Towards the end of September I found myself itching my cheek and neck quite a bit. A few days later I found myself scratching the area under my right waistband. I didn’t think much about it until after a shower when I noticed a rash where I had been itching. Knowing that I had been biking along the railroad tracks, and specifically remembering laying my bike in a patch of weeds while I snapped a few photos, I assumed I had brushed up against some plant and was having an allergic reaction. When I noticed the rash in my crotch, I bolted to the nearest Wegmans to buy spray-on calamine lotion, hydrocortisone creme, and Technu Cleanser to wipe the nasty oils off my possessions.
It worked. It disappeared from my crotch, diminished on my face, and seemed to be fading around my waist.
After about a week, however, things gradually began to change for the worse. I started scratching the inside of my left thigh, then under the left waistband, then my neck. Monday morning I awoke with swollen lips and intense itching around my right eye, my nose, right thigh, and, well, other places.
The doctor I saw at the urgent care facility wasn’t impressed with my diagnosis. After condescending me with the title of Dermatologist and pointing out he was older than I, he said I simply had contact dermatitis and it wasn’t plant related because no pustules had appeared. While I can’t say he is entirely wrong, I do know that I’ve gone through this before a number of times and the pustules and oozing come later. Frankly, I’d rather not become an oozing, scratching monster no matter what the cause, so now I’m on the doc’s 6-day course of steroids combined with my hydrocortisone-calamine regime. My lips look less like Dolly Parton’s now, but the rash is still spreading on my neck, waistband, legs, and now my upper torso.
However, I’m at a loss here. The doc claims it was either some new laundry detergent, soap, or my riding shorts. He said it would suddenly hit me if I thought about it long enough. But frankly, I’ve not changed anything as far as soaps or clothing. And if the rash is still spreading, and particularly in areas that I tend to touch with my fingers (I’m always touching my face and lips, and I sleep on my side with one hand tucked between my legs and the other under my face, exactly where the rash has appeared), just where is this coming from?