Dandruff sometimes calls for prescriptions
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am writing to inquire about the mite that invades one’s body and causes dandruff on the head. I have used Selsun Blue shampoo, but it is taking so long to see an effect. I wonder if there is an antibiotic that I could take to get rid of it faster. — M.S.
ANSWER:
Dandruff is one form of seborrheic dermatitis
skin inflammation, along with an overproduction of skin cells and oil. The scalp is the place most often affected, but it also can be found on the sides and bridge of the nose, the eyebrows, ears, chest and back.
A mite doesn’t cause it. Some speculate that a yeast (fungus) called Malassezia might be the troublemaker. This yeast is also found on scalps of those without dandruff, but those with dandruff have greatly increased numbers of it.
Quite often, nonprescription treatments work well for dandruff. Selsun Blue is a good one. If, after one month of treatment, there’s no progress, then change to another. Head and Shoulders, Nizoral A-D and T-Gel are a sample of the many products on drugstore shelves. Nizoral A-D contains ketoconazole, a medicine that is active against the Malassezia yeast. Follow directions carefully. Usually they call for daily use until there’s some improvement, and then every-other-day use for a month. From that time on, less-frequent applications are OK. The condition tends to be chronic, so a long commitment is the rule.
If you’re not making any progress with over-the-counter preparations, then a doctor can provide you with a prescription for more powerful items.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I had hepatitis years ago but cannot remember what started it or what I ate. I do know that I ate a lot of sugary things. And I liked spicy foods, and still like both of them. I was living on a farm when I got sick. What can bring it on? I have had this on my mind for years. Can you give me an answer?
B.P.
ANSWER:
Neither sugary nor spicy foods causes hepatitis. Viruses are the usual but not the only causes. Hepatitis A, B and C are the three most common kinds of viral hepatitis.
Hepatitis A would be the most likely candidate for a young person living on a farm. It is transmitted in foods contaminated with the virus. Water and milk also can be sources of its spread. Shellfish used to rank high on the list of suspect foods.
Acute hepatitis with all three viruses has approximately the same signs and symptoms. Infected people lose their appetites, feel drained of all energy and become quite nauseated. Joint pains and headaches are other common symptoms. The skin and the whites of the eyes often turn yellow. Many infected people, however, have no signs or symptoms. Hepatitis A
unlike B and C does not cause chronic liver infection and does not lead to liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.
The booklet on hepatitis A, B and C explains these illnesses and their treatments in detail. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue
No. 503, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four months for delivery.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Are you considered an M.D., a medical doctor?
The reason I ask is because you address yourself as doctor and not as M.D.
J.A.
ANSWER:
Yes, I am an M.D., a doctor of medicine.
In most newspapers, I’m identified as Paul G. Donohue, M.D.
Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from www.rbmamall.com.


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