When Laura was a small child, every winter she would have a nasty rash in the folds of her arms. Sometimes she had the rash on the back of her legs – at the fold behind her knees.
Every winter, like clockwork, Laura would experience the dreaded relentless rash.
Itchy, itchy, itchy. Laura couldn’t scratch those areas hard enough or long enough.
Scratching would offer an exquisite and euphoric sensation of relief … that lasted for only a millisecond … and then Laura would commence to scratching some more just to, once again, feel that euphoric sensation.
This would go on and on until Laura’s mother would yell at her, “Stop scratching! You’ll only make it worse.”
She was right … Laura did make it worse … the rash area would expand and the itchy sensation would grow stronger.
Laura grew up in Wauwautosa, Wisconsin. (Wauwautosa is Pottawatomie (or Potawatomi) Indian for firefly. It actually means “flash-flash fire that flies”. – The Wauwautosa Lion’s Club)
Wauwautosa is a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Back in the day, Wauwautosa winters got very cold and there would be lots of snow – great snow for sledding and tobogganing.
Looking back on those days, Laura recalled being bundled in layers upon layers of long underwear, wool sweaters, wool hats and mittens tied together with more wool – yarn that ran from one mitten-covered-hand around her neck to the other mitten-covered-hand.
Was this wool yarn meant to keep her mittens on so that she wouldn’t lose the mittens or was the wool yarn meant to ensure that those wool mittens stayed on and kept Laura warm?
Laura’s mother didn’t realize that by smothering Laura in layers of wool clothing, Laura was beyond warm. She was always hot … really – really hot! She was being cooked slowly under all the layers of clothing.
Even though Laura would arrive home – after playing outside for hours upon hours, all sweaty hot – Laura’s mother continued to bundle and layer her daughter in yards upon yards, of wool clothing.
Every winter, like clockwork, the cycle of the erupting rash would begin. Laura would scratch away at the rash and her mother would yell at her to stop scratching. Every winter Laura’s mother continued to bundle and layer. Laura’s mother must have felt that if she felt cold, then Laura must be cold too.
As Laura grew older and began to take responsibility for dressing herself, the relentless rash went away.
Rashes are annoying and unsightly.
Whether the rash is on the face, hands, neck, leg, back, or … no matter where the rash is, it’s annoying and can be relentless.
Some rashes hurt, others itch, and many seem to have an unidentified source – which makes the relentless rash more difficult to clear-up.
Over-the-counter creams are designed to help alleviate the discomfort of rashes – the itchy sensation or the redness. Creams are designed to provide temporary relief. Thus consumers will purchase more creams until the body heals the rash itself.
Inevitably many relentless rashes return – often leading to a visit to a medical practitioner.
The doctor will ask many questions, observe the rash, and may take a few tissue samples to identify the type of rash. Yes, there are different types of rashes. The Mayo Clinic defines rashes in the categories listed below.
Pay close attention to how the body responds to a rash, the source of the rash (when known or if known), and observe that when the source is removed – the body does, in fact, heal itself.
- Atopic dermatitis (ay-TOP-ik dur-muh-TI-tis) AKA – eczema: This form of rash can be caused from an infection, heat, allergens, an immune system disorder and sometimes – medications (either over-the-counter or prescribed). Folks suffering from Atopic dermatitis tend to have subsiding symptoms, but frequently experience flare-ups – possibly due to not being able to identify the source, therefore, re-exposing the body to the source.
- Christmas tree rash (pityriasis rosea): A fine, itchy, scaly rash that usually appears first as a single patch on the chest, abdomen or back. The body will heal itself from Pityriasis rosea. This form of rash will clear within 4-10 weeks (sometimes months until all symptoms disappear). Unfortunately, the source of Pityriasis rosea is unknown.
- Contact dermatitis: A rash caused by direct contact with or an allergic reaction to certain substances – like poison ivy, detergents, nickel (metal), latex rubber, etc.. The body will heal itself as long as the substance is avoided.
- Drug rash: A drug rash may be caused by many different medications, including antibiotics and water pills (diuretics). Some drugs are more likely to produce a rash if the skin is exposed to sunlight. Once the body reacts to the drug in this manner, the body will retain memory of reacting to the drug. The next time the drug is taken, the body often increases its reaction. Sometimes a drug rash is part of a serious, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. Often this allergic reaction affects the respiratory system and can affect other organs. Chemotherapy drugs often have this sort of reaction during the patient’s treatment. When this happens, the patient can no longer receive that particular chemotherapy drug . These severe reactions do require emergency care.
- Heat rash (miliaria): Occurs when the flow of sweat is obstructed, usually due to hot, humid weather or overdressing. The body will heal itself of the rash by wearing loose, lightweight clothing and avoiding excessive heat and humidity.
- Prickly heat (miliaria rubra) (A) is a type of heat rash that appears as clusters of small, red bumps that produce a pricking or stinging sensation. (This was Laura’s Wauwautosa rash)
- Miliaria crystalline (B) appears as clear, fluid-filled bumps that generally produce no other signs or symptoms.
- Intertrigo (in-tur-TRY-go): is inflammation caused by skin-to-skin friction, most often in warm, moist areas of the body. The body will heal itself when one finds a way to keep the affected areas as clean and dry as possible.
- Bacterial or fungal infections can develop at the site of intertrigo. When this happens, intervention with medication may assist or expedite the process of the body naturally healing the skin.
- Lichen planus (LIE-kun PLAY-nus): An inflammatory condition that occurs when a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks cells of the skin or mucous membranes. No one knows the exact cause of this abnormal immune response. The condition develops gradually over a couple of months. After that, it rarely worsens, but it can persist for months or years. Lesions on mucous membranes tend to take longer to heal and often do recur.
- Psoriasis (suh-RIE-uh-sis): Rapid buildup of rough, scaly skin that occurs when the life cycle of skin cells rapidly increases. The immune system is involved with psoriasis – when the body perceives an invasion, the immune system will behave as if it is fighting an infection or healing a wound. Initially the immune system produces chemicals that cause inflammation to surround and isolate the invasion, followed with production of new cells as part of the healing process. The accumulation of dead skin cells, as they are replaced by the new cells, results in thick, silvery scales and itchy, dry, inflamed patches that are sometimes painful. Psoriasis tends to flare up periodically and then subside for a time. The invasive source or immune system trigger is unknown.
- Ringworm (tinea corporis): A fungal infection appearing as itchy, red, scaly, slightly raised, expanding rings on the body. The ring grows outward as the infection spreads, and the center area becomes less actively infected.
- Ringworm is contagious – through skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or animal or by coming into close contact with contaminated objects, such as unwashed clothing or bedding. Antifungal ointments will expedite the body’s natural healing process. It is advised to observe, note, remove, and/or clean the source (i.e. clean a shower stall) and/or potential carriers (i.e. wash clothing) to avoid reinfection.
- Jock itch (tinea cruris): Tinea infections in the groin.
- Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis): Tinea infection of the foot.
- Rosacea (roe-ZAY-she-uh): A chronic, long-term skin condition (found in adults) that causes redness in the face, sometimes producing small red or pus-filled bumps. The cause of Rosacea is unknown.
- Flare-ups occur in response to factors that increase blood flow to the surface of your skin. Triggers vary from person to person – including certain foods, skin products, extreme temperatures, alcohol consumption, emotional stress, and sun exposure.
- It is believed that Rosacea has no cure.
- Shingles (herpes zoster): A painful, blistering condition whose origin stems from the chickenpox (varicella-zoster) virus. If you’ve ever had chickenpox, the virus remains inactive in nerve tissue (near the spinal cord and brain). Years later, the virus may reactivate, as shingles.
- A shingles outbreak may start with vaguely uncomfortable sensations, itching or pain with no obvious external cause. Within several days, clusters of small blisters — similar to the chickenpox rash — appear in a defined area on one side of your body. Over a few more days, the blisters break, leaving behind ulcers that dry and form crusts. Within about four weeks, the crusts fall off, and the pain and itching go away.
- Medical intervention involves antiviral drugs that may lessen pain or decrease the potential, although not certain, persistent pain after the rash has healed.
- A shingles vaccine is recommended by many physicians for people after the age of 60.
- While shingles is not a life-threatening condition, shingles can be very painful. Vaccines can help reduce the risk of shingles. Early treatment can help shorten the duration of a shingles infection and lessen the chance of complications should the virus reactivate in the form of shingles.
- Swimmer’s itch (cercarial dermatitis): A burning or itchy rash caused by an allergic reaction to a waterborne parasite that burrows into the top layer of skin. The parasites soon die, but you’re left with a rash that produces tiny bumps or blisters.
- Because swimmer’s itch is an allergic reaction, repeated exposure to infected water can increase a person’s sensitivity and result in worse symptoms with each subsequent exposure – again, the body’s memory response to the source to increase its response with each consecutive exposure to the source.
- Swimmer’s itch isn’t serious. The body naturally heals and clears the rash on its own within a week.
Upon review of each form of rash listed above, we can quickly observe that the source or cause of the rash (when known or if known), is the most important denominator of a rash to identify.
It is also important to note that by removing the source, the body does, in fact, heal itself.
Identifying the source of the rash can be difficult. Take for instance Atopic dermatitis, Contact dermatitis, or Rosacea. Even with today’s modern science, sources of rashes have left specialists baffled.
The notion that science cannot identify or explain the source, leads us to question the true nature of a relentless rash.
Could the source possibly be related to the individual – rather than an outside source? After all, not every human is allergic to the same source. Not everyone is allergic to poison ivy. Not everyone contracts athletes foot when they walk across the locker room shower. Not every swimmer in the pool contracts swimmer’s itch.
Many people of our past were keen observers. These people are often less known or at least the knowledge of them was not taught in our educational system.
These keen observers existed and survived long before formal science. These people made discoveries and survived many ailments thanks to their keen observation of life around them – people, plant and animal. It was through these origins of observation and the trials of experimentation, that these people uncovered the magic and the power of plants.
Today many are awe struck at how cultures from centuries ago, discovered to use things like willow bark to alleviate pain.
What prompted these curious people to experiment with willow bark in the first place?
Did they say – “Oh for fun, let’s try crushing this bark, eat it, and see what happens.” Or did they say – “Let’s try placing some of this bark on this painful part of the body and see what happens.”
Or did these folks observe an injured animal eating the plant and then discover that animal was healed?
Or did another animal from the herd eat the plant and then lick the injury which then led to the animal being healed?
We simply don’t know how this useful information originated.
What we have learned is that ancient artifacts contain written information about the use of plants. When man developed means of recording information, either through carved pictures on stone or written communication on papyrus, man began to record what plants were used, how the plants were prepared, how the preparations were used, and what these preparations were used to treat.
How these people learned to use plants has been lost (for the time being).
It is curious to observe that, generally, animals in the wild don’t suffer from rashes (other than fungal rashes). Domesticated animals often do, but not those animals in the wild. How is that possible?
What is different about animals in the wild?
Here is an idea, could it be that animals don’t suffer from emotions?
Some cultures believe that human ailments begin deep within the body. They believe ailments begin with the spirit. They believe the signs or symptoms of ailments travel through the body, slowly moving, until the condition presents itself in the form of inflammation causing discomfort, irritation, pain, nausea, vomiting, etc. – all sensations(nerve ending responses) – all symptoms that something within the body ‘s natural balanced function is now off balance.
When the source of a rash cannot be identified, ponder these questions for a moment:
Could it be that a rash is the manifestation of emotion?
Could it be that a rash, as a sign of an emotion, manifests because the emotion does not serve as a function of survival?
Could it be that the non-survival function of emotional energy (like anxiety) travels through the body seeking elimination in the form of a rash?
Emotions are unique to each individual. An emotion, such as anxiety, is an individual’s perception of a given circumstance and the emotion of anxiety is the person’s unique response to that given circumstance.
If the source of a rash is not clearly or easily identified, would it not be wise to observe, identify, and replace a non-survival emotion with something that will enhance survival?
Ancient cultures would initiate clearing a rash by:
- First eliminating the symptom of the ailment, the rash.
- This would be followed with clearing the body through prepared foods and tonics meant to encourage proper digestion and elimination.
- Lastly, they would restore the natural function and balance within the body and the spirit.
Please consider this … if a rash is ever found on your body, that of a loved one, or a friend – especially when the source of the rash cannot be easily observed, identified, removed, or avoided – do the following:
- Initiate clearing the rash’s unwanted symptoms – reduce the inflammation, which will reduce the itch.
- Encourage proper digestion and elimination – drink clear liquids, eat colorful fresh foods and plenty of whole grains.
- Restore natural function and balance within the body and the spirit – basic survival 101 – Be responsible for yourself first:
- Moderate exercise throughout the day – not just a massive workout routine once a day – moderate movement throughout the day massages the internal organs and improves organ function.
- Slow down, get good restorative sleep each and every night.
- And just as they inform us on the plane before take-off, inhale, breath the oxygen for yourself first. Take care of yourself first. You are responsible for you. All that may seem more important than taking care of yourself, can wait – will wait. Remembering to be responsible for yourself, will enable you to handle all the bumps in the road of life more efficiently and effectively. Be responsible for yourself first.
All this sounds easier said than done, right?
Would you want to know what you can do to get rid of that nasty relentless rash?
Our next blog, Relentless Rash Recovery Recipes will provide aromatic recipes to assist the body through each of the three steps listed above.
Coming soon … Relief from Allergies