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Ask Dr. Gott 1/23

Itchy skin may have serious cause

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Posted: January 22, 2007 6:44 p.m.
Updated: February 6, 2007 5:00 a.m.
DEAR DR. GOTT: I am writing in response to your recent column in which a reader inquired about itchy sensations on the skin.
    I see a dermatologist each year for a skin check, and I am familiar with various disorders.
    Last spring and summer, I had itchy skin and scalp for months. I was using tubes of over-the-counter cortisone preparations to relieve the symptoms.     No doctor could figure out the cause. In August, I was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease. All the nurses and patients in the dialysis center were familiar with itchy skin. High levels of phosphorus is the cause.
    If people with diabetes and/or hypertension have itchy skin, I think a doctor might want to check the person's BUN and creatinine levels.
    DEAR READER: Without question. Along with severe kidney disease, itchy skin can also be the result of blood abnormalities, such as polycythemia (blood that is too thick).
    To give you related information, I am sending you copies of my Health Reports "Kidney Disease" and "Blood -- Donations and Disorders." Other readers who would like copies should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 for each report to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. 

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I've a theory about the use of soap for nocturnal leg cramps. I'm not suffering from this affliction, so I can't test it. I hope one of your readers will test this theory.
    Since the brand of soap is not important, as indicated by those who have written to you, I suspect that the soap itself is not the necessary anti-cramp agent, and that a block of wood (rounded slightly at the corners so as not to jag) will have the same effect. Or even a man's billfold encased in a sandwich bag.
    I suspect the sensation caused by the leg or foot coming into contact with the obstruction (the bump), even during periods of sleep, prods Mother Nature to abstain from the cause of the cramp itself.
    Maybe some enterprising, willing spouse could surreptitiously substitute a block of wood or a billfold in the soap's wrapper to see if his or her dearly afflicted has the same relief from leg cramps.
    DEAR READER: This is exactly what one reader tried, and it was a success, leading the user to conclude that soap therapy works by placebo effect unrelated to the soap itself. However, I have received several letters from readers who had pets (and small children) with leg pain at night that was prevented by soap therapy -- hardly a placebo effect. The question of how soap works is still unanswered. Thanks for writing.
    DEAR DR. GOTT: I am considering trying your no-flour, no-sugar diet. I have two questions.
1. Can one consume 2 percent sweet milk?
2. Can one consume fried fish that is coated in cornmeal (no flour) prior to being deep fried in canola oil?
    DEAR READER: You may have milk and fish coated in cornmeal then fried. My diet restricts the consumption of cane sugar and flour, neither of which is present in milk and cornmeal.
    I recommend that you purchase my book "Dr. Gott's No Flour, No Sugar Diet." It contains meal plans, food lists and more in-depth information about the diet. It even contains recipes. You can purchase it at most chain and independent bookstores.


Doctor Gott is a practicing physician and the author of the new book "Dr. Gott's No Flour, No Sugar Diet," available at most chain and independent bookstores.
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