Italy Journal – Eczema in a Strange Land

{Reposted from my original 2008 trip journal and reflections in 2009}

A minor skin condition on my right index finger turned into a major travel hassle. I went from place to place looking for something to cure. The last thing I wanted was a life-threatening infection in a foreign land. It made for an interesting experience negotiating health care in a strange place.


First I tried some cortisone from a local pharmacy. That reduced the swelling, but didn’t stop the blistering. Local aloe – acquired from one of our long walks on Capri where it grows out in the open – didn’t seem to help much. I’m guessing the non potable water didn’t either because by the time we reached Positano the wound was infected with yellow puss. That’s when I had to find peroxide and an antibiotic cream. The local pharmacist in Positano was very helpful. She said that if it didn’t clear up in a few days I would need n oral antibiotic. My lymph glands in my right arm were swelling up, so this wasn’t looking good.

But I was more annoyed than anything because it added another 10 minutes to my morning routine and I was constantly worried about it opening up again. I also knew that getting home wasn’t necessarily going to get me to a speedy recovery. I’d have to get a referral and get past my PCP who had previously said this was a dry skin condition.

Then again, it gave me something to distract me from the car sickness riding in the back seat to Ravello and Pompeii. Swimming in the Mediterranean helped wash it out too. The wound started to heal by the time we left for Sardinia, but remained a maintenance issue through the rest of the trip and even after we returned to the states.

I later learned it was a form of eczema triggered by allergies, weather or soaps. Potentially no real cure. It might go away, it might not. Dermatology appointment pending (several months out). It’s not contagious and is fairly common from what I’ve learned on WebMD.

Exactly how I acquired this – in that place – is very bizarre. It happens to be the very place that a mouse wheel rubs when I work on the computer. Perhaps my body is trying to tell me something.


By jjdeprisco

Sonic explorer, sound artist, guitarist in Fricknadorable, software designer.