Friday, 20 November 2020

Should we be popping our blisters?? Answer is "no" - and here is why.


The body naturally produces blisters to help cushion and heal damaged skin. It is usually best to try to avoid popping them, but if a blister is large or very painful, a person may need to drain it to reduce discomfort.


A blister is a fluid-filled sac that develops on the outer layer of the skin. Burns, friction, and certain skin conditions can cause blisters. Smaller blisters are called vesicles, and larger ones are called bulla.


Should I pop my blister?

In most cases, blisters do not need treatment and will heal on their own within one to two weeks.  Keeping the blister intact will allow the skin underneath to heal more quickly. The blister provides cushioning and protects the damaged area from germs while new layers of skin develop underneath


Whether it is safe or advisable to pop a blister depends on several factors, including what caused it.


Friction blister

Friction, or rubbing, can irritate the skin and cause a blister.  Ill-fitting or tight shoes, for example, can rub the skin for a prolonged period, resulting in a blister forming.  This type of blister will usually heal on its own if a person keeps it clean and dry. Popping it will increase the likelihood of germs getting into the wound and causing an infection.  However, according to the “American Academy of Dermatology (AAD)”  it may be advisable to drain a friction blister that is large or very painful to ease the discomfort.



Heat, electricity, and sunlight can burn the skin and lead to blistering.  Chemical burns can also cause blisters.  Historically, doctors labelled burns as either first, second, or third degree.  Now, they prefer to classify burns according to their depth.

There are three main types of burn:

·      Superficial burns:  which are mild burns that affect the outer layer of skin. They do not typically cause blisters.

·      Partial thickness burns:  which affect the outer skin and some tissue in the deeper layers of skin. These burns may blister.

·      Full-thickness burns:  which affect the deepest layers of skin.


Most household burns and sunburns are either superficial burns or minor partial thickness burns.  There may be a small amount of blistering, and the area will look red and a little swollen.  It will also be painful.


People should not pop a blister that occurs due to burning.



“Dyshidrotic Eczema” is a common form of eczema that can cause itchy, dry skin and small, deep-seated blisters on the hands or feet.  These blisters are usually itchy and painful.  Eczema is a long-term condition for which there is no cure, and the symptoms tend to come and go over time.  Blisters can appear during a flare-up of symptoms, which stress or a rise in temperature can trigger.  These small blisters usually clear up in two to three weeks.  They may burst on their own, but people should avoid popping them.


Viral Infections

Certain viral infections can cause blisters.  These include infections with the varicella-zoster virus, which causes Chickenpox and Shingles, and the herpes simplex virus, which causes cold sores or fever blisters.


Doctors will typically advise people to avoid scratching or breaking open chickenpox or shingles blisters as doing this can leave a scar.  Instead, a person can try applying calamine lotion to the skin or adding baking soda or colloidal oatmeal to a cool bath to help reduce the itching.


Cold sores usually appear close to the mouth, often on or next to the lips.  They may be in the form of a single blister or a cluster of blisters.


Cold sore blisters will usually go away by themselves in a week or two. It is important to avoid popping, scratching, or touching these blisters as this can spread the virus to other areas of skin, causing further outbreaks.


So, what if you do pop a blister?

If a person does decide to pop a blister, they should do their best to prevent infection.

We are taking this advice from online, and we are not making any recommendations ourselves.  According to studies, a person can follow these steps to drain a blister properly:

1.      Sterilize a small, thin needle with rubbing alcohol or boiling water.

2.      Carefully pierce the blister at its edge and drain some fluid.

3.      Avoid removing the top of the blister.

4.      Clean the area well with soap and water.

5.      Cover it with a loose bandage.


Using rubbing alcohol to sterilize the needle does not always prevent infection.  People who are prone to getting infections may wish to ask a doctor to drain the blister for them in a more sterile environment.


If a person suspects that a blister has become infected, they should speak to a doctor.  Prescription antibiotic tablets or a topical ointment or cream can help.


So how should I treat a blister?

People can usually treat mild friction or burn blisters at home by covering the blister with a loose bandage and raising the middle of the dressing slightly to allow the blister to move.  If the blister is in an area where things might rub on or break it, it is best to apply padding around the blister.  A person can cut the padding into a circular shape with a hole in the middle, place this around the blister, and then cover it with a bandage.


If a blister pops, a person can rub petroleum jelly around the area and cover the skin with a bandage until it heals.


The most important thing is to keep the area clean and dry.  The person should change the dressing on burn or friction blisters frequently.  If they can avoid popping the blister, that will also speed up the healing by helping prevent infection.


Blister pads, also called artificial blisters, can speed up healing by providing protective cushioning around the blister. These are available at chemists and pharmacies.


Non-aspirin medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), can help ease the symptoms of chickenpox in children.  Antiviral ointments that speed up the healing of cold sores are available in most chemists or pharmacies but do ask them for advice.


Anyone who thinks that they may have shingles should speak to a doctor.  Antiviral medications can only reduce the length of the illness if the person takes them within three days of the rash appearing. It is also important to use a cold sore cream as soon as possible once the blisters appear.



Friction, heat, and certain health condition can cause blisters.  These fluid-filled sacs act as a barrier to germs and protect the wound while new skin forms underneath.  If the barrier breaks for any reason (including a person popping it) bacteria can get in and cause an infection.

That is why, in most cases, it is best to avoid popping a blister.  If a friction blister is large or very painful, a person may need to drain it to relieve discomfort.  It is best to ask a doctor or dermatologist to perform this procedure. However, if this is not possible, a person should take care to use sterile tools, wash the area thoroughly, and keep the wound clean and dry.

What are Cataracts and should we have surgery. Research here


In the last two years, our Lazza has had cataract surgery on both his eyes.  This followed surgeries to repair detached retinas in each eye, and he was told there was a chance that cataracts could form afterwards.  So, we thought we would investigate the subject.

Cataracts are when the lens of your eye, a small transparent disc, develops cloudy patches.

When we're young, our lenses are usually like clear glass, allowing us to see through them.  As we get older they start to become frosted, like bathroom glass, and begin to limit our vision.  Cataracts most commonly affect adults because of ageing.

How about surgery?

If you have cataracts, it's your decision whether to go ahead with cataract surgery.  Cataracts usually get slowly worse over time. Surgery to replace the cloudy lens is the only way to improve your eyesight.  Surgery is usually offered on the NHS if your cataracts are affecting your eyesight and quality of life.  Lazza had both of his done at Moorfields, and the staff and everyone involved was fantastic.

The decision to have surgery should not be based solely on your eye test (visual acuity) results.  You may have other personal reasons for deciding to have surgery, such as your daily activities, hobbies, and interests.  You can choose to put off having surgery for a while and have regular check-ups to monitor the situation.  You need to be aware that here are no medicines or eye drops that have been proven to improve cataracts or stop them getting worse.

Before surgery, you'll be referred to a specialist eye doctor for an assessment.  During the assessment different measurements will be taken of your eyes and your eyesight.  The assessment is an opportunity to discuss anything to do with your operation, including:

·      your lens preference, such as near sight or long sight

·      the risks and benefits of surgery

·      if you'll need glasses after surgery

·      how long you'll take to fully recover

If you're used to using one eye for distance and one for reading, which is called monovision, you can ask to stay that way.  This usually means you'll get a near-sight lens fitted in one eye and a long-sighted lens fitted in the other eye.

Cataract surgery is a straightforward procedure that usually takes 30 to 45 minutes.  It's often carried out as day surgery under local anaesthetic and you should be able to go home on the same day.  This was how Lazza had his, and although you are awake during the procedure you are given something to help you relax.  It sounds weird but is fine.

During the operation, the surgeon will make a tiny cut in your eye to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a clear plastic one.  With the NHS, you will usually be offered monofocal lenses, which have a single point of focus. This means the lens will be fixed for either near or distance vision, but not both.  If you go private, you may be able to choose either a multifocal or an accommodating lens, which allow the eye to focus on both near and distant objects.

Most people will need to wear glasses for some tasks, like reading, after surgery regardless of the type of lens they have fitted.  This has not happened to Lazza yet, but he knows it will probably come sooner than later.

If you have cataracts in both eyes, you'll need two separate operations, usually carried out 6 to 12 weeks apart.  This will give the first eye to be treated time to heal and your vision time to return.

After cataract surgery you should be able to:

·      see things in focus

·      look into bright lights and not see as much glare

·      tell the difference between colours

If you have another condition affecting your eyes, such as diabetes or glaucoma, you may still have limited vision, even after successful surgery.  Lazza says his vision is now clear and amazing, and the difference from the before and after is astonishing.

The risk of serious complications developing as a result of cataract surgery is extremely low.  Most common complications can be treated with medicines or further surgery.  There is a ridiculously small risk (around 1 in 1,000) of permanent sight loss in the treated eye as a direct result of the operation.

Let's talk about Gum Disease and what we should be doing.


Gum disease is a common condition where the gums become swollen, sore, or infected.  Most adults in the UK have gum disease to some degree, and most people experience it at least once. It's much less common in children.

If you have gum disease, your gums may bleed when you brush your teeth and you may have bad breath.  This early stage of gum disease is known as “Gingivitis”.  If gingivitis is not treated, a condition called “Periodontitis” can develop.  This affects the tissues that support teeth and hold them in place.  If periodontitis is not treated, the bone in your jaw may be damaged and small spaces can open up between the gum and teeth.  Your teeth can become loose and may eventually fall out.

So, what causes gum disease?

Gum disease is caused by a build-up of plaque on the teeth.  Plaque is a sticky substance that contains bacteria.  Some bacteria in plaque are harmless, but some are harmful for the health of your gums.  If you do not remove plaque from your teeth by brushing them, it builds up and irritates your gums.  This can lead to redness with bleeding, swelling and soreness.

You should make an appointment to see your dentist if your gums are painful, swollen, or bleed when you brush your teeth.  Your dentist can carry out a thorough dental examination to check the health of your gums, which may involve inserting a thin metal stick with a bend in one end (periodontal probe) beside your teeth.  In some cases, a number of X-rays may be needed to check the condition of your teeth and jawbone.

Preventing and treating gum disease

Mild cases of gum disease can usually be treated by maintaining a good level of oral hygiene.  This includes brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing regularly.  You should also make sure you go for regular dental check-ups.  In most cases, your dentist or dental hygienist will be able to give your teeth a thorough clean and remove any hardened plaque (tartar).  They'll also be able to show you how to clean your teeth effectively to help prevent plaque building up in the future.

If you have severe gum disease, you'll usually need to have further medical and dental treatment.  In some cases, surgery may need to be carried out.  This will usually be performed by a specialist in gum problems (periodontics).

It's important to have regular dental check-ups so any problems with your teeth and gums can be detected and treated early.  If you have never had gum disease and have good oral health, you may only need to visit your dentist every 1 to 2 years for a check-up.  You may need to visit your dentist more frequently if you have had problems with gum disease in the past.  At each appointment, your dentist will advise when you need your next appointment.

If you have an increased risk of developing gum problems (for example, you smoke or have diabetes), you may be advised to visit your dentist more often so your teeth and gums can be closely monitored.

If you have untreated gum disease that develops into periodontitis, it can lead to further complications.  These include:

·      painful collections of pus (gum abscesses).

·      receding gums

·      loose teeth

·      loss of teeth


Healthy Gums should be pink, firm, and keep your teeth securely in place.  Your gums should not bleed when you touch or brush them. 

Gum disease is not always painful, and you may be unaware you have it.  This is one of the reasons why it's important to have regular dental check-ups.

In rare cases, a condition called acute necrotising ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG) can develop suddenly.  The symptoms of ANUG are usually more severe than those of gum disease and can include:

·      bleeding, painful gums

·      painful ulcers

·      receding gums in between your teeth

·      bad breath

·      a metallic taste in your mouth

·      excess saliva in your mouth

·      difficulty swallowing or talking

·      a high temperature (fever)


You should make an appointment to see your dentist if you think you may have gum disease or ANUG.

What is Plaque?

Your mouth is full of bacteria that combine with saliva to form a sticky film known as plaque, which builds up on your teeth.

When you consume food and drink high in carbohydrates (sugary or starchy foods), bacteria in plaque turn carbohydrates into the energy they need, producing acid at the same time.  Over time, acid in plaque begins to break down your tooth's surface and causes tooth decay.  Other bacteria in plaque can also irritate your gums, making them inflamed and sore.

Plaque is typically easy to remove by brushing and flossing your teeth, but it can harden and form a substance called “tartar” if it's not removed.  Tartar sticks much more firmly to teeth than plaque and can usually only be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist.

Who is at the most risk?

As well as poor oral hygiene, several things can increase your risk of developing problems with your gums.  These include:

·      Smoking:  yet another reason to give up the fags!!

·      Your age:  gum disease becomes more common as you get older

·      Diabetes:  a lifelong condition that causes a person's blood sugar levels to become too high.

·      Pregnancy:  hormonal changes can make gums more vulnerable to plaque.

·      A weakened immune system:  for example, because of conditions like HIV and Aids, or certain treatments, such as chemotherapy.

·      Malnutrition:  a condition that occurs when a person's diet does not contain the right amount of nutrients.

·      Stress.

You may also be more likely to have gum disease if you're taking medicines that cause a dry mouth. These medicines include antidepressants and antihistamines.

Good Oral Hygiene at Home involves:

·      brushing your teeth for about 2 minutes last thing at night before you go to bed and on 1 other occasion every day.  It does not matter if you use an electric or manual toothbrush, but some people find it easier to clean their teeth thoroughly with an electric toothbrush.

·      using toothpaste that contains the right amount of “Fluoride”, a natural mineral that helps protect against tooth-decay.

·      Flossing your teeth or using interdental brushes regularly, preferably daily, before brushing your teeth

·      not smoking

·      regularly visiting your dentist.  At least once every 1 to 2 years, but more frequently if necessary

What about Mouthwash?

“Antiseptic mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine or hexetidine are available over the counter from pharmacies.  But there's some debate about whether using mouthwash is necessary for people with healthy gums.  Mouthwashes cannot remove existing plaque. Only regular toothbrushing and flossing can do this.

Your dentist may recommend using mouthwash if it helps control the build-up of plaque, the sticky substance that forms when bacteria collects on the surface of your teeth.  Your dentist will be able to advise you about which type of mouthwash is most suitable and how to use it.  Chlorhexidine mouthwash can stain your teeth brown if you use it regularly.  Rinse your mouth thoroughly between brushing your teeth and using a chlorhexidine mouthwash as some ingredients in toothpaste can prevent the mouthwash working.  You should not use a chlorhexidine mouthwash for longer than 4 weeks, it is recommended.”

Ways to help with Loneliness - from the Red Cross.

This was a message on the British Red Cross site which we thought was fantastic, so we hope they do not mind if we share with you. 

We’ve all felt lonely at times, but as coronavirus restrictions tighten and limit our daily interactions these feelings of loneliness may have increased.

Maybe you’re self-isolating in a new place away from familiar faces.  You might feel that your life has been put on hold.  Or all the plans you did make have had to change.  All this change might lead to anxiet

So, here are some reflections that could help you cope with loneliness.  Here’s a quick look at some of the ways you can build your confidence and self-esteem, develop meaningful connections, and have the tools to cope with change.  Remember if you or someone you know is really struggling, seek further specialised support.

Be Kind:

Loneliness can affect our self-esteem and make us feel like we are not worthy of other people being kind or being friends with us.  That’s not true.  We all deserve patience and kindness.  Ensure you are being kind to yourself.  Can you think of five things you really like about yourself that you think others would like about you too?

Even if you don’t feel lonely yourself, others in your friendship groups might be, but may be too nervous to reach out.  You could start a conversation with your friends where each of you share one or two things you really like about each other.  Keep a record of the things you say and remind yourselves when you feel you need a boost.

Take a minute to breathe

Sometimes it can all get too much, and we need to clear our minds.  Use the breathing with colour exercise or other mindfulness breathing exercises to take a moment.  Picture a colour you associate with happy, positive thoughts.  Now picture another for not so positive thoughts.  Take a slow breath in and picture breathing in the positive colour.  Can you feel the breath reach your fingers and toes?  Take a slow breath out and picture breathing out the negative colour.  Blow it far away from you.  Repeat this exercise a few times.  Does it help?  How do you feel now?

Think about meaningful connections

Having meaningful connections with others is the best way to tackle loneliness.  This is more than just a conversation with a person about the weather, this means talking and connecting to someone deeply.  How we connect meaningfully with others is individual to us.  Think about what you need from a connection to make it meaningful to you.  Do you have anyone who you can connect with meaningfully like this?

Start a conversation about being lonely

This can be a hard one for many, but our research shows just talking about it helps a lot.  You don’t need to talk about your own experiences at first, just start a conversation with someone you trust about loneliness in general.  You could ask:  “What is loneliness to you, how would you describe it?”

Try and help others

We can help ourselves and others by reaching out to people who may be isolated.  Do you have a friend or neighbour who might be lonely?  How could you reach out to them and see how they are doing?  Remember that you cannot 'fix' anyone's loneliness on your own, but a kind act can go a long way.

Can mouthwash kill the Coronavirus: Some research findings here:


Mouthwash can kill Coronavirus within 30 seconds of being exposed to it in a laboratory, a scientific study has found.

The preliminary result comes ahead of a clinical trial into whether using over-the-counter mouthwash could reduce the levels of Covid-19 in a patient's saliva.

The Cardiff University report said that mouthwashes containing at least “0.07 per cent Cetypyridinium chloride (CPC)” showed "promising signs" of combatting the virus.

The report - called “The Virucidal Efficacy of Oral Rinse Components Against SARS-CoV-2 In Vitro” - is yet to be peer reviewed.

However, it supports results from another study published last week that found CPC-based mouthwashes are effective in reducing Covid's viral load.

The latest test was carried out by scientists at the university's laboratory and mimicked the conditions of a person's “naso/oropharynx passage” using mouthwash brands.

A clinical trial will next examine how effective mouthwash is in reducing the viral load in the saliva of Covid-19 patients at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, with its results due to be published in the first part of 2021.

Dentyl is the only UK mouthwash brand to take part in the 12-week clinical trial, which is led by Professor David Thomas from Cardiff University and titled: "The measurement of mouthwash anti-viral activity against Covid-19".

Dr Thomas said: "Whilst these mouthwashes very effectively eradicate the virus in the laboratory, we need to see if they work in patients and this is the point of our ongoing clinical study.  It is important to point out the study won't give us any direct evidence on viral transmission between patients, that would require a different type of study on a much larger scale.  The ongoing clinical study will, however, show us how long any effects last, following a single administration of the mouthwash in patients with Covid-19."

He added: "Although this in-vitro study is very encouraging and is a positive step, more clinical research is now clearly needed.  We need to understand if the effect of over-the-counter mouthwashes on the Covid-19 virus achieved in the laboratory can be reproduced in patients, and we look forward to completing our clinical trial in early 2021."

Dr Nick Claydon, a specialist periodontologist, said he believed the research was "very valuable".

He said: "If these positive results are reflected in Cardiff University's clinical trial, CPC-based mouthwashes such as Dentyl used in the in-vitro study could become an important addition to people's routine, together with hand washing, physical distancing and wearing masks, both now and in the future."

Friday, 13 November 2020

HMHB look at the many reasons we need Bananas in our diets. It's a cracking fruit.


Bananas are extremely healthy and delicious.  They contain several essential nutrients and provide benefits for digestion, heart health and weight loss.  Aside from being very nutritious, they are also a highly convenient snack food.

Bananas are among the world’s most popular fruits.  Native to Southeast Asia, they are now grown in many warm parts of the world.  They are found to vary in colour, size, and shape.  The most common type is the Cavendish, which is a type of dessert banana.  It is green when unripe and it yellows as it matures.

Bananas contain a fair amount of fibre, as well as several antioxidants,

One medium-sized banana (118 grams) also contains:

·      Potassium:  9% of the RDI

·      Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine):  33% of the RDI

·      Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid):  11% of the RDI

·      Magnesium:  8% of the RDI

·      Copper:  10% of the RDI

·      Manganese:  14% of the RDI

·      Net Carbohydrates:  24 grams

·      Fibre:  3.1 grams

·      Protein:  1.3 grams

·      Fat:  0.4 grams

Each banana averages around 105 calories (depending on size) and consists almost exclusively of water and carbohydrates. Bananas hold little protein and almost no fat.  The carbohydrates in green, unripe bananas consist mostly of starch and resistant starch, but as the banana ripens, the starch turns into sugar (glucose, fructose, and sucrose).

Bananas are rich in pectin, a type of fibre that gives the flesh its spongy structural form.  Unripe bananas contain resistant starch, which acts like soluble fibre and escapes digestion.  Both pectin and resistant starch may moderate blood sugar levels after meals and reduce appetite by slowing the emptying of your stomach.

Furthermore, bananas also rank low to medium on the “glycaemic index” (GI), which is a measure (from 0–100) of how quickly foods increase blood sugar levels.  The GI value of unripe bananas is about 30, while ripe bananas rank at about 60. The average value of all bananas is 51.  This means that bananas should not cause major spikes in blood sugar levels in healthy individuals.  However, this may not apply to people with type 2 diabetes, who should probably avoid eating a lot of well-ripened bananas and monitor their blood sugar carefully if they do.

Bananas may improve digestive health as Dietary fibre has been linked to many health benefits.  A medium-sized banana has about 3 grams of fibre, making bananas a fairly good fibre source.

Bananas contain two main types of fibre:

·      Pectin:  decreases as the banana ripens.  Some test-tube studies propose that pectin may help protect against colon cancer.

·      Resistant Starch:  Found in unripe bananas.  Resistant starch escapes digestion and ends up in your large intestine, where it becomes food for the beneficial bacteria in your gut.

Bananas are a great dietary source of potassium.
 One medium-sized banana (118 grams) contains 9% of the RDI.  Potassium is a mineral that is essential for heart health, especially blood pressure control.

Despite its importance, few people get enough potassium in their diet.  A potassium-rich diet can help lower blood pressure, and people who eat plenty of potassium have up to a 27% lower risk of heart disease.  Furthermore, bananas contain a decent amount  of magnesium, which is also important for heart health.

Many fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of dietary antioxidants, and bananas are no exception.  They contain several types of potent antioxidants, including dopamine and catechins.  These antioxidants are linked to many health benefits, such as a reduced risk of heart disease and degenerative illnesses.

However, it is a common misunderstanding that the dopamine from bananas acts as a feel-good chemical in your brain.  In reality, dopamine from bananas does not cross the blood-brain barrier.  It simply acts as a strong antioxidant instead of altering hormones or mood.

Bananas are often referred to as the perfect food for athletes, largely due to their mineral content and easily digested carbs.
  Eating bananas may help reduce exercise-related muscle cramps and soreness, which affect up to 95% of the general population.  In fact, when I ran the New York Marathon in 2000 we were advised to eat a banana before we ran!!

The reason for the cramps is largely unknown, but a popular theory blames a mixture of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.  However, research gives mixed findings about bananas and muscle cramps. While some studies find them helpful, others find no effects.  That said, bananas do provide excellent nutrition before, during and after endurance exercise.