Ask the doc­tor: read­ers’ health ques­tions an­swered

Pro­fes­sor Ker­ryn Phelps an­swers read­ers’ ques­tions on eczema, dan­druff, blood­shot eyes, ticks and more, plus re­ports on a new test for breast cancer.

The Australian Women's Weekly - - Contents -

QI’m 28 years old and have had eczema since I was five, but this year has been the worst. I have seen a der­ma­tol­o­gist, but un­for­tu­nately, it has flared up again. How do I get my eczema un­der con­trol? S.M., Qld.

You need a com­pre­hen­sive ap­proach. Acute flare-ups may need steroid creams, but they do have dis­ad­van­tages when used long term and they do not treat the cause. There may be a food al­lergy (typ­i­cally gluten, dairy, egg or nuts), which you can iden­tify with an elim­i­na­tion diet. En­vi­ron­men­tal chem­i­cals, such as cos­met­ics, may make it worse.

Make sure you eat plenty of fruit and veg­eta­bles. Sup­ple­ments which may help in­clude zinc, vi­ta­min E, fish oil, flaxseed oil, vi­ta­min C and the pro­bi­otic lac­to­bacil­lus rham­no­sus LGG.

QMy job re­quires me to be at my com­puter all day. I have been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing very watery and blood­shot eyes re­cently. Can you sug­gest some­thing to help them? I some­times use saline drops, but that’s all. K.L., NSW.

Your red eyes may not be re­lated to your com­puter use. Have your eyes checked by your GP or op­tometrist. Pos­si­bil­i­ties in­clude con­junc­tivi­tis, al­lergy, scle­ri­tis and uveitis.

QI live in an area that is known as a tick hot spot. My chil­dren play all the time in the back­yard and at the lo­cal park, and I’m wor­ried they are go­ing to get one. What should I look out for? S.O., NSW.

Check your chil­dren’s skin and scalp ev­ery night when they are about to get in the bath. Check un­der their arms, in their ears, in their belly but­tons, through their hair and be­tween their legs. Check their cloth­ing for ticks. Care­fully fol­low in­struc­tions for tick re­moval. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit and search for “tick bite pre­ven­tion”.

QMy hus­band has been get­ting a lot of dan­druff lately. None of the an­ti­dan­druff sham­poos are work­ing. What causes it and what else should he try? T.O., Vic.

He should see his GP so that the skin of his scalp can be closely ex­am­ined. A gen­tle un­scented non-soap scalp cleanser may be all that is needed. How­ever, it may be se­b­or­rhoeic der­mati­tis, pso­ri­a­sis or a fun­gal skin in­fec­tion need­ing spe­cific med­i­cal treat­ment.

QI’m in my sec­ond trimester and have had all my in­jec­tions, in­clud­ing the whoop­ing cough booster. Should I wait un­til my new baby has had the six-week vac­ci­na­tions be­fore there are any visi­tors? P.W., Vic.

Keep visi­tors to a min­i­mum in the first six weeks and make sure that any­one who does have contact with the baby has been im­mu­nised against whoop­ing cough and in­fluenza.

QMy 10-year-old daugh­ter has be­come a veg­e­tar­ian. Should I be giv­ing her a mul­ti­vi­ta­min to en­sure she isn’t miss­ing out on es­sen­tial nu­tri­ents? D.V., Qld. It is pos­si­ble to have a healthy veg­e­tar­ian child, but it takes a lot of in­for­ma­tion and ef­fort. See a di­eti­tian for an eat­ing plan to make sure she is not miss­ing out on es­sen­tial nu­tri­ents. The main risks for de­fi­ciency are iron, zinc, vi­ta­min B12 and pro­tein. Try to in­clude eggs and tofu. A mul­ti­vi­ta­min and a pro­tein sup­ple­ment may help to plug the gaps.

QI’m only 29 years old, but I keep get­ting se­vere ten­sion headaches that last only a few min­utes. Are these com­mon? What can bring them on? A.S., SA.

This is not the usual pat­tern for ten­sion headaches. See a phys­io­ther­a­pist who spe­cialises in spinal con­di­tions to check your neck and your GP can check you for other pos­si­ble causes.

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