I took Friday off, originally to go to the beach, but in an effort to save some money and put it towards other things I decided I should stay home. It’s a good thing I did because it gave me the opportunity to get some things done including going to the dermatologist.
As I mentioned on here before, I self-diagnosed myself as having melasma. That (and possibly Botox) were the original reasons I had decided to schedule an appointment but this week I also developed a rash on the back of my leg behind the knee. At first I thought it might just be a mosquito bite but it itched way more and since it was impossible to get a good look at it due to its location I knew a professional needed to take a look.
This morning, since I was off and hadn’t gotten around to doing it before, I called the hospital and asked for a recommendation for a dermatologist. A short cab ride later I was in the lobby asking for directions to her office. Her office, like the ENT’s office I went to last week for sinus pain, was very, very tiny. She has drop-in clinic hours on Friday so I went without an appointment and was lucky to be her first patient of the day. After filling out an extremely short and undetailed new-patient intake form (name, age, address, place of employment–that’s it), I was ushered into her office. She asked me why I was there to see her and I showed her my self-diagnosed melasma. She confirmed that it is indeed what I have and launched off into a long list of available treatments including chemical peels, lasers, lights, lightening creams and oxygen treatments. Overwhelmed by the choice, not interested in putting chemicals on my face and concerned about the possible side effect of darkening of the affected spot, I told her I would think about it and went on to share with her my next issue: the behind-the-knee rash.
She took one look at my knee and said she needed to have someone from the lab come up and scrape it and take it to be examined. She walked me to the other side of her office where I hopped up onto the examining room table. Instead of a the disposable, paper examine table coverings which all doctor’s offices use in the States, it was covered with a floral bedsheet and a pale green blanket. I lay down on the table, covered myself with the blanket and after doing a quick examination of my other skin issues, she slid the privacy screen door shut.
Neither she nor her assistants washed their hands before or after my examination and while I was waiting, her next patient was being seen on the other side of the screen. I don’t speak Tagalog of Filipino but if I did I would have heard every detail about his ailments as he was only about ten feet from me! Five minutes later someone from the lab appeared with a scraping instrument and a glass plate to prepare a slide. The tech scraped my skin (not painful) with a potassium hydroxide (KOH) preparation and took my sample off to the lab to be reviewed under the microscope. About ten minutes later the diagnosis was delivered to my doctor she called me into the office to deliver the news: I have Tinea Corporus. What’s that you ask? Ringworm! Yuck! The lab results indicated I have “moderate spores and hyphea” so she prescribed a topical anti-fungal cream for me to apply twice a day (and an oral regime to help stop the itching, which I declined). Fun times. Total cost? 1435 PHP (about $34) 1,000 for the consultation, 300 for the KOH and 153 for the 12% VAT plus 333 PHP ( about $8) for the prescription. Before I left Dr. I asked her assistants to “prepare the room,” meaning to disinfect the examining room table where I had been scraped. What did this entail? They sprayed my sheet and the room with some sort of disinfectant and then refolded the blanket and placed it back at the end of the bed.
The crazier part though is what Dr. I said while I was waiting for the lab tech to arrive! She took it upon herself to point out all my other skin problems that she observed. I have noticed all but one of these and either tried to get them treated but it wasn’t covered by my insurance or I the treatments were too expensive or I didn’t think they were a big deal. What did she point out? Oh, the list is long! LOL Here are all my skin issues she diagnosed in the hour I was in her office today:
1. Ringworm (fungus behind my knee)
2. Melasma (hyperpigmentation on my face)
3. Syringoma (benign sweat duct tumors on my eyelids and neck)
4. Verruca Plana (viral warts on my face and torso) *I can barely see these as they are tiny and skin-colored but they are what Morgan Freeman has she told me
5. Telangiectasia (spider veins on my legs) and
6. Rhytides (or as Dr. I called them, “deep, troubling wrinkles” on my face)
Isn’t that crazy/horrifying!??!! I know! She then proceeded to ask me what I wanted to take care of today and to prioritize the list for her! Ugh, so much to do and not all will be covered by insurance. I went with the ringworm as #1 (of course) and told her I’d get back to her on the rest. If you know me you know that means I am going to look at natural remedies first!!! I told her I had read of a woman who cured her melasma by changing her diet and someone else had gotten rid of warts by applying coconut oil and she practically laughed me out of her office (of course). But I still came home and Googled natural cures for melasma and read that apple cider vinegar applied to the area affected can help fade them, though they also suggest you work from the inside through diet and supplements. I am definitely going to try that first!
It was an eye-opening experience and to be honest I’m so glad she was so direct. It was a harsh reminder that I really need to take care of myself– there are no options. I am going to get sick or at best age very ungracefully and I can’t be having that!
While researching alternative cures I realized I could get rid of ringworm naturally, too. I read some suggestions including garlic and soaking a penny in apple cider vinegar! I also read that the cream made it spread for many people. Switching to acv tomorrow!!!