Health: Hope floats...

...but your babies don’t. What not to do with them in the water

Jerusalem Pool 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Jerusalem Pool 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
We love swimming in a pool and have two toddlers and want to take them along. Is it safe to put them in inflatable rings and floats that go over their arms? – T.J., Ramat Hasharon
Beterem, the Israel Center for Child Safety and Health, replies: These cheap inflatable products do not replace constant supervision of children in a swimming pool and cannot be relied upon as a safety device. If you use them, you must keep your child within arm’s reach at all times. They are liable to give parents a feeling of safety and thus increase the risk of drowning. Inflatable rings, especially, are dangerous for use by babies and toddlers because their heads are large and heavier in proportion to the rest of the body, so they can turn over with the ring and drown.
A skin disease called lichen planus has attacked my nails. I am a 72-year-old woman and have tried all kinds of medicinal ointments, including Dermovate, but nothing helped. What can I do? – M.L., Tel Aviv
Veteran Jerusalem dermatologist Dr. Julian Schamroth replies: Lichen planus (LP) is a chronic condition that can affect the skin, oral mucous membranes and nails. It may be caused by drugs or be associated with other diseases, but in the majority of patients the cause is unknown. The disorder usually presents as slightly raised, purple-colored spots on the wrists and arms, but any area of the skin including the genitalia, palms and soles may be affected. In extreme cases, blisters and ulcers can develop. The skin lesions are usually very itchy. There may be involvement of the nails and oral mucosa.
Such nail and mucosal involvement usually occurs in association with skin lesions, but they may also occur alone.
The nail changes are characterized by grooves, ridging, brittle nails and sometimes nail shedding. The nail changes are due to LP affecting the nail bed or “root” of the nail and not the nail itself. In most patients, LP “burns out” after two or three years and leaves a residual pigment that may take months or years to resolve.
The condition is difficult to treat, but topical cortisone creams may be of help.
In severe cases, oral drugs may be indicated.
Treatment with ultraviolet light may be used in patients who have extensive amounts of skin affected. Unfortunately, nail involvement tends to be particularly resistant to therapy. Cortisone injections into the nail bed are painful and often result in only minimal improvement.
Dermovate cream that was prescribed by your dermatologist seems to be the appropriate therapy. However, because nails grow so slowly and take such a long time to respond to therapy, you should continue applying this cream for at least six to nine months.
When a slight chill develops in the air, my 71-year-old husband has a need to clear his throat, and this is often every two minutes throughout the day until the hot weather returns. He also has arterosclerosis and takes Lipitor, Plavix, Tamsalin and Cartia because he has a stent in his heart. He is otherwise in very good health, is physically active and has a healthy diet. He has had this throat problem for many years. He has also been tested for allergy, but none was found, and he has been to an ear-nose-andthroat specialist who did not find anything. He thinks the problem is connected to cool air. This is a social problem, as it disturbs our family, and he is unable to go to a show as the clearing of the throat would disturb those around him. He went to a Chinese medical practitioner, but he did not help. I would be grateful to find out what causes this and what can be done besides moving to the desert. – U.B., Tzur Hadassah
Prof. Josef Elidan, head of the otolaryngology and head and neck surgery department at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem, comments: The need to clear the throat can be due to several causes. The fact that the problem is associated with cold weather supports the possibility that it is caused by post-nasal drip of thick fluid generated in the nasal cavity or the paranasal sinuses due to instability of the small blood vessels (vasomotor rhinitis).
Other possible common reasons are acid reflux (abnormal passage of acid from the stomach through the esophagus to the throat) and an allergic reaction. The correct diagnosis should be done by a thorough ENT examination and treated by an appropriate medication.
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, giving your initials, age and place of residence.