Avoid soap to treat cra­dle cap

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Health - LINDA CAL­ABRESI

Linda Cal­abresi is a GP and ed­i­tor of Med­i­calOb­server. Send your queries to linda.cal­abresi@medobs.com.au My four-month-old grand­son is very fair and has ob­vi­ous cra­dle cap’’. While I know this doesn’t cause any phys­i­cal prob­lems, is there any ef­fec­tive treat­ment from a cos­metic point of view? CRA­DLE cap is a form of se­b­or­rhoeic der­mati­tis. Its key fea­tures are that it usu­ally starts within the first few months of life; it is not ir­ri­tat­ing and it usu­ally has a yel­low­ish, greasy scaly sur­face. Th­ese fea­tures dis­tin­guish it from eczema, which usu­ally starts later and is very itchy. To get rid of cra­dle cap it’s best to avoid us­ing soap — try us­ing emul­si­fy­ing oint­ment or Ce­taphil lo­tion in­stead. You can also rub the scales gen­tly with baby oil or a very soft tooth­brush, then wash away the loos­ened scales with warm wa­ter. If the cra­dle cap still doesn’t clear, try a mix­ture of 1 per cent sul­phur and 1 per cent sal­i­cylic acid in sor­bo­lene cream (from the chemist). Leave it on overnight, then sham­poo off. I ama 57-year-old fe­male, have an ex­cel­lent diet, go to the gym twice a week, do aqua aer­o­bics once a week and walk most days. My prob­lem is my fin­ger­nails, which have be­come thin and split ver­ti­cally at the slight­est bump. I take two cal­cium cit­rate tablets and a glu­cosamine cap­sule daily. I also use a good qual­ity hand cream af­ter wash­ing my hands. Could you rec­om­mend a sup­ple­ment that would help? CON­TRARY to pop­u­lar opin­ion, brit­tle nails usu­ally have less to do with a vi­ta­min or min­eral de­fi­ciency than they do with en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors which lead to mois­ture de­ple­tion. Con­stant im­mer­sion of the hands and nails in wa­ter, con­tact with dry­ing agents such as soap or nail pol­ish re­mover, or us­ing abra­sive clean­ers will see the nails dry out and be­come more sus­cep­ti­ble to dam­age. As a first step, try to pre­serve the mois­ture in your hands and nails. Wear gloves, avoid chem­i­cals that have a dry­ing ef­fect and, as you al­ready do, mois­turise reg­u­larly. Oc­ca­sion­ally brit­tle nails are a sign of an un­der­ly­ing dis­or­der such as iron-de­fi­ciency anaemia, un­der­ac­tive thy­roid, pso­ri­a­sis or a fun­gal in­fec­tion. If your nails don’t re­spond to the sim­ple mois­ture-im­prov­ing tech­niques it might be worth­while check­ing with your doc­tor for one of th­ese less com­mon causes. I ama 42-year-old fe­male who has just been di­ag­nosed as hav­ing rheumatoid arthri­tis. Would you have any diet dos or don’ts that might help me keep this con­di­tion un­der con­trol? UN­FOR­TU­NATELY the ev­i­dence for any ef­fec­tive di­etary in­flu­ences on rheumatoid arthri­tis is pretty scant. We do know that be­ing over­weight makes arthri­tis worse, so en­sur­ing you stay within the healthy weight range is very im­por­tant in avoid­ing flare-ups. With re­gard to vi­ta­min and min­eral sup­ple­ments, it has been shown that the rheumatoid arthri­tis can cause de­fi­cien­cies such as vi­ta­min C or cal­cium de­fi­ciency. But tak­ing sup­ple­ments has not been shown to have any in­flu­ence on the course of the dis­ease. The ex­cep­tion to this ap­pears to be omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oils, which do seem to have an anti-in­flam­ma­tory ef­fect and are def­i­nitely worth a try. Sim­i­larly, there is some ev­i­dence that sug­gests glu­cosamine might of­fer some ben­e­fit. As for other food types help­ing the con­di­tion or mak­ing it worse, the jury is still out. There has been spec­u­la­tion that al­most ev­ery­thing — from food ad­di­tives to cof­fee and sugar — may cause flare-ups, but no stud­ies sup­port th­ese claims. In­di­vid­ual re­ac­tions to th­ese foods may oc­cur, but there aren’t any guide­lines that can be uni­ver­sally ap­plied.

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