My neurosurgeon identified the bright red rash on my chest as an adhesive reaction. Two weeks prior, he had replaced my battery for Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) battery maintenance. After the surgery, an angry red rash promptly appeared to frame his perfectly sewn and taped work. The swelling and blisters surrounded the stitches indicated an allergic reaction. My chest was incredibly itchy and uncomfortable.
Examining the progress of my surgery in a follow-up visit, he removed the surgical tape (shown in the photograph), and prescribed the antibiotic Keflex. Keflex (cephalexin) is a cephalosporin antibiotic. Keflex is used to treat infections caused by bacteria, including upper respiratory infections, ear infections, skin infections, urinary tract infections, and bone infections.
The Keflex was prescribed as a precaution to help me avoid a superimposed infection. A superinfection is a second infection superimposed on an earlier one, especially by a different microbial agent, that is resistant to the treatment being used against the first infection.
In the DBS surgeries I had before the adhesive reaction, I had a minor itchy, red rash under the bandage. At the time, I wondered if I was allergic to the Povidone-iodine (PVP-I), an orange antiseptic used for skin disinfection before and after surgery.
With our medical sleuth hats on, the physician’s assistant and I reasoned that the bandage tape protecting the wound, and not the surgical tape that sits directly on top of the stitches, or the iodine was the culprit. For my recent surgery, the bandage tape was replaced with a hypo-allergenic cloth tape. Unfortunately, our conclusion to change the bandage tape didn’t stop a rash from forming! Onward to phase two of our investigation!
In a couple of years when the DBS the battery has to be replaced again, my neurosurgeon says we’ll use skin glue instead of surgical tape. We’ll all hope I’m not allergic to it! Skin glue is applied as a liquid or paste to the edges of the wound. It takes only a few minutes to set. The glue usually peels off in 5 to 7 days. The scar should take about 6 months to fade.
Verywellhealth.com reports that when adhesives are in contact with the skin for prolonged periods of time a skin rash can occur in up to 50 percent of people. Since I’m one out of two prone to rash, I’m looking into patch testing for adhesives. Patch testing can identify the particular chemical that is causing the contact dermatitis.
For now, the physician’s assistant suggests taking the oral antihistamine Zyrtec to relieve itching. He soothingly states about my surgery site,”I feel it will slowly improve with time.”