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Don’t scratch that itch

From eczema to avoiding the existence of gall bladder stone, Dr. Geeta Mathai has everything ready for answering

Dr Gita Mathai Published 27.09.23, 04:59 AM

My daughter has been diagnosed with eczema. She frequently suffers from itching and rash.

The good news is that many children recover by the time they are four to five years old. In the meantime, remember eczema is a chronic condition with recurrences and flare-ups. Follow your doctor’s prescription meticulously. Avoid allergens like harsh washing detergents or bathing soap. Do not add antiseptics to the last rinse while washing clothes. Add a teaspoon of soda bicarbonate and a tablespoon of coconut oil to the bath water. Pat the child dry after a bath, and do not scrub vigorously. Moisturise the skin regularly.


Hot flashes I am 52 years old, and my periods have stopped. I suddenly feel hot and start sweating. All my tests are normal.

This is called hot flashes and can occur when menopause sets in. Hormonal changes cause them. It is a self-limited phenomenon and will stop on its own a year or so after menopause occurs. Lifestyle changes may help.

Exercise regularly by walking, swimming or cycling. Do not wear synthetic clothes. Reduce intake of tea, coffee and spicy foods.

Menopause How do I know I have attained menopause?

You have attained menopause if you do not get periods for a whole year. If bleeding occurs after that time, you need to be medically evaluated to see exactly why this has occurred.

Ear pain From the time he was young, my son gets an earache whenever he catches a cold. There is no discharge.

He needs to be evaluated by an ENT surgeon to see if there is a hole in the ear, adenoids or some other structural abnormality. If there is no correctable defect, every time he gets an earache, put analgesic ear drops in the ear and nose drops to clear the nose. Nose block causes changes in pressure in the ear, and this can cause pain. You can use paracetamol for the pain. Follow this up with steam inhalations. If these measures do not work, see the doctor again.

Natural probiotics I have been advised to take a probiotic supplement. I’m not particularly eager to take medication. Can I get these probiotics naturally?

Probiotics are often prescribed to help treat antibiotic-induced diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. They are used as an adjuvant in treating allergies and even depression. Lactobacillus is a powerful probiotic and naturally is found in homemade fermented curd. Take 30ml in the morning on an empty stomach.

Loss of control A few drops of urine come out when I cough or sneeze.

Many women develop this problem, especially after childbirth. It is caused by weak pelvic muscles and aggravated by obesity and constipation. Maintain your ideal body weight. To prevent constipation, eat 4-6 helpings of fruit and vegetables daily. Strengthen your pelvic muscles with yoga exercises like “bridge” and “cobra”. Do Kegel exercises regularly. This involves voluntarily clenching your pelvic muscles several times a day, whenever you remember. Also, do not pass urine as a continuous stream, but try to stop the flow voluntarily several times.

Gall stones My mother and aunts have gallstones and had to have their gallbladders removed. Is there a way I can prevent this?

Gallstones are common in women. High cholesterol values may cause the fat to get precipitated in bile, causing stones.

Maintain ideal body weight. Reduce fat content in your diet. If necessary, take cholesterol-lowering medication. This should help prevent stones.

The writer has a family practice at Vellore and is the author of Staying Healthy in Modern India. If you have any questions on health issues please write to

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