Fire Ant Hell Itch

OK, let’s set the stage here.  I’m a pale person.  I’ve never been tan a day in my life.  I have to bath in sunscreen or I end up sunburned after about 5 minutes in the sun.  And then it peels.  And I’m just as pale as I was before.

So, being that I’m not a particularly big fan of cancer, I wear sunscreen whenever I’m in the sun.  And so I rarely get sunburned.

Except, apparently, in Hawaii.

I applied sunscreen, I swear.  But somehow, on our first full day there, I got pretty badly sunburned on my upper shoulders and upper back.  I was pretty uncomfortable, but was surviving.  Until the second night.

I still don’t know what exactly happened.  It was incredibly bizarre.  And excruciating.  I’ve never had anything like it happen to me after a sunburn and so it was a bit scary.

It started around dinner time.  My back – where it had been sunburned – started itching.  But not itching in a sort of annoying hey my back itches kind of way.  Much more intense.  I applied some aloe and hoped for the best.

The best?  Not so much.

Over the next few hours, the itch got worse and worse.  It felt like a million little knives sticking me where I’d been burned simultaneously.  Or like there were a million little fire ants crawling under my skin.  This itch hurt.  Bad.  I’m not a wimp, I swear.  This was intense.

I couldn’t sleep a wink because I was itching and hurting so bad.  And, as the hours went by, I started going insane because I became convinced it wouldn’t ever stop or that something was seriously wrong.   I wanted to rip my skin off just to make the pain and the itch go away.  I started crying.  Seriously.  It was that bad.

I kept applying aloe but that didn’t do a darn thing.  In fact, I’m convinced it made it worse.  I applied regular lotion and that soothed things for about 4.3 seconds and then the itch and pain were back.  I took several cold showers, but that did absolutely nothing.

I started searching around on the Internet in desperation.  The good news is that I discovered I wasn’t the first person ever to experience this post-sunburn fire ant hell itch.  That made me feel slightly better.  Like I wasn’t going insane.  There were loads of suggestions for things that worked but most of them required a trip to the store and all the stores were closed.  (At this point, it was about 4am.)  Damn you, laid back Hawaii!

Then I came across a suggestion from someone to take a hot shower.  To this point, I’d only taken cold showers because I figured cold showers were better for recently sunburned skin.  My fellow victim indicated that the itch and pain were attributable to a build up of histamine under the skin (sort of an allergic reaction to the sunburn) and that a hot shower would open up the pores of the skin and allow the histamine to escape.  In my state of near insanity, anything sounded good so I decided to give it a try.

Let’s just say it’s not pleasant to take a hot shower when you have a sunburn.  But I did it and, well, it sorta worked.  For the first time in about 8 hours, I didn’t feel like scratching my eyes out or slitting my own wrists to make it stop.  I slipped into bed and quickly fell asleep.  Which wasn’t hard because I was spent.

A few hours later, I was awake again and the hell itch was back.  I managed to get out of bed, throw on some clothes, and head off to the store (which opened promptly at 7 am) where I bought every single remedy suggested on the Web.  I went back and started trying various things until I found the one that worked.


The anti-itch cream worked for about 30 minutes and then the itch was back.  Fail.

I couldn’t really tell if the Benadryl worked or not.  I kept taking it for a few days because I felt like maybe it was helping, but it could have been psychological.  At one point, I switched over to plain ole’ pain killer and it seemed a bit worse, so I went back to Benadryl.  It seemed like a logical move in light of the completely unsubstantiated claim from the Web that this was related to histamine.

The thing that seemed to work the best, though, was A & D ointment.  That’s somewhat surprising and then also somewhat not surprising since I have been convinced for a number of years that A & D ointment is like the world’s best invention ever.  Diaper rash?  A & D clears it up far better than any diaper rash cream.  Scratch or cut?  A & D makes it heal quickly.  Chapped lips or super dry skin?  A & D is the best moisturizer you’ll ever find.  Well, you can add anti-itch cream to the mix.  That stuff is magic.  A & D I love you.

I started applying A & D ointment every couple of hours or so, and that helped me get by and let me be a fully functioning person on a Hawaiian vacation.  Rather than a crying, mildly hysterical wreck.

Everything was back to normal within about 36 hours.  The itching stopped altogether.  And a couple of days later, I started peeling.  Of course.

Has anyone else experienced this following a sunburn?  I can tell you that I’m more obsessed now than I was before about not getting sunburned.  This isn’t just about cancer anymore.  I never want to have the wrath of post-sunburn fire ant hell itch descend upon me ever again.  So, stop by and say hi.  I’ll be the pasty chick by the side of the pool.

Sore Winner


I’ve got a bone to pick with you, Hasbro.  Because your Scrabble rules are lame.

Last night, we decided to play board games with the kids rather than watch mindless television.  You see, every once in awhile, good parenting shines through.

We started with a game of Uno.  My daughter won.  Sorta.  Let’s just say it was a highly-aided victory for the 4 year old.

And then the kids went down to the basement to pick out another game for us to play.  They returned with Scrabble.  It was an odd choice because my daughter can’t really read or spell, but oh well.  She joined my team.  It was us vs. my husband vs. my son.  Game on.

I usually stink at Scrabble.  I don’t know all the super crafty sneaky two- and three-letter words the help you rack up all sorts of extra points.  My husband does.  Or at least he pretends he does.  For all I know, he’s pulling these “totally legitimate” Scrabble words out of thin air.

But, despite my usual Scrabble failings, I rocked it last night.  I mean, triple word score for a letter using a “z”.  The Scrabble gods were on my side.  And so I won.  Woo hoo.  Right?

Wrong.  This is where I have that bone to pick.

My husband kicked off the game, and so he kicked off each round of plays.  And then I went.  And then my son.   So, it was time for another round and it was his turn.  He had one letter left, I had two letters left, and my son had one letter left.  You with me?  He played his final letter and declared the game over.

No way.  I didn’t get my last turn and our son didn’t get his last turn.  Everyone should have the same number of turns to use up all of their letters.  Otherwise, it’s unfair.

I looked up the rules online and, sure enough:  “The game ends when all letters have been drawn and one player uses his or her last letter; or when all possible plays have been made.”

So ensued a healthy debate about whether it was fair that he got 11 turns to use all of this letters and my son and I only got 10 turns to use our letters.  I stand firm with my assessment that it was NOT.  The game is rigged.  I demand a recount.  This is a grave injustice.

Even though I won.  That’s the funny thing.  Even when my two unfairly retained letters got counted against me and the points given to my husband, I still kicked his butt.

Not that I’m keeping score.

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Cat’s Meow

I rarely, if ever, post about my cats.  Mostly because they’re cats.  And I feel like only weird people would post on their blog about their cats.

But, alas, every dog – er, cat – has its day.  So here my friends is a once-in-a-blue-moon post about one of my cats.

Tuck is our cat who likes to play and run around. And scratch.  We’ve always given him scratching posts and boxes and that sort of thing to channel his scratching energy and, lucky us, that’s worked.  Our furniture has remained in tact.  We just have to remember to buy a new scratching post when the old one gets worn out.

So that happened.  The old one wearing out.  And my husband went out to get a new scratching box and ended up getting some ultra-fancy, twice-as-much-as-the-others scratching box because the nice lady at the pet store convinced him that it was like the best scratching box ever made and only the best for our cat.

It’s a box.  Made of cardboard.  For scratching.  Whatever.

Except that Tuck’s moved in.  To the box, that is.  Really.  He normally sleeps in bed with us, but – the last two nights – he’s slept here:

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Hi, Tuck.  Like your box?

It’s kind of like the time I went in to grab the laundry basket to fold some laundry and I found our other cat, Nip.  Even though he never just hangs out in the laundry room and I didn’t even know that he knew that the washing machine and dryer even existed.

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And, yes, Nip has an enormous white spot of fur on his back.  It’s been like that for a few years now.  No one – not even the vet – can figure out what’s going on or why.  We think it’s because he had the crap scared out of him by a raccoon when we first moved into this house.  Literally the case of getting so scared that your hair (or, in this case, fur) turns white.  Who knows?  We are still trying to convince ourselves that it gives him character.  He’s not buying it.

So, there you have it.  A cat post.  Did we all survive?