Over the last year or so, Finn developed a bunch of little bumps on various parts of his body — toes, arms, legs, etc. I wasn’t terribly concerned because they didn’t seem to bother him, and when we went for his check up in April with his new pediatrician, she told me they were molluscum contagiosum. Apparently, it’s very common in children; it’s a virus and eventually the bumps go away on their own. They can be treated if they are bothersome, but otherwise they can be left alone. Good, all set.
Fast forward to the first week of June. One of the bumps on the back of his leg was red and I was afraid it was infected, so I made an appointment with the pediatrician to have a look. (I tried getting in to see the dermatologist but their next appointment was weeks out and I thought this needed more timely attention.) So, on Wednesday, June 4th we went in for his doc to have a look. She looked him over and then said something like, “I can take care of these. I have some stuff for them and it’ll make them go away.” It sounded great. She gave me no warnings of ill effects or any other treatment possibilities.
As she applied the medicine, she said, “You may see this bubble up and blister a little bit.” OK … at that point I was still trusting that she knew what she was doing so she proceeded. She painted the medication on all of his bumps with the cotton end of a swab, lifted him down from the exam table, and got ready to leave the room. He started to complain that it was hurting and she said, “It shouldn’t hurt.” And then she left with no instructions or warnings of what was to come.
I helped him get dressed and out the door, and by the time we got home he was in a lot of pain. He sat carefully on the couch, not really wanting to do any activity. That night, he had a hard time sleeping because the bumps, which had developed into huge weeping blisters, were everywhere.
The next morning I put him in a lukewarm bath and took some pictures of the blisters, intending to send them to the doc or nurse to see what was going on. It was pretty gross.
When I called the nurse, she was unable to receive the pictures so I brought him back to the doctor. I was furious by this point and gave an earful to anyone who would listen. By the time of the appointment, Bruce and I had researched how the medication should have been applied — suffice to say, much more sparingly and carefully than it was — and we knew the doctor had screwed up. Because of her sloppiness, he had blisters where he didn’t even have any molluscum. Of course, she wouldn’t admit to any wrongdoing, instead saying things like, “That is a strong reaction” and, “These things happen.” She ended up treating him with cream they use for burn victims and bandaging him up.
He fell asleep on the way home from the office.
This was particularly bad timing because we had planned a surprise trip to Pasadena that weekend — we were leaving the next day. Luckily Finn is such a trooper and despite hating all the bandaids and not being able to swim with his friends over the weekend, he weathered it just fine.
The trip gave us the chance to talk to two of our doctor friends who were both taken aback by the level of blistering. They also both advised us to see a pediatric dermatologist when we got home.
By Monday the blisters were starting to heal and again I soaked him in a bath to get the bandaids off and took some more pictures. They still looked gross.
We had another appointment to get the blisters checked. This time Bruce went with us and, in addition to having another round of burn cream and bandages applied, we found out exactly what medication was used: Cantharone Plus, which is not indicated for patients under 12.
Needless to say, that was the last visit with that doctor. We subsequently took him to a pediatric dermatologist who assured us that his skin will eventually heal, although it may take a couple of years for the color to go back to normal in some places. They also explained how they apply the medication, which confirmed what we knew: that the original doc applied it incorrectly.
It’s two months later now and Finn is doing fine, although significantly more afraid of doctors than he used to be. Can’t really say as I blame him; I feel the same way.