Pass the Preparation H

The itch is so bad that I can’t stand it. After a few minutes spent watering some plants in the yard, I’m dotted in insect bites. Welts cover my legs from the knees down, and I’ve scratched the areas until they’re raw and bleeding. I should be able to take this better. My entire childhood was spent dealing with itching.

As a small boy, I learned to identify poison ivy. The three-leafed plant crawled along the ground in the wooded areas of the neighborhood, and it was thick along the path where people walked to an old swimming hole that we frequented on vacations in the Smoky Mountains. No matter how careful I tried to be, at least a couple of times each year my skin would be covered with blister that itched beyond description. Sometimes the stuff got into my eyes so that they swelled shut. One January my brother and I cleared a bank at our house, and I was covered from my waist to my knees with poison ivy spots. For an entire week I was unable to wear clothes. A sea of calamine lotion offered no relief. Hot bath water with plenty of Clorox added helped some, but shots from the doctor proved to be the only sure cure. Not scratching the affected areas prevented possible infection, but it took all my willpower to refrain.

In the summer, Mother took us boys to different places to pick blackberries. We covered up with long-sleeved shirts and jeans, but chiggers seemed to find openings. They’d bury themselves under the skin, and the itch was impossible to scratch. Hard, red lumps rose on our skin, and sleepless nights followed. The remedy Mother used was fingernail polish. She’d paint each blotch with a daub of polish to smother the little critters. We not only itched but were also covered with pink or red dots. I used to wonder whether the jelly and cobblers that Mother made from the berries we picked were worth the agony that the chiggers inflicted. Now that she’s gone and there are no more such foods, I’d put up with a case of chiggers for a pie.

Until recently bug bites never bother me. My wife Amy would go outside briefly and re-enter the house covered with bites on every place that wasn’t covered by clothing. Now, I’m at the mercy of flying nuisances. The wet spring weather has offered ideal conditions for mosquitoes and other bugs. They’re too small to see, but the welts caused by their bites are visible immediately.

The pests have driven us from our front porch, and we’re held prisoners in our own home. Medical creams don’t offer much help with the bumps on our arms and legs. However, Amy discovered that Preparation H does the trick. It reduces swelling and stops the itch and pain brought on by numerous insect bites. Who’d have ever thought that a product like Preparation H could come in so handy in taking care of another kind of itch?

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