The morning after hiking in Parque Nacional El Imposible in El Salvador, I woke with a strange burning sensation all over my fingertips. As the day progressed, my hands got redder and redder and I started having trouble unscrewing water bottle tops and unzipping backpacks. It started to get so that my hands really hurt every time that I touched anything. As soon as we got to Antigua, I went and bought some Benadryl and hoped that the antihistamines would knock the problem right out. It didn’t so we had to go to the doctor in Antigua.
In the morning I found my hands to be slightly worse and when I stood, I noticed that my feet hurt horribly. What was worse, when I walked to the mirror I noticed that the rash had moved to my nose and I looked like a zit-faced teenager. But, being stubborn, I refused to go to the doctor and just hoped that the medicine I was taking would start to work. After all, I hadn’t been to see the doctor in about six years! I probably bragged about it and didn’t knock wood!
By afternoon I was having trouble walking and my hands and face had grown worse. We went to the pharmacy to get something stronger and the pharmacist suggested we go see the doctor. So we walked a block to where he recommended we go, to the best English-speaking doctor in Antigua, Dr. Marco Bocaletti (Address: 3 Avenida Norte, No. 1 Appt. 3). It was about 6pm on a Friday night, yet the doctor was surprisingly IN. I waited about 15 minutes and then I was shown into his office. He looked me over and agreed that my rash was probably from some kind of plant that I touched. I was prescribed some stronger antihistamines and an antihistamine skin cream. The doctor spent a lot of time with me and answered all of my questions. He was way friendlier than my usual doctors in the USA! The visit cost about $32, payed in cash to the doctor.
My jungle rash. Doesn’t look as bad as it was in photos.
The skin cream felt MAGICAL and by the next morning all the redness was gone. However, I could tell that the rash had done a lot of damage. My hand was pretty much senseless, with the most numbness at the finger tips.
After a few days almost all the dots have faded. All of the callouses on my finger tips are falling off and there is a lot of dead skin in general. My face is looking almost perfect, but my feet still have some sore spots. At least once I peel off the dead skin I can feel again! Note to self: don’t touch anything and just get home!
Eventually all of my fingernails and toenails fell off and grew back really weird. It was quite the experience returning home looking like that after 8 months of healthy travel. Mom was very pleased. Good thing I visited the doctor in Antigua or who knows how bad it could have gotten.