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-thecounter preparations, then a doctor can provide you with a prescription for more powerful items.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Please tell me all you know about post-traumatic stress disorder. I think someone in my family suffers from it. — A.F.
ANSWER: Having faced an event that threatened life or caused serious injury is the basis for post-traumatic stress disorder. The event keeps resurfacing in the mind with a clarity that imparts terror and helplessness, and sometimes guilt. The remembrance can happen during the day or in dreams.
An affected person stays in the alert mode at all times. He or she loses interest in life, neglects those around him or her, suff ers from fragmented sleep, often erupts in outbursts of anger and is usually quite depressed. Soldiers, firemen, policemen and those who suffered a sexual or physical attack are people who most often develop PTSD. With the combination of talk treatment and medicines, these people can usually regain their equilibrium and resume a normal life.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: A cold front came in, and I had head/face pressure. What is that all about? — R.M.
ANSWER: A change in barometric pressure or a drop in temperature can increase the pain of arthritic joints. Weather changes also can trigger migraine headaches. I haven’t seen head pressure mentioned as occurring with weather changes, but I can imagine how it might happen. The sinus cavities of the head could be subjected to a difference between their own internal pressure and the outside barometric pressure. Perhaps you and I are headed for a Nobel prize with this discovery.
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