C is for Calamine Lotion

a-to-z-letters-c-1Yes, that pink, icky stuff that you dab on your skin with cotton wool to stop the needless itching/scratching from a myriad of mosquito bites or other bugs. Of course, if you grew up in my house you weren’t allowed to say something “itched.” ‘It doesn’t itch, it irritates,’ my mother would say. And people wonder why I grew up to be a wordsmith!

Itch, irritate, whatever. What I can say is that even when I see calamine lotion to this day (I have some in my bathroom cabinet), it takes me immediately back to my childhood. There is something inherently soothing – not just for the bites – about that brown bottle and its pale, rose-coloured contents. The sticky cotton wool tendrils that would stick to your arms and legs but take away the hurt at the same time. It was the instant equivalent of a warm, fluffy, pink, cloud-like embrace.

I still associate calamine lotion with warm, fuzzy feelings, tender, cotton-wool embraces and an unwritten promise that the itching/irritation/pain/hurt/anxiety – real and/or imagined – will eventually fade away and leave just the faintest of scars to remind you that the bad things won’t last forever.


I still love calamine lotion today. Of course it’s not the same as a human embrace but it’s good to know that when things start to itch (or irritate – sorry Mum), and a human hug isn’t readily available, I can always open my bathroom cabinet and be calmed by the Calamine.


  1. Jer says:

    Ha ha! When a certain someone would ask me if I could “itch their back,” I’d say “No, but I’ll scratch it for you.”

  2. This was a very cute post about the letter C today. My husband and I are raising our niece and nephew. One day I noticed all this pink stuff painted on (my mind’s drawing a blank on what the item was) something like a piece of paper. It was kind of hard and crusty. I found the evidence behind this bookshelf on our window sill. I found out that my newphew decided the Calamine lotion was paint and he had a grand old time. Just thought I’d share my own memory, from recent days of course, with you. 🙂

    Kristena Tunstall
    Dedication Website to daughter in heaven:

  3. jesstopper says:

    Ah yes, fond memories of summer camp with calamine lotion! I think you are doing great for winging it in the A to Z. I had no theme last year and it was very freeing (yes, even when I got to that dreaded letter X) – best of luck from a fellow A to Zer and WFWAer!

  4. Kate says:

    I can still totally picture the old, brown bottle of calamine lotion that we used to have when I was a kid. I can even picture where it was in the hall closet. Thanks for the memory inspiring post!

    • Kelly says:

      Thanks for sharing. It really was a beloved childhood product that crossed continents! I didn’t grow up in the US but it appears it was and still is ubiquitous.

  5. stephscottil says:

    Your description took me right back to childhood too! I remember getting in the car once and my mother took one look at my splotchy calamined legs and told me to go inside and either wipe down my legs or put pants on. Embarrassing!!

    • Kelly says:

      I know! I was always wont to slather myself in the stuff. Went totally overboard. It felt great for about 5 minutes till it all went dry and sticky!

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