RANGER AGAINST WAR: Vietnam Veterans Skin Rash PSA <

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Vietnam Veterans Skin Rash PSA


 "What do you do for recreation?"
"Oh, the´╗┐ usual. I bowl. Drive around.
The occasional acid flashback." 
 --The Big Lebowski (1998)
______________________

Ranger, like so many veterans of the Vietnam War, has suffered for 40+ years from "ideopathic" skin rashes, for which the Veterans Administration doctors and assorted dermatologists have prescribed a series of anti-fungals and anti-yeast creams: Nizoral (Ketocaonazole), Ciclopirox, etc.  All of the creams, ointments and lotions have served, at best, to hold the rashes at bay for very brief periods during usage, if at all.

Lisa, being a Scorpio, is a natural investigator.  She read about a British doctor who, while treating British forces in tropical environments, developed his highly successful eponymous cream (alas, no longer on the drug formularies.) Dr. Whitfield himself has been largely relegated to the history books, though a National Institute of Health study found Whitfield's cream compares very favorably with any prescription formula (with a 70-80% cure rate.)

As neither the VA nor local pharmacies could order the product, we turned to the world's marketplace -- eBay -- where we found and purchased a small tub of it for under $10.  That has been several months ago, and Ranger's rashes have subsided as of this writing after using Whitfield's cream daily (they disappeared shortly after first use and have not returned.)

Several of our readers suffer the same mysterious rashes following their time in country; this cream may help you.

{Ranger has no connection, monetary or otherwise, with this cream.}

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12 Comments:

Blogger FDChief said...

Good find, Lisa, and good reporting, jim. I've always been pretty impressed with the ingenuity of those old Brits. They got there and did that long before any other Westerners and managed damn well for all that they seemed to do their business pretty offhand.

You should really consider going into the medical field, Lisa. You're two for two in my experience; you called my piriformis syndrome right, too. Consider this my letter of recommendation to UF medical school...

Monday, December 3, 2012 at 9:38:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thank you, Chief. Alas, I am a frustrated medic.

When I met Jim he constantly cleared his throat, but had become acclimated to it and no longer noticed it. I asked him to persue it and it turns out he had a paraesophageal hiatal hernia and was already suffering some precancerous columnar cell changes.

Our area is mighty backwards medically, and all they could offer was lifetime "managed care" -- i.e., Prilosec and other proton pump inhibitors. It was not a fix, and Jim does not like to take lifetime meds (who would?)

Long and short of it is, I did some reading and found a perfect fix: The Nissen Fundoplication and found the doctor who wrote the book on the procedure. Jim had the surgery by him (6 laparoscopic incisions) and -- VIOLA! -- no more reflux, the cells have reverted to normal, and Jim is all better (physically, that is.)

Just call me, Lisa the English Bulldog :)

Monday, December 3, 2012 at 10:04:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Lisa! I'll try it. Although Amlactin has also worked for me sometimes, not 100%, but enough for Washington State climate. I think it uses a similar solution that Whitfield's does - a mild acid rather than an antifungal. When I travel to the warmer, higher humidity climates I need something stronger.

The topical antifungals never worked for me. The oral ones worked fine but I swore off those 40 years ago when the docs told me they were affecting my liver.

mike

Monday, December 3, 2012 at 12:58:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Mike,
The W-field creme does burn when u apply it.
jim

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 11:22:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous minstrelboy - Stevie said...

An enterprising young doctor on staff at the VA la jolla has come up with a reasonable approximation of the whitfield's. his pharmacists mix it up right there on site.

He's also the only doctor i've found over the years that can treat my occasional bouts of dysentery, which is not only a souvenir of vietnam, it is a souvenir of a particular op where eight of us spent two days slogging, slipping, and working our way through one of the nastiest blackwater swamps in the world so that we could come up on the unguarded rear (no one in their right mind would have seen that swamp as anything but impassable) of an NVA encampment.

Ever since then, all eight of us will have periodic bouts of low grade fever, diarrhea, and vomiting. most of the time it is merely an inconvenience that is easily handled by over the counter measures.

Three times in the last two years however, i've had to be hospitalized in order to go on IV fluids and more agressive prescription treatments for the diarrhea.

During one of those hospitalizations a young doctor proposed that i come in at the onset of another attack and they would treat me very aggressively with hard core antibiotics. i was dubious. after all the doctor who was proposing this admitted that, like every other doctor over the last forty years, he had no idea of what type of organism was causing this. it might be viral, it might be fungal, it might be bacterial, it might be parasitic, nobody knows. it's a swamp bug from a place that has been studiously avoided throughout human history.

I got in touch with my old skipper (and fellow sufferer) who retired to coronado (where he can watch the new classes of BUDS run the beach in front of his porch) and he recommended dr. singh at the la jolla VA.

Since then my bouts with this have been lessened in number and severity. dr. singh is a good physician. he's also a testament to the fact that at its core, medicine is still 10% voodoo. there are still so many things that nobody knows why or how they work.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 7:33:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

To all,
an update.
i've started to use zinc soap and zinc supplements.
i can't say my skin is better, but it isn't any worse.
jim

Sunday, July 21, 2013 at 7:07:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Pat Lomans said...

Jim: Is the zinc in addition to the Whitfield's Cream? Have you continued using the cream since you first wrote about it? THNX

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 5:47:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Pat Lomans said...

My partner has been treated for a mysterious rash for approx. 1-1/2 years at the VA. Nothing seems to work. The creams they supply provide occasional temporary relief. There is a tropical disease clinic in Cambridge, MA - approx. 100 mi from here. I would like to see him get a referral. How would we accomplish that? Ideas, suggestions?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 5:50:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hi Pat,

I found out about it while reading an excerpt fr. an obscure book on tropical diseases treated by British GPs back in the days of empire.

No zinc, and it's in a petrolatum base. We found it on ebay. Good luck.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 11:38:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Pat Lomans said...

Hi Lisa: Thanks for your reply. I asked about the zinc because Jim mentioned that he started using zinc soap and supplement. I found the Whitfields on eBay, so I am going to order some. But I was wondering if it was still providing relief to Jim since he's been using it since 12/2012. THNX

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 12:23:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous jim at ranger said...

Pat L,
I primarily use the Whitfields.
I think i do so because it burns when i apply it, therefore i know(think) it's working. All the other creams give no immediate indication of doing so.
The creme works best if i'm clean shaven.
I habitually use lye soap from Cracker Barrel.
best luck to you.
jim

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 2:06:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

To all,
I'd like to update the data.
My civilian Dr. indicates that the problem with my skin originates at the base of my hair folicles. Hence i can't grow facial hair for more than a week or so and then i get redness, scaling etc..As a result i also shave my eye brows off b/c the follicles there shed down onto my face.
Using this technique, plus using the DVA shampoo on my face, the zinc soap , and the Whitfields keeps me reasonably clean.
If i didn't do this frequently i'd look very bad indeed.
I hope this info helps all of you reading this essay.
best of luck,
jim hruska

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 12:03:00 PM GMT-5  

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