DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have extremely dry skin. Is there anything I can take orally for it, rather than applying moisturizing lotions? — J.
ANSWER: I don’t know any oral medicine for dry skin. I can give you some tips on how to lessen your skin’s dryness.
Dry skin becomes a problem for many people in the winter, when furnaces are pushing out hot, dry air. Those people, and possibly you, benefit by increasing the humidity of the house to between 40 percent and 60 percent with a humidifier.
Use only mild soaps like Dove or Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser.
Don’t take long baths or showers, and keep the water temperature warm but not hot. After bathing, pat yourself with a towel, but leave the skin somewhat damp. That’s the time to use a moisturizing product. Petroleum jelly is cheap and effective. If a moisturizer leaves your skin greasy, first rub a small amount between your hands and then apply it to the skin.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: When I was a little girl, my mother used to warn me about chilblains. I think it was her way of frightening me into dressing in warm clothes for winter.
These days I never hear that word. What are chilblains? Did my mother make up the word? — D.G.
ANSWER: “Chilblain” is a real word. It’s a coldweather injury that most often strikes the toes, and less often the fingers. It comes about from intense and prolonged spasms of blood vessels. Blood circulation is greatly decreased. This mostly happens when weather is cold but not freezing.
Skin changes might not occur until 12 to 24 hours after exposure. They consist of purple patches on the toes. They itch or give rise to burning pain. Warmth gets rid of them.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am 79 years old. I take Fosamax for osteoporosis. I also take one 500 mg calcium tablet daily. Is it necessary for me to take both? — D.S.
ANSWER: Yes, you have to take both.
Fosamax works by slowing down the body cells that gnaw on bones. They’re supposed to do that. It’s the way the body has of constantly renewing bones. The bone destruction is followed by bone buildup. In older ages, bone destruction outpaces bone buildup. Osteoporosis is the result. Fosamax prevents this from happening.
However, for the bone cells to build new bone, they need calcium. Without it, they can’t get the job done. Older women should be getting 1,200 to 1,500 mg of calcium every day.
©2014 North America Synd.