You can now read 10 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

The Boston Globe


Elissa Ely

The luxury of clean clothes

HERE ARE some symptoms of scabies: night itching, rashes between the fingers, pencil-mark lines. Here is a diagnostic finding: trails under the skin where mites lay their eggs. These are called burrows, which sounds altogether too homey. Here is a treatment: permethrin 5 percent topical cream, after washing clothes and bedsheets in very hot water. Here is the problem: Most shelters have no public washing machine, and a load in the local laundromat runs $6 to $7.

We had seen him in the shelter for a few weeks. Before voices drove him into the clinic — their intrusiveness was almost an act of compassion — he lived and drank for years on the street. He was still drinking, but accepted antipsychotic medication, and a referral for primary care, since he hadn’t been to a doctor in decades. He didn’t mention the scabies.

Loading comments...

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week