ilona the pest

insecurity + narcissism = awesome!

Friday, June 23, 2006

itchy rash

for the past few weeks i've been plagued by an itchy rash of indeterminate origin. now, before you go accusing me of having a loathsome disease (which is, of course, slander per se), i should mention that i did see a doctor, who diagnosed it as plain old eczema, which i had always though was some exotic, disfiguring, congenital skin condition, but it turns out it's just a fancy (and kind of gross-sounding) word for atopic dermatitis. just kidding - that's what it says on the top of the handout the doctor gave me. what i meant to say was it's a fancy word for a rash you get as an allergic reaction.

i confess that i was originally afraid that i might have an actual disease like measles, or shingles, or maybe scabies, but it doesn't seem to be contagious at all (i swear) and it also doesn't have any accompanying symptoms like a fever or anything. and also the doctor was like, "no, you do not have a disease." so.

i just looked up the wikipedia page on eczema to give you a link to it, but the pictures are super-icky looking - that is not what my rash looks like at all. so maybe my doctor was wrong. my rash is practically invisible, and i mostly notice the itchiness only on my arms, shoulders, the backs of my hands, and from my ankles to about halfway up my calves. it's very weird. i'm a medical mystery.

since it was unclear what allergen was causing the rash, the doctor recommended several steps: (1) eliminate all scents from my life - switch to perfume-free soaps, detergent, etc.; (2) start taking a daily antihistamine like claritin; (3) use a topical anti-itch cream to help with the itching in the short term; (4) start using a hypoallergenic (i.e. fragrance-free) moisturizer all over, every day; and (5) don't scratch.

(1) takes too much effort and i'm just too hedonistic to deny myself the urge to scratch, so i've been mainly relying on (3) and (4), slathering my arms and legs regularly with lubriderm lotion and cortizone cream. my skin feels delightfully silky and supple, but that's about it.

i've also been dutifully following step (2) for about a week now, taking 10 mg of claritin daily, with no obvious improvement.

step (1) is probably the most basic and important, but it's hard to switch laundry detergents because i've recently adopted my boyfriend's system of giving up doing my own laundry. although i did finally, a few days ago, buy some fragrance-free detergent, and gave it to the kind ladies who take care of these things for me, suppressing my guilt at imposing an additional demand on them. so we'll see how that works out.


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