The Rash That Ate Manhattan Or Me
June 13, 2007

The story won’t begin at the beginning because that is just too far away. When it comes down to it the beginning could be pegged at five years old when I entered kindergarten at Temple Zion in Miami Florida. Because that is the technical start of the educational process which culminated in a Juris Doctorate granted twenty years later by the Tulane University College of Law. In those twenty years I essentially prepared for the law degree and was groomed to be a professional. But lets start at the moment that it all began, when the girl became a lawyer. When the fun begins and the laughs never end.

Lets start at the arm pit rash of the summer of 2004. Nothing says professional and grooming like an itchy, oozey, arm pit rash. It began in June, a few short weeks after graduation, as a small irritation, an itch here and there. I was knee high in bar exam preparations and I poured over Bar Bri notes, attending lectures by day and outlining diligently every afternoon. I sweated over it all. Literally. It was Florida in the summer and the expression hot as balls means nothing until you have lived here. Sweat and heat surround your body forming a plastic casing that makes it difficult to breathe and impossible to avoid. So I thought little of the constant itching annoyance under there. I was in a generally irritated state at that point knowing I was devoting an entire summer to studying the laws of Florida. Until one day I looked down at my body and saw a thousand tiny red dots littering the underside of my arm, onto my chest and down my side. Both sides. If you wonder how this went unnoticed then you have never taken the bar exam. It is really really simple. When you live alone and shower only on even numbered days it is actually quite easy. I just never looked. I washed, rinsed, repeated without thinking of much else than criminal procedures and torts.

At the dermatologist she examined my red dots and determined that I was allergic to deodorant. After 25 years I developed an allergy to the single most important beauty item I use. At a time when I cannot experiment or manipulate, I needed things to remain even keel. I could not mess with my routine and I certainly could not mess around with an anti-perspirent. So in response she recommended the most brilliant solution ever - stop wearing deodorant. I politely nodded my head and said I understood and listened to her bogus suggestions about why this happens to people. All the while thinking that this was a load of crap and it was impossible that this women made it through medical school. Does she not get stressed? Does she not understand that it is 117 degrees outside? So it was very very clearly evident that this was not going to happen. A girl cannot sit in a crowded room with 100 strangers on a daily nervous basis studying to take an exam 20 years in the making in the middle of June in Florida and NOT WEAR DEODORANT. But I also could not continue to itch and scratch at my pits during these classes.

So I asked around and tried to find solutions to my problem. Only to find out that of the three total people I surveyed all three were also allergic to deodorant. Hello people? Why don’t I know these things? I did not know this was a condition let alone a common one. Why does nobody share this? It is not embarrassing - not like sweating through your t-shirts and smelling like a dead over ripe animal in a Bar Review course kind of embarrasing. So why were people not talking about this? I needed help so I listened to them. Based on their suggestions I began to use hypo-allergenic deodorant and baby powder when I left the house. I limited that to the few hours I had to be in class. As it did not really do the trick and it certainly did nothing to cure the red itchy heat oozing from my arms. I spent the remaining time at home studying with no shirt on, a cool washcloth under each pit, and a fan blowing on me to ease the heat sensation emanating from my chest area. Anyone wanna guess why I was single.

Well my friends that test taking strategy seemed to serve me well. Because I passed. And the rash went away. And I am not allergic to deodorant. I had hives. Simple as that. Stress induced hives. Hello Dr. Smarty Pants. Ever think of that? Which is why I am starting here. It was the induction into being a lawyer, as everyone has to take the Bar, spend months studying and stressing over it. But also as an introduction to how being a lawyer can make your body react in a physically sick and inappropriate way. Causing red dots, sweat, a stench, an itch, and an inability to go out in public or react appropriately around people. Being a lawyer would prove to be all these things and a few more token bonus goodies too. This was only the beginning of the story.

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Blogger Ryane said:

I am itching just reading that post. =-)

5:00 AM 

Blogger JustRun said:

Oh my gosh, how did you not lose it?

5:56 AM 

Anonymous ruby said:

I am horrified and itchy and baffled and, at the end, oddly amused.

6:29 AM 

Blogger brookem said:

i can totally picture myself doing the same apartment scene- no shirt, sitting there absolutely sweating, cool washcloth under each arm.
does this still happen, when you get stressed now?

6:36 AM 

Blogger e.b. said:

It has never happened again and to this day I use "regular" old Dove like everyone else.

6:54 AM 

Blogger SohoSally said:

When I was little I had a chicken pox, but a new, and young, doc thought I had something horrible called "Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever" and told my parents I could die. Luckily an older, wiser and more experienced nurse clued them in. Oy!

8:22 AM 

Blogger Tony said:


10:35 AM 

Blogger magnetbabe said:

Crazy story but I believe every word of it from what I've heard about the bar exam. So were the three people you questioned about it law students too? There could be a correlation. You should do a public service announcement about hives misdiagnosed as deodorant allergies among law students.

1:34 PM 

Blogger e.b. said:

Two were my fellow study mates - but they claimed their allergy pre-dated the exam and I think still remains.

Though I am sure I am not the only one with bar induced hives. Especially not this time of year.

1:48 PM 

Anonymous dreaming said:

ive never used deodorant on a regular basis in my life. to me, it stinks much worse than any sweat, which, of course, is odorless. that comes from the bacteria which grow after the sweat has been incubating in your clothes for awhile. maybe im not naturally sweaty, but i find that i really dont need the stuff. and no, i do not have b.o., thank you. try doing without for a month. i bet your body will adjust.

6:25 PM 

Blogger Liney said:

Hah - well it was a great story - like something straight out of a sitcom. I just like to whine on my blog - that's why it's here for the summer.

4:26 AM 

Blogger Ally said:

Having been to a ton of dermatologists over the years, I think their practice is just one big guessing game. It is always amazing to me what they do not know yet how they try and speak wtih such authority. If she had just given you some steroid cream or pills, you would have been fine. Oh well!

10:39 AM 

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