The Sunday Post (Inverness)

Real-life issues and medical advice

Our expert answers your medical questions


I have had a rodent ulcer removed and now have a rash. Is it cancer?

A rodent ulcer is also known as a basal cell carcinoma and is a non-melanoma skin cancer. But like malignant melanomas that most people have heard of, it too is linked to sun exposure, so prevention is the same, using a strong sun block like factor 50, or better still, covering or shading the skin. It is more common in fair-skinned people and those who burn easily and occurs usually in areas exposed to the sun, like the face, head, neck and ears. It is less concerning than malignant melanoma because it rarely spreads to other parts of the body. It generally grows slowly and its appearance can vary. Sometimes it is a scab that bleeds and won’t heal, or it might be a scaly red flat mark. It can appear as a new lump on the skin, or a rim with a central crater. Small, superficia­l basal cell carcinomas can be treated with a cryotherap­y or curettage but for the most part surgery is necessary. Rashes are not related to the rodent ulcer, but may be the result of sun damage, so if you are concerned see your GP.

My baby has cradle cap, what is it? Cradle cap is common in babies. The peak is at three months and it usually disappears by 12 months. The likely cause is sebum, the oily, waxy substance produced by the sebaceous glands. Malassezia, a yeast found on the skin, may also be involved. In cradle cap there are greasy, yellow scabs on the scalp which are not itchy or contagious. Treatment is usually either with the applicatio­n of a moisturise­r or cradle cap shampoo. Scabs can then be carefully and gently removed with a cloth of soft toothbrush if necessary. Cradle cap is nothing to worry about. I’m 68 and am worried I am losing my hearing. Can you advise?

This is very common. In fact one in two people over the age of 65 will suffer hearing loss to some degree. It can significan­tly affect quality of life. You can be at increased risk with exposure to loud noise, if you have diabetes or if there is a family history of hearing loss. Treatment is a hearing aid and there are other aids like amplifiers for phones, and doorbells that light up. See your GP.

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