Monday, August 27, 2012

Name That Rash!!

As many people know, Peace Corps Volunteers love to describe in unsolicited detail all the positively revolting things that have gone into (and come out of) their stomachs, burrowed into their feet, or raised nasty welts across their torsos. I, alas, am no exception. 

So, a couple months ago I started getting this rash on my right knee. It wasn't particularly terrible-looking, but it was unbearably itchy, oddly hard, and started to flare up angrily in bright red swaths around both knees and across my lower back. I talked to Med, sent in some photos, applied hydrocortizone cream, and things improved. This was right when the nail of my big toe was threatening to become painfully ingrown, but after a few weeks of no closed-toed shoes (which I only wear for jogging) and soaking my foot every day my toe was fine and I went back to my normal routine, toes intact and rash-free. For a few days, anyway. 

To: Med Re: Recurrent Mild Knee-Rash
And then the rash came back with an irritating vengeance. I happened to be on my way up to the Thiès Training Center where two Peace Corps Medical Officers were kind enough to spend twenty minutes looking at my knees, running their fingers over the rashy parts, and deducing the cause of my discomfort. They immediately decided it was contact allergy, and guessed that it was caused by some sort of fabric that, combined with rainy season, my skin finds intolerable. We talked about my clothes, they asked about this and that and if I have any knee-length synthetic pants, maybe ones with seams around my knee and across my back. 

And then I realized - my running pants. My stretchy, frayed-at-the-synthetic-seams, capri-style running pants. The rash went away when I stopped jogging because of my toe. I am allergic to my pants. Problem solved. They gave me some strong anti-itch cream and, only a few days later, the rash has almost entirely disappeared. 

On a related note, while looking through my photos to find this picture I realized that I have an entire album's-worth of photos of rashes, stings, blisters, infections, and swollen lumps, taken by myself and  my fellow Kédougou PCVs and e-mailed to Med in the hopes that they can diagnose us from afar and spare us the long slog up to the Med Office in Dakar. Of course, I thought "Wouldn't it be funny if we all sent these photos in to the PC/Senegal Volunteer Newsletter? They could have a little matching-game-thing in the next issue, where people guess who was afflicted by what. Name That Rash!! Hilarious!" 

My suggestion went over pretty well with the Newsletter editorial staff; it might actually happen. 

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