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In the dry climate of the great winter indoors, your skin might develop nasty, tiny, tender cracks, cuts, scrapes, splits, and chunks of dangling epidermis that peel off down to raw meat. When the furnaces and fireplaces stoke up to warm you (happily!), they also dry out your hide. So it’s time to massage on the moisturizers to prevent your skin from becoming crunchy like 200-grit wet or dry sandpaper.

But, there is another dimension to those dermal defects. If they do hurt, it’s quite likely they are a wee infected, or, better said, colonized by bacteria from our skin and the environment. This is especially true if a bit of redness and/or swelling is also present. The classic, and still accurate, factors that constitute infection are rubor (redness), dolor (pain), calor (heat), and tumor (you guessed it, swelling). The known bacteria on our skin and in our skin microbiome number in the millions to trillions. Anytime there is a breach in the amazing barrier of our dead cell layer of keratin, numbers of bugs move in to set up shop to their advantage.

That incites an inflammatory reaction because they are like unwanted squatters in foreign territory. The two most familiar settings for this problem are heel skin that gets cracked from plunging into the back of a shoe and the evil splits that show up at the end of fingers by nail corners, (discussed in these learned lines in the past). Fingers and toes have the greatest density of nerve endings, which these conditions make painfully obvious.

Yes, rubbing in an ointment like petrolatum (brand Vaseline) is excellent for prevention. But when pain is present, employing antibiotic ointment is key to the remedy. It knocks down the denizens of your defect, so the skin can grow to reform its barrier. The only option over the counter is the triple antibiotic with neomycin, backtracking, and polysporin in it. You can find bacitracin alone with effort. The prices generically are nice.

A government electronic card is required to participate, leading critics to charge the government is favoring its supporters.

Speaking on VTV state television, Health Minister Luis Lopez said the handouts were taking place in 10 of 24 states, and in the rest of the country this coming week.

Francisco Valencia, who leads the health care rights group Codevida, says much more is needed, with an estimated 300,000 patients with chronic illnesses like kidney disease and cancer who are not getting the medications they need.

On Wednesday, patients and their families marched outside the embassies of Canada, the Netherlands, Peru and the United States to press them to urge President Nicolas Maduro to distribute medicine for humanitarian purposes.

The government denies any humanitarian crisis exists, and says US sanctions have complicated medicine imports and distribution.

Lower oil prices on world markets have dramatically reduced the government’s main source of hard currency.

Millions of Venezuelans face food and medicine shortages. The South American country has the largest proven crude oil reserves in the world.

Having a contact allergic reaction (which is well known) to either neomycin or bacitracin is a big drawback. Many diligent dermatologists instruct you never to use them to avoid becoming sensitized. The post surgical recommendation in most derm offices is to use just petrolatum to keep the surgical wound moist, as long as it isn’t infected. However, many times folks just grab the tube out of the bathroom medicine cabinet and apply it to a multitude of boo-boos. I, myself, have not seen that many reactions. If are you allergic to it, it can cause a humdinger of a rash. So, don’t use it then, right?

An option as a home remedy could be to put a few drops of bleach into a pint of water to rub on, followed by petrolatum to delay evaporation. Straight bleach is too strong and irritating. But even diluted, it’s an incredible antiseptic. Other options are prescription topical antibiotics. One I have seen be remarkably beneficial is topical gentamicin. When I wrote about it before, I received 16 phone requests for it, to relieve split, painful pinkies. Using Super Glue won’t fix the problem the same way.

These are my thoughts about tender digits and other painful, wounded areas. The bacteria are everywhere! We are truly “bugged”. It’s remarkable how we live with them, and many actually help keep us alive. Our knowledge of that story is evolving and fascinating.

An antibiotic or antiseptic on a tender opening can really aid healing and closing. I identify these Hints as my opinions, which are like belly buttons (or digestive canal openings): everybody has one. This Hint may not exactly crack you up, but it might help you keep your cutaneous covering from cracking up.