Don't you hate when people are unreliable? I sure do.
It wasn't until Thursday that I connected the dots regarding the shiitake mushrooms. That's the day the RASH appeared. It's not just any old rash... it's a shiitake mushroom rash and it's nasty. I had it before (last October), so I knew what it was as soon as it appeared. I look like I've been attacked by a wild animal or flogged by an angry mob. Here's a picture of someone else with the exact same shiitake mushroom rash:
|Man with shiitake mushroom rash|
Yeah. That. All over my body. Fun times.
But I don't want this to be a "poor me" blog post. I'm writing it to educate you. The thing is, I am not allergic to shiitake mushrooms. I've eaten them many times without any kind of reaction. However, if they are not cooked thoroughly, they can be toxic. The rash is my body's reaction to the toxin lentinan, which decomposes when heated. But if it's not heated well enough, the decomposition is incomplete. Thus the reaction.
In this case, unlike the previous one, I first experienced a closing of my airwaves. Two days later, the rash appeared, which can happen anywhere from one to three days after eating the under cooked mushrooms. The flagellate dermatitis was the telltale sign that let me know what was really happening.
Last year, as soon as the dermatologist took one look at me, he asked, "Have you eaten any strange mushrooms lately." He knew right away it was a shiitake mushroom rash.
Unlike an allergic reaction, this toxic reaction occurs when the lentinan causes dilation of the blood vessels which in turn leak small amounts of inflammatory compounds just beneath the skin. It's not intensely itchy, so the marks are not caused by scratching. I find the itch mildly irritating, but it's nothing that's driving me crazy on a minute-to-minute basis. But it is ugly.
The rash on my arms is not whip-like. Rather, there are just raised red bumps everywhere. Without touching it, someone might just suspect sunburn, but running your fingers along it reveals a different story. Treatment involves an expensive steroid cream that, by absorbing into my system through my skin, causes my blood glucose levels to rise rather dramatically. Lovely.
Lessons learned and lesson shared: Avoid under cooked shiitake mushrooms. In my case, I'll be avoiding them altogether. When in restaurants (particularly Asian restaurants), ASK.
Just think, had my friend met me for breakfast last Tuesday, this post would never have been written. Perhaps it just might save one of you from experiencing the nasty shiitake mushroom rash I'll be living with for another week or so.