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Personal Lubricant Eases Dry Nostrils

Posting Date: 04/25/2005

Q. Some people have written about dryness in the nose. I work for a man on oxygen all the time. His doctor said we could use KY Jelly to help keep his nose moist.

A. Thanks for the tip. KY Jelly is a personal lubricant that is not petroleum based. As a result, it should not pose the danger that petroleum jelly does: that oil from the product could collect in the lungs and cause inflammation.

Q. My 8-year-old son has eczema. The doctor prescribed Elidel, but we have been alarmed by recent reports about this drug and cancer. We also do not want to go back to topical steroids because we worry about the drugs thinning his skin. Are there any other treatments that we can consider?

A. The FDA recently posted an alert for health care professionals about a potential cancer risk with both Elidel and Protopic. These powerful immune-suppressing salves have become popular for hard-to-treat eczema, a condition characterized by red, itchy, inflamed skin.

The manufacturers of Elidel and Protopic claim the warnings are unjustified. Because the FDA says it could be years before the actual risk is clarified, the agency is erring on the side of caution, especially for children.

Corticosteroid creams are helpful, but should be used for the shortest time possible. Moisturizers can also be helpful. Some readers tell us that Noxzema helps relieve itching associated with eczema.

A preliminary study (Arch. Dermatol. Jan. 2001) suggested that drinking oolong tea may calm an overactive immune reaction and ease itching and inflammation. Fish oil may be beneficial, but there is very little research to support alternative therapies for eczema.

Q. After almost a year of trying one kind of blood pressure medicine after another, I gave up. One gave me heart palpitations. Several others made me so depressed that I just wanted to hide from the world. My friends were terribly worried about me. I finally told my medical provider that I would rather die than take any more drugs.