Doctors said she was allergic to her razor: my pediatrician proved them wrong

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.

One hot summer several decades ago, my mother and I developed a taste for a certain carbonated citrus drink to quench our thirst. It was delicious and refreshing, and my mother didn't think anything about it when she suddenly developed an itchy rash on both her legs.

The rash got worse. It was so bad that my mother went to the local walk-in clinic for an assessment. The doctors at the clinic said they were stumped. They asked my mother whether she had been using new skincare products on her legs, and she told them that she hadn't.

Then my mother mentioned that her pre-teen daughter had a rash on her legs, too.

It was true. I had a mild rash, but I didn't like doctors, and I didn't think my rash was troubling enough for me to see one. My mother had offered, and I had refused. "No, thank you. It's not that bad." And it was true. It wasn't that bad, yet.

The doctors asked my mother whether I ever used her razor, and she guessed correctly that I had. That was all the information they needed to make an incorrect assumption.

"Throw away all your razors," one doctor told her. "That's what's causing the rash.

My mother dutifully threw away all her razors and cautioned me to stop sneaking her razors to use on my legs. Then we bought several more two-liter bottles of our favorite fizzy citrus drink. As I said, it was a hot summer.

The rash on my mother's legs did not improve after tossing her razors, and the rash on my legs expanded until my legs and arms blossomed with hot itchy bumps. It got so bad that my mother had to wrap my arms and legs in wet towels and trash bags just so I could sleep.

I agreed to see my pediatrician. He was a man I'd hated since early childhood. I did not like him, but that didn't mean he wasn't a good doctor.

My pediatrician listened to our story of itching hives and shared razors. After looking at my arms and legs, he announced that the source of the rash was internal, not external, because it was perfectly symmetrical.

He quizzed us on what we'd been eating and drinking lately, and when we told him about the liters of soft drinks we'd been consuming, he accurately deduced that was the source of our misery.

We stopped drinking the beverage and our rashes cleared up. Since then, I've had the rare occasional can of this yummy soda with no ill effects.

I've decided not to name it by name because I've never known another person to have a reaction to it, and I'm sure most people won't consume it in the massive quantities my mother and I drank that summer. There's no need to give the brand a bad name, and we've since learned to enjoy it responsibly because we never want a rash like that again.

And just for the record, I've stopped sharing my mother's razors.

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