Doc, my body is itchy on chilly days. What could be the problem?


This may be pressure or vibratory urticaria

Wednesday March 18 2020

Dr Flo,
During chilly days, especially in the morning, I can’t walk fast or carry something that rubs against any part of my body or wear clothes with a stiff fabric such as a pair of jeans. This is because I get itchy. If I don’t stop walking, the itchiness spreads to every part of the body. This becomes unbearable and I end up scratching myself until I swell. The condition is becoming frequent. Is there any medication that can help me?

Dear Eliakim,
This may be pressure or vibratory urticaria, where exposing the skin to friction, repetitive stretching, pressure or vibration results in itching, swelling, burning sensation and pain. It is a rare allergic disorder and there’s a higher likelihood of getting it if at least one of your parents has it. In some people, there is no known cause.
You would benefit from a dermatologist review and, possibly, allergy testing. Medications that may help relieve the itching include antihistamines, steroids among others.
Meanwhile, avoid scratching yourself as much as possible. You can place a cool cloth or ice over the area that is itching the most for a few minutes to relieve the itch. Use sunscreen when you are going out into the sun. Use mild soap and warm water to bathe, and not hot water. Use moisturising creams/lotion after taking a shower. Avoid clothes and beddings made from material that can trigger itching like wool, jeans and some synthetic fabrics. Instead, opt for soft cotton clothing. You may also benefit from reducing movement, limit carrying weights or use wide straps when carrying something heavy.

Dr Flo,
l have been suffering from candidiasis. I’ve had it treated with antibiotics, but it keeps on recurring and this is stressful. My boyfriend has also complained that l have infected him. Could this be true? I need advice on how to treat it completely.

Dear LK,
It is normal for all women after puberty to have a vaginal discharge. It is a mixture of fluid and cells that help keep the vagina clean and moist and to prevent infection. The appearance changes depending on the menstrual cycle, and can also be affected by exercise, stress, use of hormonal medication and sexual arousal. The discharge may vary from white to clear, and from watery to thick, at different times of the cycle. It is also normal to have a brown or bloody discharge just before, during or after your periods, or sometimes in between your periods (spotting).
If there is abnormal colour (yellow, green, sometimes white), itching, a foul smell, or thick, chunky discharge, then most likely there is a vaginal infection. The infection may be caused by fungi, bacteria or other organisms. An infection may also cause pain when passing urine or pain during intercourse. Because of the recurrence, it would be advisable to have a high vaginal swab and culture done to see if there is an infection. If it is proven to be candidiasis, you can be put on antifungals for several consecutive months to prevent recurrence. Any other infection will be treated appropriately.
For some people, there is an identifiable reason for recurrence of candidiasis. However, it can also occur due to a low immunity or diabetes or long term use of steroid medication. Any infection can be transmitted, though it is not common to transmit candidiasis from a female to a male partner. Candida infection on the penis can be easily treated using a topical cream.

Dr Flo,
My sister has diabetes and at times high blood pressure. She has a cough most of the time especially when she is eating or drinking something. What could be the problem?

Dear Diana,
The recurrent cough can be due to a number of issues. There is blood pressure medication (angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors) that can cause cough, which resolves a few days after stopping the medication. Dehydration, caused by uncontrolled diabetes, can also trigger a cough. Other causes can be untreated infection, persistent irritation caused by a constant running nose or sinusitis causing dripping of mucus down the throat either due to allergies or due to sinus infection or due to reflux from the stomach.
She should visit a doctor for thorough examination and treatment, depending on the underlying cause. Also, she should eat slowly and take small meals, sip water during meals, stop eating during a cough attack and keep a food diary to track if there are any specific foods that trigger the cough.

Dr Flo,
Is there any way to know early if you have cervical or breast cancer?

Dear Lucy,
For breast cancer, the easiest early detection system is self-breast examination every month. This is done at your own time of the month for example five days after periods. You can be shown how to do the examination at the nearest health facility. If you notice any skin changes, lumps or nipple discharge, then go to the doctor for further examination. Also, make use of free breast cancer screening camps and annual check ups.
Unfortunately, there are no early warning signs of cervical cancer. By the time you are getting the symptoms, the cancer is usually advanced. The symptoms include vaginal bleeding or pain after intercourse, bleeding in between your periods or bleeding after menopause; a watery, blood stained discharge that has a foul smell or low abdominal pain. The only way to detect cervical cancer early is to have a pap smear test done regularly and/or to do the HPV DNA test. If the pap smear is abnormal, further tests will be done like colposcopy and biopsy, and other tests and the treatment plan is made from these findings.

Send your medical questions to [email protected] for free expert advice