Do you have a question for Megan Sheppard? Email it to email@example.com or send a letter to: Feelgood, Irish Examiner, Linn Dubh, Assumption Road, Blackpool, Cork
My nine-year-old son has impetigo, with a number of large scabs on his legs. He has picked at the scabs and it looks awful. He has just started on a course of antibiotics to help clear the infection. What else can we do to help heal this and minimise the scarring?
>> Impetigo is a highly infectious skin condition that is caused by either staphylococcus or streptococcus bacteria, which are notoriously difficult to get on top of. It begins as small blisters, which then break open to form the weeping sores, which are highly infectious.
It is difficult with young children, but you really do need to stress the fact that he will spread the sores by touching or picking at them. You may even need to find some cotton gloves (socks work in a pinch) for him to wear to bed to minimise any scratching or picking in his sleep.
There might be some comfort in knowing that the sores are not caused in the first place by being ‘dirty’ or having poor hygiene — the infection can take hold once the skin has been broken by an insect bite, injury, or even a dose of sunburn.
Now that he has the infection, the highly contagious fluid in the blisters and sores will transmit the bacterial infection via direct contact, or even through towels, linen, and clothing — so washing these items daily in a separate hot wash is key to minimising the risk of spreading the infection further.
Whenever staphylococcus or streptococcus are responsible for any infection, my first remedy of choice is active manuka honey from the NZ native leptospermum scoparium shrub. For larger scabs and areas of impetigo where a bandage is practical, apply active manuka honey to the affected area and cover with a gauze bandage. Change this dressing at least once daily. If there are trickier spots where it is impractical to apply a bandage use manuka essential oil. Manuka oil is active against a wide range of micro-organisms responsible for skin infection, and it is 15 times more effective than tea tree against staphylococcus and streptococcus infections. Despite the strong action of this oil, it is gentle enough to use neat on even the most sensitive of skins and will help to prevent scarring. Manuka oil is available from ivingnature.com.
Supporting his immune system is very important. Sambucol, made using black elderberry (sambucus nigra), have a specific ImmunoForte product developed to strengthen immune function which is suitable for ages four and over.
I have extremely sweaty feet. They have been this way since I was a teenager, and I am now in my 50s and it seems to be getting worse. Now I have been told that I also have a fungal infection, which doesn’t help with the smell. What can I do to fix this problem? >> The skin is one of the organs of elimination, with some natural medicine practitioners referring to the skin as being the ‘third kidney’. Sweating more than normal is usually considered to be an indication that the kidneys are overburdened.
Taking a herb or herbal combination to support the kidneys may help to reduce the sweating. Often the intestine and colon also benefit from a cleanse if the feet are very sweaty, or if you are a ‘hot sleeper’.
The tissue salt silica is frequently recommended to help treat excess dampness, which might help to create a less ideal environment for fungal growth. Tea tree oil has long been used to help deal with fungal infection of nails and feet.
Soaking your feet at the end of the day may also help. The tannins in black tea work against bacterial and fungal growth — try adding five black teabags to four cups of hot water, and soak your feet for 20 to 30 minutes. To help improve the odour, try combining equal parts of cornflour, baking soda, and arrowroot powder with a few drops of cypress, peppermint, rosemary, or tea tree oil. Pour the powder into a plastic container, poke holes in the lid, and shake into your shoes before and after you wear them.