The itch that turned into an outbreak of yet another comorbidity

A columnist begrudgingly seeks treatment for a case of bullous pemphigoid

John Connor avatar

by John Connor |

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It’s a new week, so it’s time for a new comorbidity. Not content with affecting my brain, spine, and bodily functions, secondary progressive multiple sclerosis is now making my body break down at a cellular level. Make something funny out of that, Connor.

Toughie, this one. Maybe later — best to get on with the story. Something may turn up (I hope, or this paragraph gets cut).

Just to bring you up to speed, I’ve also acquired lymphedema, trigeminal neuralgia, and, according to my optician, esophoria, although the hospital’s ophthalmologist more accurately defined it as internuclear ophthalmoplegia. Er, that’d be double vision to you and practically everyone else. I now have one eye constantly covered during seeing hours.

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Frogs and crickets

The latest adventure into yet another multiple sclerosis comorbidity started with a small but deeply annoying itch at the end of my right arm. When I bothered to look, I could see it was a bit of psoriasis with a couple of infant neighbors.

I immediately dabbed it with steroid cream, and it cleared within a few days. Then it started popping up everywhere — not as the solid tranche it had been confined to on my forearms six years ago, but rather as small clumps and nucleated spots all over the place. It’s annoying because now there’s an awful lot of places I can’t get to!

Without steroid creams, I’d permanently have a rosy-red face. My paunch keeps growing, and my forced beard (after two months in the hospital) is shockingly white. So I just need white hair and supernatural powers to be a backup Santa.

A close-up of a foot shows bullous pemphigoid on two toes. A hand with blue rubber gloves on separates two toes to show the blistery patches.

If I could still walk, with added balloons I’d really be light on my feet. (Photo by Jane Davies)

I have caregivers three times a day, and they’ve helped me do battle with my outbreak. We were definitely winning, until what we all took to be blisters started inflating like small balloons. They weren’t painful, but one of my caregivers was worried because he’d seen this on clients before. He has six years of experience, so I acted on his advice.

The next morning, I phoned my local doctor’s office, and by the afternoon, I was able to speak to my doctor — which is something of a rarity these days. After seeing photos of my new balloons, the doctor immediately prescribed antibiotics, steroids, steroid skin cream, and anti-sickness tablets.

That morning, Saint Jane (my wife) also hit the internet and correctly deduced that it was bullous pemphigoid. Doctors must hate the internet, especially if their patients actually find the right answers!

So I had yet another joyous autoimmune affliction. I might be an atheist, but it seems a waste not to put all those years of my Roman Catholic upbringing to waste: Various plagues keep raining down on me; what’s next, frogs, then crickets?

English joke alert: Frogs would be good for the environment, but crickets never do too well on our home soil. I’d need to find an Australian exterminator.

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Janet J. Harszlak, PhD avatar

Janet J. Harszlak, PhD

Thank you for the laugh, John. You know, after hearing your multitude of afflictions I'm inclined to believe my doctor when he tells me I'm really doing okay. BTW -- dealing with an INO was one of my first joys of having MS (1995) -- dumb me even pitched a softball game not being able to see straight. Duh! I wasn't very smart back then...😄

Hang in there -- J.

Wendy Roe Hovey avatar

Wendy Roe Hovey

John, your campaign to experience every possible comorbidity and then, to decrease the risk of boredom, invent new ones, is succeeding. But really, boredom is not as bad as you fear. I do hope you'll get to try it some time soon.

מריס מורmaris mohr avatar

מריס מורmaris mohr

John, I've got it on my left arm. Thanks for it's name and the info.

Lisa avatar


Hi John,
I had some success getting rid of mucosal pemphigoid years ago. In the mouth. Send me an email if you want to know any specifics. Good luck.


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