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21 July 2010 @ 08:20 am

For reasons not entirely clear to us, though the landlords had kept the recycling and trash bins in front of the house, the compost bin was in the back garden. Today is compost-collection day, so last night Ted brought the bin in through the kitchen (the only way it can be brought in) out to the front.

In the brief time it took to do that, one jillion fruit flies swarmed out of it.

We set out hole-punctured plastic-wrap-covered jars of cider vinegar, which got most of the little fuckers, but there are still enough to make me shudder. Hopefully a few days of vinegar-jars will get rid of all of them. *shudders more*

Also, I appear to have athlete’s foot (& have had for some months now) which has not been killed by the applications of tea tree oil, and as a rule all the other homeopathic cures involve sitting around lollygagging with feet soaking in vinegar or bleach or whatever for 20 minutes at a time twice a day. *snort* Yeah, right. But I’m loathe to use topical ointments while breastfeeding (or while pregnant, which is why I’m still infested). Argh.

This morning’s post brought to you by mildly gross things, apparently. :p

(x-posted from the essential kit)
Autopopeautopope on July 21st, 2010 07:39 am (UTC)
Athlete's foot: forget the tea tree oil, just go for chemical warfare. I'd start with clotrimazole (aka Canesten™) cream, twice daily. If that doesn't produce rapid results (decrease in itching within 72 hours) switch to miconazole (aka Daktarin™) cream. If that doesn't work, see a doctor (you may have a resistant strain).

If one of these creams produces a marked reduction in itching, keep applying it for two weeks, even after all signs of athlete's foot have gone away. Fungus is persistent! Stop too soon and you'll be back to square one within a month.

If you can find a branch of Boots in Dublin (they're in Ireland, right?) they do a "dual action" athlete's foot powder containing tolnaftate and chlorhexidine (the latter being a general purpose bactericide). Spray it in your shoes before wearing them; spray it in all your frequently-worn shoes, in fact, and change shoes regularly.

I had persistent athlete's foot last year, which was finally fixed by nuking the pair of shoes I was wearing 80% of the time -- I was curing the infections using antifungal cream, then reinfecting myself from spores hiding in the leather uppers.

Breast feeding: there's a lack of research on these agents. It doesn't mean they're definitely unsafe -- it means that the pharmaceutical companies see no profit in and lots of grief in conducting clinical trials on babies, so they didn't do that.

The Boots athletes foot powder is considered to be safe during breast feeding. Clotrimazole: no research, but it's been used extensively during pregnancy with no significant side effects noted. Miconazole: the language is somewhat more cautious. In any event, if breast feeding, do not use these agents where your baby will come into direct contract with them or ingest them.

Edited at 2010-07-21 07:41 am (UTC)
Autopopeautopope on July 21st, 2010 07:58 am (UTC)
I feel I should unpack the significance of those ghastly warnings: "this drug has not been tested for safety when breast feeding and should only be used if the benefits outweigh the risks ..." just to set your mind at ease a little.

Suppose we have a new drug for athlete's foot. It is sold by a big, profit-oriented corporation. They got its product license by testing it on healthy adult males (this is the normal way they do things -- or did, until recently).

You are female, as are 50% of the population. You will on average live 78 years -- call it an "adult" life expectancy of 70 years in medical terms -- and be pregnant 3 times at most. So you'll be pregnant for 2.25 out of 70 years, i.e. 3.2% of your life. Averaged over the entire population, we (humans) spend 1.6% of our life -- or less -- pregnant.

Assuming athlete's foot affects everyone uniformly, proving that it is safe to use the medicine during pregnancy will therefore at best only increase $BIGCO's market penetration by 1.6%. But there is a risk -- low, but non-zero -- that such testing may reveal that the medicine is unsafe during pregnancy. In which case there will be (a) pay-outs to the affected parents and children, (b) draconian restrictions on use (forget ever selling it over the counter -- it'll be prescription-only, so doctors and pharmacists can prevent it being used dangerously), and there will be a concommitant fall in profits.

Ergo, test new meds on pregnant women? You jest! Let's just slap a warning on it saying HERE BE DRAGONS, PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Much the same cost/benefit calculation goes into breast feeding. Proving that the new pharmaceutical is safe during breast feeding will cost lots of money and expand the market for the drug by 1-3% overall. Learning that it isn't safe will drop the hammer on over-the-counter sales. So it's best not to ask, if you're a flinty-hearted executive.

Now for the good news.

All these anti-fungals -- tonaftate, clotrimazole, miconazole -- have been in use on a wide scale worldwide for more than 25 years. As new anti-fungal agents, they were originally licensed for use under prescription; they're now available over the counter in pharmacies, which is only permitted for medicines that have been on prescription for a long time and are believed to be safe.

(The screaming exceptions are aspirin and paracetamol, for which a grandfather clause applies; they've been around for a very long time indeed and would not be licensed for use in humans, even on prescription, if they were presented as new drugs today.)

This is not to say that you can't poison your baby with them, but you'll have to work hard at it. Topical preparations applied to areas of really thick skin with poor blood circulation (the feet) are very unlikely to be absorbed and circulated through the rest of your body -- and the dose you'll be applying to deal with a local fungal infection is too low to have a systemic anti-fungal effect. (Squirting it on your foot will not cure the ringworm on your head.) The most likely risk factor to your baby would be if you applied it to your breasts, right before breast-feeding.

But don't take it from me. If you have any doubts, go and pin down your local pharmacist: "I have athlete's foot and I am breast-feeding. What's the safest non-homeopathic, non-herbal treatment option?"

Edited at 2010-07-21 08:07 am (UTC)
kitmizkit on July 21st, 2010 11:16 am (UTC)
I have gone forth armed with your wisdom and gotten ... the sort of ointment the intarwebs generally seem to say "my doctor said this was fine" about. Thanks, Charlie. :)

(and I do know the whole drugs in pregnancy/breastfeeding thing operates on a better safe than sorry mindset, and athlete's foot cure is not one of those things that comes with a warning that says "if you have ever seen a pregnant woman in your life, even from a distance, do not take this drug", but, y'know, well. Paranoia reigns.)
Mspiritdance on July 21st, 2010 12:41 pm (UTC)
If it helps to ease your mind any, when I ended up with a yeast mastitis with DS1, I was offered a couple of options, including chlortimazole (what I used)

When it feels like you've got ground glass in your breast, and it gets worse when your baby latches on, you get really desperate, really fast :) (and yes, he got treated for his thrush at the same time)

I'd suggest doing as autopope suggests, and washing your hands before handling the baby :)
Patrick Samphirepsamphire on July 21st, 2010 09:00 am (UTC)
Huh. I was wondering how on earth to get rid of fruit flies. They seem to be swarming at the moment. I shall try this.
kitmizkit on July 21st, 2010 11:13 am (UTC)
We have a jar full of dead fruit flies, so it apparently works pretty well. Also put a squirt of dishwashing liquid and some water in with the vinegar. The dishwashing liquid's what kills them, I gather, and the water's just to make it foam up a bit. And the holes need to be big enough for them to get in, but not so many that they can get out again. Good luck.
T. Revst_rev on July 21st, 2010 11:47 am (UTC)
Soap makes them drown faster, by reducing the surface tension of the liquid so it wets them more/gets into their sphiracles.
kitmizkit on July 21st, 2010 03:48 pm (UTC)
Ah so. Well, yay soap. *shudders*
Cymru Llewes: Wedding Receptioncymrullewes on July 21st, 2010 05:57 pm (UTC)
We have sprayed soapy water all over the ant nest we found in our yard. It worked a treat. Got a fountain of egg carrying ants out of it. Then we took a torch to them. Propane, IIRR. Don't think it was the acetylene torch. Never had an ant problem at that house afterwards.
Childlightchildlight on July 21st, 2010 01:23 pm (UTC)
I would have never thought of using that method for getting rid of fruit flies. We almost never get them luckily but its good to know. Any idea how to get rid of tiny ants? It has been so hot and dry here they are sneaking in for water and driving me insane.
ramurphy on July 21st, 2010 02:01 pm (UTC)
Salt. Table salt. Put a thin line of table salt where the ants are coming in, and where they are congregating as well.
Cymru Llewescymrullewes on July 21st, 2010 05:59 pm (UTC)
We just kept the koi pond out back filled within an inch of the lip and that stopped the ants from coming in. Then we found the nest. Muawwwh! Didn't have to feed the koi as much either.
Don't know if that would work for you. I wonder if you put a tray of water where they are getting in to your house if that would stop them as well. But really, who wants to farm free-range ants?
T.M. Thomastmthomas on July 21st, 2010 01:25 pm (UTC)
Ah, the pastoral beauty of Irish living...these posts are just like an episode of Ballykissangel. Just with fungus.

Edited at 2010-07-21 01:25 pm (UTC)
Megabitchmegabitch on July 21st, 2010 01:59 pm (UTC)
And another "thank you" for the vinegar jar tip. I have one or two containers in the kitchen that peelings etc get tossed into and they are supposed to make it up the garden to the compost bins every event... but we're talking about a 15 year old boy who is supposed to do this. I usually realise that he hasn't done it for a day or two when I see the first fly *grrr*
bookmobilerbookmobiler on July 21st, 2010 02:43 pm (UTC)
Child cruelty?
Might cure him of that if you make him keep the jar in his room. Believe it or not fruitflies are more annoying than teenagers.
mayakdamayakda on July 21st, 2010 02:08 pm (UTC)
If your lib has a copy, Medications & Mother's Milk by Thomas W. Hale is considered the best published reference available, actually based on empirical studies.
Merlin Of Chaosmerlinofchaos on July 21st, 2010 02:19 pm (UTC)
Yeah, homeopathic methods don't work too well on fungus. I'd recommend using the ointment 2 weeks longer than the directions say, and keep using it after it looks like it's gone, because athlete's foot hangs around like a bad penny.
kitmizkit on July 21st, 2010 03:50 pm (UTC)
Yeah, so I've read. I figured I'd use the entire tube. It's not a large one, but then, it doesn't take much to cover the affected area, so. :)
Rovandarovanda on July 21st, 2010 02:30 pm (UTC)
I always use rubbing alcohol when I start to get athletes foot, sometimes combined with cotton/tissue/paper towel to keep the affected toes spread out and dry. And going barefoot/sandaled as much as possible or only using effectively wicking socks instead of cute but stuffy ones. Fungus likes moisture, and toes closed up in shoes don't get a whole lot of ventilation to dry them up unless you're really trying.

I don't know if that would work on a long-term infection, but it always nips my nascent infections in the bud.
kitmizkit on July 21st, 2010 03:51 pm (UTC)
I will remember that in the future!
Mary Annepers1stence on July 21st, 2010 04:24 pm (UTC)
Gold Bond foot powder is also a good preventative in the future....sprinkled inside socks, underwear, shoes -- wherever happens to be getting too moist and moving into yeasty/fungal mode....
Geek of Weird Shitgows on July 21st, 2010 03:20 pm (UTC)
This morning’s post brought to you by mildly gross things, apparently. :p

*laugh* Indeed!

The post that came up right above yours on my feed had maggots as the subject. Guess it's just kind of a grody morning all 'round. :P
Andrea Blytheblythe025 on July 21st, 2010 05:01 pm (UTC)
One solution my dad had for fruit flies was to peel a banana or some other opened fruit, spray it down thickly with Raid or another bug killer and leave it on the counter. The flies were still drawn to the now poisonous fruit. It's kind of gross, but it worked for him.
SaffronRosesaffronrose on July 21st, 2010 09:31 pm (UTC)
Spiritdancer had it right. The same medications are generally used for athlete's food, ringworm and thrush, as they are all Tinea something. I'm not sure whether yeast infections are actually tinea as well--the times I thought I had it were a reaction to b.c. foam. WHen I thought I had that, I used yogurt in solution to ease the discomfort.

There was a woman who was nursing who had thrush (unless it was the baby), and she just got one of the standard anti-fungal ointments to treat it. I also concur with the Gold Bond or its equivalent, in the shoes and socks before you put them on, and in the shoes after you take them off.

Good luck with the fruit flies.
No Xtink is Xtink.goingferal on July 21st, 2010 09:41 pm (UTC)
If you really want to stay away from OTC anti-fungals and don't mind purple toes, you could look at Gentian Violet, which is a mild antifungal that used to be used for various baby-related fungal-fighting thingies.

Oddly, enough, I know this from treating yeast infections in my dogs' ears....