Facebooking to Health

There’s a very curious phenomenon at work within the expat community on this island, and in particular when it comes to questions of health and healing. People typically post a query about something that has ailed them, a strange fever and ache, a fracture that won’t heal, digestive tract pains that won’t resolve. The answers range from the serious to humorous, the remedies from conventional to alternative and exotic, and some comments.. well, sometimes completely extraneous.

Whom, you might wonder, posts answers and suggestions to these queries; physicians? nurses? naturopaths? first aid medics? Well, yes – and no.

You see, when you post such queries on the Bali Community Facebook page, anyone is at liberty to read and comment. And comment they do.

Take my own recent personal experience with this phenomenon. I posted the following last week:

I’ve been getting these bites on arms and legs that slowly start to swell and harden a little, then stay that way for a few days up to a week. They can be warm to the touch and bruisy-feeling when I press down on. Otherwise nothing unusual. What are they? Spider bites? Haven’t noticed anything new in my place, bed or otherwise; doesn’t only happen at night. Do I need to do/take anything? Other than coconut water ๐Ÿ˜‰

Then the comments came flooding in. Such as these:

IMG_2650Bed bugs. Put your mattress in the sun. (It wasn’t bed bugs, that much I knew for sure!)

It is just Bali, if it is not bites it is a rash, stomach trouble, strange marks. I don’t have an answer for you and from experience most people do not really know, just speculation. It is a fact that we live in one of the most parasite ridden areas..ย 

It might be fleas or spiders…

It is hairy caterpillar season folks. The hairs spring off and are very itchy. (Haven’t seen a single one)

I would go to see doctor really soon. I just met someone who got a serious spider bite. (Fear-inducing?)

I got spider bites in Indonesia and if the mark and swelling gets bigger and starts moving towards your nymph nodes you must quickly go to the hospital. It was it itchy and hIMG_2595ot to touch.

My russian friend went to dermatologyst. And the doctor told these are skin bugs. Gave her some pills and told there are plenty of them in Ubud. Better go to doctor.

Must be an Ubud thing then… I live in Seminyak and don’t suffer from bits, stomach trouble, strange marks or anything else.ย (Never knew there was “an Ubud thing..” when it came to this kind of thing)

Call us forIMG_8278 free pest inspection and estimation, (0361).. (Some will shamelessly market their wares and services at every chance)

Try rubbing the inside skin from a banana. Sounds weird BUT, works for mossie bites and simple rashes. (Never got around to that)

Go to a doctor numnut. (Never mind the misspelling of “numbnut”, but can you imagine getting dinged by someone you’ve never met?)

Could be typhoid. (Not)

My guess: very small black flying bugs.. sometimes known as “no-see’ems”. Common in areas near rice fields. Try using a bit of Bokashi Oil on them…

I really think instead of asking people on FB.. you should get a professional to look at it. (Good point – in many cases)IMG_8782

People weighed in with all sorts of theories and assumptions, certain and otherwise. But I’d say this guy takes the cake for most outrageous comment:

Most people in Ubud are follower of an (un)”healthy” lifestyle made of raw food, no nutrients, etc, thus their immune system is very low and their bodies weak. Consequently a bite of a mosquito that the body of a normally fed person in Seminyak heals very fast, can become a problem for this people in Ubud. This is why this “epidemics” are always in Ubud.ย 

It is said that everyone is a critic; but in our island expat community, I would add also that (nearly) everyone is a medic.

In the end, a very talented Balinese graphic designer friend sent me a PM (private message) with this suggestion: Try tiger balm.

And I did. And it worked. And so it ends.


  1. Oh MY!! I did laugh. The funny thing is that I was reading it I thought I must tell Amit about the Zam Buk or Tiger Balm. And voila! one of your friends did. I use it for everything – it’s a wonder balm! I haven’t cottoned on yet to the Bali facebook page, I need to check it out. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. So, did you eventually find out what the bites are?
    I rarely use tiger balm. It’s too hot for my skin. Isn’t it ironic that my tongue prefer hot and spicy foods while my skin wants something milder, like cajuput oil? ๐Ÿ˜€

      1. It’s gone? That’s wonderful!
        Cajuput Oil is made of the leaves of “white wood” plant.It is still related to eucalyptus. You can easily find cajuput oil in most parts of in Indonesia (in modern and traditional drug stores). ๐Ÿ˜€

      2. Thanks Hari, sounds a little like bunga putih (though you mean kayu putih don’t you?) which I always have around too. I use it for muscle aches mostly and sometimes on mozzie bites. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      3. Yes, I meant kayu putih! I do not know the English word for the plant. ๐Ÿ˜€

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