Columns

2009.12.23 The odd smell of cigarettes

on . Posted in By The Way

By DAVID GREEN

We have the leg cramp situation covered pretty well: toe pointing, nose pinching and Ivory soap.

I asked for assistance with the annoying little splits in the skin on fingers, and I received a few calls on that one, too.

So far I’ve done well to control them this winter. One on the index finger healed with the old Vaseline under a bandage technique. I thought the one on the thumb was on its way out, too, until I was cleaning some stuff out of my nails with a little brush and the bristles ran right into that wound. A painful awakening.

That one is in good shape, too, for now. Sometimes they reopen rather quickly.

After mentioning the problem last week, I first heard from Pete who told me to use ChapStick. Pete works outdoors a lot and he knew what I was talking about. Just rub some ChapStick on the wound and use it to lubricate the ends of your fingers every so often.

I have used ChapStick in the past and it’s probably helped. When I’m away from a Band-Aid, I’ve rubbed a little on the split, but it never lasts long in my job. I soon see the stuff spread across the keyboard. My splits always seem to conflict with typing.

I think an anonymous visitor was next. She said my problems would be over with New Skin. I thought she might have meant Nu Skin and got derailed for a while looking at anti-aging formulas, wrinkle-smoothing products and lotions to make every inch of me feel divine, day and night.

I decided she must be referring to New Skin Liquid Bandage, the product that forms a “tough protective cover that is antiseptic, flexible, waterproof, and lets your skin breathe.” She said you can’t even feel the painful split once it’s covered with this stuff. Something new? No, it’s been around for more than a century.

That sounds good, but then she added this interesting fact: “My daughter just uses Super Glue and that probably works better.”

Super Glue in an open wound? More on that later.

Dee from Fayette told me to get some Watkins Salve. Her mother always used it and it has a long history of success.

But things have changed in the J.R. Watkins line of products. I doubt if J.R. was selling Aloe and Green Tea or Mango flavored salve back in 1868.

It sounds like good stuff, except that I always have trouble pronouncing the word “salve.” I always want to put the “l” in it. Why not just spell it “sav”?

Jean sent an e-mail recommending O’Keeffe’s Working Hands. I like the double letters. This product has been around only about 25 years, a “kitchen-table project” that made it big. 

Sounds like good stuff. Like Watkins, it stays away from the greasy Vaseline or Bag Balm approach.

Then came one more phone call. Mike from Lyons said I need Super Glue. 

“It’s instant relief,” he said. “If doctors use it, it’s got to be safe.”

I’ve been reading a little about this and the reviews are very mixed. Some people say it’s OK. Others point out that doctors use a medically-approved, anti-bacterial version called Dermabond.

Some say it’s all the same; others say Super Glue can cause some irritation and shouldn’t be used on deep wounds. It’s great on a liver where stitches can’t be used and it can avoid the traumatic experience of stitches when your youngster cuts his face.

So what am I going to do? I think I’ll work a little harder on avoiding the need for Super Glue. I’ll keep those digits lubricated better and hope the splits are fewer. I’ll keep an eye open for some O’Keeffe’s and, if necessary, I might invest in some New Skin.

The thing I want to ask about now is the cigarette smoke that I smell now and then. There are no cigarette smokers around here, but every now and then I smell it. Often at home, sometimes at work.

And I’m not the only one. There are several on-line discussion groups about this topic. Never a definite cause or solution, but dozens of statements such as, “I’m so glad I found this site. I thought I was going crazy.”

Super Glue would effectively close off the nostrils, but maybe someone has a better approach.

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