the smell of my desperation has become a stench

A tribute to Uncle Doug

Several weeks ago when Marlo caught the cold that had already afflicted everyone else in the family, we were constantly chasing her around with a wipe to clean up her face before she rubbed it on a piece of furniture. Or on my shirt. Or — and I’m not kidding about this — on Chuck’s head resulting in a tannish dog hair mustache on her upper lip.

Eventually a sore, chapped spot appeared on her cheek, and we tried to be careful to avoid that spot when wiping her face so that it could heal. Have you ever mud wrestled a wild boar? Me neither. But I imagine it would be safer and more sanitary than trying to wipe Marlo’s face.

So her cold finally went away, and we kept waiting for that spot to clear. But that never happened. In fact, it looked like it was becoming more and more chapped. Like maybe she was secretly cuddling with a sheet of sand paper at night. Who knows! I wouldn’t put anything past that kid. She doesn’t learn from pain. Like that one time she was underneath the coffee table and for five minutes she kept hitting her head as she tried to sit up. MOVE TO THE LEFT, EINSTEIN.

Last week I got really concerned that it wasn’t going away, and everyone in the house started making guesses and googling possible conditions. Eczema? Psoriasis? SHINGLES!? And then Tyrant starts telling me about a friend he had in LA whose kid had a rash on her face, and it got so bad that it ate through her cheek and left a gaping hole. I was on the verge of crying when he said that the kid eventually joined the circus as The Girl With Two Mouths because she had taught that hole how to speak and sing opera.

I’m thinking I should rent Tyrant out for parties.

I finally said, screw it, let’s see what the doctor has to say about this and then immediately regretted that decision as I chased Marlo for an hour in the waiting room at the clinic. Last time we were there she wasn’t walking. This time? Totally different. As in, I would rather spend another semester at BYU than an hour chasing my toddler around a waiting room where her sole goal was to put sick people in her mouth.

That bad.

We finally got in to see the doctor when she took one look at Marlo’s face and was all, oh honey! Your kid has ringworm!

You have got to be shitting me.

It's not contagious. Sort of.

How appropriate was that diagnosis? I mean, COME ON. My chipped-tooth baby Bobo done got ringworm on her face! Guess I’ll just cover it up with some tape, dope her up with some hill juice, and we’ll cuddle on the bed with some Cheetos and wipe our hands on the sheets!

  • Schnauzie_Mom

    2010/10/04 at 8:11 am

    Poor Marlo!! Did you immediately Purell everything in your house? Ringworm is like my worst nightmare!! (Yes, I live a sheltered life:-P )

    ETA: I love how Marlo’s expression is all, Can you really believe I have ringworm?? A face this cute can’t ACTUALLY have it!

  • aslapintheface

    2010/10/04 at 8:15 am

    All of my girls got ringworm from the neighborhood cat when they were little. No fun at all !!! Be sure to take your doggies to the vet and make sure they don’t have it.

  • Amy J.

    2010/10/04 at 8:21 am

    You know it’s just a fungus, right? LOL

    I can one up you on this Heather…

    A few months ago my oldest daughter told me her nose was sore. I said, “Ok” and proceeded to surf the Net. Two days later I noticed a red spot on the outside of her nose…she said it was sore. I said, “Don’t touch it.” A day later her nose was swollen…I got my husband’s doctor light thingy and looked inside her nose. I saw a tiny pus filled blister, assumed it was a pimple…proceeded to do the gross thing and remove the pus (pop it..don’t ask how, there was much screaming from my child) and put Neosporin on it (from my husband’s clinical training days I knew “piss and pus must drain”.

    Anyway, I treated it for several days. It went away. The end.

    Two weeks later she said “my nose is sore…”.

    I looked and the same pus filled spot was on the other side. I was becoming suspicious and automatically thought the worst (MRSA). My husband told me I was crazy (as usual), but I made the appointment that day. One culture later and we got the call that yes indeed it WAS MRSA!!! In my child’s nose!! The stuff that can kill children and you hear on the news there is no cure for and is going to be the end of humanity eventually.

    I freaked OUT. We figured she’d be banned from school and hooded with some kind of red cloak until it was gone. Nope. The doctor just gave me some ointment and some mega dose oral antibiotics and told me to tell her not to touch it!

    Turns out that kids are petri dishes and that hand sanitizer and telling them to not pick their noses does absolutely no good.

  • dianaparkhouse

    2010/10/04 at 8:28 am

    Well at least you know the spot isn’t sore. Ringworm dun hurt 🙂

  • lovems

    2010/10/04 at 8:30 am

    I don’t know how they treat it now days, but when we were kids, mom used to just put clear fingernail polish on it (to smoother it) and in a few days it was always gone….

  • jewelsmum

    2010/10/04 at 8:37 am

    After waiting weeks for a rash to clear, finally we went to the clinic. A parade of various interns and residents were brought in to inspect my daughter and then left to discuss the diagnosis (during which time I’m getting more and more freaked out thinking it’s flesh eating disease or something worse). The winner? Ringworm! I was disgusted and briefly considered making her sleep in the garage until I found that it’s not actually worms but a fungus (but ew! fungus? is that really better than worms?). No idea where it came from, none of our pets or friends pets have it. It cleared up and we’ve moved on, but yuk. I sympathize!

  • AshleyScott

    2010/10/04 at 8:44 am

    Yeah, how did the dogs/Leta/Jon/Tyrant/You manage to not get it? Because that shit spreads like…well, like fungus.

  • citypittie

    2010/10/04 at 8:47 am

    Whoops. Better whip out the blacklight and check the dogs every couple days – you think treating a baby for ringworm is bad? They don’t (normally) have fur.

  • The Dalai Mama

    2010/10/04 at 8:52 am

    Could be worse. Now it really is time to get ride of the bobcat.

  • TexasKatie

    2010/10/04 at 9:03 am

    LOL yeah – it is just a fungus that will go away with the cream they give you. It isn’t like she has a real worm in her face, or anything. LOL. Although it does sound so awful – RINGWORM. WHY did they have to give it the same name as a WORM???? YUCKO YIKES!

  • MissCaron

    2010/10/04 at 9:10 am

    POOR THING! I think your last paragraph is what sent me over the edge… I literally laughed out loud… at work… when I’m supposed to be doing work-like stuffs and not goofing off. THANKS. 😉

  • vmc

    2010/10/04 at 9:18 am

    I was away on a business trip and my mom called me to ask “Why does your son have a bald spot?” I said, “What bald spot! I just saw him yesterday.”

    I got home the next day and almost started crying when I saw this huge bald spot right on the crown of his little blond head.

    The pharmacist said, “Ringworm!” and the cream she recommended said, “Doesn’t work on scalp or nails.”

    That was July and you can still see the ring but it’s mostly filled in with new short hair now.

    The only good thing was that he couldn’t see the ring by some miracle no one teased him about it.

  • Camille

    2010/10/04 at 9:44 am

    Oh yea, I remember ringworm. Our doctor had all of us treated by applying undiluted Tinture of Iodine directly to the sores with a Qtip. No doubt the screams are still out in the atmosphere and circling the globe 40 years later. And those pinkish red iodine spots were real festive and purty lookin’…why it hardly drew ANY attention at all to the sores. Yup.

  • japrati

    2010/10/04 at 9:50 am

    In addition to the Cheetos, please have her wash it down with some Mountain Dew…

  • kaethend

    2010/10/04 at 9:57 am

    OK. So this is gross, but I’ll admit: I had ringworm when I was in my early 20s. I was working with a bunch of kids and I had this funky rash on my arm. Couldn’t figure it out.

    I tried my best to hide it. But it was ITCHY.

    Then one day a kid caught sight of it. She’s like 9 years old. And she’s all, “You got ringworm or sumptin’?”

    Yeah. Guess so.

  • adamsrice

    2010/10/04 at 10:38 am

    Shocker! not the hand gesture either. One can only imagine how that happened.

  • Amber_D

    2010/10/04 at 10:43 am

    Thank God I’m not the only one who’s kid gets a dog hair mustache when they have a cold. Seriously, if I don’t hover over my daughter, tissue in hand, just daring the first drip of snot to make an appearance she has a mustache which is the envy of 13 year old boys everywhere.

  • luckymom22

    2010/10/04 at 11:13 am

    There’s a fungus amongus!

  • Norabloom

    2010/10/04 at 11:36 am

    Holy crap, how did your kid get ringworm?! I got that as a kid from playing with an infected goat! Still have the scars on my stomach to this day.

  • Ne11

    2010/10/04 at 11:37 am

    At least its not caused by worms *shudder*

  • greenplanner

    2010/10/04 at 11:39 am

    You know you have to treat the dogs, too, right? They can be carriers without showing any symptoms.
    Such fun.

  • lunacydress

    2010/10/04 at 11:48 am

    Ugh! I got ringworm last March, just in time for my wedding dress fittings to start. Such a hassle. I volunteer at an animal shelter and it was probably an infected kitten that did it. I had to postpone dress fittings until I was sure it wasn’t going to spread, because I didn’t want to contaminate the dress.

    It took several weeks for it to go away and stop itching (though, I think it stops being contagious almost as soon as you start the medication.)

  • The Prima Momma

    2010/10/04 at 11:48 am

    Aw, poor Bobo. It should clear up in no time.

    There are definitely worse fates: Scabies (EWE!) Pin worms (You have to spread their butt cheeks at night and try to catch the little worms unawares.) trench mouth (I can only imagine how bad that breath must be) MRSA (I would probably freak out and need to be institutionalized if my babies caught MRSA) Ebola…

  • npevey

    2010/10/04 at 12:10 pm

    I caught ringworm from my cats. I was in deep denial until my daughter’s ballet teacher diagnosed me by screaming across the crowded room, “What’s that on your face? You’ve got ringworm!” The thing you need to know is that it can take a really long time for the “ring” to go away. Like a year. So don’t be alarmed if it takes a while to fade.

  • Norabloom

    2010/10/04 at 12:11 pm

    Sorry, I honestly didn’t mean to sound so judgmental. Really just curious how she got it, although I know it’s highly contagious so once she was exposed, it’s not surprising that she caught it.

  • lavamama

    2010/10/04 at 12:32 pm

    I got ringworm from our newly adopted stray kitten when I was about 7 years old. I also got Cat Scratch Fever (that’s right, it’s not just a song) and spent a week in the hospital at the same time.

    I second @aslapintheface about taking your dogs in. It’s likely that’s where she got it and they will just pass it back and forth if they aren’t treated too.

  • genevieve

    2010/10/04 at 12:41 pm

    Oh, poor baby. I don’t even know what ringworm is, but I know it has the word worm in it. And that makes it upsetting all by itself.

  • GreerPowers

    2010/10/04 at 12:47 pm

    Hahahaha! I love your Marlo stories! If this gives you any consolation, she may in fact have the most beautiful blue eyes I have ever seen. 🙂

  • thatton

    2010/10/04 at 12:59 pm

    Best Marlo story to date! Love it!

  • Ames422

    2010/10/04 at 1:04 pm

    How is Marlo ( with ringworm on her face) still more precious than ALL of the kids I see at the grocery store?

  • Leoneli

    2010/10/04 at 1:21 pm

    Poor Marlo. Got really curious what Marlo has so I googled it and found this. Hope it will go away soon.

    Ring worm looks exactly what its name applies. Ringworm looks like rings, or irregular circles, on the skin. Caused by a fungus, ringworm can affect many areas of your skin at once, including your scalp (tinea capitis), groin area (tinea cruris or also known as jock itch), or feet (tinea pedis or athlete’s foot). The rash begins as a dry, raised round patch that appears red and feels itchy. The patch may get larger with time. The outer edge is scaly and red, but the inner area gets paler again, and looks to be healthy.Ringworm is usually visible 10-14 days after contact with an infected person, animal or object. While it tends to be easily diagnosed, ringworms symptoms look different from person to person. Ringworm can be easily recognized.

  • sleepy-beauty

    2010/10/04 at 1:41 pm

    If it makes you feel any better (it probably won’t) my daughter has ringworm too. She caught it from my nephew. Unfortunately, my sister did not inform me of his ailment and he spent a whole day at my house playing with my kids. After I found the spot on the back of her neck I took a pic with my phone and sent it to my mom and she was like “oh yeah that’s ringworm, she probably got it from her cousin”. I was like ok thanks a lot. A week later I am still using the cream twice a day and it still hasn’t gone away. My fear is that she will scratch it when I’m not looking and it will spread all over her body. That stuff is apparently very contagious. Anyway, good luck and at least it isn’t shingles, right?

  • amylou

    2010/10/04 at 2:00 pm

    I got ringworm from cuddling a stray cat whilst on holiday in Malaysia. At the time, I was working as a Beauty Therapist. Such a good advertisement, with a large scabby circle in the centre of my face!

  • karenarens

    2010/10/04 at 2:04 pm

    Yeah – what is up with this ringworm crap? I am applying Lamisil to my kid’s chest 2-3 times a day right now! Where did he pick up ringworm?! Maybe next time I’ll just immediately take him to the vet.

    P.S. Also not clear on why ringworm is a salute to Uncle Doug . . .

  • abi

    2010/10/04 at 2:06 pm

    You’re lucky you caught it at just one spot. My two-year-old gets bad eczema in the wintertime, bad enough that the over-the-counter cream won’t treat it, so the pediatrician prescribed him some steroid ointment. This summer his eczema flared up again, but for some reason the more steroid cream I put on it, the more itchy red patches he got, until he was scratching himself so much that the spots were getting infected – yes, THAT’s when I finally took him back to the doctor.

    Turns out? This time it wasn’t eczema – it was ringworm. And all the steroids I’d smeared on him had just made it MORE POWERFUL. I gave my baby the Incredible Hulk of ringworm.

  • nrward82

    2010/10/04 at 2:25 pm

    Oh man, that sucks. Ringworm takes FOREVER to clear up. Although I’d take putting cream on ringworm over eye drops for conjunctivitis anyday!

    I know it’s not your current problem, but if Marlo gets a runny nose again, you might think about putting chapstick on her upper lip to help prevent chapping. I like Boudreaux’s Baby Kisses Lip and Cheek Moisturizer for Infants…

    Good luck with that baby of yours!! 😉 Love the stories – keep ’em coming!

  • cour10eemom

    2010/10/04 at 2:28 pm

    Knowing that Marlo will be fine is all that’s important, but I’m still curious — how is this a tribute to Uncle Doug – ?

  • eireguitar

    2010/10/04 at 2:28 pm

    A word of experience – Vagisil clears it up nicely.

  • Coyote

    2010/10/04 at 2:43 pm

    I’m pretty sure Selsun Blue shampoo works, too. Vagisil is probably gentler, though. P.S. My Captcha phrase is “lorcuss stanch.” That should be what ringworm is called 😉

  • HalfAss Krissa

    2010/10/04 at 2:52 pm

    I was about to start guessing impetigo, but ringworm is much more…. well rounded? 😉

  • kathleennavin

    2010/10/04 at 3:09 pm

    Oh my god! My daughter had rinbgworm for MONTHS before we finally went to a dermatologist and got diagnosed. The ped. doctor kept saying it was eczema!

  • Domestic Goddess

    2010/10/04 at 3:12 pm

    Hey, it happens to the best of us. We’ve had that, psoriasis, impetigo, staph, stys, you name it. In three weeks of school.

    I love those grimy little creatures.

  • Mrs. Q.

    2010/10/04 at 3:23 pm

    Bluuuurgh. My daughter had that– on her right butt cheek. I kept thinking it was diaper rash, but after a month, I mentioned it to my pedi who was all, “meh– ringworm.” My reaction made her laugh out loud because “ring WORM? EWWWWW!” Only thing with a more disgusting name is “fungus”, even though it has nothing to do with a worm at all. I think she told me to rub some some antifungal cream on it. As in JOCK ITCH ointment. Have fun putting that on your precious baby’s face.

  • Moomser

    2010/10/04 at 4:16 pm

    Aw come on, ringworm is not that bad, most everyone I know has had it at least once. Like lice, it’s a kiddie rite of passage! Plus now she can make that cute – my mama let me get ringworm on my face – face!
    Did Uncle Doug suffer from recurring bouts of ringworm?
    (and why don’t we just all agree to call it by it’s scientific name, tinea, so it doesn’t gross us out as much!!)

  • macchelle

    2010/10/04 at 4:20 pm

    It could have been worse. I got ringworm (from walking barefoot outside, yeah) and was allergic! I not only had this fungus all over my legs but then had giant fist sized hives all over my body. After that weekend I knew my husband loved me for sure cause he didn’t once laugh, in my face.

    Marlo is adorable even with ringworm and mustache.

  • ladyamazing

    2010/10/04 at 6:00 pm

    Yeah, uh, my kid got ringworm once and I KNEW that’s what it was but the doctor SWORE it wasn’t. He then proceeded to prescribe her some steroid cream.

    Guess what happens when you put steroid cream on ringworm. Go ahead…take a guess.

    Ok, I’ll tell you.

    It spreads ALL OVER THEIR BODY.

    Fun times. It’s ok to be jealous.

  • DookerBo

    2010/10/04 at 6:31 pm

    My 4 year old got this over the summer and it was really really really bad by the time we figured out what it was… one day, talking about it, like it had a ring around… wait, a ring? Yes, a dang ring. Not even the doctors knew until we told them. It took 3 months to clear up and will still look red when she is flushed (hers was on her nose).

    No one else in the family got it even though it was around and undiagnosed/untreated for months. We still don’t know the source but assume preschool.

  • Ezza

    2010/10/04 at 6:41 pm

    What the? I didn’t know ringworm was tinea! I thought it was like an intestinal worm you contract from an animal…

    Whatevs, I get it ocassionally because I let my animals sleep in my bed. Sometimes on my face. Now I actually feel less gross about it. Better that it’s a fungus than a worm.

  • theotherlion

    2010/10/04 at 7:08 pm

    AH! Ringworm itches SO BAD. I got from the lovely kiddos I work with and it quickly spread to THREE, count them THREE places on my body including my chin. Poor Marlo. I agree that you should check the doggies.

    @ladyamazing — YEP. That’s how it spread!

  • cipsi

    2010/10/04 at 7:46 pm

    Over the counter Lotrimin cleared my daughter’s ringworm right up.

    She used to rub her face against my ex-husband’s cats – that’s where she got it from.

    Better keep an eye on Chuck….

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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