By Dr. Peter Kadile
Dear Dr. K, my son has a rash on his arm and was told by the school nurse that it was ringworm. The nurse told him to just have us apply cream used for athlete’s foot. Why should we use cream meant for a person’s foot for a rash on his arm? –Lloyd, Indio
Lloyd, ringworm is a rash that is caused by a fungus. It is contagious, commonly transmitted from person to person or animals (pets) to person, also commonly from coming in contact with surfaces in a locker room or shower floor. Athlete’s foot is also a rash caused by a fungus. Over the counter cream meant to treat Athlete’s Foot is antifungal, thus it can also be used to treat other fungal skin infections on other parts of the body. Not all over the counter creams or ointments are the same. Any antibiotic ointment will not cure Ringworm or Athlete’s Foot. Anti-itch cream, such as cortisone or hydrocortisone, will make fungal skin infections worse.
Dr. Peter, my daughter was sent home from school because she has “pink eye”. I was told she had to see a doctor, but by the time I could get an appointment for her, the redness in her eye was gone. Should she still see the doctor? –Betty, Rancho Mirage
Betty, “pink eye” (conjunctivitis) is the common name given to redness or inflammation to the conjunctiva or whites of the eyes. The condition can be caused by viruses, bacteria or allergies. It is most commonly caused by a virus, and like a cold, will usually resolve on its own in a few days to a week. Usually viral conjunctivitis is associated with increased watery discharge, whereas bacterial conjunctivitis may have thick green or yellow discharge. Bacterial conjunctivitis requires antibiotic eye drops or ointment for treatment. Pink eye is contagious and is commonly transmitted when an infected person rubs his/her eye and then touches someone and that person then rubs his/her eye. That is why it is much more common in young children who don’t usually wash their hands.
If your daughter’s eyes are no longer red and without any discharge, than she likely had a viral or allergy “pink eye” that got better on its own but if she is complaining of eye pain, than she should still see the doctor.
Dr. Kadile, I just came back from my doctor’s office where I had my annual physical. Why do I have to turn my head and cough when he performs the dreaded genital exam? –Timothy, Palm Desert
Timothy, you are apparently referring to the exam when the doctor is checking for hernias. Hernias are protrusions or ruptures through a membrane or wall, most commonly in the lower abdominal wall. When you cough during the exam, this causes increased pressure which can cause a protrusion through the abdominal wall “push out” and become easier to detect by the doctor’s finger. Surgery may be needed depending on the size of the hernia and if it is causing pain. You turn your head during the exam so you don’t cough on the examining physician’s head.