Monday June 25 2018

Can my child be immunised before teething?


By Dr Vincent Karuhanga

Why is it that before teething, a child does not suffer from measles and can I immunise my child before they develop teeth?

Dear Faula,
Measles is a highly contagious and potentially fatal infectious disease caused by the measles virus. Because it is highly contagious, almost every mother has ever suffered from it. Because of this, mothers; even those who have never suffered from the disease pass on their protection to their foetuses through the placenta.

Immunising the baby soon after birth will not be successful since the protection from the mother will kill the vaccine rendering it useless. Later, at around nine months when the protection wanes, the baby will then be successfully immunised. However, in case of an epidemic, the measles vaccine may be given at six months but this has to be followed with another dose after six months to be more effective.

It is observed that teething in babies normally happens at round six months and this is the time they still have their mother’s protection from measles.

Before teething, therefore, babies do not suffer from measles Since teething can go beyond one year for late bloomers, it should not determine the time a baby gets immunised because then it may risk suffering from measles before teething.

My boyfriend and I always use condoms while having sex. However, since I am too dry, I use suppositories for lubrication. Will the Panadol they contain eventually cause me harm?

Dear Sarah,
Paracetamol (Panadol) is a common painkiller or antipyretic (used to cool down fevers) used as tablets, injection or as rectal suppositories or syrups in children. Today, because rectal suppositories turn to gelatin, many women are wrongly using them for both vaginal lubrication and for stopping pain during sex.

Much as suppositories are formulated for rectal use, they will have their medicinal contents absorbed in the vagina risking toxicity leading to liver and kidney damage. The amount of drug absorbed by the vaginal canal may not be exactly known given that the drug is meant for the rectum.

Also, the rectum is different from the vagina and as such you are likely to develop unwarranted vaginal reactions. Imagine if a couple engages in five rounds of sex and in each, one applies a suppository of 250 mgs. In the end, she will have used 1,250 mgs of Panadol and this will eventually lead to cumulative toxic effects. Panadol suppositories are also not a local anaesthetics and will not stop vaginal pain.

Normally, the walls of the vagina stay lubricated with a thin layer of clear fluid assisted by oestrogen, a female hormone which, if reduced such as during menopause, childbirth and breastfeeding will lead to dryness. Here, a doctor can give hormones to aid lubrication. Other causes may include allergy and cold medication, negative emotions such as fear, anger, stress and anxiety or lack of foreplay and these can be solved by dealing with the causes.

To treat vaginal dryness, you must take your time to make sure you are fully relaxed and aroused. You can also apply a water-based lubricant and avoid using bubble baths, scented soap and lotions around the vaginal area as well as taking enough fluids.

For a long time, I have had grey hair in one area of the head. Am now 24. Does this mean that in my 30s all my hair will be grey?

Dear Amos,
More often, White people start greying in their mid-30s, Asians in their late 30s, and Africans in their mid-40s though many are greying earlier nowadays. The age we start greying depends on genetics although lifestyle factors such as smoking, poor nutrition, using electric dryers and concentrated hair dyes can speed up the rate of greying.
In rare cases, however, greying can indicate a disease condition such as anaemia, hormonal imbalance, vitiligo, thyroid problems (Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism), genetic disorders and can happen during or after, chemotherapy and radiation.

Some people may be born or get a patch of grey hair early in life and usually this is ignored because it is believed to be a good omen. Normally, the colour of hair and skin is determined by melanin. Vitiligo occurs when the cells that produce melanin die or stop functioning.

Vitiligo commonly affects many areas and it progressively grows but it may also be localised without progression and may affect any skin part creating white hair patches (Leukotrichia). In your case you have localised Leukotrichia. Whereas treatment with drugs may not be successful, dying the hair or a hair transplant may help .

My feet smell so much that I fear to remove my shoes when I go to the mosque. I have tried many drugs to no avail. Are there any natural treatments that I can use since I don’t have money to buy drugs?

Dear Ismael,
Foot odour is caused by a breakdown of sweat left to accumulate on the feet by foot bacteria. Sometimes a fungus infection between the toes or bacterial foot infection also resulting from too much sweat left to accumulate and soften the foot skin can cause the odour.

Unchanged socks or even shoes which hold on to the sweat, bacteria and a fungus can only worsen matters. Sweat itself has no smell but when in excess and accumulates on the skin, it will inevitably be broken down by skin bacteria leading to a repugnant smell. This is why it is important to maintain proper foot hygiene as well as wearing dry, clean shoes and socks.

You should also wash the feet daily with soap and water and make sure they are dry before wearing dry socks and shoes. Also, keep your toenails trimmed and soak your feet in salted water or tea for at least 30 minutes (tea contains tannic acid, which apart from drying the feet, can inhibit growth of germs). If these fail, then you must visit a doctor for further tests.
Closed shoes are more likely to cause sweating and retention of sweat requiring that you change to open shoes more often. If you must wear closed shoes, airy leather instead of plastic shoes can help.