I am going to tell you about this girl that has lived in Bangkok for nearly 3 months and has taught Physical Education every Friday since she arrived here. This girl is me.
There are perks to teaching PE only on Fridays… one perk being that I only get really stinky at school once a week (remember… no A/C in the gym!) Another perk is that I only have to wear that dreadful uniform once a week! The main perk, however, is I only had to deal with the dreadful rash on my leg that resulted from the gym on Fridays. The horrible part is that it was always Fridays that the rash came, so my weekends were spent getting rid of the rash.
It all began the first week of teaching. The rash came, but it was not too horrible. However, a group of us went to Ko Samet that weekend and the abrasive sand irritated it quite a bit. But I was not about to let a little rash stop me. I had my suspicions that it was something about teaching gym that had caused this rash, but I had no idea if it was a heat rash (since I had worn pants in the gym and it is very hot in there) or something more serious.
Not knowing what the rash was from, I headed to the doctor the day after we arrived back from the beach. Things were looking up. I got cream that worked quick and cleared up the rash before the middle of the week (I still have no idea what the cream was… lovely language barrier!). However, Friday came again, and it was time to teach PE again. Thinking that the rash may have been from the heat, I wore capris so I wouldn’t get my calves so hot. Surprisingly though, the rash reappeared. It was after this that I realized that it must be from the gym, and not just from the heat. The result this time was horrible though. My leg was swollen, the rash went up to the middle of my calf, and if any article of clothing even hit it, it felt like someone was putting a flame to my leg. It. Was. Dreadful.
The funny is, despite the pain and swelling, the weekend I had this rash was my weekend in Chiang Mai, which was probably the roughest weekend on my feet/legs (other than jungle trekking in Chiang Rai). I went zip-lining and rode on scratchy elephants with my 2 swollen legs that felt like someone had poured acid on them. Thankfully, I brought some antibiotic cream from home that I had received as a prescription just a few months earlier, and it seemed to be just what I needed to clear up the rash in a couple days. It was so strange though that the antibiotic worked so well. I knew for certain at this point that it was not heat rash.
For the next few weeks I went with the preventative method… I would put the antibiotic on my legs on Friday mornings before I entered the gym. By the end of the day it was usually not too bad. Two weekends ago I tried something new: I thoroughly cleaned my legs immediately after I exited the gym with antibacterial soap. It was amazing the difference this made (and it was also amazing how dirty my legs had become from the gym!). There was minimal rash (just a little bit right around my sock line), and the rest was just fine!
This last Friday I tried something more. I bought some antibacterial hand wipes and wiped my legs down between every gym class. The result: NO RASH! 🙂 It was fantastic! I finally found something that worked! I have talked to some of the people that have worked at the school for a while and we have tried to figure out what it is in the gym that is causing this horrible side effect. Though that has been no definite conclusion, we have think it has something to do with the ducting and A/C vents in there. The vents are covered in a kind of insulation with tinfoil type stuff over that, but the tinfoil stuff is falling apart in places, so some of the insulation is falling to the gym floor. We think I may be reacting to whatever is in there (potentially asbestos or mould).
I find it weird that I am the first one to react to the gym floor though. None of the kids have had an issue, none of the previous staff have had issues, just me. How lucky of me 😉 Anyway… I am just happy that I have found a way to prevent the rash from coming back every single week! The end.