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Ask doctor Cory.

Dear Dr. Cory:

Do you have to get chickenpox once in your life or is there something that can prevent it?

Mayson

Dayton, Ohio

Dear Mayson:

The chickenpox shot, or vaccine (vak-SEEN), helps prevent chickenpox. Some children who get the vaccine may still get chickenpox, but it will be a much milder case than it would have been.

Parents are encouraged to have their children vaccinated against chickenpox because the disease can lead to serious problems. Chickenpox is the main cause of group A, or "flesh eating" strep, a very serious skin infection. In recent years, strep has become a much more dangerous type of bacteria.

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

Children who have already had chickenpox do not need the vaccine. A virus causes chickenpox, so once a person has had it, they usually don't get it again.

Dear Dr. Cory:

Every winter I get cold sores on my upper lip. How can I prevent them?

Melissa

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Dear Melissa:

Cold sores are caused by a herpes virus. Once you have the virus, it hides in your body. Certain things, such as not getting enough sleep, not eating well, spending time in the sun without sun block, and too much stress may cause the virus to pop up again.

To help prevent cold sores:

* Eat smaller amounts of nuts, chocolate, cereal grains, and whole-wheat products. These foods contain arginine (AR-jeh-neen), that helps the herpes virus grow.

* Eat more dairy foods (plain yogurt with live cultures), eggs, red meats, wheat germ, brewer's yeast, and fish. These foods contain lysine (LIE-seen) to help control the virus.

* Try to stay healthy. Ask about getting a flu shot; eat a variety of foods (especially fruits and vegetables); be active for an hour or more every day; and get ten to eleven hours of sleep each night.

* Use sun block on your lips. Some people take over-the-counter supplements of lysine when they feel cold sores coming on. Years ago, Indiana University lysine researcher Dr. Richard Griffith gave us this formula for figuring a daily lysine dose: 500 mg. of lysine per 22 pounds of body weight. So, an adult who weighs 132 pounds would take 3 grams of lysine in divided doses, while a 44-pound child would take 1 gram daily. Check with your health care provider to see if lysine supplements are right for you.

There is also an expensive prescription drug called acyclovir. It does not cure cold sores, but will speed the healing time.

Your friend, Cory SerVaas, M.D.
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Title Annotation:chickenpox vaccines; cold sores
Author:SerVaas, Cory
Publication:Children's Playmate
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2007
Words:462
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