What's Itching You?

Becky Easterly, RPh - Norton Location

Q: I work outside for a living and as the weather gets colder my hands get dry and crack terribly.  What do you recommend to make them better? 

A: The most important thing to do is to protect your hands with gloves from the harsh cold and wind when you are outside.  Wash your hands with nondrying soaps or moisturizing cleansers in warm water.  Pat your hands dry with a towel and apply a thick moisturizing cream, like Eucerin.  For healing terribly, cracking hands, apply petroleum jelly to the hands and wear white cotton gloves at bedtime.


Q: How do I know if I have Eczema or if it's just dry skin?

A: The word eczema is a general term for inflammation of the skin, known as dermatitis. Eczema causes dry, reddened patches and generally the first symptom is intense itching.  Other symptoms of eczema may vary from blisters and oozing lesions to dry, scaly skin. There are four goals when treating eczema: control the itch, heal the skin, prevent flare-ups, and prevent infection.  Topical corticosteroids, like hydrocortisone 1% cream and oral antihistamines, like Benadryl®, are great over-the-counter products to help control itching. Cerave® is an example of an excellent moisture barrier cream available without a prescription to help heal and retain moisture in the affected skin. For more stubborn, hard to treat eczema, your physician can prescribe medication for your specific case. Prescription products for eczema can be topical or oral corticosteroids, topical immunomodulators, immunosuppressants, and antibiotics if needed.  There are many treatment options available depending upon the severity of the affected area.  Seeking the help of a health care professional when in doubt, can help prevent infection and assist you in healing your skin.


Q: My doctor has told me I have mild Psoriasis, are there natural treatments that I can use to make it better?

A: Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition in which there are many different forms and severities.   It is important to take a good multivitamin because depletion of some major antioxidants has been shown to cause skin problems.  In addition, it may be beneficial to take Omega 3 fish oil (EPA) 300-1000 mg daily to reduce inflammation.  Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Lecithin supplements have all been shown to help psoriasis as well.  There are many topical natural remedies for psoriasis that often include essential oils, turmeric, capsicum, and coal tar.  Adding sea salt or apple cider vinegar to bath water will improve lesions.  Since there are so many natural treatments out on the market, it is a great opportunity to consult your Ritzman pharmacist to obtain the best remedy for you.


Q: I have had Type 2 diabetes for several years and my doctor always makes a big deal about checking my skin.  What does a sugar problem have to do with my skin?

A: Diabetes affects every part of your body, especially the skin.  If your blood sugar is high, your body loses fluid through excessive urination and can cause dry skin and dehydration.  In addition, uncontrolled blood sugar levels provide the right environment for bacteria and fungi to breed and reduce your body's ability to heal it. Diabetics are at a high risk to develop skin conditions, but they can be prevented and successfully treated if caught early enough.  On the other hand, because healing can be difficult for diabetics, a small cut can turn into a serious problem if not properly cared for.  Here are some simple steps to prevent skin issues: keep your sugar levels under control, keep skin clean and dry (use powder where skin touches skin), wash with warm water and use moisturizing soaps.  Prevent dry skin by using lotion after bathing and washing hands, keep skin protected from harsh, cold elements outside, and treat minor cuts immediately by cleaning them. Check your feet daily for cuts and wear properly fitted shoes.  If skin problems arise, see a doctor to prevent any complications and treat the condition quickly.