Hy­drat­ing skin takes the itch out of eczema

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS -

EAR DR. DONO­HUE: I have had to deal with eczema since I was a kid. The worst part of it is the itch­ing. I try not to scratch, but dur­ing sleep I do it without wak­ing. I have seen a num­ber of doc­tors, but I can­not get rid of this aw­ful curse. Are there any new ideas? — C.N.

AN­SWER: Eczema (EK-suh-muh or ekZEE-muh) has an­other name, atopic der­mati­tis. Der­mati­tis is skin in­flam­ma­tion, the ba­sis of this con­di­tion. Un­til re­cently, eczema was linked to ill­nesses with an al­ler­gic ba­sis, like asthma. A more-cur­rent ex­pla­na­tion is that the skin of peo­ple with eczema doesn’t have the nor­mal pro­teins in it that re­tain mois­ture. Their skin dries. Dry skin itches. Scratch­ing pro­vides a brief in­ter­lude of re­lief, but it ag­gra­vates mat­ters. It thickens the skin, leads to in­fec­tions and fa­cil­i­tates dry­ing. If you must, keep gloves or mit­tens on your hands dur­ing sleep.

Eczema fre­quently starts in child­hood. Genes are def­i­nitely in­volved, even if no other fam­ily mem­ber has it. The places most of­ten tar­geted are the hands, fore­arms, el­bow crease, be­hind the knees and the neck.

The goal of treat­ment is skin hy­dra­tion. The house’s hu­mid­ity should be be­tween 40 per cent and 60 per cent. Don’t take long, hot baths or show­ers. Make them brief, and use tepid wa­ter. Af­ter bathing, blot your­self with a towel, and then ap­ply mois­tur­iz­ing creams while the skin is damp. Vase­line, which comes in creams, oint­ments and lo­tions, is in­ex­pen­sive and works. Eucerin, Aquaphor, Nu­tra­derm and Ce­taphil are other prod­ucts.

Of­ten, a cor­ti­sone cream or oint­ment must be used to calm the in­flam­ma­tion, and the stronger cor­ti­sone prepa­ra­tions, such as flu­o­ci­nolone, tri­am­ci­nolone and clo­be­ta­sol, might be nec­es­sary. They’re pre­scrip­tion

Dmeds. If the skin is in­fected, it has to be ad­dressed with wet com­presses and an­tibi­otics ap­plied di­rectly to it.

The treat­ment of eczema isn’t a one­time af­fair. This is a chronic con­di­tion, one for which to­tal eradication sel­dom is achieved.

DEAR DR. DONO­HUE: I have had a hoarse voice for a month. I gar­gle twice a day with var­i­ous reme­dies I’ve found in drug­stores, and I have also used salt­wa­ter for gar­gling. I rest my voice and whis­per when I have to talk. My throat doesn’t hurt. What else can I do? — J.M. AN­SWER: You can’t do much, other than what you have al­ready tried. Most cases of laryn­gi­tis are caused by viruses, and last only for a week or two. Long-last­ing laryn­gi­tis — hoarse­ness that con­tin­ues for three or more weeks — re­quires a doc­tor’s ex­am­i­na­tion. Polyps of the vo­cal cords, spasms of the vo­cal cord mus­cles, re­flux of stom­ach acid and can­cers of the cords have to be con­sid­ered as caus­ing the prob­lem.

Stop whis­per­ing. Whis­per­ing is harder on the voice than nor­mal speech.

DEAR DR. DONO­HUE: I am 16 and a girl. I’d like to know the dif­fer­ence be­tween white­heads and black­heads. I have both, and I have a few pim­ples. They look icky to me. How can I get rid of them? I don’t eat chocolate. — N.N.

AN­SWER: A skin pore filled with se­bum (oil from oil glands) be­comes ei­ther a white­head or a black­head. If the pore is closed and the im­pacted oil isn’t ex­posed to air, then a white­head is born. If the end of the pore is open and the oil is ex­posed to air, the oil turns black — a black­head. Oil pro­duc­tion peaks dur­ing pu­berty. Ei­ther can progress into a pim­ple. You can treat them with acne medicines found in all drug­stores. Ones with ben­zoyl per­ox­ide are in­ex­pen­sive and usu­ally ef­fec­tive. Don’t scrub your face. Don’t squeeze the white­heads or black­heads. You can rup­ture the skin pore, and the oil will be re­leased into the tis­sues be­neath the skin. This can cause even big­ger trou­bles for you. Most ex­perts don’t be­lieve chocolate has a hand in de­vel­op­ing acne — white­heads or black­heads.

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