Q. I have been suffering with an intractable combination of seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis. I’ve been using coal tar Tegrin for the psoriasis and Cortaid cream with poor results. My face, ears and scalp have lots of itching, burning, scaling and redness. So when I read in your column that someone used cornstarch successfully for rosacea, I tried it.
I wish I had taken pictures before and after. After four days, my skin is almost clear! I know these conditions tend to come and go, but this is the first ‘go’ in a couple of years.
A. We were intrigued by the original report that cornstarch helped a severe case of rosacea. This chronic skin condition is characterized by redness, bumps and pimples on the nose, cheeks, chin or forehead. A reader wrote: “I finally put cornstarch on the rosacea and in a week it was much better. Now all I do is wash my face morning and night, then put a light coat of cornstarch on my face.”
We can’t explain why cornstarch might help rosacea, and we are at a loss why psoriasis might respond to this remedy.
Seborrheic dermatitis is associated with a yeast that lives on the skin. Conceivably, cornstarch might make the skin less hospitable for this organism.
Q. I try to control health problems through diet instead of medication and so far I’ve been successful. I want to bring my cholesterol count down from 230 and increase my HDL, which is 48.
I have been told that ground flaxseed is beneficial and have started using organic flaxseed. Will this be of any help for a cholesterol problem?
A. Research reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (July 23/30, 2003) suggests that consuming a low-fat diet with a range of cholesterol-lowering foods can be as effective as some prescription medications.
In addition to a vegetarian diet, subjects were given soy milk and meat substitutes, cholesterol-lowering margarine like Take Control, almonds and foods containing soluble fiber. They include oats, barley, psyllium, eggplant and okra.
We are sending you our Guide to Cholesterol and Heart Health, which has additional information. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped (60 cents), self-addressed envelope: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. C-80, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. Ground flax seed contains lots of fiber and should also help lower cholesterol.
Q. Five springs in a row, my child has contracted head lice. The only completely successful remedy we’ve found is to slather her head with petroleum jelly. The Vaseline stays on her head a minimum of five hours and preferably overnight, under a shower cap.
To remove the petroleum jelly, I mix Dawn dishwashing liquid with cornstarch to make a runny paste. This is applied thickly to the entire head, and allowed to harden for about an hour. Rinse, wash out with shampoo, and repeat cornstarch mixture once or twice more if needed.
A. Using Vaseline to “smother” lice is a desperate measure, and should be considered a last resort. Parents have complained bitterly that petroleum jelly is difficult to remove from a child’s hair, so we are glad you have found a way to do this.
Other suggestions for Vaseline removal include baking soda, baby oil, Goop or Wisk. Be sure to keep detergents well away from children’s eyes!

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