Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Could sauerkraut juice treat a bad case of itchy feet? August 18, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:17 AM
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I HADN’T INTENDED to publish another health post today. Honestly. But then I never planned to suffer from a severe case of itchiness either.

My feet look like a minefield of scratched open bug bites. And they could be—chigger bites. Or so I thought. Yesterday, my physician seemed to be leaning toward poison ivy, or even poison oak, as he diagnosed contact dermatitis.

Whatever label is tacked onto my current condition doesn’t really matter, he added, because all would be treated with a prescription corticosteroid ointment to reduce itching, redness and swelling.

Uh, huh. After two applications, I still had itching, redness and swelling. I was anticipating immediate relief.

WARNING: If you are squeamish, please scroll down. Due to inheriting crooked toes from my maternal grandfather, my feet are not pretty under normal circumstances. But then add a case of poison ivy or chiggers, or whatever I have, and they are less attractive. As you can see, I scratched and scratched and scratched some more. I could not help myself. I started counting the welts and stopped at 25.

Last night I even sought out advice from a local pharmacist, who, after I asked, told me that a prepackaged oatmeal bath treatment would be a waste of my money. Instead, he steered me to an over-the-counter antihistamine. Reluctant to use this allergy medication, I purchased it anyway, quite confident that I would not need the product.

When I arrived home with my package of magic pills, my husband Randy advised me to keep the receipt. He knows me well. I wasn’t ready to pop any antihistamine tablets.

Instead, I tried soaking my feet in a cool baking soda bath, which did nothing except make my feet wet.

As bedtime approached, along with the prospect of an itchy, sleepless night, that antihistamine was sounding more doable. Yet, I resisted, applied the corticosteroid ointment and went to bed.

Ninety minutes later, still awake and crazy with itchiness, I was now ready to swallow the allergy medication that promised to stop the itching and make me drowsy. But first, I tried the baking soda bath again, hoping it would work the second time around. It didn’t.

Off to bed with the antihistamine infiltrating my system, the intense itching finally stopped. But the drowsy quotient of the drug failed.

This morning I arose around 6:30 after a mostly sleepless night. My feet still look like a war zone. But the itchiness, for the most part, has subsided.

But, if it returns, I’m prepared.

At the height of my itchiness yesterday, when I was nearly in tears, Randy asked, “What would your grandma do?”

I thought for a moment. “Sauerkraut.”

Quick to inject humor into the situation, he advised that I stomp sauerkraut. But then he offered a second suggestion: “Apply a horseradish paste.”

DEAR READERS, how have you dealt with contact dermatitis caused by chigger bites (unlikely in my case), poison ivy (likely, although I have not tromped through the woods, but have walked through strangers’ and friends’ yards, sat around two campfires and been in a cow pasture recently) or poison oak (whatever that may be)?

Have you tried sauerkraut juice, horseradish paste or some other home remedy? Please e-mail your suggestions by posting a comment. My feet are counting on you for relief.

Just in case you wanted another angle of my pock-marked foot, here you go. I tried to photograph my right foot, but gave up. It doesn't look quite as bad as the left. But it's still awful-looking and now sports one water blister.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling