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DR FLO: How do I deal with this digestive issue?


DR FLO: Help for bowel disease

Inflammatory bowel disease is associated with an abnormal immune response.

Dr Flo, last August, I was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease and I got some serious wounds on the lower limbs which are still healing. What are some of the things I need to do to fasten the healing process? And for how long should I take a break before getting pregnant? I am in need of a baby. CR


Dear CR,
Inflammatory bowel disease is chronic inflammation in the intestines with one type causing ulcers/sores in the lining of the large intestines and rectum. It causes diarrhoea, vomiting, blood in stool, abdominal pain, weight loss, and fatigue. It can also cause arthritis, inflammation of the eye and skin sores. It has no known cause, though it may be associated with an abnormal immune response. It is more common in people who have close relatives who have suffered from it. Other risk factors include cigarette smoking, air pollution, high fat diet, refined foods, and longterm use of medication like ibuprofen and diclofenac.
Treatment includes anti-inflammatory medication, immune suppressants, antibiotics when needed, and nutritional supplements. Where symptoms are severe, you may get nutritional support so that the bowel gets time to rest.
Some dietary changes may be beneficial e.g. limit dairy products, take low-fat foods, eat small frequent meals, take a lot of water, limit fibre, caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods, and avoid smoking.
Learn to manage stress as it can trigger the symptoms, and do regular exercise. Join a support group or talk to a counsellor for psychological support.
Wound healing depends on several factors including the type of wound, your age and weight, lifestyle, presence of an infection and other disease. In your case, the use of steroids or immune suppressants, the presence of many wounds at the same time, the presence of a chronic inflammatory disease and possible nutritional deficiencies will slow the healing process. Get proper wound care from your doctor or from a surgeon who is a wound healing specialist. Eat regular balanced meals rich in protein, vitamin A and C and zinc.
Some of the medications used to manage inflammatory disease can cause foetal abnormalities should you get pregnant. It is best to wait until the disease goes into remission to get pregnant.

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Dr Flo, I have a problem in the vaginal area where boils keep recurring. What could be the cause and how can it be prevented? Please help. ABK


Dear ABK,
Recurrent swellings or bumps in the groin occur when the hair follicles (where the hair comes out of the skin) are blocked by bacteria and other substances. Some people overreact to the blocked follicle, either because their immune system is overly sensitive, or because of hormonal changes. It is also more common in overweight people. It is not contagious and it does not occur due to poor hygiene. Sometimes the swellings don’t go away, but sometimes they clear on their own, and may leave a scar.
Another cause of this could be shaving. After shaving, as the hair is growing back, the hair either re-enters the skin at the skin follicle or the sharp tip of the hair pierces the skin follicle before it grows out of the skin to become visible. This causes the area to become inflamed, causing itching, redness and even swelling. This is called pseudo-folliculitis. Sometimes it may get infected. This can happen anywhere where the hair is shaved or plucked, including the face, the armpits, the groin and the legs.
The simplest treatment is to let the hair grow, or only trim it, and not shave completely. You can use a shaving cream or go for permanent hair removal using laser or electrolysis. The ingrown hair in the bumps can be removed gently with tweezers. Some creams can help reduce the inflammation like steroid creams, acne medications, antibiotic creams in case of infection and antibiotic tablets, when necessary.
In your case, where the swellings keep coming back, you can see a skin specialist (dermatologist) who will let you know if you need further treatment.

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