Can anything tackle my son’s rash?
Q. My 30-year-old son has a skin condition called molluscum contagiosum. The doctor says he can’t help and my son could have it for two years before it goes away. A. The most common symptom of molluscum contagiosum (MC ) is small, firm, raised spots on the skin, rather like tiny warts, sometimes slightly pearly-looking and usually in little clusters. MC is not usually painful although it can be itchy. In most cases, it will go away of its own accord within 18 months.
MC is caused by the virus of the same name. It is highly infectious and spreads by skin-to-skin contact and by touching contaminated objects such as towels.
However, most people are resistant to the virus and are unlikely to develop MC if they come into contact with it.
The main at-risk groups include children of one to five years, people who have had a number of sexual partners, and people with weakened immune systems.
The spots heal themselves over six to 12 weeks, crusting over first. They may leave a tiny pitted mark or patch of lighter skin. The virus tends to spread in the skin, so new lesions appear as the old ones are healing.
In about ten per cent of cases, patches of eczema develop round the spots. Children with atopic eczema, an allergic condition, are particularly vulnerable.
Conventional treatment is not often recommended because MC usually clears up spontaneously, and treatment, such as cryotherapy, can be painful and cause scarring.
Do not squeeze the spots without consulting your doctor. If the spot comes to a ‘head’ and bursts oozing yellow pus, do not touch it with bare skin as it is highly infectious.
Do support your immune system against the virus. Pharmacist Shabir Daya advises adults to try Daily Immunity by Food Science, £25 for 60 capsules, and children over one year can take Astragalus Alcohol Free Tincture for Kids by Eclectic Kids, £11.50 for 30 ml, both from Victoria Health.
Lemon balm cream may help. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) has an anti-viral effect on the viruses that cause shingles, chickenpox and cold sores. Try Organic Lemon Balm Cream, £8.50 for 60ml. Lemon myrtle oil has been shown to have anti-microbial activity; dilute each drop with 10ml of carrier oil and apply using a cotton bud. Organic Lemon Myrtle Oil, £5.95 for 10ml. You could also try Hydrosol Silver Gel, £12.95 for 44 ml, which helps to soothe and renew skin.
Some readers report that homeopathy has helped them. Find a qualified homeopath through the British Homeopathic Association, www.britishhomeopathic.org.
A TASTY BRAIN BOOSTER
New research by Oxford University found that daily supplements of omega-3 essential fatty acids significantly improved the reading of seven- to nine-year-olds in mainstream primary schools, compared to a placebo. Parents also reported significantly less hyperactivity and defiant behaviour. Children love the smoothie consistency of Ideal Omega Taste, squeezed on to yoghurt, or straight from the carton. £18.99, in Lemon Zest, or Mango Peach Plus Vitamin D, both at Victoria Health.
IMPROVE YOUR AWARENESS
Only two per cent of women know the five most common signs and symptoms of breast cancer, according to the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer (www.breakthrough.org.uk). These are:
- 1. A lump that you can feel but not see.
- 2. Change in skin texture, eg, dimpling or puckering.
- 3. Change in the appearance or direction of a nipple.
- 4. Discharge from a nipple.
- 5. Rash or crusting of the nipple or surrounding area.
SAVE YOUR SOLES!
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The ergonomically engineered midsole gives uber-cushioning underfoot. We’re keen on the two-tone Dué Leather in black and tan, and Inky blue or Hot Cherry patent versions. £85, www.fitflop.co.uk. (I’m still wedded to my Super T Sneakers with jeans, £90).