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Dr. Gott: Using antibacterial soap could cause split fingers

DEAR DR. GOTT: A while back, you had an article about a woman’s fingers splitting open. My mother, sister and I had the same problem. My mother went to several doctors, and not one of them knew why she was having problems. We tried many kinds of medicine, and nothing worked.

Finally, we switched soaps. We all used antibacterials, and once we stopped using them, our fingers stopped splitting. Since then, I haven’t had any problems as long as I use regular hand soap. I thought this could be especially helpful to your readers, especially with colder weather coming up, which often causes dry skin.

DEAR READER: Dry, cracked, splitting hands and fingers are a common complaint from my readers. With antibacterial soaps being so popular, it simply never crossed my mind that this otherwise benign product could be the cause.

I have printed your letter for the benefit of my readers who have not yet found relief from the problem. Other possible solutions include glycerin, Bag Balm, petroleum jelly, medicated chest rubs, and creams and lotions that contain vitamin E and lanolin.

To provide related information, I am sending you copies of my Health Reports “Compelling Home Remedies” and “More Compelling Home Remedies.” Other readers who would like copies should send a self-addressed stamped No. 10 envelope and a check or money order for $2 per report to Newsletter, P.O. Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44902. Be sure to mention the title(s).

DEAR DR. GOTT: A few years ago, you published an article about veterinary liniment that helped ease aching, painful joints associated with arthritis.

I would like to let you know that this product also did wonders for my shingles. I spent a full month in pain owing to this condition. I then came across the article I had saved and decided to give it a try for my shingles pain. I went to the hay-and-feed store right away and purchased a bottle of the gel. (Turns out, it was easier to use than the cream, because I tried that one, too.)

The results were incredible. The pain disappeared, and I didn’t worry about it anymore.

DEAR READER: Another use for veterinary liniment. Thank you for writing to share your story with me and my readers.

Shingles is often painful, itchy and difficult to treat. It can lead to permanent nerve damage called postherpetic neuralgia in some people. This condition is similar to peripheral neuropathy in that it causes pain, numbness and tingling in the affected areas.

Thankfully, today, there is a vaccine for older people who are at increased risk of developing the condition. There are also several medications, including antiviral drugs that must be started within 72 hours of the first symptoms for best results, that may shorten the infection, thus reducing the risk of permanent damage. Nerve-blocking medicines can also relieve some of the pain, as can anti-inflammatory drugs and narcotic pain relievers.

Dr. Peter Gott is a retired physician who writes for United Media.