Yesterday I was miserable. For the last week or so I have been fighting a rash. I assumed it was a heat rash and knew what steps to take to rid of it. It went away for the most part. However, I was left with dry and itchy skin. It was getting better, I thought, so I left it be. However, at night it seemed to get worse and I had trouble sleeping well. Finally, I had enough and went to the doctor. Here in India, you have to go to the right doctor-not just any doctor-and for skin issues that is a dermatologist. I did some Googling. Websites were full of botox and cosmetic issues but not so much about rashes and skin issues so I called one seemingly reputable doctor and the reception confirmed the clinic also dealt with medical issues.
So, later that day, off I went. I got to the clinic, filled out the new patient form, and soon was in with the doctor-and another lady. I realize now that all doctors seem to have an assistant or something that does the writing while the doctor thinks and talks aloud. Odd but whatever works and keeps more people employed I guess. So, the doctor asks what he can help with. I explain I am from abroad and have been here about a month. A week or two ago I got what I thought was a heat rash. I got this under control but itchiness, dryness, and annoyingness remain-especially at night.
He looked at my arms and legs and between my fingers at the rash (which was only on my arms and feet for the most part-the rest was just dry). Asked if it was on my face or neck (no). He looked at my stomach (where at the time there was nothing going on although if I scratched there I would get all red) and I told him quickly I was pregnant to explain my weird stomach! Ha ha ha. He asked if anyone else in the family has skin issues. Not really. He asked if I am out in the sun often. I said not often but yes sometimes.
He then said there were two possibilities. One could be that it was an allergy. The second was scabies. WTF! He said we would treat both and be able to eliminate issues as it could be issues related to pregnancy as well but it was unlikely. So we would start with treatment and, if needed, go to step two. So, here is what he told me to do:
- Use a special heavy duty lotion once a day right after bathing to deal with dryness.
- Use a special lotion as needed and as often as I like to deal with itching throughout the day as it comes up-some instant relief.
- Consume an allergy tablet once each night for ten nights.
- Apply a medical cream on the affected areas once or twice a day for one week and then once a day for the next week.
- Take a bath and apply one special medical cream all over from the neck below-not missing a spot-and leave on for 12 hours (best overnight) and then in the morning wash it off. After that make sure to sleep in fresh and clean sheets and wear decontaminated clothes
- Decontaminate clothing and sheets by washing in super hot water and drying in dryer for at least half hour or in the sun for as long as possible.
I felt a bit distressed by the idea of scabies but he said it can happen anywhere in the world and is just bad luck. Likely it is caused by the bed sheets or a towel. He said he suspects scabies because my symptoms started about 4 weeks after arriving and that is common with first time exposure. However, it could also be the allergy, he said. I found a pharmacy and bought everything I needed. I was a bit worried about the allergy tablets but the pharmacist confirmed they are okay for pregnancy but he gave me a lower dose to ease my fears.
I had to go back to work for a bit but when I got home I decided I was going to channel my misery into action. I did some mad Googling and made a plan. I talked to my flat manager and explained the issue. He said from now on my bedsheets and towels will be washed separately and soaked in extra hot water after the wash (the washer here washes only in cold water) and they would add some dettol antiseptic, hang in the sun to dry, iron, and then provide to me. I said we could do this tomorrow as I needed to prepare clean clothes as well.
I then went back to the flat. I wanted to do a test to see if scabies is what I have (I have strong doubts about this for some reason) so decided I would shower, apply the heavy duty moisturizer, the medical cream on the affected areas, and take the allergy tablets and see how I was in the morning. However, since my clothes could be an issue I decided I would do my best to decontaminate them. More research said ironing could do it. So, I found the iron, put on American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson on Netflix (I started it back home but lost interest), and pulled out my clothes from my closet. Anything I wore recently I threw into the laundry hamper. Mites only live away from the host for 2-5 days so the clothes I had not worn recently-or ever-were going to the first for decontamination. I disinfected my empty closet just in case as well.
Then I began ironing. I ironed the hell out of everything. I then took those clothes to the spare bedroom and put them in a drawer. I will not touch them until 5 days have passed. By then they should be decontaminated naturally if not by the iron. The rest of the clothes I decided I would wash tomorrow and hang in the sun to dry. Then I would iron them as well and see what happens. If there is still an issue I may actually have these scabies. If not, then it was an allergy and at least I know what to do next.
I then ironed the hell out of the pjs and underwear I planned to wear that night. I took a shower-scrubbed myself clean with a nice new Nivea shower wash I bought while at the pharmacy-and then applied the heavy duty moisturizer. I hate using creams but after a pat dry, I went for it. I put it absolutely everywhere I could reach and had to rub it in as it was that kind of lotion.
I let it be for a bit and after some time took the medical cream that I was to apply on affected areas and put it on the main areas where there had developed some bumps and redness. I had to rub that one in pretty good as well. I let it be for a bit and then got dressed in my ironed pjs. I was a bit worried but all seemed okay and the ironed clothes felt good. Perhaps lack of ironing was also causing issues? Who knows.
At dinner that night I took one allergy tablet. I had taken all the cushions on my couch and thrown them in a closet. I will not touch them for a week or so just in case they also need decontaminating. I wiped down the faux leather couches with antibacterial wet-wipes and decided to hang out there for the evening as I dreaded my bed a bit-despite the fresh sheets on it from the morning-and because scabies do not usually go for couches.
It got later, the OJ case wrapped up (poor Marcia!), and it was time for bed. I was worried but got in and soon fell asleep. I slept all night and slept in late. No itchiness and no waking up overnight from itchiness. I woke up well rested after a week of not feeling great. I was thrilled! Perhaps it is just an allergy and not scabies at all!
I am now going to continue this treatment for a bit and if all is well, then great. If not, I will try the scabies treatment (the leave on for 12 hours one!). The doctor said to follow up if things get worse. I am really hoping I will be cured. However, if there is an allergy issue I need to figure out what the cause is. I also think ironing clothing helps a lot and will be sure to do this from now on. Maybe the soap is too harsh in the washer as well so will try to use less of that. Not sure if these are the right steps or not but we will see. Half could even be a placebo effect…but whatever works, I say!
This experience has made me realize what a pain it is to have skin issues. Skin is one’s largest organ and is very important. I will never take for granted again having issue-free skin and will do a better job in taking care of mine. Being unwell or having issues away from home also sucks. Yesterday I was going to the dark side but glad things have turned around for today!