People’s Pharmacy examines issues about atopic dermatitis, blood sugar and bladder control.
Q. I have dealt with atopic dermatitis for more than 10 years. Several trips to dermatologists and multiple creams, lotions and sprays later, I was still getting no relief. The only thing that helped was light-box therapy, but it was expensive and very inconvenient. It involved driving to the dermatologist’s office three times a week.
When my symptoms returned after six months, my sister-in-law suggested I try Selsun Blue shampoo. She said my brother-in-law had great results for his skin condition by simply washing his body with Selsun Blue once a day. Two months later, my rashes are GONE!
A. Readers have been telling us for years that the original-formula Selsun Blue dandruff shampoo can help with the redness and blemishes brought on by rosacea. The active ingredient in the shampoo, selenium sulfide, may help control the Demodex skin mite population that triggers the inflammation associated with rosacea. People use the shampoo to wash their faces gently.
You are the first one to suggest that Selsun Blue also might be helpful against atopic dermatitis (eczema). Some research suggests that low selenium levels in the body may be associated with this skin condition (Pharmazie, May 2010).
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Q. I used to have good blood-sugar readings when I was on glyburide. Since I was put on atorvastatin to lower cholesterol, I have had trouble with high blood sugar.
I read in your Guide to Managing Diabetes that statins can affect blood glucose, but the clinical pharmacist at the VA said you are wrong. She insisted that atorvastatin does not affect HbA1c or blood sugar.
They now have me on both glipizide and Onglyza, and the clinical pharmacist admitted that my HbA1c will not come down. She still insists I have to keep taking these medicines even if they are not working to control my diabetes.
A. We are puzzled your pharmacist was not aware of the official prescribing information for atorvastatin (Lipitor): “Increases in HbA1c and fasting serum glucose levels have been reported with HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors 1/8statins3/8, including LIPITOR.”
HbA1c is a measure of how high blood-sugar levels have been during the past three months. Clinical trials and other studies have shown that statins can indeed raise blood-sugar levels, making it harder to control diabetes.
We are sending you our Guide to Cholesterol Control and Heart Health so that you and your doctor can discuss possible alternatives for your cholesterol. Anyone who would like a copy can be download it for $2 from our site: peoplespharmacy.com.
Q. I have lost track of the various drugs I have taken for bladder control through the years. Most made my eyes dry. The worst side effect for me has been the “clouding” of my brain with mental sluggishness and sleepiness that they all cause. I end up preferring the discomfort of wearing pads to coping with a decreased ability to focus, reason and respond.
A. Many of the medications prescribed for overactive bladder work by blocking the neurochemical acetylcholine, which is essential for learning and memory. The most common side effects of these anticholinergic drugs are dry mouth, eyes and nose, constipation, dizziness, drowsiness, difficult urination, confusion, decreased sweating and visual difficulties.