Thursday, August 12, 2010


Even when in Europe, it is not easy to forget where we live. Gabon is always there - in my mind, mostly, it would seem, but I have just discovered that also in my... skin.

A few months ago I discovered little white spots on the back of my neck. I thought they might be a reaction to the strong African sun, maybe mixed with this horrible constant sweating. They didn't look too dangerous, so I just let them be - I had work to do and trips to organise. Moreover, several people told me: Oh yeah, I've had the same thing, so I just forgot about them, waiting for them to go away.

They didn't. Instead, they started multiplying. Ooops. Yesterday I finally managed to visit a dermatologist. She took a very quick glance of my back and gave me a diagnosis: the spots are a manifestation of a mycosis - chromophytosis to be specific, scientifically known as pityriasis versicolor (in Polish: łupież pstry). It's a fungus which lives on your head, so that its spores can land on your neck, back and chest - hence the white spots. Apparently, it's rather nasty and difficult to get rid of. Also, I simply waited too long and let it get really comfortable on my silly head.

Treatment: every other day use a special shampoo. Put some of the shampoo foam onto my back and let it work for five minutes. On shampoo-free days, I should use either a special liquid or an ointment on my back. All these medicines cost ten euros per box.

Epilogue: you can get this kind of mycosis everywhere, as long as you're susceptible to this kind of stuff. However, equatorial humidity helps the fungus a great deal... Oh dear, I really do get it all, don't I?


  1. Hiya. Just came across this blog researching "white spots on back." I have the same thing, even though I'm white as a ghost. I thought they were sun blisters but I have them year-round. Oh, and just for the record, I'm of Polish-Jewish descent and my dad had it too. I don't even live in a warm climate - I live in Montreal, Canada - but it can get pretty humid here.

  2. BTW, my brother was in Uganda last year for two months and didn't get any skin conditions. He has never had any. He got all his vaccinations and only ended up with diarrhea at the end, which the doctor didn't even think was caused by a parasite.
    Very interesting blog about your travels. I will forward it to my bro. He did his BA at McGill in African Studies, and I did mine in Russian and Eastern European studies. :) Cheers!