Oak processionary caterpillars have been plaguing Brabant for weeks and are causing much discomfort. Countless people suffer from bumps and itching on their arms, legs, and neck caused by the caterpillar’s hairs. It appears that menthol gel provides relief. But the stuff is not available anywhere.
Enter a random drug store, and you will hear the same request: “Menthol gel? No, unfortunately, we’re completely sold out.” It is also almost impossible to get online.
The gel contains a small percentage of menthol, which has a strong cooling effect. This temporarily eases the itch. Aloe vera gel can also provide relief. It is important not to scratch, otherwise the stinging hairs will spread.
“Everyone suffering from the oak processionary caterpillar’s itch is looking for menthol gel. Some people reserve a tube and are lucky, but we have to disappoint most,” says a Kruidvat employee in Tilburg’s city centre.
The gel is not even available at Galvastore in Eindhoven, the manufacturer of Mentho10. “In two days, we ran out of the entire stock of 25,000 tubes,” said spokesperson, Francis Gerrits.
“One pharmacist even wanted to come by in person to pick up and pay cash for a large supply. Unfortunately, we couldn’t help. We delivered to the pharmacies on Monday and Tuesday, so if all goes well, the tubes will be back on the shelves shortly. ”
Completely covered in bumps
Never before has the demand for the gel been so high. “Last year we had a peak around the same period, but it has never been as extreme as it is now,” says Gerrits. “People who walk their dog and exercise outdoors, are completely covered with bumps. I also have a tube on my bedside table.”
The pharmacy in Heeze/Leende makes their own cooling gel. Lately, sales have risen sharply, but since a week or two they have really increased, says Marieke Vinken from this pharmacy. “Every morning we produce two kgs, for 15 and 30-millimetre tubes. By lunchtime, we are out of stock again.”
According to Vinken, many people with complaints are referred by their doctors, but there are also those who walk into the pharmacy and say, “Look at these bumps, what can I do about it?”
Froukje, who was at the pharmacy on Monday for the menthol gel, also missed out. “My children and I are completely overwhelmed. The bumps have fused into whole areas of inflammation. The problem probably started when we sat in the backyard because there are many oak trees in our neighbourhood.” A tube will be ready for her on Tuesday. “I hope it will give relief, especially at night.”
Adverse health effects from the oak processionary caterpillar are expected to continue in July and August.
Source: Omroep Brabant
Translator: Nicole Cullinan
Editor: Melinda Walraven