CHILDRENS PROBLEMS: THE SKIN

BITES

Human and animal

It is not uncommon for anyone to be subjected to the bite of an insect, animal or human being. Treatment is, however, similar for all age groups.

A bite is of no consequence unless it breaks the skin. Once this has occurred and the outer protection of the body has been breached, however minor the abrasion may appear, treatment is essential. Human bites are particularly problematic because the mouth carries many viruses and parasites that are extremely aggressive. The same can be said for animal bites, the most infamous of which is the bite of an animal carrying rabies. Reptilian (snake) bites and their associated venom vary appreciably in danger but all need medical attention.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Any bite that breaks the skin should be assessed by an orthodox physician, preferably in an accident and emergency department.

With any bite, flush the area immediately with running water and soak the injury in a heavy saltwater solution (five tablespoons per pint of water) with any available antiseptic but preferably five teaspoonfuls of Calendula and/or Hypericum lotion.

Human bites are notorious and must be flushed out immediately. The same can be said for other animal bites.

If bitten by an animal or insect, try to capture it or at the very least memorize close details of it. Antivenom serum is very specific and being able to remember the markings on a snake is of vital importance to the emergency team.

In dealing with a snake bite, ignore everything that you have seen in cowboy movies. Do not use a tourniquet and if you are going to suck the poison out of the wounds do not cut it first and do not consider this procedure if you have any obvious cuts or sores in the mouth. Keep the victim resting because activity will increase the heart rate and move the poison around the body quicker.

If there is any suggestion that the animal is rabid, obtain the homeopathic remedy Hydrophobinum, potency 30, 12 or 6, and take one dose every lOmin as soon as it is obtained. Do not delay going to the hospital, however. ‘ Apply Arnica, Calendula and/or Hypericum or Urtica creams. > You will be advised to have a tetanus injection and whether you do or do not have one, use the remedy Hypericum, potency 30, 12 or 6, four pills every 15min for the first hour and then every 2hr for three days.

BURNS

Burns are liable to occur at any time but are most worrying in children. A six-inch square area of a burn on an adult may represent two per cent of skin damage but on an infant it may represent up to 20 per cent. The skin is essential for many processes including protecting from germ invasion and holding fluid in the body. Loss of skin through burning can allow fluid loss very rapidly. The greater the area of skin that is damaged, the greater the fluid loss and the larger the risk to the individual. Burns are described as:

First degree when only the superficial layer of skin is damaged.

Second degree when the superficial and middle layers are involved but the deep layer where reproduction of the skin occurs is still intact.

Third degree when the skin, including its basal layer or skin manufacturing layer, is destroyed.

Third-degree burns, if they are small, may have skin growth from around the area but if they are too large they will require skin grafting.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Any burn that breaks the skin or weeps should be assessed by a GP.

Any burn greater than three per cent of the body area should be viewed in an emergency department.

Apply cold water immediately.

Contrary to many old-wives’ tales, do not apply butter or oils (the area will fry) and do not burst blisters.

Arnica, Calendula or Hypericum fluid extracts should be applied, three tablespoons to a pint of water.

Do not remove clothing from a burned area unless it falls away easily.

Consider the remedies Arnica and Urtica urens for superficial burns, Arnica and Kali bichromicum for second-degree burns and Causticum and Hypericum if the pain of the burn persists. Take potency 6 of any of these every lOmin.

Apply Aloe vera, Calendula, Hypericum or Urtica gels or lotions continuously.

See Sunburn.

CHAFFING

Although chaffing can occur at any age, it is most commonly found in children because their intolerance of cold when they are playing outside seems to be greater. Chaffing is a medical term for the breakdown of the superficial layers of the skin, allowing dryness and cracks to appear due to a combination of dryness and cold.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Avoid using moisturisers, chapsticks, etc, because this leads to a dependency in that part of the body. In severe conditions where the elements are unavoidable, such as when skiing or sailing, then short-term use is acceptable.

Skin is best moisturized and healed from within, so ensure good hydration and suitable nutritional intake in the form of fruit and vegetables.

If damage has occurred, administer the following supplements in the dosage suggested per one foot of height: vitamin A (1,000’iu), vitamin C (500mg), vitamin E (lOOiu) and zinc (2.5mg). These should be given in divided doses with meals.

The use of Arnica or Calendula creams for short periods is effective and acceptable.

CHILBLAINS

Chilblains are painful swellings usually found on the extremities, such as toes and fingers. In severe cases the swelling may cause the skin to break down and secondary infection may compound the problems.

Chilblains are caused by poor peripheral (capillary) circulation and are brought about by the affected part becoming cold. The skin is more likely to break down if the area is damp as well. Principally this is a problem with the circulation as a whole and topical intervention may be of benefit, but a deeper look at the miasm or chronic tendency of the individual and their ancestors to have poor circulation is a much more profound treatment.

RECOMMENDATIONS

In acute cases ensure that the area stays warm. It is a fallacy to believe that socks and shoes necessarily keep the feet warm. Tight-fitting footware will actually impede circulation and make the problem worse. Loose woolly socks in slightly oversized shoes are a must for sufferers.

Gentle warming with warm hands or other dry, warm applications can be most relieving.

Rotating the arm at the shoulder or the foot at the knee will pull blood into the peripheries.

In persistent or mild conditions of poor peripheral circulation, high doses of cayenne pepper extract and then lowered maintenance doses can be beneficial if taken over three months or more.

In adults only, a tot of alcohol daily can increase peripheral circulation. An excess of alcohol will create a rebound effect causing initial increase in circulation but a latter and prolonged decrease.

The homeopathic remedies Petroleum 6 and Agaricus 6, one dose every 2hr, may be beneficial in acute cases but prolonged or chronic conditions require a homeopathic prescription based on the individual as a whole.

If the chilblains are causing itching when warmed, a cream containing Calendula, Arnica and Urtica can be most soothing.

CRADLE CAP

Cradle cap is characterized by crusty patches on the scalp created by an over-production from the scalp (and skin) of the natural oil known as sebum. The sebum dries over and under the skin, which is why picking or trying to remove the unsightly condition will inevitably lead to bleeding and the possibility of secondary infection.

RECOMMENDATIOf

Frequent shampooing (even if there is not much hair) will speed up the process. If there is hair, do not shampoo more than three times a week because this will take out the natural oils.

One teaspoon of lemon juice in two tablespoons of olive oil applied to the scalp twice a day may help.

Do not pick.

Gentle massage and brushing with soft bristles will encourage faster flaking.

CUTS AND ABRASIONS

These can occur at any age, of course, and the treatment is much the same.

SEVERE CUTS

Remove any debris or dirt with fingers or tweezers as soon as possible.

Heavy bleeding should be stemmed by applying a clean material to the wound with suitable pressure. Medical assistance and assessment should be obtained as soon as possible.

Rarely, if localized pressure is not stemming the blood flow then occlusion of the artery higher up the limb may be considered by tying any material tightly. This should not be done except in exceptional circumstances.

MINOR CUTS

Clean the wound with water, preferably previously boiled, but tap water or stream water is perfectly acceptable.

If bleeding is persistent, obtain a medical assessment in case a stitch is required.

Apply a Calendula-based cream. Take Arnica potency 6 every half hour for three doses and then every three hours until pain has resolved.

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