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Wed, 8th July 2015

This once had negative connotations, and meant something that was unsavoury, whether social, political or anything else. It also has anatomical and physiological meaning, whether it be "On The Nose" or more commonly "In The Nose". A sight impaired lady who miraculously had vision restored said sight of the nose was the most amazing event of her life - it was just so ugly, but the nose is a vital part of life. Let's take a closer look. First the covering skin.

Skin Cancers

This is the commonest spot for skin blemishes, varying from "HKs" (hyper-keratoses) precursor of skin cancer. Constant exposure to the sun and elements makes it the head target. Any recurring red mark, flaking skin or sore needs immediate intervention. It's also the site for pimples, as all teenagers know. Most are due to hormonal imbalances, and vanish with age. As scars are possible, it needs treatment, which is usually effective.

Skin Cracks

Skin cracks at the nasal entrance are common, often due to nasal fluids seeping out and causing irritation often leading to infection. Dab regularly with metho or Betadine. Clogged nasal passages beset all at some time. Many are due to "allergens", tiny protein particles in the air. This causes linings to thicken and engorge with blood. This may cause clogging and dripping, from nostrils or a PND - post nasal drip down the back into the throat. Simple moistening with salt water helps and is drug free.

Salt Water

Narium mist (salty water spray) is probably best. Inhaling salty water into each nostril separately and coughing out via the mouth is very effective but sounds grotty. A good surf has similar benefits, "Vaso-constrictor" drops and sprays shrink blood vessels and give temporary relief, but can make it worse if used for more than a couple of days. Steroid sprays are also popular, but for short term use only. Persisting blockage is often due to "polyps", tiny mushy blobs that develop from the roof of the nasal passages, again often due to allergies. If persisting, they are surgically removed. They may recur unless the cause is understood and removed.

Nasal Hairs

Nasal hairs are there to strain out foreign stuff in the air. They grow more rapidly in older persons specially if taking zinc supplements. Kids love shoving "things" into the nostrils. Bits of cotton, beads, gravel, shells, are common. They can stay there for weeks, causing a foul discharge. They may be removed with crocodile forceps by the doctor. It is amazing what infants and children will stick into their nostrils. Adenoids, which is special tissue producing certain blood cells often enlarge and block the nasal passages.


Once surgically removed along with tonsils, this is now rarely done, and mainly if it impedes normal breathing. The tissue is there for a good reason. Most rub the end of their nose, again often due to allergies. The more you rub the worse it gets. Apply a cold face cloth which shrinks blood vessels. Take care of your nose. It is important, even if unsightly.



If a person is bitten by a spider or snake, where is the best place to seek treatment? Local GP or hospital, or ambulance?


Today there are anti-venoms against red back, funnel web and venomous snakes. These are available at major public hospitals. Red back venom travels slowly (apply ice), the others must be firmly bound with urgent transport to a public hospital ER. Identifying the source of the bite is highly desirable, but capturing the aggressor for identification may be difficult. Remember, in most cases you are invading their territory, so be careful when in natures backyard, for this is their method of self-preservation against unwanted intruders.

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Is there an instant simple remedy for dry itchy skin around the wrists?


Best bet is applying a cold face flannel, or place under the tap. This shrinks down dilated blood vessels which may occur from many reasons, allergy being the most common. Dab dry with a soft towel. Recurrent skin irritations often benefit from an immunological check and allergy tests. Avoidance of "allergens" (the cause), or desensitization interventions are often successful. Also, a blood sugar evaluation is important, for it is a common early symptom of diabetes. Cortisone creams are often effective.

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Women are bombarded with risks factors for breast cancer, and there are ever changing opinions. Who do we believe?


This is a vexing question and medical opinion is constantly changing. Best is to follow the guidelines at any given time, even though these will continue to alter. Regular mammograms are a vital initiative (now often recommended for those forty and over), and self-examination is still worthwhile. Limited exposure to hormones, not smoking, avoiding obesity, taking more exercise, are all on the general agenda.

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I walk every day for health reasons, and I also enjoy it. I now notice discomfort at the base of my big toe on both feet, even though I wear decent walking gear.


The fat pad on the sole gradually thins in time, so pressure builds up causing discomfort. Maybe thicker more spongy soles would be worthwhile. Check with a podiatrist, who will examine the foot in general and offer suitable advice. Massage each night with methylated spirits. This old time remedy is supposed to "toughen the skin". In years past, nurses rubbed patients' backs this way when in bed, to stop pressure sores from developing.

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I am finding my vision deteriorating, and my doctor says I am diabetic.


Diabetes adversely affect the minute blood vessels all over the body, eye included. Blood sugar control is essential, otherwise visual acuity may rapidly advance. Everybody should have a blood sugar evaluation at least annually, with a fasting level ideally under 5. If above this, one is a potential diabetic needing prompt management.

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This health advice is general in nature. You are advised to seek medical attention from your doctor or health care provider for your own specific symptoms and circumstances.



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