Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

12 Iyar 5766 - May 10, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Home and Family

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

Director, Emergency Services, Bikur Cholim Hospital

A few more words on skin. Skin can get infected. While viruses do not seem to go to the skin too often, they can make rashes such as those in measles and mumps and German measles. A slapped-cheek appearance of the face can be the virus that causes fifth disease.

More common in this hot climate is cellulitis or skin infection. This infection is caused by bacteria and can be very painful. Common causes include bites or scrapes, poor circulation, diabetes, and obesity. Of course, as usual, exercise can really help.

Funguses love the dark, wet recesses of skin, so flaky or itchy infections may be fungus. They like the areas where the "sun don't shine" like between toes, underarms, and even in the umbilicus (that is, the "belly button"). Often these can get secondarily infected in diabetics, so be careful.

There are also auto-immune diseases that affect the skin, that is diseases where the body sees itself as an invader. The most famous one is psoriasis, which presents with silvery plaques on a red and white base. Tar and ultraviolet therapy work well.

Related to this are allergic disorders such as eczema. This likes skin folds like the elbow. Steroid creams work well here. Many children outgrow this.

Contact dermatitis is common and is due to allergens touching the skin. A common one is the nickel in gold-plated watches. Yes, underneath that plate is a cheap metal called nickel which is very allergy producing. Let us not forget soaps and detergents: hypoallergenic products on the market may not be enough and you may need prescription strength.

Let us change the subject. My chavrusa's wife is besha'a tovah and on a routine blood test she was found to have slightly low B12. He said she was told she needed B12 shots immediately — a painful enterprise! I checked the literature and could not find anything on low B12 be a danger in pregnancy. I asked a specialist and he agreed.

Good training and staying up-to-date are crucial. Keep your eyes and ears open, and double-check things.

What to do? Find yourself a good doctor who is well-trained, preferably affiliated with a major teaching center, and one who can quote the literature. You could be saving yourself a lot of pain and trouble — and even your life. Write me in care of the Yated.

Note: This column is no longer sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline.


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