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Ask Doctor Cory.

Dear Dr. Cory:

I was wondering why all of my friends have had the chickenpox, but I haven't. My seven-year-old friend said that people have to have the chickpox one time. Can you tell me if people have to have it one time?

Kara Hauser Hamburg, New York

Dear Kara:

In the past people sometimes thought that it was better to have chickenpox in childhood so you wouldn't have to worry about it as an adult. Because chickenpox is caused by a virus, once you have it, you usually don't get it again. Now thanks to the vaccine that prevents it, you never have to have chickenpox.

There are some very serious complications that can occur with chickenpox. For this reason parents are encouraged to have their children vaccinated against chickenpox.

Children can receive the vaccine at any visit to their doctor on or after their first birthday. Any child 13 years of age or older who has not had chickenpox or has not been immunized should receive two doses of the vaccine at least four weeks apart.

Dear Dr. Cory:

My bones break so easily. What makes my bones do that? I broke my arm last year and I have not regained strength in it since then. Why?

Megan Landrum Deer Park, Alabama

Dear Megan:

Your bones are still growing in size and in strength. By age seventeen and a half, your bones will have grown in strength and size about as much as they are going to grow. The hard part of the bone is mostly made up of the mineral calcium phosphate. The combination of daily exercise and a balanced diet rich in calcium are the keys to developing strong bones. Early development of strong bones will not only help to prevent the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis later in life, but it can also help to decrease your risk of broken or fractured bones as you grow.

If your bone has healed properly, your arm should be as good as it was before your injury. Your doctor can make sure your bone has healed the way that it should. He may refer you to a physical therapist who can help you with exercises that will make your arms stronger.

Dear Dr. Cory:

I'm only 14 but I have been shedding so much of my hair for the past year that I am scared! I'll be bald by the time I am 20 years old. Should I get some treatment for it? If so, what kind? Some people that I talk to say it is because of my age. Some say it is because of the water or because I don't get enough vitamins. Well, I've tried to balance it out, but it doesn't help. I still shed my hair a lot. Could you please give me some advice?

Julia Yefremov Leola, Pennsylvania

Dear Julia:

A full head of hair normally loses 30 to 60 hairs a day. Just as we shed skin cells, we regularly shed hairs and grow new ones to replace the old ones. After shedding, the live hair follicle that grows the hair takes a rest for a few months, then grows another hair.

Are you losing your hair a few strands at a time or is it coming out in patches? Some older children or teens can get a condition called "alopecia areata" where the hair falls out in patches. Its cause is unknown but it usually clears up and the hair grows back within 6 to 12 months. People with this condition are often referred to a dermatologist, a doctor who specializes in skin conditions.

Certain hair styles or procedures can damage hair and contribute to hair loss: tight braiding or corn-rowing, coloring, as well as curling and straightening chemicals or techniques. Going back to a more natural style usually decreases hair loss caused by these practices.

Hair loss can also be due to skin infections, poor nutrition, high fevers, stress, and internal disorders such as diabetes and thyroid conditions. If you are eating a well-balanced diet, getting enough exercise and sleep, and are generally healthy, you may just be experiencing normal hair loss. If your hair loss is more than the normal amount, your doctor will want to examine you for other causes.

See you next issue!

Your friend, Cory SerVaas, M.D.

Send your health questions to "Ask Doctor Cory," Children's Digest, P.O. Box 567, Indianapolis, IN 46206 or e-mail us at This column does not replace your doctor's advice.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Benjamin Franklin Literary & Medical Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:SerVaas, Cory
Publication:Children's Digest
Date:Mar 1, 2001
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