Rx for Readers: Looking for a cure-all

Medical experts answer your latest health queries.

WHEN USING topical products for the first time, test a small amount on a patch of skin to see how you react (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
WHEN USING topical products for the first time, test a small amount on a patch of skin to see how you react
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
I have a four-year-old daughter. For the first time, last Purim, I used inexpensive makeup that I bought in a discount store to accompany her costume, but after an hour her face developed red marks, and they remained there for half a day. What went wrong, and what should I do to prevent this on Purim this year? T.B., Kfar Saba Tel Aviv dermatologist Dr. Monica Elman replies: Both adults and children should use only good cosmetics marked with Health Ministry approval; they should also not be old, as this could cause harm to tender skin. If cosmetics are not fresh, one can sense it from the smell, color and texture. If it has turned, throw it out.
Before using for the first time, test a little bit of makeup, lipstick or other cosmetics behind the ear or in the crook of the arm to see if there is a reaction – itching, redness or anything else – after a few minutes.
Never use metal sparkles in or near the eye, on the lips or close to the nose or nostrils. The sparkles are metallic, like aluminum foil, so they should not be inhaled, eaten or allowed to enter the eyes, where they can scratch the cornea.
Remove the makeup with substances made for this, and not just plain baby wipes. Don’t rub the skin too much, or allow a child to sleep with the makeup.
As for hairspray, or anything else in spray form, never smoke with it nearby (or smoke at all) or light a flame (a candle or a cigarette lighter), as it could explode. While using spray foam or hairspray, protect the eyes and prevent it from entering the nose.
If the skin shows redness, remove the makeup carefully and place a lukewarm compress on the skin to calm it down. See a pediatrician or dermatologist if the condition gets worse.
I am a 72-year-old woman in good health, who suffers from severe leg (and sometimes thigh) cramps at night (only). The only medications I take regularly are Eltroxin (for thyroid regulation) and Ribone (once monthly for osteoporosis). My family doctor recommended taking magnesium, which I do, and it has helped considerably. However, as of late, I’ve nevertheless been experiencing severe cramps that begin in the middle of the night and return several times before morning. Aside from disturbing my sleep, the resultant pain is excruciating. I’ve reached the point where I’m almost afraid to go to sleep – I asked my doctor if I should sleep sitting in a chair, with my feet down, thinking that perhaps bad blood circulation is reducing the amount of fresh blood in my legs; he emphatically said no. Is there something to do or take to eliminate these extremely painful cramps? C.F., Jerusalem Veteran pharmaceutical consultant Howard Rice comments: It is common phenomenon as people get older that they suffer from cramps, particularly in the legs.
For many years physicians prescribed quinine tablets (200mg), which were very effective but carried a risk of heart problems such as torsades de points (ventricular tachycardia or extra fast heartbeats), thrombocytopenia (too many blood platelets), prolongation of QT in electro cardiogram readings, arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) and deafness, to name but a few. So rule this out.
There are small doses of quinine in tonic water (about 70 mg per liter) and this could overcome the problem, but it also contains a lot of sugar so this is also out.
This leaves us with magnesium, the citrate being the salt of choice (magnesium citrate rather than magnesium oxide), and if this does not help sufficiently, take a warm shower before sleep and dress warmly for bed. If cramps still occur, stretch your leg to stretch the muscle when it has gone into a cramp. Hold this for a few seconds, then slowly release. I am sure this will solve the problem.
Prof. Amnon Lahad, director of the family medicine department at the Jerusalem district of Clalit Health Services and head of the family medicine department at the Hebrew University Medical Faculty, adds: Magnesium tablets help some patients, but zinc tablets may also treat the condition. There is a medication that contains both, as well as vitamin B6, called “Anti- Leg Cramps,” which can be bought without a prescription.
One to two tablets can be taken before going to bed. One can drink half to one cup of Schweppes tonic water or Bitter Lemon before going to sleep. Keep your legs warm. Don’t try to fall asleep in a chair. If all of this is of no help, then try, under a doctor’s supervision, treatment with quinidine pills, which are given for arrhythmia, but blood pressure, pulse and an electrocardiogram have be taken to monitor your condition.
Rx for Readers welcomes queries from readers about medical problems. Experts will answer those we find most interesting. Write Rx for Readers, The Jerusalem Post, POB 81, Jerusalem 91000, fax your question to Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at (02) 538-9527, or e-mail it to [email protected], giving your initials, age and place of residence.