Friday 24 November 2017

The benefits of breastfeeding and preventing corns and callouses

Breast milk is ready and available on demand
Breast milk is ready and available on demand

Nina Byrnes

Our GP on the many benefits of breast feeding and how to prevent corns and callouses.

Question: I have been told that breastfeeding is best for my  baby and me, but I’m not that keen to try. Are the health benefits real?

Dr Nina replies: There is nothing that replaces the perfect mix of nutrition and immune protection that breast milk provides to a growing child.

The benefits of breastfeeding are real. It is a unique complete nutritional source. There is no doubt that it can take a little while to get the hang of, but the rewards for mom and baby are well worth the effort. The early milk, called colostrum, is not only rich in nutrients but also contains many antibodies which pass to the baby, protecting them from infections. Breastfeeding strengthens the immune system.

 Respiratory illness occurs far more commonly among formula-fed babies. Gastrointestinal disease, such as diarrhoea, occurs three to four times more commonly in formula-fed babies.

Breastfed babies have a lower risk of ear infections. Eczema is rarer in breastfed babies and it may also protect against allergies. Research also suggests that sudden infant death syndrome is less likely in breast fed babies.

The benefits extend way beyond the first year of life. Children who were breastfed have less dental cares. They also have a reduced risk of developing obesity. Those who were breastfed for at least three months have a 34pc reduced risk of developing type 1 juvenile diabetes. Children who were breastfed for more than six months are eight times less likely to develop childhood cancers.

There are many benefits for mom also. Breastfeeding helps you lose baby weight. The hormone oxytocin, released during feeding, encourages the womb to shrink back to its normal size. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of osteoporosis in later life. Those who breastfeed for two or more years of their life have a 24pc reduced risk of developing breast cancer.

Breastfeeding may also reduce the risk of cancer of the womb and ovaries. Breastfeeding also enhances the strong bond and emotional connection between mom and baby.

Finally, breast milk is ready and available on demand. No mixing, sterilising or heating required. Formula feeding requires sterilisers, bottles, and teats on top of the formula itself. This can cost over a €1,000 a year and a lot of extra time. It’s true what they say: breast is best.

I encourage you to give it a try.

Question: I have hard skin on the  bottom of my foot that won’t go away - it is painful at times.

Is this something to worry about? Do I need to see a specialist? Can I pare it down or do anything else to get rid of it?

Dr Nina replies: Hard skin on the feet is usually due to a corn or callous. Both of these result from pressure or friction on the skin as the skin tries to protect itself by thickening and hardening.

Callouses can be quite large and consist of areas of thick rough skin. They are rarely painful. Corns are smaller, usually less than a couple of centimetres, and have a hard centre surrounded by inflamed skin. They occur most commonly on the top and sides of toes and can be very painful.

Corns and callouses only require treatment if they are causing discomfort. Many treatments can be undertaken at home. The only exception to this rule is in those with problems with circulation, nerves, or conditions such as diabetes where treatment should only be undertaken under the advice of a  doctor or chiropodist.

Discomfort may be relieved by wearing comfortable well-fitting shoes and socks that help reduce friction and keep moisture away. Non-medicated corn or callous pads may also help. Rub the skin with a pumice stone after a bath or shower. This may help gently remove the excess skin. Moisturising will help prevent the build up of hard, thickened skin.

A chiropodist may pare away the dead skin and recommend using creams or pads with salicylic acid. This helps break down the callous or corn, which may then be easier to remove. Moisturisers containing urea may also be more effective. These should only be used if advised by a specialist. If a corn becomes infected, see your doctor as antibiotics may be required.

Keeping skin protected is the best way to avoid the corns and callouses.

 

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