Patient seeks natural help for itching rash

People's Pharmacy

April 27, 2003|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,Special to the Sun; King Features Syndicate

I've got a bad reaction on my hand between my thumb and forefinger that I think resulted from pulling an unknown weed. It isn't responding to my usual treatment, a concoction of tea tree oil, witch hazel and rose-water.

This is a crusty, itchy rash, like a severe case of mango poisoning I had several years ago. When I fed my little dog mango, he loved it and gave me kisses on the side of my face. The resulting horrible rash kept me in my apartment for a week.

Now I don't get within 5 feet of a mango, so that's not the problem. But this rash is driving me nuts. Can you recommend a remedy? I don't have insurance, so I'm hoping you'll know of something natural, or at least over-the-counter.

People who are sensitive to mango might develop a similar rash when exposed to poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac. Perhaps you were pulling one of these plants out of your yard.

We have heard from several readers that gentle swabbing with vodka can help relieve a poison ivy rash. Topical hydrocortisone cream (Cortaid, Cortizone, Dermolate, etc.) can also help somewhat.

For a mild case of poison ivy or a mosquito bite, one or two seconds under hot water can ease itching for hours. The water needs to be uncomfortable, but not hot enough to burn.

I have a recommendation for the family whose child hates the taste of cough syrup. Have you seen Thayers Slippery Elm lozenges? They come in several flavors and are a great all-natural alternative to over-the-coun-ter cough suppressants.

Slippery elm bark is a traditional remedy for sore throat and cough. Thanks for the reminder.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail them from their Web site, www.peoplespharmacy.org.

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