Infants under 1 should not have honey


Hello, dear readers, and welcome to a bonus letters column. We enjoy hearing from so many of you, and we are doing our best to answer as many of your questions and concerns as we can.

-- In response to a column about medical-grade honey, which is honey that has been specially processed and sterilized for use on the skin in burn and wound care, we heard from several readers. They asked us to make clear that babies younger than 1 year old, whose guts and immune systems are still developing, should never be given honey. The reason is that ingesting honey puts them at risk of developing infant botulism. This is a rare but serious gastrointestinal condition caused by exposure to C. botulinum spores, and which has been associated with honey. Don’t offer honey of any kind, not even a taste, to infants younger than 1.

-- Also regarding medical-grade honey, several readers have asked if a prescription is required. The answer is no, you don’t need a prescription. Medical-grade honey is available over-the-counter at many large chain and drug stores, and through online retail sites. We can’t offer recommendations regarding specific brands, but pharmacists at the stores you visit may be able to offer guidance.

-- The plight of a reader with persistent jock itch brought sympathetic letters from a number of fellow sufferers. Jock itch and athlete's foot are both caused by the same fungus, known as tinea. A reader from California, who is a retired physician assistant, shared some very good advice gleaned from his 40 years of practice: “All humans wearing underwear have, at some point, done the underwear dance, where the big toe gets caught in the crotch of the underwear as they’re getting dressed,” he wrote. “This allows tinea fungus on the feet to travel to the jock itch site. Many of my patients with jock itch were helped with a gentle reminder to put on their socks before putting on their underwear.”

Elizabeth Ko, MD and Eve Glazier, MD

-- As the holidays approach, we are hearing from readers who live with infants, young children, older adults or medically fragile spouses and family members. They want to host family gatherings but, because some of their potential guests are unvaccinated, they are hesitant. These situations involve specific and often complex medical conditions, as well as unique family dynamics. In these cases, the best advice we can give is to speak with your own health care providers. They are familiar with your medical history, and they are the best equipped to help you assess the risks and decide on the safest course of action for yourselves and your families.

We appreciate your taking the time to read our column and to write to us. Some of you have sent us very kind and supportive letters, and we thank you. We want to remind newer readers that we can’t answer specific medical questions, make a diagnosis or offer a second opinion. All of our columns are available online in a searchable archive at

At UCLA Health Pediatrics they provide innovative health care services from birth to 21 that focus on your child’s specific needs. Learn more and schedule an appointment.

(Send your questions to [email protected], or write: Ask the Doctors, c/o UCLA Health Sciences Media Relations, 10960 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1955, Los Angeles, CA 90025. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.)