I have contracted a skin disease and am totally grossed out by it. Not much of a blog though… so let me tell you a story.
Chapter 1: The Discovery
About 5 or 6 weeks ago while having a shower I felt a sting on the side of my calf, near my knee. I thought a bug had bitten me so I reached down, dug my nail into the area that hurt/itched and started scratching.
I completed my shower and looked down at my leg to see a round, red mark where I scratched. I never thought anything of it. I thought it was a mosquito or insect bite.
I didn’t look at it again until 3 days later when it itched. This red mosquito bite wasn’t swollen but was a deeper, uglier red colour. “GROSS” I thought. So I put some all-purpose ointment on it. The kind you put on any insect bite to soothe and stop it from itching so I wouldn’t scratch it.
I also make a comment to Tones. “Ewww look at my leg! I’ve got a skin disease!!” I’m joking of course. I still think it’s an insect bite that just looks worse than normal.
A week after, it was STILL THERE and to the same intensity redness as when it started. That’s when I realised that it wasn’t an insect bite.
Chapter 2: The History
When I was young I had eczema, who didn’t?
I also had these weird blister things on my hand. Check Dyshidrosis on Wiki so you kind of understand. I never got it diagnosed but that’s pretty much what my fingers looked like when I was a kid. They were constantly itchy and would form blister bubbles which I would then pop. The liquid inside them would be clear and runny like water but sometimes sticky.
I also had similar things happen on my legs, usually the shins except the bubbles would connect with each other and the liquid would collect and I would end up with giant bubbles like burn blisters on my shins. Don’t ask, I have no idea what they were.
Eventually the bubbles would get so big they’d pop and then over time new ones would form.
No, nobody helped me, explained what they were to me or took me to the doctor for this. I lived in a poor household, with my grandmother, on a little island that was designated as a leper colony so I would suspect given the circumstances, that blister bubbles on legs weren’t really a thing of concern.
Fast forward to my future and my mum never let me forget how wonderful my skin was. She was very jealous of it. Why? Because despite all the blister bubbles, burns, cuts and scrapes I got as a kid, I never got a scar.
At one point I had a giant burn blister (from an actual burn) balancing on my forearm for at least a week which busted in my sleep and I was constantly digging at pimples on my face during my teenage years.
I even fell in a manhole in the Philippines and scraped all the skin off my shin from just above my ankle to my knee, when I was 10. On London Underground escalators in my 30’s I tripped and fell tearing my trousers, stockings and scraping skin off the front of my shin again too. Those metal escalators have sharp teeth!
I must admit that the older I get, the longer it takes for the scars to disappear. Normally the scars are gone in weeks but now it’s taking years. The point is, whatever scars I have accumulated from some quite severe abrasions are barely noticeable.
So why did I mention all that? Because good skin is normal to me. Skin that is disease free and repairs itself to its original condition is normal.
Skin disease is actually the one thing that makes me cringe and back away. I think it’s because my grandma taught me from a very young age, given where I grew up, that leprosy is not contagious unless you see weeping sores then you MUST NOT TOUCH that person or get any of it on your skin or else you’ll catch the disease too and it will eat at you until you lose your limbs.
Pretty scary thought for a kid so now it’s instinctual. As soon as I see someone with weird red, sore type things on their skin, I really do start backing away.
I don’t know how I got over the bubbles on my fingers and legs but I have never actually ever had a skin disease since. That is, until now.
Chapter 3: Diagnosis and Cause
After seeing this non-changing red patch on my skin still there after a week, I went on Google and self diagnosed. I concluded that what I had, was Ringworm. Tinea. On my leg. Fungus. Skin Fungus.
Where do you catch it? Dirty, sweaty mats at gyms or from infected animals.
I checked the bunnies and they do not have any bald patches or red exposed areas of skin. Nope, the bunnies are fine and I don’t go to the gym but guess where I go that has DIRTY SWEATY MATS?
I am now completely icked out every time I go to the yoga studio. I caught a skin disease and I didn’t even rub my skin against a weeping sore!!! This grossness just attached itself onto me when my leg came into contact with an infected mat.
Thing is, it takes days for the sore to manifest so I have no idea when contact happened. All I see is the result on my leg. Guess who didn’t go to yoga for more than a week after finding out it was ringworm?
You see, this disgustingness is contagious. So I could be spreading this to others. GROSS!!! How completely inconsiderate of people to turn up to the studio, rub their disease all over the mat so someone else can have it too. YUK!
Chapter 4: The DIY Natural Cure
Apparently the natural way to cure this is by rubbing teatree oil and eucalyptus oil onto the fungus. Oregano oil is also anti fungal and so is Clove oil. I didn’t have any Eucalyptus but I had the others. Apple Cider Vinegar is supposed to work too.
So I rubbed apple cider vinegar all over the infected area. It stung like acid poured on an open wound, bits of dead skin rubbed off onto the cotton ball and little blister bubbles started to form on the sore itself. I then rubbed coconut oil laced with teatree, oregano and clove essential oils. I did this twice a day every day for a week and you know what happened? It got BIGGER.
On top of that, I felt a similar sting and itch on the back of my other calf, closer to the ankle. It seems this contagious disease had spread onto another limb!
Chapter 5: The Natural Cure Made By Professionals
I freak out about my crappy results and do some more research.
This time, I find out about DEFENCE soap. I order it. You can’t get it in the UK. It’s from America and so I have to wait for it to be delivered. It’s soap with tea tree and eucalyptus oil in it.
Since I have to wait another week for delivery of the Defence Soap, I buy some teatree and eucalyptus soap from a health food store and use that while I’m waiting. It does nothing. The sore is still there but at least it didn’t get any bigger.
The disease has now been eating at my skin for 3-4 weeks before the Defence Soap arrives. I wash myself with this soap for 3 days. Apparently you’re supposed to use it every day for a week but people on YouTube swear it works and the ringworm disappears within 2 days.
NOPE. Not mine. 3 days goes by and although it looks duller and more grey than it is red, the surface area of this disease is now even bigger because I’ve been scrubbing it with a loofah.
Not just that, the soap is drying out my skin and since I’ve used it all over my body to clear any further infection, my stomach, arms and neck all hurt/itch when I move because the skin is ripping / breaking from the dryness. Kind of like breaking a face mask when you move your face after it dries.
Chapter 6: The Chemical Cure
By this stage I’ve had enough and am starting to worry. This fungus is happily enjoying and eating away at my skin and growing exponentially with each day even after using supposedly effective natural remedies.
So I do some more research. According to what I’d read, Tinea is Tinea is Tinea. It just gets called different things depending on where on your body it’s growing. If it’s on your foot, it’s called athlete’s foot but if it’s on your leg or arm, it’s called ringworm.
I go to the supermarket and buy some athlete’s foot cream. I figure if this doesn’t work THEN I’ll take myself to the doctor.
I’m a little worried that by the time I end up seeing the doctor my leg would have been eaten up – what if I didn’t do a proper self diagnosis and had something else? But I refrain from panic and promise myself that this would be my last attempt at self help before seeking professional assistance.
Each application makes my skin red and super itchy. It’s not a good start but the instructions say this is one of the side effects and that you had to use it daily and go to the doctor if symptoms persist after 7 days.
Chapter 7: The last remaining remnants
This is where I’m at. It took longer than a week and I was about to book myself to see the doctor but the disease seems to be subsiding.
On day 7 my leg became super itchy and red. More than normal. I guess it was the fungus’ last hoorah attempt at fighting to stay.
I think I’m on day 10 today and it’s no longer red or itchy and the skin is starting to look normal again albeit a little darker than my normal skin.
Application of this cream must be maintained for 3 weeks but I think it’s safe to say the fungus is dead or dying and I don’t have to go and see a doctor (thank God. I really hate going to see the doctor).
I’ve also continued to use the Defence Soap every single day since it arrived and I’ve even brought it to the yoga studio so I can wash with it straight after a class.
Not only does it kill anything I might have contracted in that yoga session, any grossness that comes off my body is dead before it goes down the drain.
Chapter 8: The Final Chapter – The Morals of The Story
I don’t really want to jump the gun here as it’s still not completely gone but I think it’s all sorted. I’ll be complaining about it in a future blog if it’s not.
For the meantime, lessons learned are as follows:
1. Just because you start life off with shitty skin doesn’t mean your skin can never be beautiful.
2. If you have it, do not take beautiful skin for granted. I love my skin now more than ever before and will be protecting it from now on!!
3. I always will go for the natural cure first but if it doesn’t work, that’s what we have chemicals for!
4. Who needs a GP (other than for referrals to a specialist) when Google and YouTube can tell you so much!
5. It’s taken me 5 years of attending sweaty yoga studios for this to happen. Perhaps my immune system has been a little compromised lately, I didn’t have a shower soon enough after being in contact, or this was a particularly strong strain of grossness but whatever the case, I’m warning you now: Anywhere sweaty people with skin disease exist and your skin will/can come into contact with something their skin touched, make sure to wash yourself and your clothes with tea tree and eucalyptus oil before it manifests into something gross.
Lastly, if you do have a skin disease and you know it and you haven’t put anything on it that would be killing it… for God’s sake cover it with something so it doesn’t touch and infest mats, floors, towels etc that OTHER people use!!!