Do you remember calamine lotion? When I was a kid growing up in the Fifties and had mosquito bites or a case of poison ivy, the go-to remedy my mother always went to was calamine lotion. She would take a cotton ball, pour some calamine lotion on it, and dab the cold, pink liquid onto my bug bites or poison ivy. The lotion would eventually dry up and my skin would be covered in with pink blotches of cracked, dried up calamine lotion.
Apparently calamine lotion was not just my mother’s go-to remedy. There was a mega hit by the Coasters in 1959, “Poison Ivy,” that had the lyric, “You’re gonna need an ocean of calamine lotion.” It is, in fact, the only hit song ever with the words “calamine lotion” in the lyrics.
I honestly can’t remember if calamine lotion actually relieved my itching or if I was the victim of mom-propaganda.
A few days ago, I somehow acquired a few bug bites. I’m not sure if they were mosquito bites or spider bites, but the itching was driving me crazy. I headed over to my local Walgreens and asked the pharmacist what she recommended to stop the itching of mosquito or spider bites. Her immediate response was hydrocortisone. But then she said, “Alternatively, you can try old-fashioned calamine lotion.”
Whoa! Suddenly the pharmacist turned into my mother and I half expected her to reach out for a package of cotton balls, pull one out, pour calamine lotion on it, and start dabbing it on my bug bites.
“So?” the pharmacist said, breaking me out of my flashback.
“I’ll take the hydrocortisone,” I said.