Do you know what condition is linked to a bull’s eye rash?

img_0026July 14, 2010

Someone recently told me, “I read your blog when I get a chance and it is interesting… but what am I supposed to do with the information there?” I paused for a moment. And after a bit of conversation, I decided to take the blog in a different direction for awhile. While I hope information will still be interesting, I thought we could try a bit of an experiment to see if we can make the information more directly useful. So, here goes.

What is one health risk you face because of something you like to do for fun? For example, if you like to go hiking in the woods, you face risks relating to poison ivy and/or ticks. I like to hike and often face these risks. I am very sensitive to poison ivy. So I know what poison ivy looks like… well, sort of. Leaves of three. That is a description that fits a lot of plants in the woods, so it is a bit challenging to avoid all plants with leaves of three. And in fact, I am not always successful in doing so.

As for the result of not successfully identifying and avoiding poison ivy, I am all too familiar with the blistering rash that comes with exposure to the plant. Recently, after a weekend in the woods, I developed chills and aches–severe ones that seemed like a summer flu. As I buried myself under quilts for a second evening, I noticed a rash with a familiar red appearance forming on me. I was pretty unhappy about what I expected to be coming. The morning after noticing the rash, I looked for the blisters I was expecting as part of what I assumed was going to be poision ivy rash. Instead, I found that the rash was now about 12 inches in diameter and rather circular with an area of red surrounded by a white circle and then more red in a rather prominent circle.

This is when online health information searching comes into play for me. I went online and searched for ’causes of red rash.’ It wasn’t long before I came upon a picture of my rash–and the label, a bull’s eye rash, and the link to Lyme’s disease. Alas, in a short time, I was in the doctor’s office getting antibiotics and grateful for the online health information that advised me to ‘call my doctor.’ The effects of Lyme’s disease added to my haste to follow the advice.

I realized through this experience that one of the most important things for us to do when communicating about health is to find out what signs or symptoms go along with a condition. So, my challenge to you is to identify a condition that you feel at risk for and then identify through an internet information search the symptom or sign that goes along with diagnosing the condition. Be specific. For example, chills and muscle aches go along with Lyme’s disease but they fit a lot of things. The bull’s eye rash…that is a very specific clue to the condition.  

Share what you learn here…

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One Response to “Do you know what condition is linked to a bull’s eye rash?”

  1. Saras Bellur says:

    Hi Dr.Parrot & WHC readers!
    I too have a hiking/camping story to share. I accidentally sprayed a strong insect repellent into my eye. Since there was a water-bottle close at hand, I quickly rinsed my eye. However, some irritation and burning-sensation continued to persist for a few minutes after the incident.

    Thankfully, the National Poison Control Center was open, even though it was the 4th of July weekend. We were glad that my husband’s cell-phone was able to detect a faint signal, just enough to call the Poison Control center ( 1-800-222-1222).

    I was asked to stand under a shower for a full 15-minutes and to rapidly blink my eyes to flush out as much of the chemical as possible. Since our campsite had shower facilities, I was able to attend to this emergency immediately.

    I’d like to share this story as a gentle warning for others who enjoy going out on hiking and camping trips. Do watch for such mindless accidents and exercise caution to the greatest extent possible! Here’s the CDC page on Insect Repellent Use and Safety:
    http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/qa/insect_repellent.htm

    Happy camping season!

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