Why does scratching an itch feel so good? Not sure, but the more you scratch, the more you itch. When you want to scratch your skin off, it’s ugly - the raking, breaking blood vessels kind of scratching.
At the end of May I thought I had a bug bite on my thigh. It itched. I scratched. I applied Cortisone, tried Benadryl. I wanted to claw my way out of my skin. I lay awake one night in itchy pain, on fire, and crept down to the bathroom to cover it with more anti-itch cream at 3am.
The Boyfriend rolled over towards me in bed and I snapped “DO.NOT.TOUCH.ME”.
They say not to Google symptoms - of anything. They say to go to the doctor, but instead, that night at 3:05 am, I Googled the hell out of the rash that was slowly spreading across my skin.
At first I diagnosed myself with shingles, then poison ivy, then decided it was the new laundry detergent - I shouldn’t have gone with the generic brand just because it was two bucks cheaper. Then I noticed the ring. In a panic I turned on the bright reading light by the bed, lifted a naked leg and pointed, forcing The Boyfriend to put on his glasses and take a good hard look for the tick I thought might be there.
There was nothing. Just ugly itchy red scales and a big fat ring. I was not going to be getting Lyme.
I’d eliminated everything else, there was no mistaking it, I had RINGWORM. I made The Boyfriend put his glasses back on and look for worms. He laughed. Ringworm has nothing to do with worms apparently (I confirmed with Google), but everything to do with fungus, moist heat - bacteria can spread like wildfire. I found that Ringworm is common and you’ve already had it if you had Athlete’s foot or Jock Itch. So pretty. So classy. So sexy. Let me tell you, it’s worse than child birth.
I Googled “How do you get Ringworm?” and tracked it back to a somewhat recent visit to an indoor pool on one of those rainy cold Spring days. Indoors it was hot, humid and smelly. “A locker room is the number way to get Ringworm...” I’m pretty sure the locker room was infested, where I sat on the bench to change with a towel wrapped around my waist, sure the back of my thigh touched the wooden bench for at least a second.
My daughter’s high school graduation was looming, as was work, family coming to stay, and an upcoming beach day scattered in. There was no way I was going to spend my time waiting in a doctor’s office.
Digging out an old prescription cream from last October’s dermatologist appointment was the smartest thing I did - for a sun fungus that made my arms white and blotchy in places, but was otherwise painless and harmless. Laziness worked out well for me, as it remained unused and still on hand. The cream before was for pure vanity purposes; now, it was for survival.
I Googled “Econazole Nitrate Cream”. The first thing listed was the cure for Ringworm (SCORE!)…along with athlete's foot, jock itch, tinea versicolor, and yeast infections. Of course, I figured this to be a great alternative to a doctor’s visit and within a week it started to get better. The ring was vague. The scales had calmed down.
Meanwhile, however, I was still scratching the sh** out of my leg and it had traveled mildly to the other thigh. I lived my days changing sheets, clothes, towels, much like a lice infestation, as Google instructed. I’d spend each day walking around the house in my robe, trying to keep the infection dry and cool. After a shower in the morning, I’d lather up the cream and lie down on the bed in my underwear, laptop on my chest, to let it work its magic before getting dressed. All the while, The Boyfriend had been exclaiming in my ear about how cool to be with a girl with “the crud”…”I’ve never been with a leper before”…simultaneously with being enamored by the fact that he had yet to get it - as we share bedsheets.
I couldn’t stand it anymore and was scared I wouldn’t stay ahead of the healing - the itching was beyond the worst. A message to the doctor’s office begging for an appointment before the end of school year festivities, resulted in a visit the next day. I raced to see a nurse practitioner I’d never met, put my foot up on the bench, boldly hiked up my dress and pointed to my naked inner thigh.
She looked and goes “Hmmmm…I’m not really sure you have Ringworm…”
I spent the next five minutes trying to convince her that it WAS Ringworm - because I had Googled it, used old prescription cream on it, and ultimately, started treating it - all.by.myself and it was so much better - but I was still scared - and “what else can you do for me!?" Meanwhile, she told me it was nice to meet me, wrote a prescription for another tube of Econazole Nitrate Cream, “just in case it’s really Ringworm.”
Twenty five dollars poorer, I drove home invalidated.
When it was time to get dressed for my daughter’s senior banquet that night, I put on a pretty flowing dress. The Winter hadn’t been all that kind and Spanx underneath really topped off the outfit - I strolled out of the house feeling my best. The itch crawled up my thighs as I parked my car at the venue, and I realized I may have made a big mistake. A good yank to the Spanx, I decided to give it some time, went in for photos, visited friends, and sat through a chicken dinner with penne. Through awards and speeches, dying from the pain as the Spanx suffocated my thighs, the Ringworm festered and grew.
Finally, two seconds before standing right there in the middle of the room in front of 200 + people, including my child and ex-husband, and lifting my dress to peel the Spanx off down to my ankles - the banquet ended.
“Give it room to breathe” Google said. “Keep it uncovered”.
Not - “Wear Spanx”.
I am not sure what I was thinking, more concerned with smoothing a little muffin top than promoting the healing from Ringworm. The casualty that night was that I took a few steps backward; now, over a month later, still applying the cream, it is invisible except for the occasional fingernail scratch marks from the random outbreak of itch. Either the Ringworm is still there, or it is just going to be in my imagination for the rest of my life, the raking, breaking blood vessels kind of scratching.
Note: The Boyfriend dared me to write this. I humored him.