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When it comes to what I call ‘bathroom supplies’, I usually try to find things on sale. I don’t mean anything gross by ‘bathroom supplies’ but it’s probably what a lot of people would call toiletries. Things like shaving cream, shampoo, body wash and toothpaste. Usually, between finding things on sale, using coupons, and stocking up, we can find some pretty good deals.
However, I spent quite a bit of money on these supplies over the weekend and unfortunately wasn’t able to put a lot of the work that I normally do into it.
Towards the end of 2008, a small rash developed on my face directly to the left of my mouth. I had thought it might go away, but it didn’t go. I went to my family doctor. He didn’t know exactly what it was, but gave me a prescription that normally clears up rashes.
It didn’t. When I followed up with him, he gave me a referral to a dermatologist.
This was January of this year by now, and when I went to see the dermatologist, he looked at it and indicated that I had ‘contact dermititis’ which I’ve since learned is a catch-all term for a skin irritation. He prescribed something different, which was a topical steroid, that he promised would “clear it right up.”
It did and it didn’t. What happened is that the cream knocked the rash down to where it was barely noticeable, but it never went fully away. If I stopped using the product the rash would be back in full force within a couple of days.
Clearly there was still a problem, so back to the dermatologist I went. The rash was itchy and I am very self-concious about it given that it’s right next to my mouth. I always feel that whenever someone is talking to me, they’re looking at the rash and not concentrating on a word I’m saying. I’ve asked multiple people if it’s very noticeable, and nobody has said that it is, but I have always thought that maybe they’re just being nice. In other words, this rash has to go.
At this point, the doctor now recommended that I go through ‘patch testing’ which is a type of allergy testing where they expose your skin (on the back) to various chemicals and compounds that can cause reactions. After several days, they see what spots developed any rashes, and determine that you should avoid those products.
There were a few products that came up. A couple are normally things that I wouldn’t have to worry about, but there were two that were noteworthy. The first was parabens, which are preservatives that are used in a wide variety of cosmetic and toiletry products. The second was topical steroids, which if you recall, is what I had been using to treat the rash. So, what this showed is that a large number of consumer goods as well as the very product by which I’d been using to treat myself were helping prolong the problem.
I was given a new prescription and also a 53-page list of ‘bathroom stuff’ products that were OK to use. I was advised to concentrate on any products that I used from the neck up, since the rash was localized to my face.
So, I went through product by product for the following areas:

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Face soap
  • Body wash
  • Shaving cream
  • Lip Balm
  • Hair Gel
  • Moisturizer
  • Toothpaste

I found that the conditioner and body wash that I use were on the list, but none of the other products were. Because my goal was to get rid of the rash as quickly as possible and because we’re pressed for time with the baby coming, I decided to simply make one trip to one store and take care of the entire list. I did find one coupon.
Many of the products (most notably the toothpaste and moistuerizer) required higher end, expensive products. But, in the end, the cost was roughly $50 to get new shampoo, face soap, shaving cream, lip balm, hair gel, moisturizer, and toothpaste.
Had I been buying these products over time, looking at sales and/or buying with coupons, I probably could have gotten them for significantly cheaper, but given that this rash has been with me for six months and I just want it gone, I did not balk at the cost.
All I can hope now is that this unplanned spending turns out to be worth it. I’ll report back over the next few weeks how things go. As of now, the rash is still there but the redness and itchiness has subsided, so some combination of the new medicne and the new products is working, but time will tell if this will completely knock it out.
Wish me luck.