Day 46 - Evil Mosquitos and a French Pharmacy to the Rescue

We had promised the kids, specifically Hannah, that we would go back to the fountains on Avenue Jean Jaurès so that she could play some more.

The kids got dressed in their bathing suits, and we got dressed in our running clothes.  We took turns watching the kids at the fountains for 30 minutes, while allowing the other person to go for a run up and down Avenue Jean Jaurès, which was slightly over 3 miles. 

Kian enjoying the cool splash on the hot sunny day

Kian enjoying the cool splash on the hot sunny day

Hannah trying to refill her water gun

Hannah trying to refill her water gun

As a runner, I think there is no better way to truly see the town/city/village that you are staying at than taking a nice run/jog/power walk. First off, you look like a local, and almost feel like one too, because you are not holding a map or a camera.  Secondly, you are not concerned about what sights are coming up next; whatever will be will be, and you just keep on running. I saw quite a few tourists with maps in hand, people taking pictures of the garden gates (with iPhones), and lots of little kids on a field trip holding hands and being told to stay in line :).  

With the invigorating run behind me, it was my turn to watch the kids.  I noticed the already horrible looking bug bites on Hannah's legs seemed to be getting even worse.  

Mosquito bites all over Hannah's legs

Mosquito bites all over Hannah's legs

Hannah must have some sort of allergic reaction to these bites. as her legs looked red and almost swollen. I always carry a small first aid kit with me that has all sorts of emergency items, including allergy medicine. I gave her a the proper dosage and saw and shortly saw an improvement, although not a significant one.

After being out in the sun for a while, the entire family needed a nap... especially Hannah, as I think the allergy medicine got her a bit drowsy. 

Since Hannah's legs were still red and very itchy in the evening, we decided to head out to a pharmacy and see if we can find something that would alleviate the itching and swelling. 

There is a pharmacy within walking distance; however due to its central location in a touristy part of town we had noticed the prices were very high when we stopped in the other day.  Instead, we went for a little drive and found one a bit outside the main part of town, which did indeed have better prices. The only problem was that none of the pharmacists spoke English! 

Thankfully, the mix of our French (learned in high school), a translation app on our iphone, and body language was sufficient to covey our question.  We found an "after sting" cream (Apres-Piqures) for children, called Baby Apaisyl, which is apparently made by Merck in Italy.  We also purchased a mosquito repellent spray to prevent future mosquito attacks. 

What I found most interesting was that while we were there, two mothers walked in with their children and just went right up to the counter, showed the pharmacist the child's problem (in both cases a skin irritation of sorts) and asked what they should do.  The pharmacists either recommended a product to purchase or explained what could be done resolve the issue.  This was of course very helpful to see, because once we found the cream, I picked up Hannah and showed one of the pharmacists Hannah's legs and asked if the cream would help and he agreed that it would. Amazingly enough, with just one application of the cream, Hannah's bug bites improved significantly and put my mind at ease. 

The way the locals asked the pharmacists for medical advice prompted me to wonder if in France, or even in all of Europe, it is generally a common practice to go the the pharmacy, instead of the doctor, for mild ailments.  This was also the case in Tehran when I was a kid, but certainly isn't the case in America (probably because of all the lawsuits).  A little research confirmed this is indeed very common across all of Europe.

Throughout Europe, people with a health problem go first to the pharmacy, not to their doctor. European pharmacists can diagnose and prescribe remedies for many simple problems, such as sore throats, fevers, stomach issues, sinus problems, insomnia, blisters, rashes, urinary tract infections, or muscle, joint, and back pain. Most cities have at least a few 24-hour pharmacies from which you can pick up what you need and be on the mend pronto.

-Rick Steves

So, if you are ever in Europe and need minor medical attention, visit a pharmacy first.  Chances are the pharmacists can help you out, and you wan't have to go through the hassle of going to a clinic.