Q. Years ago, after a day in a south Texas forest, I found I was covered in chigger bites from the waist down. I declined a doctor’s urging to be hospitalized, but filled the prescriptions he gave me. They had no effect, and I was miserable.
Fortunately, a neighbor told my wife that where she came from, the best remedy for the bites of what they called “grass tigers” was to sit in a tub in which lukewarm water covered the affected areas and then pour baking soda over all the bites. It sounded silly, but I was absolutely desperate for relief.
The baking soda produced an immediate sensation of coolness on the affected areas, and the itching began to diminish. Within a day, the itching (and swelling around each of the hundreds of bites) was gone. Plain ol’ baking soda: another wonderful folk remedy.
A. Chigger bites can be incredibly itchy. Dermatologists frequently prescribe potent steroid creams to diminish the allergic reaction.
Not everyone may benefit from your baking-soda remedy, but it is certainly worth a try.
Preventing chigger bites makes even more sense. Sulfur powder (flowers of sulfur) sprinkled on socks, shoes and pant legs is an old-fashioned approach. If you can’t find the powder, consider a liquid sulfur solution such as that found in Chigg-Away.
Q. Our family is getting together with friends for a big beach vacation. I know my husband will be parading around in his flip-flops or bare feet. He is oblivious to his incredibly ugly nail fungus. I am embarrassed every time I look at his yellowish-brown thick nails.
I know you have written about remedies for nail fungus. Any information you can send would be appreciated.
A. The most important ingredient in any nail-fungus remedy is patience. It can take a long time for a nail to grow in healthy.
There are lots of remedies, though they don’t all work equally well for everyone. Some people report that foot soaks with cornmeal work for them, while others get results from tea tree oil, Listerine, vinegar or Vicks VapoRub. Hydrogen peroxide is another perennial favorite.
Q. I have suffered with heartburn for years. The most recent prescription medicine made my reflux way worse.
Then I read that almonds helped someone else with a similar problem. I tried it, and it works for me.
Sometimes three almonds will do the job— raw, blanched, roasted or roasted with salt. They work if I eat them before a meal or after, or when the heartburn starts. I carry snack-size packs of almonds in my purse just in case.
A friend of mine who has a chemistry degree feels it may be the amino acids in the almonds that help heal the stomach lining and also help cut down the acid production.
A. We have no explanation for the relief some people get from heartburn when they eat a handful of almonds. Perhaps your chemist friend is right. In any event, this is a simple solution for an uncomfortable condition.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or email them via their Web site: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”
2013 King Features Syndicate, Inc.