it forces the chemicals through the poors in my skin and creates the irritation.  Call me crazy?  Because my hot flashes are more worse on some days than others, i've also noticed that on the days where the hot flashes are not out of control? My arms tend to just "idle" and are not as painful but still i know it's there.  Once the hot flashes key up is when the itchinng and burning begin all over again and here is when I find myself feeling as if I have made no progress.  I wish there was someone here who had an answer as to what meds work? My hands and wrists were buring the entire time I was typing this reply and I have ice packs at my desk.  I feel and look like a dork to those around me I am sure!  If i come across anything that helps me over the weekend I will let you know.  Until then I am thinking of you.  I know it hurts!

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Jan 11, 2012 11:44AM Zelda1 wrote:


How are you doing?  I was just curious.  I haven't been in here to chat for a little while with the holidays and my radiation which just started so have been busy.  Are you managing alright with your rash?  And I needed to answer you from December ( I am so sorry for the delay)...no I have no issues with my numbness in my mouth or tongue issues.  Only arms, shoulders, hands and wrists and all with regards to this rash that cannot seemed to be helped.  So difficult!

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Jan 11, 2012 11:49AM thePuppetLady wrote:

could it be hives?  That's what happened to me during my chemo (Taxotere and Cytoxin)--all over my chest and groin, even down on my thighs.  Miserable.  Benadryl really helped...ellen

Dx 9/20/2010, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 4/16 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 11, 2012 12:26PM skmarm wrote:

I had something very similar to this.  I didn't have a rash, but I had the itching and burning all over my body for almost three months towards the end of my Taxol treatment (still don't know if it was the Taxol or Herception, or both).  My onc prescribed atarax, etc., and it didn't help at all.  He wanted me to wait until Taxol was finished to see if it would go away, but a month after Taxol ended, I still had it.

 Finally, my PCP prescribed Xyzal, which is taken one pill a day at night time...it is similar to other allergy type medicines, but newer.  He also prescripted Pepcid, which sounds odd, but Pepcid addresses your stomach which is where histamines are produced as part of an allergic response.

 Within 24 hours of starting both, I had a complete response - it was miraculous!  I continued taking it for almost 3 months and then found that I didn't need it anymore.  

Everyone once in a while, particularly when I work up a sweat, I get that same "ants crawling all over me, my skin is on fire, itching everywhere" feeling - I never had it before chemotherapy.  Fortunately, when it comes back, I take a quick shower and cool down and it goes away.  I don't get it every time I get hot...just once in a while...but it is enough to remind me of how miserable I was.

Try the Xyzal and Pepcid...it certainly did the trick for me when nothing that the onocologist or allergist prescribed did...

Dx 12/24/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 2/25 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Jan 12, 2012 09:37AM Zelda1 wrote:

Thank you for the helpful information.  I will try those out and see.  At this point I have tried everything and so what's a few more right?  I also don't have much of a visible rash but agree that the discomfort is due to the sweat from "hot flashing".  I think it pushes the chemicals up through the pores and that's that!  I take quick showers too but not soon after I am back in the heap of it all.  I will print what you wrote and take it to my pcp and ask for these 2 things and will hope for the best.  Thank you so much for taking the time to respond - I hope it works,  I need to get some sleep as I am completely exhuasted from trying to manage it all.  Thanks guys

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Jan 12, 2012 04:47PM - edited Jan 12, 2012 06:07PM by flannelette

Hi all - I zipped through your ideas and will go over it all more carefully as I too have a rash from hell. But I finished all my chemo & rads 2 years ago.

Was totally fine, then I had a bunionectomy in april and the miserable little thing started on that leg - then up, then over now my arms, bum, legs back, front - never hands, head or feet. why? so I've been on a prescription benadryl-type drug, steroid cream, super moisturizer for maybe 4 months now and own 3!! bamboo back-scratchers. I have to take twice my presciption of antihistamine to get any relief. 

BUT - tomorrow I am going to see a classical homeopathist. Because about 8 years ago I had a variation of this same friggin rash, but it was actually far worse. My dr had never seen anything like it. I was going to have to wait 3 months for a dermatologist (Canada) as there are so few in my area. Well I knew a homeopathist  and she assessed me and by golly she hit the nail on the head. Homeopathy is not herbal - it is energetic medicine. That particular remedy was called sulphur. It started working almost immediately, in that the next morning I felt better and in 10 days it was gone. You dont have to believe in homeopathy. some veterinarains use it. So I tried buying homeopathic sulphur at the store, but it didn't have the required effect. Because the cause is probably different. Homeopathy, IF you get the right remedy, allows the body to cure itself.

It may not work at all if you are getting a daily or weekly dose of a chemical your body can't stand. 

The only treatment I'm now on is arimidex but I'm into year 3 and this rash only started after the mini surgery. don't think its the arimidex, also did seee my onc who also said no.

anyway, tomorrow's the day and if that cure hadn't happened I would never have believed in homeopathy. I do think you need a professional - you won't underestand what remedy to buy off the shelf.

As I type I'm scratching w my backscratcher and there are various bumps dripping blood where I've raked the tops off with my nails. 

Will tell you if something happens.Tongue out

My goodness - I see I'm on the her2/neu positivethread - my apologies for butting in where I can't help - just jumped in after looking at active topics - please excuse

Dx 7/2008, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IIB, 0/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 7/30/2008 Mastectomy: Left Chemotherapy 10/1/2008 CEF Radiation Therapy 1/10/2009 Hormonal Therapy 2/15/2009 Arimidex (anastrozole) Dx 7/20/2012, 0/6 nodes Surgery 7/20/2012 Lymph node removal: Right, Underarm/Axillary
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Jan 13, 2012 08:20AM Patrithia wrote:

Thank you so much for this information.  I finished my taxol/herceptin on Nov. 17; I still have the rash (it got worse after completion of chemo due to no premeds).  I may try xyzal (did you try steriods)?  I was on a 6/12/6/12 pack and hated the side effects (even though it helped the rash).  Did the doctors talk to you about the "half life" of taxol?  Thanks for your post.  Patricia

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Jan 14, 2012 05:26PM Patrithia wrote:

Mdg -

Thank you so much for your post.  My only question - did it last three months after you completed your chemo?

Thank you.


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Jan 16, 2012 04:15PM Patrithia wrote:

Hello Zelda,

Thank you for sharing your experiences.  My rash seems to be getting worse, everyday a new breakout in new places.....not sleeping good at night, spend most days managing the rash (soaking in tub, creams, medicines).  Nothing is doing the trick and my doctors are stumped (which doesn't help me at all).  I have had this rash for 5 months but it got really bad 2 months ago (after chemo was finished).  I think that the pre-meds during chemo helped keep the rash calm. Now that I'm not getting chemo the rash is out of control.  I am hoping that the taxol will be out of my system in another month.  Until that time, I'm continuing with radiation and not having herceptin until this rash clears up.  The rash could be from Taxol or Herceptin as I had the two together.  I'm leaning toward Taxol.  How long did your rash last?  Are you finished with chemo?  Thanks again for the help, I appreciate it.  Patricia 

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Jan 19, 2012 08:44AM Patrithia wrote:

ALK, So sorry you are having these side effects.  I know how it hurts/burns/itches/keeps you up at night, etc.  My derm. gave me a low dose steriod, steroid cream and anihistimins.  I'm not sure what the antiviral medicine will do, but if it works for you I'll try anything!  Good luck.  Keep your head up!

Best, Patricia 

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Jan 21, 2012 09:29AM Patrithia wrote:


 I did get a prescription for xyzal and it did nothing for me?  I'm taking two different antihistamines (and I have to take it every two to three hours or the itching is out of control).  Dr.s think I should just wait it out (until the taxol is out of my system); however, the rash could be from herceptin?  My doctor does not want to start me on herceptin due to this awful rash.   I sure wish I could get to the bottom of this rash...it's really exhausting and very frustrating.  Thank you for sharing your experience with me.  I wish you the best!  Patricia

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Jan 21, 2012 07:47PM Patrithia wrote:

MDG - thank you!  Yes it is awful and at times I could just flip out (5 months with a bad rash is a long, long time).  Did your rash last 3 months "after" completing chemo?  Patricia

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Aug 1, 2013 12:37PM Shadair wrote:

I started getting the pimple like rash 4 to 6 days after first treatment. The burning itch was unbearable. I had it under breast area, groin and scalp. Its been a hot summer and these are the areas I sweat. Help line said it was unusual to get it this early to have family Dr check it out. He said it was infected and gave me Fucidin antibiotic cream. Felt extremely better after an hour from applying it. It's expensive around $30. Not sure if polypsorin would work. Doesn't seem to help pimples on face and neck but those don't burn like the others do. Hope this helps someone.

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