Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

29 Kislev 5760 - December 8, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
Your Medical Questions Answered!
by Joseph B. Leibman, MD

Diplomate, Board Certification of Emergency Medicine

Chairman, Department of Emergency Medicine Ma'ayenei Hayeshua Hospital

Unsightly skin diseases are our topic today. These common diseases affect most of us at some part of our life, so its important to know about the reasons and treatment for these conditions.

Acne, known to doctors as Acne Vulgaris, is one such disease. Acne usually starts at adolescence and is the reaction of the body to clogged "pores" in the skin. These are clogged by sebum, an oily substance produced by the skin, and keratin, that is pieces of growing skin. The result is usually a blackhead or whitehead which is usually the precursor to a reaction that becomes a pimple when bacteria and fungi invade it and when the body causes an inflammatory response. Some of these become full of pus, some can be very large, some can be a nodule that has no pus in it at all.

Treatment usually doesn't require more than warm soaks. We discourage people from opening or "popping" pimples. Problem cases respond well to antibiotics in pill or cream form. Drying agents such as Benzoyl Peroxide seem to help, but if acne is resistant so all of the above, medicines called retinoids can be used and they work well. However they cause birth defects, if pregnancy is an issue while on the therapy.

Acne probably has some genetic basis, meaning that if you had a bad case, your children may suffer as well. Emotional factors and menses probably play a role as well. Medicines, such as steroids for example definitely play a part. Eating lots of oil or chocolate is unrelated.

Warts are common on the hand and the feet and are due to a virus. As such, they probably are contagious in susceptible individuals. They are treated with various modalities including acids, or burning them off with electricity, or frozen nitrogen. Surgery will work as well. Peeling them off yourself may just spread them. The older you are the more likely the above therapies will not be successful in preventing warts from returning, but many warts resolve on their own in 1-2 years.

Keloids are an inherited condition where people form scars that are deformed and much bigger than the original cut or pimple. Hypertrophic scars are a related condition where the scar is big and red, but stays within the boundaries of the original cut. Keloids usually spare the face, but ears, chest and back are common places for them to appear. The treatment for hypertrophic scars is usually successful: rubbing with creams or oils is usually all that is necessary, although laser therapy seems to work as well. Keloids don't do as well, as removing them just causes bigger scars to grow in their place. Steroid injections into the keloid, pressure dressings and laser therapy may help, but results are variable. Keloids that itch are a real problem. Young ladies who have parents with keloids are probably better off not piercing their ears for earrings. Write me in care of the Yated.


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