Baltimore Sun

For severe reactions to poison ivy, corticoste­roids could help

- By Joe Graedon, M.S., and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D. In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Send questions to them via www. peoplespha­

Q: There’s poison ivy, and there’s POISON IVY! My husband gets a barely noticeable, itchy rash that doesn’t impact his daily life in any measurable way. When I get poison ivy, I swell up like a balloon. The blisters are half the size of golf balls, and when they finally start draining, it takes days before the oozing stops. Twice in my life I spent over a week in bed prior to finally going to the doctor for help. I was only able to get up to use the bathroom, which was agony. For me, a typical course of poison ivy lasts more than two weeks. Prednisone is a lifesaver in my case.

A: For a severe allergic reaction like yours, corticoste­roids like prednisone can be extremely helpful. A slow taper over a week or two is generally recommende­d. Dropping the dose too rapidly can lead to symptoms of adrenal dysfunctio­n such as muscle weakness, fatigue, dizziness, fainting, headache, nausea, loss of appetite and low blood sugar.

Q: My insurance company won’t pay for Synthroid to treat hypothyroi­dism. As a result, I took the generic levothyrox­ine that my pharmacy dispensed for several months. I thought I was going to jump out of my skin, as I had such a horrible reaction. My heart rate went way up, and I had multiple bowel movements a day. I learned that although generics have to use the main ingredient of brand names, they can use whatever fillers they want. I have now been on Armour Thyroid for a few years. What a remarkable difference!

I have so much more energy, and not the rapid heart rate and excess time in the bathroom that I had on the generic. A:

The Food and Drug Administra­tion maintains that generic levothyrox­ine is the same as brand name Synthroid (JAMA Internal Medicine, Feb.

28, 2022). Your story is not unusual, however. We have heard from many readers that some generic thyroid pills do not behave the same as Synthroid. Desiccated thyroid extract such as Armour, Westhroid, Nature-Throid or Erfa Thyroid contains both thyroid hormones, T4 (levothyrox­ine) and T3 (triiodothy­ronine). This makes a big difference for some people.

Q: I read your article about swallowing big pills. I have tried most of the methods mentioned, but a different one works best for me: I make a nice, thick smoothie or milkshake when I have to swallow a big pill. Because the texture is thick, I barely notice the pill sliding down my throat.

A: Your idea works great, as long as the medicine does not interact with food or dairy products.

Q: After reading that white iodine could help nail fungus, I went to get some. I couldn’t find any but picked up a bottle of gentian violet. I knew this was used for yeast infections, so I decided to try it. I was amazed at the results. It worked better than anything I’ve ever tried! Be mindful that it stains clothing or sheets, so wear old socks. A:

Gentian violet goes back to the 19th century. It has antibacter­ial, antifungal and antiparasi­tic activity. The stain is bright purple, which might be alarming if you were not expecting it. Many cases of “nail fungus” may be bacterial, at least in part. As a result, gentian violet might be a reasonable choice to tackle multiple types of pathogens.

 ?? DREAMSTIME ?? Corticoste­roids such as prednisone can alleviate severe allergic reactions to poison ivy.
DREAMSTIME Corticoste­roids such as prednisone can alleviate severe allergic reactions to poison ivy.

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