Does Circumin Have Anticancer Purposes?

A patient asked me about circumin. Circumin is a chemical that is found in Turmeric, a plant indigenous to Asia and some parts of Africa. Turmeric’s primary use is in spices, food products, and clothing dyes, but it’s not prominent in the medical field.

While laboratory studies suggest that circumin may have some anti-inflammatory and anticancer uses, there are no reports of these findings in people yet. Hence, the research on circumin and its medical benefits remains in progress.


Medicines to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk. 2014.

Turmeric. NCCIH. Published March 2007. Accessed July 7, 2016.

What Allergen Causes Caterpillar Dermatitis?

Moth and butterfly caterpillars can sometimes cause an allergic reaction known as caterpillar dermatitis (lepidopterism). So after human skin comes into contact with the hairs on a caterpillar’s legs, symptoms begin to show up. While I’ve seen frequent cases of caterpillar dermatitis, I’m still not sure about one key aspect: what specific allergen in the hairs causes the dermatitis?

It turns out that, like porcupines, caterpillars have venomous quills. These spines, called verrucae, contain poisonous fluids, and are nestled beneath the leg hairs. When they penetrate skin, these verrucae introduce the venom into the bloodstream. Hence, an allergic reaction ensues. While the venom is usually not life threatening because of the caterpillar’s small size, it’s still irritating.

Caterpillar dermatitis manifests in hives, itching, and rashes, to name a few. Treatment is relatively simple and non-invasive due to the reaction’s topical nature. If you or your child should develop mild caterpillar dermatitis, use topical corticosteroid cream in addition to an oral antihistamine. As a result, the lesions usually heal within one week without scars.


Caterpillars: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. U.S National Library of Medicine. Published July 14, 2015. Accessed July 7, 2016.

Foot NC. Pathology Of The Dermatitis Caused By Megalopyge Opercularis, A Texan Caterpillar. Journal of Experimental Medicine. 1921;35(5):737-753. doi:10.1084/jem.35.5.737.

Müller CSL, Tilgen W, Pföhler C. Caterpillar dermatitis revisited: lepidopterism after contact with oak processionary caterpillar. BMJ Case Reports. Published April 20, 2011. Accessed July 7, 2016.

Mother Dirt Nurtures the Good Bacteria in the Skin

I heard an advertisement for a brand called Mother Dirt the other day. I had never heard of their products, so I figured I would do some research. I found out that it’s a new skincare line that nurtures the good bacteria present in the skin.

Most skincare products kill all of the germs on our skin, including the good bacteria living there. Researchers claim that this is more harmful than healthy for us, as it disrupts that natural order. We are sterilizing our bodies, which strips the skin of essential bacteria and leaves it prone to infection. In short, we are too clean!

Mother Dirt’s products are full of Ammonia-Oxidizing Bateria. AOB is healthy for the skin in the same way probiotics are healthy for the digestive system. Good bacteria will balance out cleanliness, health, and natural order.

You can check out Mother Dirt’s website and product line here.


Mother Dirt | Rethink Clean and Health Skin. Mother Dirt | Rethink Clean and Health Skin. Accessed June 30, 2016.

Collagenase Santyl Ointment for Chronic Wound Care

A visiting nurse suggested Collagenase Santyl Ointment for a patient who had chronic leg ulcers. I had never heard of this chronic wound care product before, so I decided to do some research on it. It turns out Santyl Ointment is a prescription medication that removes dead skin from chronic surface wounds. Dead skin buildup interferes with the healing process.

The ointment is prescribed for many kinds of chronic wound care: diabetic ulcers, venous ulcers, and areas that have been severely burned.

How to use Santyl Ointment:

  1. Clean the affected area.
  2. Apply the amount of ointment instructed by your doctor.
  3. Cover the area with a clean gauze bandage.  


What is Collagenase SANTYL Ointment? Collagenase SANTYL Ointment. Accessed June 30, 2016.

Spironolactone and Photosensitivity

A patient asked me if spironolactone caused photosensitivity. After careful research on the subject, I found that photosensitivity was not a side effect of spironolactone specifically. But it can be caused by hydrochlorothiazide, which the other chemical ingredient in Aldactazide® tablets. The short answer is not directly. But if the patient is taking Aldactazide® tablets, photosensitivity could be a side effect.


Aldactazide® spironolactone and hydrochlorothiazide tablets . Published January 14, 2016. Accessed June 29, 2016.

Can Cranberries Exacerbate Eczema?

A patient thought that his recent consumption of cranberries exacerbated his eczema. Though allergies to cranberries are highly uncommon, they are associated with immediate type hypersensitivity (hives), but not eczema.

If you are allergic, the best way to treat a cranberry allergy is to avoid cranberry products altogether. Make sure the ingredient list and nutrition facts on all products you consume don’t contain cranberry or traces of cranberry.


Cranberry Allergy Rash. LIVESTRONG.COM. Published 2015. Accessed June 29, 2016.

What Percentage of People Are Allergic to Poison Ivy, Sumac, and Oak?

A patient recently asked me what percentage of are allergic to poison ivy. 85% of the American population is allergic to urushiol (Poison Ivy, Sumac, and Oak). Upon first exposure, the skin reaction doesn’t happen for 14 days; subsequent exposures produce reactions in 2 days. The rash lasts an average of three weeks. Here are some tips on dealing with this common summertime rash:

  1. Urushiol  is spread very easily, such on clothing, so be sure to clean thoroughly after being in an area with a high concentration of one or more of these plants.
  2. If you develop a rash, try not to scratch it. Take cool showers or baths to reduce swelling and itchiness. Some topical products you can apply to the affected area are calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream; both can be purchased over the counter.
  3. The best way you can prevent an allergic contact dermatitis reaction is to wear long pants and sleeves when you are in areas that poison ivy is growing.
  4. If you do manage to come into contact with the plant, make sure that you wash all exposed skin with soap and water as soon as you possibly can. If you rinse off exposed skin within five minutes of coming into contact with urushiol, you can completely remove it.


Poison Plant Identification. , Pictures of Poison Oak & Ivy | Tec Labs. Accessed June 24, 2016.

Did you know? Poison Ivy, Sumac and Oak  |  American Skin Association. Accessed June 24, 2016.

Vomiting: Side Effect of Imiquimod

A few weeks ago, a patient called me, questioning whether IMIQUIMOD was associated with vomiting. The patient had been applying IMIQUIMOD once a week to their facial skin for maintenance therapy of ACTINIC KERATOSES. At first, I thought, “How could this be? How could a topical medication make someone nauseous and vomit?” After researching this question, I found out that it is true: approximately 1% of patients in clinical trials develop vomiting. This, I suppose, is from the generation of interferon.

Vitamin B-12 and Psoriasis

Several weeks ago, a long-term psoriasis patient of mine came to me with completely clear skin. He noticed that his skin had cleared dramatically when he received a B-12 shot two or three months before his visit. The question is: does B-12 have any role in the treatment of psoriasis? After reviewing the role of B-12, reading about B-12 with respect to psoriasis, there was one study done in the 1960’s. The research was a small randomized trial, which showed no efficacy of B-12 and psoriasis.