Herpes in the eye?!

Yes, herpes can infect your eye. When it affects the front part of your eyeball (the cornea), it is called herpes keratitis. The cause of this herpes eye infection is none other than the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It is the same virus that can cause cold sores/fever blisters/orolabial herpes. In the same way that it affects the skin of and around your lips, it can affect your eye.

Herpes eye infection may be accompanied by pain, redness, tearing, irritation, blurred vision or difficulty tolerating the light. You may or may not have little water blisters around the eye. These blisters can not only affect the area around your eye, but also the tip of your nose!

Herpes infection of the eye is serious and is an emergency. If you have any concerns of this, see your doctor immediately. The consequences are scarring of the eye which could lead to blindness.

Just like cold sores, herpes eye infection can reappear. That’s because the herpes virus can lay dormant inside the nerves underneath your eye and skin. During flares, the virus reawakens and travels to the skin or eye. If you have frequent herpes eye infection, you may need to take a medication to suppress the virus from reactivating.

Do babies get acne?

Image courtesy of Sage Ross.

The answer is yes! Babies get acne too! “Neonatal acne” or “neonatal cephalic pustulosis” is a common condition that crops up in the first few weeks or month of your baby’s life as little pimples of the forehead, cheeks and chin.

What causes baby acne? We don’t know exactly what causes this condition, but it may be related to exposure to maternal hormones when the baby is in the womb.

So what do you do about baby acne? Baby acne is not harmful so you can leave it alone. This condition usually goes away in weeks, if not months. In the meantime, continue gentle skin care for your baby. Since rashes can be difficult to distinguish to an untrained eye, mention any concerning features to your pediatrician or dermatologist.

Say goodbye to mascara?

Image courtesy of Steve Jurvetson.

There’s a medication that can make your eyelashes longer and fuller — it’s not mascara! The medication is called bimatoprost (trade name: Latisse). Originally, this medication was approved for the treatment of glaucoma. Doctors and patients started noticing that patients’ eyelashes became thicker. And thus, the use of bimatoprost (Latisse) to thicken and lengthen eyelashes was born.

The medication is applied to the base of the upper eyelid lashes, and slowly, your eyelashes will become longer and fuller.

Latisse is not for everyone though. Some side effects include redness or irritation of the skin. The skin that comes into contact with the medication can also darken as well as the iris (the colored part of your eye). For example, if you have blue eyes, your eyes can become brown — and they may stay brown even after you stop the medication. Surrounding areas of skin could get hairier as well. The medication is also a Pregnancy Category C drug — meaning, discuss with your doctor as this medication might not be recommended during pregnancy.

Losing hair? It happens to both men and women.

Illustrations from the Nuremberg Chronicle, by Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514). Image part of US public domain.

While we often think of men as the ones with receding hairlines and as the ones who bald, women do too! Androgenetic alopecia is the fancy term we use to refer to this common pattern of hair thinning and hair loss. We also call it pattern alopecia, and either male pattern hair loss or female pattern hair loss. There is a genetic component to this so if your family members are affected, you’re more likely to be affected too.

Who should you see about this?

A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in hair, skin and nails. He/She can evaluate your hair loss and determine whether you do indeed have androgenetic alopecia or if you have another cause of hair loss.

What treatments are there for androgenetic alopecia?

Hair loss can be extremely stressful! In men, options include minoxidil (aka Rogaine) and finasteride. In women, minoxidil (aka Rogaine) is an option. Hair transplantation can also be pursued (hair is taken, often from the back of your scalp, and transplanted to the bald areas).

You may have heard of home laser or light devices… so far, it seems that the jury is still out on these devices.

Keep in mind that these treatments might not return all of your hair to your scalp!

Got jock itch? Treat it!

Photograph of tinea cruris, aka "jock itch"

“Jock itch” is the common term for a skin rash called tinea cruris. ┬áIt is also known informally as ringworm of the groin, crotch rot, etc… It’s an infection with a fungus that causes the skin to be red, scaly and itchy. These fungi like warm, dark places like between the skin folds.

So how did you get jock itch?

The fungus can be transmitted from other areas. If you have athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) or a fungal rash elsewhere on your skin or scalp, then scratching that other area then the groin area can spread the fungus. If you are sitting on a contaminated bathtub, or other surface with the fungus, you could pick up the fungus that way as well.

What should you do if you have jock itch?

First, see a doctor who can confirm that it’s jock itch. He/She may take a painless scraping of the skin to confirm that there is fungus. You may be given an antifungal cream to use. Some common over the counter medications include terbinafine (aka Lamisil), miconazole, or clotrimazole. Or, your doctor may prescribe a medication.

Remember that fungus can spread! Avoid contact with surfaces that might be contaminated. If you or a family member has athlete’s foot, you may want to disinfect your bathtub before you sit in your tub. Also, make sure not to spread the fungus from other infected areas to your groin — e.g. don’t cleanse infected feet then cleanse your groin — do it the other way around!

Also, keep the area clean and dry. If clothing gets wet or sweaty, change it!

And if your rash doesn’t go away, see your physician again — there are other mimickers of jock itch!

Tired of unwanted hair? Learn about Vaniqa.

Illustrations from the Nuremberg Chronicle, by Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514). Image part of US public domain.
Do you have hair in places that you don’t want? If you’re a woman, maybe it’s in the mustache/beard area, neck, chest, or belly button. If you read the laser hair removal post, you know that one option may be to seek out laser treatment. However, there’s also a cream that physicians may prescribe to slow down hair growth. It’s commonly known as Vaniqa (eflorenthine), and available as a prescription. If you’re tired of shaving, plucking, waxing, depilatories, etc… consider talking to your doctor about this cream.