Dear Dr. Gott: I have noticed that a lot of people write to you about cold sores. Valtrex works to totally inhibit them. I have suffered from cold sores since the age of 4. When I was in my early 30s, the virus got out of hand and I was getting cold sores on a monthly basis. My dermatologist suggested I try 500 milligrams of Valtrex daily, and my cold sores completely stopped. I’ve had two cold sores in the 15 years since, both times after stopping the medication for about two to three weeks to see if I still needed it. My mother and brother also use Valtrex but on an “as needed” basis. They take it when they feel the tingling that comes before the sore. They take two 500-milligram tablets when they feel that tingle and then one 500-milligram tablet once a day for a week after that. Please tell your readers about this remedy.
Dear Dr. Gott: Cold-sore outbreaks can be triggered by foods high in arginine, such as peanuts or peanut butter. Eliminating those foods or increasing L-lysine intake can help.
Dear Dr. Gott : I would like to share a simple home remedy for cold sores. Simply take a red match, dampen it with water and then put it on the cold sore and hold it there for a few seconds. It may sting, but that is simply the sulfur doing its work. If you can catch it as soon as the sore starts, it’ll never fully develop. Both my grandkids, ages 6 and 7, have used it successfully.
Dear Dr. Gott: For years, I was plagued with cold sores. I suffered with them in and around my mouth. I discovered that eating raw onions (which I didn’t like growing up so never ate them) both cured them when I had one and prevented them from occurring. For the past 30 years, whenever one starts, I add onions to my salad or hamburger and away they go. I still don’t like them, but I tolerate them. I hope this helps other sufferers.
Dear Readers: Cold sores (also known as fever blisters or herpes simplex 1) are painful, fluid-filled lesions. Most commonly they occur on the lips. Less commonly, they can appear in the nostrils or on the chin or fingers. Rarely, they may occur inside the mouth. Cold sores are not the same as canker sores (painful, shallow, white or yellow ulcers), which occur only in the mouth but are not the result of the herpes virus.
Valtrex is a prescription antiviral medication. In most instances, when I answer letters about cold sores, I do not recommend prescription medications, primarily because many people avoid them. Instead, I am most often asked to provide home remedies or alternative remedies for this common malady. However, for severe cases, such as yours, Valtrex may be the most beneficial and effective treatment.
L-lysine is one of the most common home remedies used for the treatment, and sometimes for prevention of cold sores. L-arginine is known to trigger the herpes virus in some individuals.
As for the match and onions, I’m not sure why they work but I cannot see any harm in trying, either.
Dear Dr. Gott: Quite a while ago, you published a letter from a person who inquired about whether he or she should be treated for hypothyroidism with a TSH level of 6.7.
Hypothyroidism is rampant in my family. I think it is important to identify the consequences of untreated hypothyroidism, which include a greater likelihood of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and early-onset dementia.
Also, it is worthwhile to note that the European standards for diagnosing hypothyroidism are much narrower than in this country. In Europe if a person’s TSH is higher than two, he or she is diagnosed with hypothyroidism. If it is between one and two, the person may have it. If it is less than one, the person definitely does not have it.
The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists issued a paper in 2002, stating that anyone with a TSH of three or higher should be treated.
And then there is the issue of treating with a natural source of thyroid, such as Armour thyroid, versus treating with a synthetic form, such as levothyroxin. In a study done in another country, 60 percent of people with hypothyroidism felt better when taking both T3 and T4, compared to taking just T4.
Thank you for the helpful information in your column.
Dear Reader: Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) can be a somewhat complex issue. The area about which you have written, subclinical thyroid disease, is particularly complicated. Until adequate scientific studies have been performed, it will continue to be difficult to determine at what levels treatment should be given when levels fall within those gray areas.
You are correct in that there are very real and sometimes serious consequences in not treating hypothyroidism. These can include heart disease, goiter (enlarged thyroid gland), infertility, peripheral neuropathy and myxedema (cold intolerance, drowsiness, profound lethargy and unconsciousness). These are most commonly associated with long-term uncontrolled hypothyroidism. Women with untreated hypothyroidsm who are pregnant, have a higher risk of having child with birth defects. The child may also be more likely to have serious developmental and intellectual problems. Babies born with hypothyroidism who go untreated past the first few months of life are at risk of serious mental and physical development problems.
Dear Dr. Gott: I strongly disagree with your readers who want short answers to more questions. The reason I read your column and recommend it to others is because you provide such thorough answers. That reader and the “we all” he or she refers to are either not aware of the complexity of many conditions or they have a short attention span. Please don’t stop helping those of us who crave complete and useful information. I think your solution is perfect: An occasional “quickies” column to respond to simple questions to which you can provide brief responses.
Dear Reader: Thank you for the compliment. You are correct that many health concerns are complex. Added to that, many people don’t want to take prescription medications if alternatives or home remedies will be beneficial, so in simply describing treatment options, several paragraphs of my limited space can be used. Never mind describing the condition, symptoms, diagnosis and testing!
Dear Dr. Gott: To the reader who wrote in to your column regarding her grandson’s psoriasis: Try a naturopathic doctor who focuses on diet. I went to a dermatologist for years with a horrible case of psoriasis. I have used steroidal creams, took cortisone injections (one time directly to the soles of my feet, one of my more painful experiences), and gave myself weekly shots in the abdomen. I even had an infusion treatment and countless “trial medications” in trying to reclaim normal skin that would not crack and bleed. When my dermatologist suggested I save my sperm and go in for light chemo, I went looking for other opinions.
The diet and supplements that the naturopathic doctor gave me aimed at rebuilding my liver and kidneys, as they had been damaged by extended use of an over-the-counter medication that I should have known better than to take for so long. He was the first doctor to go through a comprehensive history with me and changing my diet to include restrictions while also including more fruits and vegetables was a lot easier to swallow than another medication with many side effects and little testing.
I hope you can pass this along and that it helps others. I’ve never written to an advice columnist, but I understand the pain and frustration of having your own skin go into complete rebellion, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to help.
Dear Reader: Psoriasis is a common autoimmune condition. There are several forms (plaque, guttate, inverse, scalp, nail, pustular and erythrodermic), but each affects the life cycle of skin cells.
Plaque psoriasis is the most common form. It causes dry, raised, red skin lesions with silver/white scales (plaque). They can be painful and/or itchy and may occur anywhere on the body, including in the mouth.
Guttate psoriasis is most common in those under 30 years of age. It is typically triggered by a bacterial infection and characterized by water-drop-shaped sores covered by a fine scale on the scalp, arms, legs and trunk. It may resolve after a single outbreak or may recur, especially in the presence of ongoing respiratory infection.
Inverse psoriasis causes areas of smooth, red, inflamed skin, primarily in the armpits, groin, under the breasts and around the genitals and buttocks. It is worsened by sweating and friction and is more commonly seen in overweight individuals.
Scalp psoriasis is similar in appearance to plaque psoriasis and may cause dandruff-like flakes. As the name states, it occurs on the scalp, especially the hairline. It can also extend beyond the hairline. It may be sore or itchy and bleed when picked.
Nail psoriasis can affect both the finger and toenails. It results in abnormal nail growth, discoloration and pitting. Some people may experience onycholysis (nail lifting from the bed); severe cases may cause the nail to crumble.
Pustular psoriasis is uncommon. It may appear on widespread patches over the body or on the hands, feet or fingertips. It typically develops quickly. Within hours of the skin becoming red and tender, pus-filled blisters appear. Fatigue, fever, chills and severe itching may also present. The blisters often dry within a day or two, but the cycle may recur every few days or weeks.
Erythrodermic psoriasis is the least common form of psoriasis and can cover the entire body. It causes a red, peeling rash that may itch or burn severely. Certain medications such as corticosteroids, sunburn or other forms of poorly controlled psoriasis can trigger it.
There is also a condition known as psoriatic arthritis. Between 6 percent and 30 percent of all psoriasis sufferers will develop one of the several forms that can range from mild to severe and may result in permanent damage and deformity.
Psoriasis can typically be diagnosed by visually examining the lesions. Rarely, if there is some doubt, a skin biopsy may be performed.
There are many treatment options available to include topical creams, lotions and steroids, oral and injectable steroids or other immunosuppressant drugs, and various forms of light therapy.
Home treatments include daily bathing with oil, colloidal oatmeal or Epsom salts in lukewarm water with mild soap. When drying, blot the skin rather than rubbing. Then apply a moisturizer. For people with dry skin, oils may be best.
To the best of my knowledge, there is no approved diet for psoriasis sufferers; however, eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, while limiting sugars and fats, is recommended. This diet is recommended for most health conditions because it may boost immunity and is the most ideal manner in which to get all the vital nutrients the body needs.Cold sore remedies abound