An Old, New Diagnosis

The middle aged woman started to pull down her jeans as she explained:

“I want you to look at this rash on my leg. I’ve had it for a month now.”

What I saw got my mind churning. On top of her left thigh was a brown discoloration about the size of the palm of my hand. It had a reticular pattern, like a coarse lace doily or irregular fish net. It was light brown, smooth to the touch and didn’t blanch when I pressed on it.

I knew I had read something about rashes that looked like that, but I couldn’t remember any details. So I did what I often do, I googled the description:

(Images) Brown reticular erythema.

Almost instantly I saw a perfect picture of the woman’s rash. The caption read “Erythema ab igne”.

Yes, that was it, but what was it again?

My trusted Wikipedia had a tidy little entry that echoed with memories in the recesses of my mind. I printed it out for her. It described the rash as often occurring in older patients who used hot water bottles or, in the old days, stood too close to the fire to keep warm.

I didn’t think my patient slept with a hot water bottle only on her left thigh.

“Is anything warm often touching that spot?” I asked.

“Yeah, my laptop”, she answered instantly.

“Try putting a folded towel or something between your leg and your laptop”, I said as we wrapped up her visit.

What an odd symmetry, I thought to myself: A diagnosis of historical interest, brought back by the use of modern technology and identified by the very device that causes it.

2 Responses to “An Old, New Diagnosis”


  1. 1 Robyn E Newell October 13, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    Very cool! I love reading your posts!

  2. 2 sam October 13, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    Reminds me of my friends slowly developing black thumb. Turns out it was the leather dye slowly leeching from his motorcycle glove onto his hand. Duh.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Bookmark and Share

Mailbox

contact @ acountrydoctorwrites.com
© A Country Doctor Writes 2008-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given.