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Old 01-07-2009, 03:37 PM   #1
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red skin reaction? on tankowner's arm

Hi All,
Been away from the forums for a long time, now down to 2 tanks from 5.
Had a hellish fall and many health problems not the least of which is a weird skin condition that cropped up concurrently(but maybe coincidentally) with a massive loss of fish: loaches and my large angel.

I've gotten this skin condition related to hives(urticaria) that's called dermographism - red itchy welts that appear whenever the skin is pressed, scratched, or at it's worst just brushed.

I first noticed it over the last year whenever I cleaned tanks/h2o-changed, as a red line where my arm would rest on the tank edge, and just ignored it. Then this fall it started happening everywhere and not just when I touched a tank/equipment. Whole body like a boiled lobster, up all night, unbearable, trips to dematologist, the works. I was given expensive mentholated proprietary skin lotions that temporarily helped and was put on prednisone(massive doses) which have slowd it down to a mild reaction, but haven't erradicated it in the entire. The docs have given it a name, but not a cause.

So much happened that it's hard to separate out what goes with what; I've had other health problems as well and the round table of medical pros are still doing tests, so it could totally be related to other conditions. We've ruled out heart, diabetes, thyroid, cancer (and believe me, so much attention by the medical field is NOT comforting - you want them to NOT be so interested in you!) but since my fish died after flashing themselves and literally leaping out of the tank, I wondered if there may be some connection.

Anybody ever hear of something like this??

My fish had NO: white spots(Ich) pepper grains(velvet), gray film(fungus) bulgy eyes/bloat(dropsy) red fins(bacterial prob). (Me neither)
All looked normal, water params were all zero. I feed them flakes, algae disks, and dr bloodworms.

What really makes it interesting is that, if I think back, I have gotten the same reaction from the solution used for contact lenses.

Does this ring any bells out there?

Thanks, Lori
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Old 01-07-2009, 05:25 PM   #2
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A quick search of contact solution reveals that phosphates are used.

It is known that phosphates can irritate or even burn the skin.

I found this article as well:

Skin allergy to phosphates

Phosphates occur in aquariums naturally as well and appear to be an allergic reaction in some individuals.

Tell your doctors and if I am right, tell them my bill is in the mail
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Old 01-07-2009, 10:16 PM   #3
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thanks!

Whoa, thanks for your detective work!
a quick check of my contact lens solution reveals sodium phosphate...
Now I can have the allergist test me. So, this exposes my ignorance regarding phosphates in the fish tank. Are they a symptom of faulty maintenance? can I test for`them as I do for ammonia, 'trites and 'trates?

When we went on vacation for 3 weeks last summer, and had an aquarium maintenance company do the fish sitting for us I always wondered if something went wrong, cuz the house sitter said that that's when the loaches started looking bad. He'd left decaying plants in the tank which made me wonder had he really cleaned the tank that well, plus he'd left a scraper of his behind, even tho I specified no outside equipment to be used to prevent contamination, so I always blamed him for the fish deaths, but if this was going on in a minor way for the previous year, then I owe him an apology.

We broke down all the tanks and housed the survivors in the garage in coolers for 3weeks while we had a construction project going on later in the fall, and have had no health problems with them so far, but now i'm paranoid for my wee friends. Maybe this is why my breeding angels were never successfully raising any batches of babies past the tiddler stage.!
Poison water!! I could just die....
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Old 01-07-2009, 10:25 PM   #4
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Phosphates are present in every aquarium. Typically more pronounced in planted tanks. Decaying plants and mulm contributed to elevated phosphates.

Typically, phosphates aren't harmful to fish directly. They can however cause algae problems and green water algae, which ultimately could kill the fish due to O2 depletion.

Its possible you might be alergic since you said that both contact lense fluid and aquarium water affect your skin. Ill bet thats an easy test to conduct to see if you are, but Im no doctor.

Hopefully thats it... nothing serious. Good luck.
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Old 01-07-2009, 10:39 PM   #5
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allergy appt in 2 weeks, will post results!
Thanks, Lori
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