The Creeping Crud

It started out as a little red patch on Michael’s scalp. I was worried something had bit him.

I had my brother take a look at it at my nephews’ birthday party. He shrugged. It just looked like irritation. He said maybe cradle cap — his kids had never had it, and since he’s not a pediatric dermatologist, he wasn’t familiar with it. I resolved to look up the treatment for cradle cap on the Internet when I got a chance.

The patch became more ring-shaped. And another one appeared on his scalp.

Dan looked them over. “That’s where his horns are coming in,” he said.

Har, har.

The pediatrician looked at it. “Probably cradle cap,” he said. “Use a dandruff shampoo. If it doesn’t go away, we’ll take another look.”

He got it on his bum. So I brought him back to the pediatrician.

“Oh, yeah. That’s ringworm,” the pediatrician said, looking at his bum.

He was more concerned about the breakouts on his scalp. When it gets into the hair follicles, it usually takes an oral medicine to eradicate ringworm — a fungus, not an actual worm — and he had no idea what the dosage would be for a baby.

He called the pediatric dermatologist. “Is he black?” the derm asked. Apparently, it’s much more common in black children. Uh, no. “Does he live on a farm?” No again. “Hm. That’s weird. Have her use clortrimazole on it.” What about on his head? “Well, if it doesn’t go away with topical treatment, I’ll have to see him. He’s so little, I have no idea what the dosage would be.”

++

Back in December, my brother was looking at Kate’s face.

“What’s that rash around her nose?” he asked.

“I don’t know. Chapped skin,” I said. He’s the dermatologist.

“I don’t think that’s chapped skin. I think that’s ringworm.”

“Ew.”

“Yeah.”

“Well what do I do about it?”

“Use an anti-fungal cream for a couple of weeks. Like something you would use for athlete’s foot.”

I did. It cleared up. Of course, in the meantime, when she deigned to pay attention to M at all, she was kissing his head.

It is really, really hard not to kiss a baby’s head.

++

I mentioned this conversation to the pediatricians (my doctor had brought in another doctor for a second opinion. She agreed that is was ringworm).

“So that’s probably how he got it,” she said.

“Sure,” I agreed. “But where did Kate get it? She’s white too.”

I, clearly, am an idiot.

The peds just smiled. “Well,” said the woman pediatrician, “he’s just special I guess.”

++

Along with ear infections, skin problems seem to be rampant with my kids. The girls both had molluscum contagiosum, which is a really common virus in kids — but Flora had it on her face, which is highly unusual. I guess we’re just fated to be an unusual family when it comes to skin ailments. Oh well.