DR ELLIE CANNON: How do I nail my hand eczema
I’ve seen four doctors, including two dermatologists, about the eczema on my hands and no one seems to be able to help. Can you?
Hand eczema is very difficult to treat. For starters, using moisturisers and emollients is known to alleviate the symptoms of eczema, but as the hands are in constant use, greasy creams are a nuisance and impractical.
Furthermore, hand eczema is often irritated, and may even be caused by contact with products such as soap and daily household chemicals, and many of these are impossible to avoid day-to-day. Stress may also trigger it.
Hand eczema is very difficult to treat. For starters, using moisturisers and emollients is known to alleviate the symptoms of eczema, but as the hands are in constant use, greasy creams are a nuisance and impractical
The initial first step with any eczema has to be avoiding the irritants such as washing soaps, perfumed toiletries and any household detergents.
Washing up gloves with cotton liners are a must and all soap should be substituted for emollient, medical moisturisers that clean and moisturise.
A huge variety is available and it is worth experimenting to find the most practical to use.
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Steroids will treat the condition and with hand eczema the optimal regime is to use a strong steroid such as mometasone that can be applied at night, allowing it have enough contact time to work. To ensure a steroid works well it should be applied to skin that has been moisturised with emollient 15 minutes earlier.
A soak can be useful for hand eczema particularly as it is prone to infection, exacerbating the issue.
Soaking in water and potassium permanganate – a medical chemical sold in tablet form in pharmacies – is an alternative to bleach baths, and are useful for hand eczema.
If the nails are significantly involved it would be worth considering alternative diagnoses including psoriasis, which is a flaky skin condition that can look similar to eczema, and lichen planus, a kind of rash that also often affects the hands.
I’VE been told I have high blood pressure, and high cholesterol and that I need to go on medication for both. Could I simply lose weight and avoid taking pills?
Losing weight is indeed recommended as a treatment approach for both high blood pressure, or hypertension, and raised cholesterol, in the NHS guidelines. The reason we tackle these conditions is because they raise the risk of stroke and heart attacks.
Improving blood pressure and lowering cholesterol reduces those risks no matter how that is done.
High blood pressure in particular is known to respond well to weight loss and exercise.
Losing weight is indeed recommended as a treatment approach for both high blood pressure, or hypertension, and raised cholesterol, in the NHS guidelines
Unless there are significant complications such as kidney disease or diabetes, blood pressure should reduce with these changes and medication can be avoided.
Dietary changes should also focus on reducing salt consumption and cutting back on caffeine and alcohol, all of which raise blood pressure. Thirty minutes of walking daily would have a positive impact, too.
In many patients these changes will be enough to avoid medication for high blood pressure.
Cholesterol levels will reduce with any weight loss, however better improvements can be achieved with concentrating on dietary changes which we know reduce cholesterol.
Specifically increasing eating of oats, healthy oils such as olive oil, nuts, and soya products can have a very significant effect.
It would be reasonable to consider a trial of lifestyle changes for both conditions for three to six months before retesting and reconsidering other treatment options.
Ovarian cancer is often diagnosed too late to cure, as figures released by charity Ovarian Cancer Action revealed last week
Ovarian cancer is often diagnosed too late to cure, as figures released by charity Ovarian Cancer Action revealed last week. It remains ‘hidden’ as symptoms often don’t appear until a tumour is large enough to cause problems. Treating it is then difficult because the ovaries lie so deep within the body.
In the early stages there may be bloating, changes to appetite, abdominal pain and symptoms like needing to go to the loo more urgently – which a GP might mistake for IBS or a urinary infection. Early diagnosis relies on a pelvic ultrasound scan but many women are not offered one quickly enough. If we are to meet NHS targets to diagnose 75 per cent of cancers promptly, doctors must have easy access to such diagnostic tests.
If you have symptoms that don’t go away after a month or two, ask your GP for a scan.
Our sex lives – or lack of one – was the subject of a major study published last week by the highly respected London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. This world-renowed centre for tracking health data of all kinds, found that half of British couples have sex less than once a week.
DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION FOR DR ELLIE?
Email [email protected] or write to Health, The Mail on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London, W8 5TT.
Dr Ellie can only answer in a general context and cannot respond to individual cases, or give personal replies.
If you have a health concern, always consult your own GP.
Sexual activity has plummeted, with busy lives, hectic schedules and even, according to the study, Netflix to blame.
Intimacy and physical satisfaction are important parts of our relationships, maintaining mental and physical health.
Far from being funny or something to be embarrassed about, a loss of libido is a really important symptom that I would encourage anyone to discuss with their GP as it can be a sign of many medical conditions ranging from depression to thyroid disease.
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