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your family's health... with Dr Sarah Brewer.

Byline: Dr Sarah Brewer

QMY son developed a rash after taking penicillin for a minor infection. Should he now avoid taking penicillin for the rest of his life?

ATHIS is something only your doctor can help you decide. Hopefully he or she will have seen the rash and assessed whether it was typical of a drug reaction or whether it was more likely to have been due to a viral illness. It is best to err on the side of caution - another antibiotic, such as erythromycin, should be prescribed instead. Anyone who has had an allergic reaction to one type of penicillin is not usually prescribed any other type. Remember to always tell your doctor your son may be allergic to penicillin when antibiotics are needed in the future.

QOUR new lodger is a heavy smoker. I am quite worried about the effects of passive smoking on my children and wonder how serious the risk is.

AEXPOSURE to cigarette smoke is harmful to children and, depending on the age of the child, is linked to a number of potentially serious problems. These include increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome, glue ear, asthma and even some childhood cancers. It is vital that your lodger does not smoke in the same room as the children. Ideally, he should not smoke in the house at all and go into the garage or garden instead. If he wants help or advice on giving up, he can speak to a counsellor by calling Smokers' Quitline on 0800 002200.

QIS it true that pregnant women who work in a dry cleaners are more prone to miscarriage?

ASOME research has found this to be the case. The risk of a miscarriage is around 11 per cent in the general population, but it rises to 15 per cent for women working in a dry cleaners but who don't operate machines and 18 per cent for women working as machine operators. This is thought to be caused by exposure to the solvent used as a dry-cleaning agent. Exposure is greatest when loading and unloading the machines and when cleaning button traps. If you are planning a baby, or are pregnant, tell your supervisor so that your exposure to fumes can be reduced as much as possible.

QA NURSE told me it is better to put a plaster on a wound than to let the air get to it so it dries. Is this true?

AWHEN a wound is left exposed to the air, a dry scab forms. In order to heal the wound, new skin cells have to burrow under the scab and dissolve it. When covered with a dressing, the wound remains moist, so new cells can easily cross the wound surface. Moist wounds heal quicker than a dry wound and with less chance of scarring. Moist wounds also protect nerve endings. So yes, it is better to dress a wound.

Sarah Brewer is a GP and health writer. Send your problems to Vital, One Central Quay, Glasgow G3 8DA. Sorry, Sarah cannot reply personally.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 22, 2001
Words:508
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