When I get off the highway on the way to work, there are often homeless people waiting at the stop light with a sign asking for money. I've seen a few different guys, and only one guy I've seen more than once. He's out there fairly regularly, and he's one those completely filthy homeless guys. He's got about three teeth, very matted hair, and it looks like he hasn't shaved in years. His clothes are torn and dirty, and I'm pretty sure he's always incredibly drunk. I always give homeless people money, and this guy is no exception. I know he'll probably buy alcohol, but who am I to judge? Maybe he'll buy some food. Maybe not.
"I'm gonna get a job," he told me one day.
"Yeah...well, not today, maybe tomorrow. I think I might look for some construction work."
I didn't really believe him, but I wished him good luck. Even if he really was going to look for work, he looked like he was in pretty poor condition to be doing much of anything.
Another time, he told me, "You're a real good guy," and held out his fist for me to touch mine to his. I obliged, momentarily concerned about his filthiness, but falling back on my old dumpster-diving habit of being confident in my immune system. I didn't give it much thought.
A few days later, I noticed some weird little bumps on my hand, where my fist had touched his. They were small but very hard, like warts, and had tiny white spots in the center. Some were grouped together, so the bump would be larger than the rest with several white spots in the middle. If I poked or scraped at them enough to break them open, the white spots would come out. Once removed from under my flesh, they looked like eye boogers and had the same semi-solid consistency. I have eczema on my hands sometimes, and I assumed this was just some new manifestation of that condition. I used my normal medicine on it, and thought nothing of it.
More than a month later, the bumps are still there.
Last night, I did a google search for 'eczema warts,' hoping I could find something about my weird bumps. I found information on a certain kind of eczema that caused wart-like bumps, but all of the pictures showed that the bumps were much larger than the ones I have, which are pimple-sized. I kept poking around the sites and learned about a condition called molluscum contagiosum, which are tiny wart-like tumors with little white spots in the middle. Bingo. A Google image search confirmed my suspicion. I'm not a doctor, but I'm 90 percent certain that's what this shit it.
It's harmless, but gross looking, and the lesions may take up to 6 months to go away by themselves. Kids often get it because they have poor hygiene and a lot of skin-to-skin contact. In adults, it's usually sexually transmitted and affects the naughty bits. It's endemic among the really poor, dirty people, like my friend who waits at the stop light.
I'm going to be a lot more careful about who I touch from now on.