Weight Loss

If you want to get rid of some kilos when you are at the seaside, you can respect some elementary rules. You should not lie in the morning sun more than one hour per day. Furthermore, between half past eleven and half past three you should not sunbathe. You can consume mineral water, which does not contain carbohydrates each time when you are thirsty on the beach. It is a good idea to sleep at least 30 minutes and maximum 1 hour and a half after the afternoon sunbathing. You should not consume sweet distilled drinks one hour before going to sleep. Fitness exercises or any kinds of sport before going to the beach are necessary. In the evening, you can sunbathe after 6 pm until sunset, trying to fall asleep on a soft, comfortable support. You should feel something soft as this comfortable sensation stimulates some substances, which contribute to the weight loss effect of UV.

In order to enhance the effect of hormonal weight loss you can sunbathe in an active manner, walking, or getting involved in sportive activities, like games. You should take maximum advantage from afternoon UV rays, between half past five and half past six in July and five o’clock and six o’clock in August.

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Genital Herper

Suspect that you may have genital herpes? Know that you have it but want more information?Read on.

Genital herpes is a viral infection marked by sores that look like fever blisters on the genital area. There’s a reason they resemble fever blisters, too. Both genital herpes and fever blisters are caused by the herpes simplex virus. There are two strains of herpes simplex virus-Type I and Type II. The Type I virus usually causes fever blisters, also called cold sores, on the mouth, face, and lips, although it can also cause sores in the genital area. The Type II virus, on the other hand, most often causes sores in and around the genital area.

Herpes is a “contact virus.” In other words, you can only get it from skin-to-skin contact with someone who is infected. Herpes is passed from partner to partner through oral or genital sex. Infected persons can pass the virus on to a partner when the virus is in an active state (when sores are apparent) or a pre-active state (marked by itching or tingling in the area where sores generally appear). However, in some cases, the virus can be passed before the infected person knows he or she is shedding the virus.

The bad news is that once you contract herpes, it cannot be eradicated. “Once the herpes virus enters the body through mucous membranes in the genital area or mouth, these tiny organisms travel up the nerve endings to the base of the spine,” says Sadja Greenwood, M.D., assistant clinical professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the University of California at San Francisco. Once established, the virus stays in the body perma­nently, feeding on cell nutrients. It may remain dormant, causing no symptoms, or it may recur at any time.

The first episode of herpes, before the body has built up defenses, is usually most intense and occurs a couple of days to two weeks after exposure to an infected partner. The first signs are itching, tingling, and a burning sensation or minor rash. Then, small, red sores develop. In women, the sores can occur in and around the genital area and, in some cases, on the buttocks, anus, navel, and thighs. In men, the sores usually appear on the shaft and head of the penis, although they can also develop on the testicles, in the area around the penis, and on the buttocks, anus, and thighs.

If you develop a sore or rash in the genital area, you need to see a doctor fof” correct diagnosis and treatment. Doctors don’t have a cure for herpes, but prescription medications can help relieve the symptoms and, in some cases, shorten the duration of an outbreak. You can, however, take steps at home to ease your herpes symptoms, lessen the number of recurrences, and prevent the virus from spreading.

Keep a herpes diary. Such a log can help you identify the things that trigger your herpes recurrences, such as certain foods, stress, drugs, trauma, and menstruation, says Anne Simons, M.D., a family practitioner in the San Francisco Department of Public Health. “Ask yourself: ‘What occurred just before my outbreak? Did I change my diet? Was I under any unusual stress? Did I use recreational, over-the ­counter, or prescription drugs?’ If you can identify and avoid your triggers, you may be able to avoid painful outbreaks,” she says.

Ice it. At the first sign of symptoms (tingling, burning, itching), apply ice to reduce pain and swelling, says Amanda Clark, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland. Place crushed ice cubes in a plastic bag (a bag of frozen peas or frozen unpopped popcorn also works), and wrap it in a cloth that is the thickness of a sheet (a terry-cloth towel is too thick to transmit the cold effectively). Place it directly on the area. Keep it in place for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Reapply several times throughout the day.

Dry it out. External drying remedies like baking soda and cornstarch may lessen the itching, says Greenwood. You can also try using a hand-held hair dryer on a cool setting to help dry out the sores.

Wear baggy pants. Tight-fitting underwear, nylons, or pants can irritate the genital area and stimulate a herpes outbreak, says Susan Woodruff, B.S.N., childbirth and parenting education coordinator at Tuality Community Hospital in Hillsboro, Oregon. They can also increase discomfort when sores are present. She advises opting for comfortable, baggy shorts and slacks.

Tea for one, please. “The tannic acid in black tea is very soothing to genital tissues,” says Clark. “Place cold, wet tea bags right on the sores.”

Cool it with Burow’s. Simons recommends applying cool compresses soaked in Burow’s solution (available without a prescription in pharmacies) to the sores four to six times a day. Follow package directions for preparing the Burow’s solution.

Take a hot bath. Sitting for five to ten minutes in a hot “sitz” bath (a bathtub filled with three to four inches of water) three or four times a day sometimes inactivates the sores and speeds healing by drying out the sores, says Woodruff “The warm water brings circulation to the area, which seems to have a positive effect,” she says.

Take a nonprescription pain reliever. Over-the-­counter analgesics like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin can reduce pain, says Greenwood. Take two tablets every four hours as needed for pain.

Wear cotton underwear. Avoid synthetic fabrics that can trap heat and moisture in the genital area. Choose cotton underwear that “breathes.”

Avoid arginine. Although the link between food and herpes remains fuzzy, some experts believe that the herpes simplex virus is stimulated by arginine, a substance found in foods like chocolate and peanuts. Experiment for yourself. If you find your herpes is affected by arginine-containing foods, avoid them, says Greenwood.

Keep dry. Keep the genital area as dry as possible. After a bath or shower, pat (don’t rub) the area dry with a soft, dry towel. Use a different towel to dry the rest of your body to avoid spreading the virus to other parts of the body, and never share your towels with others. If the area is too tender to towel dry, try using a hand-held hair dryer on the cool setting, says Simons.

Don’t use ointments. Viruses, including the herpes virus, like environments that are moist. Avoid using petrolatum or antibiotic ointments on your sores; these products may prevent drying and slow healing.

Hands off. Keep in mind that herpes is a contact virus. You get it and pass it from skin-to-skin contact. If you have herpes sores and touch them, you can spread the virus to other parts of your body, such as your eyes or mouth. Avoid directly touching any active herpes sore.

Relax. While mind-body science is still in its infancy, and researchers aren’t sure exactly why stress affects herpes, the experience of many women indicates that herpes sores tend to erupt when one feels run-down or overly stressed. Hence the association between colds and cold sores. To minimize any possible effect from stress, try to get plenty of rest and, if necessary, try some form of stress-reduction technique, such as regular aerobic exercise or progressive relaxation, says Greenwood.

Practice safe sex. If you or your partner have active sores or feel sores coming on, avoid sexual contact, advises Greenwood. (A condom may prevent herpes spread from an infected man, but protection isn’t always 100 percent. Condoms won’t halt virus transmission from an infected woman.) Talk with your sex partners honestly about your sexual histories. Use a condom with all new partners.

Maintain good general health. The body’s immune system is better able to fight off the advances of the herpes virus and other organisms if you’re in good health. Keep the machinery running at full power by eating a well-balanced, low-fat diet and exercising regularly. Avoid immune-lowering activities like cigarette smoking and using drugs and alcohol.

Get support. Stress promotes herpes and herpes tends to cause stress. It seems like a vicious cycle. How do you break it? Get support by joining a herpes support group in your area. Many people feel embarrassment, guilt, and frustration about their herpes. Talking with others who share your problem can be healing. They may not only help you overcome your negative feelings about herpes, they may offer coping tips and strategies that they’ve developed through experience-strategies that may, in turn, help you. To find a herpes support group in your area, call the American Social Health Association at 919-361-8400, or write to them at P.O. Box 13827, Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709. The American Social Health Association also publishes an excellent newsletter, The Helper, for herpes sufferers.

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For fans of winter sports, there’s nothing more exhilarating than crisp, cold air and a blanket of snow for skiing, snowmobiling, sledding, or just plain horsing around. But the nip in the air can have an unforgiving bite if you’re not dressed properly to ward off the elements. Indeed, you may not realize how cold it actually is outside-until frostbite develops.

Frostbite occurs when the fluids in the skin tissues begin to freeze, or crystallize, restricting blood flow to the affected area. Most cases of frostbite occur on the hands, feet, toes, nose, and ears. The reason is that as the body temperature drops in reaction to prolonged exposure to cold, the heart attempts to protect vital organs by increasing circulation to the torso at the expense of the extremities.

While it is wise to have any suspected case of frostbite checked out by a doctor, you need to take steps right away to rewarm and protect the affected areas. The tips that follow can help you care for frostbitten skin and help you protect yourself from Jack Frost’s bite in the future.

Treating Frozen Skin

Here what to do-and what not to do-if you suspect that you are developing frostbite:

Watch for the warning signs. The sooner you notice the symptoms of frostbite, and the faster you take measures to rewarm the areas, the better the outlook for recovery. The skin may first start to tingle, as ice crystals begin forming in the tissues. Then, pain develops, accompanied by redness, burning, itching, and swelling. If exposure to cold continues, numbness sets in, the pain decreases, and the skin becomes whiter and waxy looking. At this stage, immediate action is necessary to prevent gangrene, or death of skin tissue.

Warm up the right way. If you become frostbitten, don’t run to the nearest radiator, hot stove, or roaring fire. “The numb extremity may not sense the intense heat, and you may burn the delicate, damaged tissues,” says Roger Thurmond, M.D., a dermatologist in private practice in Fairbanks , Alaska . For the same reason, do not use a heat lamp, hot-water bottle, or heating pad to warm up. Submerging the affected extremity in a sink or basin full of warm water (l04 degrees Fahrenheit to no more than 110 degrees Fahrenheit) is the safest way to treat the frostbite. Once your fingers or toes are warmed up, very gently wiggle them to increase the circulation to the area. For frostbitten ears or a frostbitten nose, moving to “a heated room should be enough to warm them up,” says Thurmond. If not, gently apply warm compresses to the affected area; do not rub the delicate tissue.

Warm up rapidly. Experts have found that rewarming the frostbitten area as quickly as possible “promotes faster healing, reduces tissue loss, and helps prevent complications, such as gangrene-and even loss of a limb,” says Jerome Z. Litt, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland. Rapid rewarming may initially cause more pain, redness, and swelling, and result in bigger blisters. The payoff: Mild to moderate frostbite should heal in a week or two.

Don’t thaw and then refreeze. Thawing and then refreezing a frostbitten area can cause even more damage, so if you cannot keep the injured area warm, it may be best to postpone rewarming until you are safely out of the cold.

Stay as warm and dry as possible. Even if your clothes are dry, they may be cold enough to keep you from warming up. Clothing that is wet depletes heat even more and should be removed. However, if you are out in the cold with no chance of getting to a warm place quickly, your better bet may be to just add layers of warmth to what you already have on.

Huddle with a buddy. A friend’s body heat will help warm you up. Drink plenty of fluids. Sipping warm or tepid fluids may make you feel better and, more importantly, will keep you from getting dehydrated, which can make your frostbite worse. (Becoming dehydrated also makes you more susceptible to frostbite in the first place.) Do not, however, eat snow. And stay away from alcoholic beverages, which actually encourage fluid loss.

Elevate the affected area. This minimizes edema, or swelling, of the affected area. It’s important to do this because swelling can interfere with proper circulation, which is necessary for proper healing.

Don’t use snow. “That’s just old folklore,” says Litt. “Rubbing frostbite with snow or ice will break down the skin cells and possibly lead to gangrene.”

Don’t rub or massage the frostbitten area. This will also cause further damage to the skin, says Litt.

Keep off your feet. If possible, don’t walk on your ­ frostbitten toes. As with any frostbitten area, they need to be immobilized for proper healing.

Keep your toes or fingers apart. Use sterile gauze to separate the affected digits. “This helps to immobilize the delicate tissues, which may be apt to stick together as they blister and heal,” says Thurmond.

Try this solution for blisters. During the thawing process, blisters may develop and persist for weeks. If this occurs, mix Burow’s solution (available without a prescription in packets and tablets at pharmacies) and warm. water (between 104 degrees and 110 degrees Fahrenheit) according to the package directions, and apply the solution to the blisters with wet compresses for 15 to 20 minutes every two to three hours until the blisters have begun to dry up, says Litt.

Preventing frostbite

With a little advance planning and preparation, you can protect your skin and keep frostbite from developing in the first place. Here’s how:

Wear fabrics specially made for cold or wet weather. “The ideal outerwear traps a lot of air between you and the elements,” says Litt. “Loosely woven bulky wool and acrylics are good choices,” he says. Litt and other experts also recommend clothing made with Thinsulate, Hollofil, Gore- Tex, or other “high-tech” materials, which can help keep you both warm and dry.

Keep your head covered. You can lose a significant amount of body heat from the neck up, says Litt. This is due to the disproportionately large amount of blood circulating there. “That’s why it’s true when they say that if your feet are cold, you should put a hat on,” says Philip Gormley, WE.M.T., operations director of Wilderness Medical Associates in Bryant Pond, Maine. He suggests wearing a wool hat and scarf and earmuffs in order to help keep your whole body warm.

Layer, layer, layer. Gormley suggests polypropy­lene liners on the hands and feet, followed by down mittens and wool socks, respectively. Jonti Fox, former associate program director of the Colorado Outward Bound School in Denver, recommends wearing a lightweight shirt, then a heavier-weight one over it, covered by a chinchilla jacket, and, finally, a water-resistant windbreaker. Boots with separate, removable inner liners of felt or Gore-Tex are also recommended. Experts agree that clothing and footwear should not be tight. Too-tight cuffs and boots, for instance, can decrease circulation to the extremities. “The best-fitting boots will allow you just enough room to move your toes, even if you have an extra pair of socks on,” says Fox.

Put sandwich bags in your boots. The bags act as a barrier to keep your feet dry if your boots should get wet, says Gormley.

Give your hands a spin. If your fingers start to tingle, whirl your hands round and round at the wrist. “The centrifugal force you create should help get more blood circulating to the chilled fingers,” says Thurmond.

Eat right and get plenty of rest. Poor nutrition and fatigue can exacerbate the problem by lowering your resistance and hindering circulation, making ill more prone to frostbite. For strenuous outdoor activities, Fox recommends foods with complex carbohydrates and fats, such as pasta and nuts, for long-term energy, and simple sugars, such candy, for quick energy boosts.

Avoid alcohol. Alcohol can impair your awareness how cold you are. Alcohol is also a diuretic, which can contribute to dehydration.

Do not smoke. Some people light up when they’re cold thinking it’s going to make them warmer. The truth is that smoking constricts the blood vessels and decreases circulation to the extremities, which is why smokers are at higher risk for frostbite.

Be aware that medicines playa role. “Prescription drugs, such as tranquilizers, and over-the-counter medications, such as sleeping aids and antihistamines, can also impair your judgment as to how cold you’ve become,” says Litt. There are many drugs that can act in this way; check the label or ask your pharmacist to find out if any medication you are taking could have this effect.

Don’t touch metal. Coming in contact with metal in the cold can cause instantaneous frostbite, causing you to stick right to it. If this should happen, pour warm water (again, at about 104 degrees to 110 degrees Fahrenheit) over the injury site to loosen it.

If stranded on a wintry day, stay with your car. This is your best bet, unless, of course, you are in immediate danger or you can seek help very nearby. “Leaving the car to brave the elements will deplete your energy and dehydrate you,” says Thurmond. This predisposes you to frostbite and hypothermia . You also run the risk of getting lost. Furthermore, rescue crews can more easily spot a vehicle than a person in distress. So stay put.

Always keep emergency supplies in the car. In addition to a first-aid kit and tools for repairing minor problems such as flat tires, these supplies should include protection for you. Stuff a box with a blanket or two, an extra pair of gloves, a hat, boots, earmuffs, a sweater for everyone who will be traveling, candles, and matches. Hot packs used by hunters may also come in handy.

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During the summer, your skin looks radiant. All of those sunscreens and all that humidity in the air leave your skin moist and supple. But as soon as winter comes, you suffer from flaky, dry skin that often reaches the point of breaking open into painful cracks.

“Fissures, as these linear cracks are commonly referred to, can occur in many parts of the body, such as the corners of the mouth, the opening to the nose, the space between the toes, and the callused areas of the heels and hands,” says Vincent A. DeLeo, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. Once that layer of superficial skin cracks, it exposes living layers of skin, which are extremely sensitive. “The reason they hurt so much when they are on the hands is because you have more nerve endings in that one small area than you have on, say, your knee,” says Denise Kraft, M.D., F.A.A.F.P., a family practitioner in private practice in Bellevue, Washington.

“Fissures most commonly occur in people with an underlying skin disorder that dries out the skin, such as eczema. It’s not thought to be due to any kind of nutritional deficiency,” says Kraft.

“Fissures are caused by uneven expansion of the skin. In the warm weather, the top layer of skin tends to expand with moisture. But in the winter, it loses moisture and shrinks up more than the layers beneath it, which causes it to crack,” explains Neil Schultz, M.D., a dermatologist in private practice in New York. This process is often helped along by nicks and bangs to the skin. “It can happen from your doing nothing or from excessive hand washing or lack of moisturizing,” says Schultz. And it usually occurs in areas where the skin is a little thicker, such as the palms, feet, and fingertips.

The best way to treat a fissure is as follows:

Lock moisture into the area. The best way to do this is to use a petrolatum-based product, says Schultz. “Spread some Vaseline over the crack and then put a bandage over it to lock in the moisture,” he says. The petrolatum, or petroleum jelly, tends to “melt” the skin a little bit, softening it and making it easier for the skin to grow back together, explains Schultz.

Deleo suggests soaking the area in lukewarm water for five to ten minutes before applying the moisturizer. “The moisturizer itself doesn’t add moisture, it simply seals in the moisture from the water,” he explains.

“If the fissure is on the hand, I recommend that my patients put the Vaseline on and then wear a glove at night,” says Kraft. Wear vinyl gloves over the petrolatum, since latex can sensitize, or cause a skin reaction, in some individuals.

Try a petrolatum-based antibiotic ointment. “There are several over-the-counter versions of these, and they provide the double benefit of keeping moisture in while also protecting against infection,” says Schultz.

Fight back with a steroid cream. “You can also use an over-the-counter steroid ointment to cut down on the inflammation and the redness,” advises Kraft. “These ointments won’t help the pain much, but they will help to recreate a barrier that prevents the outside world from getting inside of your body,” she, explains.

Raise the humidity. Using a commercial humidifier or simply keeping a pot of steaming water on the stove or radiator will add moisture to the air in your immediate environment and keep your skin from drying out as much, according to Schultz. “You can even set a pan of unheated water out and get a similar effect,” adds Kraft. “Keeping one in the bedroom is especially good,” she says.

Wear gloves in cold weather. This advice applies to those who have fissures on the hand. “Anything that keeps the area warm and moist is helpful,” says Schultz. Applying moisturizer before putting on your gloves is even better.

Protect your hands from harsh chemicals. Wear vinyl gloves whenever you are using strong solvents or cleaning products. These solutions are extremely drying and should never be used without protecting your skin first. They will not only encourage fissures to develop; they will cause further damage once the problem occurs, according to DeLeo.

Apply an antifungal. If the fissure is in an area prone to fungal infection (such as in the corner of the mouth or between the toes), apply an over-the­counter antifungal agent. “Your pharmacist can identify these ointments for you. They used to be prescription only but are now offered over the counter,” says DeLeo. Do not, however, use these antifungal agents near the rectum.

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Cuts And Scrapes

You’re hurrying along and the front of your shoe catches on a crack in the cement, sending you tumbling to the ground. When you get up, you . find that not only is your ego bruised, but you’ve managed to peel away the skin on your elbows and knees. You’ve got yourself a collection of painful scrapes.

You scramble home to prepare the appetizer tray for the guests who will be arriving any minute. You have just one more carrot to slice when, “Ouch!”­your knife slips and slices not the carrot, but your finger. You’ve got a cut.

“A cut is an incision into the skin,” explains Robert Matheson, M.D., a dermatologist in private practice in ortland, Oregon. “It’s a vertical slice into the skin that affects only a limited number of nerves. In contrast, a scrape involves the traumatic removal of skin in a horizontal fashion. It scrapes away the skin’s surface and exposes a larger number of nerves, usually making it more painful than a cut.”

An amazing number of things happen when you cut or scrape yourself. When you disrupt the skin, a clear, antibody-containing fluid from the blood, called serum, leaks into the wound. The area around the cut or scrape becomes red, indicating that more blood is moving into the wound site, bringing with it nutrients and infection-fighting white blood cells. Nearby lymph nodes may swell. After a few days, pus (which contains dead white blood cells, dead bacteria, and other debris from the body’s inflammatory response to infection) may form. And finally, a scab develops to protect the injury while it heals.

Even being extra careful, you can’t always avoid the scrapes and cuts of life. But you can learn how to care for them and speed their healing.

Stop the bleeding. When you get a cut or scrape, the first thing to do (after admonishing yourself for being so clumsy) is to stop the bleeding. “Apply pressure with a clean cloth or tissue to stop the blood flow,” says Louisa Silva, M.D., a general practitioner in Salem, Oregon, who sees plenty of cuts and scrapes in her private practice.

If possible, elevate the wound above the heart t slow the blood flow. Don’t use a tourniquet.

Wash up. One of the most important things you can do in treating a cut or scrape is to make sure you cleanse it thoroughly. “Wash it thoroughly with soap and water,” says dermatologist Paul Contorer, M.D., chief of dermatology for Kaiser Permanente in Beaverton, Oregon, and clinical professor of dermatology at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland.

Matheson says soap and water is usually sufficient, but you can also use over-the-counter cleansers like Hibiclens that don’t sting. If the wound is really dirty, he recommends using hydrogen peroxide to bubble out debris. Apply it carefully, since it can damage surrounding skin.

Bring on the antibacterial ointment. Contorer say antibacterial ointments can be very helpful. Polysporin, Neosporin, and Bactine are example of antibacterial ointments available without a prescription. Matheson says he prefers Polysporio to other ointments because it contains fewer ingredients that may cause allergic reactions.

Close the skin. Properly closing the skin is important in cuts that are an eighth to a quarter inch wide. Matheson says closing makes the cut faster and reduces the chances of scarring. Be that you have thoroughly cleansed the cut sure attempting to close it. Line up the edges of the cut, then apply butterfly strips or an adhesive bandage to keep the cut closed.

Cover it. “It’s important to keep a cut or scrape d,” says Silva, “to keep the wound clean and ted.” Instead of covering with plain gauze, which tends to stick to wounds, Silva recommends II Telfa, a coated, gauze-type bandage.

Aadhesive bandages often have Telfa on them, she I but you can also buy larger pieces of Telfa in the pharmacy and cut them to fit. Cover the would with the Telfa pad, and use adhesive tape to the pad in place.

Keep it clean. The initial washing isn’t enough to :nt infection, says Matheson. You’ll need to love the bandage and wash the wound every day with soap and water. Then re-cover it with a clean bandage.

Don’t let it dry out. One of the myths about cuts and scrapes is that a thick, crusty scab is good. Not so, says Matheson. “Don’t let your wound get I and crack,” he says. “If you keep it relatively moist, you’ll speed healing and minimize scarring.”

If a scab forms, don’t pick at it, this disrupts the. and can introduce bacteria. Instead, the skin recommends soaking off crusty scabs with a solution of one tablespoon of white vinegar one pint of water. The mildly acidic solution is othing and helps kill bacteria.

Contorer advises patients to use a water/petrolatum regimen at night before retiring. “I have them wash the wound thoroughly and then cover it with a little Vaseline to seal in the moisture,” he says.

Both doctors emphasize that a certain amount of air circulation is important to wound healing. You want the bandage or covering to be tight enough to protect, but not so tight that it seals out all air and causes the wound to become too moist.

Don’t get locked up. Silva says it’s important to have a tetanus shot within 72 hours if you haven’t had one in the last five years. Tetanus bacteria, which causes “lockjaw” -a condition that can involve stiffness in the jaw and other joints, paralysis, and even death–exists in our soil, she says. “It’s still very much a threat in this country.”

Protect it from sunlight. To avoid the skin darkening that often occurs when a cut or scrape heals, Contorer says to avoid sun exposure during the healing process and apply over-the-counter hydrocortisone to the wound.

Matheson suggests using a good sunscreen for several weeks on areas where you’ve had a wound. Look for a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. (Of course, to shield your skin from damaging ultraviolet light and protect your skin from sunburn and skin cancer, it’s wise to wear sunscreen on all exposed skin when you go outside during the day, especially if you are faIr skinned.)

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Corns And Calluses

You may refer to your feet as tootsies or dogs, but the fact remains that feet are highly sophisticated structures. The human foot is a miracle of engineering designed to stand up under a lot of wear and tear. It’s a good thing, too: Your feet are the most used and abused parts of your body. According to the American Podiatric medical Association, the average American walks ‘15,000 miles in a lifetime-a distance that would ‘re you all the way around the earth four times. your feet support the weight of your body, plus clothing and whatever extras you might be carrying. And in an average day of walking, your feet are subjected to a force equal to several hundred tons.

Despite how well designed your feet are, however, things can go wrong. In fact, an estimated 87 percent of all American adults have some type of foot problem. Among the most common of these problems are corns and calluses.

Although both corns and calluses are patches of toughened skin that form to protect sensitive foot tissue against repeated friction and pressure, they different in some ways. Hard corns are usually found on the tops of the toes or on the outer sides of the little toes, where the skin rubs against the shoe. Sometimes, a corn will form on the ball of foot, beneath a callus, resulting in a sharp, localized pain with each step. Soft corns, which are ist and rubbery, form between toes, where the bones of one toe exert pressure on the bones of its, neighbor. Both hard and soft corns are cone shaped, with the tip pointing into the foot (what you see is the base of the cone). When a shoe or !her toe puts pressure against the corn, the tip can hit sensitive underlying tissue, causing pain.

Calluses, on the other hand, generally form over at surface and have no tip. They usually appear on the weight-bearing parts of the foot-the ball or the heel. Each step presses the callus against, underlying tissue and may cause aching, burning, or tenderness, but rarely sharp pain.

There are some things you can do to relieve the discomfort associated with these two conditions. Try the tips that follow. If, despite trying these strategies, your corn or callus continues to cause discomfort, see a podiatrist. In addition, if you have diabetes or any other disorder that affects circulation, do not attempt to self-treat any foot problem; see your podiatrist right away.

Play detective. “Corns and calluses develop for a reason,” says Suzanne M. Levine, D.P.M., a podiatrist in private practice in New York. “Abnormal amounts of dead, thickened skin form at certain spots on your feet to protect them from excess pressure and friction.” Obviously, the real solution to corns and calluses is to track down and eliminate whatever is causing the pressure and friction. “The place to start is with your shoes,” advises Levine. See “If the Shoe Fits” for tips on choosing well-fitting shoes.

Trim those toenails. Toenails are designed to protect the toes from injury. However, the pressure of a shoe on a toenail that is too long can force the joint of the toe to push up against the shoe, forming a corn. To take the pressure off, keep your toenails trimmed. Cut each toenail straight across so that it doesn’t extend beyond the tip of the toe. Then, file each toenail to smooth any rough edges.

Take a soak. While eli­minating the source of the problem is essential, sometimes you need im­mediate relief from the sharp pain of a corn. Levine suggests soaking the affected foot in a solution of Epsom salts and warm water, then smoothing on a moisturizing cream, and wrapping the foot in a plastic bag. Keep the bag on for a couple of hours. Then remove the bag and gently rub the corn in a sideways motion with a pumice stone. “This will provide temporary relief-and I stress temporary,” says Levine.

Ice a hard corn. If a hard corn is so painful and swollen that you can’t even think of putting a shoe on your foot, apply ice to the corn to help reduce some of the swelling and discomfort.

Don’t cut. There are a myriad of paring and cutting items to remove corns and calluses. available in your local drugstore or variety store,: but you should ignore them all, in the best interest of your feet. “Cutting corns is always dangerous, says Mary Papadopoulos, D.P.M., a podiatrist in private practice in Alexandria, Virginia. “You can expose yourself to an infection, or you may cause bleeding that is not easily stopped.”

Soft step it. “You can give yourself temporary relief from corns and calluses with shielding and padding,” says Joseph C. D’Amico, D.P.M., a podiatrist in private practice in New York. What you want the padding to do is transfer the pressure of the shoe from a painful spot to one that is free of pain. Nonmedicated corn pads, for example, surround the corn with material that is higher than the corn itself, thus protecting the corn from contact with the shoe.

A similar idea applies when padding a callus. Cut a piece of moleskin (available an your local drugstore or camping supply store) into two half moon shapes and place the pieces on opposite! sides of the area to protect it.

Separate your piggies. To relieve soft corns that form between toes, keep the toes separated with; lamb’s wool or cotton. A small, felt pad, like those for hard corns, may also be used for this purpose”

Baby your soft corn. In addition to separating you! toes, sprinkle a little cornstarch or baby powder between them to help absorb moisture.

Mix your own callus concoction. For calluses, Levine suggests mixing up your own callus softener. Make a paste using five or six aspirin tablets and a tablespoon of lemon juice, apply it to the callus, wrap your foot in a plastic bag, and wrap to a warm towel around the bag. Wait ten minutes, then unwrap the foot and gently rub the ,us with a pumice stone.

Invite your feet to tea. Soaking your feet in chamomile tea that has been thoroughly diluted has a soothing effect and, according to Levine, will help dry out sweaty feet (excessive moisture can contribute to foot problems). The chamomile will stain your feet, but the stain can be easily removed with soap and water.

Coat your feet. If you expect to be doing an unusu­al amount of walking or running, coat your toes with a little petroleum jelly to reduce friction.

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Chapped Lips

If puckering is painful and pursing is too much to bear, you’re probably suffering from chapped lips. Harsh winter weather, dry indoor heat, a habit of constantly licking your lips-all of these factors can help dry out the skin of your lips by causing the moisture in the skin to evaporate. The result: Rough, cracked, sensitive lips that leave you little to smile about.

Protecting your lips from chapping is not only important for appearance and comfort, but for health. Cold sores, bacterial infections, and other problems are more likely to strike lips that are already damaged by chapping. Here’s what you can do to keep your lips soft and moist:

Don’t lick your lips. The repeated exposure to water actually robs moisture from the lips, causing them to become dry. “People feel better if they lick their lips, but it just aggravates the problem,” says Paul Lazar, M.D., professor of clinical derma­tology at Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago.

Use a lip balm. Numerous products are available over the counter. Pick one that you like so you’ll use it frequently. Most lip balm products are waxy or greasy and work by sealing in moisture with a protective barrier.

Try petrolatum. Plain old petrolatum is good, too, says Jerome Z. Litt, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland.

Wear lipstick. “If you look at old men and old women, you’ll see a difference in their lips, especially the lower,” says Albert M. Kligman,M.D., Ph.D., emeritus professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia. He attributes that difference to the “moderately helpful” properties of lipstick in moisturizing and protecting against the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Be careful of cosmetics made outside of the United States, however, since the purity of such products may vary.

Screen out the sun. The sun’s ultraviolet rays can damage and dry the sensitive skin on your lips, Indeed, the lips are a common site for skin cancer. “Your lips don’t contain melanin [the pigment, or coloring, that can help protect skin from the sun] and they sunburn easier,” points out Ruby Ghadially, M.D., assistant clinical professor in the Department of Dermatology at the University of California at San Francisco. Certain skin cancers that appear on the lips may be more serious and more likely. spread, she says. So if you’ll be out in the sun, use a lip balm that contains sunscreen. Choose a i product that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.

Check out your toothpaste. An allergy-to your toothpaste or mouthwash-could be to blame for the rough, red skin on your lips, says Litt. Try switching brands of toothpaste and going witho6 the mouthwash for a few days to see if the problem clears. Rinse well after brushing.

Watch what passes between them. When your lip are chapped, they’re more sensitive, and certain foods can irritate them. Lazar recommends holding off on pepper, mustard, barbecue sauce, orange juice, and alcoholic beverages to give you lips a break as they heal.

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Chapped Hands

Suffering from dry skin is bad enough. But sometimes dry skin gets so bad it becomes chapped skin-red, rough, scaly, and even cracked and bleeding. The hands are common victims for such distress, taking the abuse we dish out each IV as we wash them over and over, subject them to harsh chemicals and cleansers, and expose them he elements. Whether you’re a postal carrier, a cannery worker, a bartender, or a new parent changing diapers countless times a day, your hands probably getting left high and dry.

To understand why your hands get such a raw deal, it helps to take a look at the skin itself. think of your skin as continuous layers of oil and water,” says Paul Lazar, M.D., professor of clinical dermatology at Northwestern University School of medicine in Chicago. The top layer of the skin, called the stratum corneum, is made up of 6 to 12 layers of cells. Those layers contain lipids, or fats, at act as a barrier to keep the moisture in your. I, explains Ruby Ghadially, M.D., assistant clinical professor in the Department of Dermat­ology at the University of California at San Francisco. “Because the air around you is drier In the body, that barrier stops you from losing water from the inside out,” she says.

Unfortunately, the constant wetting and drying our skin undergoes during the course of an age day can remove the protective oils that help seal in moisture. It can also damage the skin drying it out, says Jerome Z. Litt, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Case western Reserve University School of Medicine in leveland. When you combine moisture loss and ,the removal of the skin’s natural protective barrier, and up with dry skin that can quickly become lapped and painful.

Winter is the time that you are most likely to suffer from dry, chapped hands. That’s because a combination of factors are at work. Indoor heating decreases the humidity in the air, making it more likely that water will be pulled from your skin. At the same time, the cold, dry air and wind outdoors rob precious moisture from your skin.

And the older you are, the more likely your skin is to get dry, points out Albert M. Kligman, M.D., Ph.D., emeritus professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

Unfortunately, dry or chapped skin is more than just uncomfortable. It can actually make your skin more susceptible to other types of damage, such as bacterial infections, or more likely to suffer the effects of irritating substances such as detergents, says Ghadially.

Here’s what the experts recommend for protecting and repairing dry, chapped hands.

Wear gloves or mittens outside. Your mother probably used to tell you this each time you made a move to the door in winter. Well, she was right again. Keep your hands covered to protect them from cold, windy, dry weather.

Dress your hands for work.Wear vinyl gloves “as much as practical” when you’re washing dishes, scrubbing the tub, or otherwise exposing your hands to chemicals and cleansers, says Lazar.Vinyl gloves are a better choice than rubber gloves because they don’t cause allergic reactions, he says. Cotton liners are an added bonus because they can help wick away perspiration, which can further irritate chapped skin. Wearing cotton gloves while you do “dry” work such as dusting can cut down on friction an potential damage as well.

Protect against sunlight. The sun’s ultraviolet rays  damage the skin and only worsen dryness and chapping, says Kligman. So be sure to wear a  sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 on all exposed skin when you’re going outdoors in daylight.

Smear on the petrolatum. Petrolatum, or petroleum  jelly, is the most effective for treating chapped skin, agree the experts. One way to get results without getting the petrolatum all over everything. Rub it on at night, before you go to bed, and cover your hands with a pair of cotton gloves. You might all consider doing this before you sit down to read the newspaper or watch television, says Lazar. According to Kligman, one week of regular petrolatum use will result in soft skin.

Use moisturizers. If you don’t like the greasy feel of petrolatum, use a product you do like. Among the products recommended by dermatologists, Eucerin, Nivea, Lubriderm, Moisturel, and Aquatlor. Remember that a cream works better than a lotion at protecting your skin because it is thicker and heavier. No matter which product you choose, however, be sure to apply it several times a day, especially after bathing or washing your hands.

Don’t worry about lanolin. As for lanolin, an ingredient that some people say is highly allergenic: Both Kligman and Lazar disagree that it causes as many allergic reactions as some claim. Kligman blames false-positive readings from patch testing (a type of skin test used to determine if a substance causes an allergic reaction) for the claims that it’s highly allergenic. “It’s about as sensitizing as water,” he adds.

Leave the “magic” ingredients on the shelf. In other words, “you don’t need something with vitamin A, E, or C or mink oil,” says Kligman.

Give your pocketbook-and your hands-a break. The higher the price, the less likely it’s useful,” Kligman says.

Avoid fragrances. Although fragrances are responsible for few allergic reactions, they can cause an allergic rash in some susceptible individuals, says Ghadially.

Use a mild soap. Ivory has a reputation for purity, but it’s far from gentle to your skin, says Kligman. Choose a super fatted soap or even a liquid cleanser. Some choices: Dove, Basis, Eucerin, Aquanil, S.c. Lotion, or Moisturel. Cetaphil cleanser is touted by dermatologists as one of the mildest products you can buy and is recommended for problem skin. Stay away from deodorant soaps, except for Lever 2000, says Kligman.

Stay out of hot water. The hotter the water temperature, the better it is at removing oil ­whether it’s the grease from your dishes or those valuable oils from your skin. Use warm water for baths and hand washing.

Humidify your house. It’s not as efficient at protecting against dry skin as are other measures, says Lazar, but humidifying the air in your home can help.

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Does your skin-or your clothing-rub you the wrong way? If so, you’re probably suffering from a condition called chafing. While chafing is rarely a serious problem, nothing can take the spring out of your step like sore, irritated, chafed skin.

Chafing is a condition in which the skin’s normal balancing act is disturbed. Normally, the body constantly sheds skin cells, a few at a time, and replaces them with new skin. “During chafing, persistent friction against the skin rubs off more of the skin’s outer layer than the skin is able to replenish,” says Rodney Basler, M.D., dermatolo­gist and assistant professor of internal medicine at be University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

Redness and irritation are the first telltale signs of chafing. As the problem worsens, so does the pain and aggravation to the skin. “Left untreated, or if the area becomes wet through constant sweat or wetting, the skin may split and ooze or even bleed,” says William Dvorine, M.D., dermatologist and chief of dermatology at St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore. Ultimately, infection may set in. Fortunately, chafing rarely gets that bad.

Those most prone to this bothersome condition are overweight people and athletes. Why these two groups? “If there’s greater areas of skin touching skin [as with heavy or very muscular people], then it’s more likely that friction injuries will develop,” says Basler, who is also chairman of the Task Force on Sports Medicine for the American Academy of Dermatology. When athletes are in motion, the movement of skin against skin is increased. What’s more, they may wear rough fabrics that can further irritate the skin.

Target zones for chafing include the upper, inner thighs, under the arms, beneath the breasts in women and, surprisingly, men’s nipples. Joggers often experience chafing between the thighs, but Basler says it’s largely a male problem. He chalks up this difference between the sexes to the angle of the hips.

Whether you’re a man or a woman, chafing doesn’t have to cramp your style. Here are several simple steps you can take to alleviate the problem and prevent it from happening again:

Keep your clothes clean. This is especially important for the outfits you jog or exercise in. “Dirt and sweat can accumulate in fabric and act as an irritant,” says Dvorine. Choose a mild cleanser, and wash clothes frequently.

Go easy on the bleach. Bleach can irritate chafed skin. “I’ve seen this particularly in people who do martial arts,” says Dvorine. “They will often wash their uniforms in bleach and may not wash the bleach out thoroughly enough.” Avoid bleaching your clothes, or at least make sure the bleach is thoroughly rinsed out.

Rinse your suit. The chlorine used in swimming pools can also irritate chafed skin, so after a swim in a chlorinated pool, be sure to rinse off your suit and your skin.

Sprinkle with powder. Powder, applied to chafed areas during the day or before a workout, can act as a buffer and cut down on friction. “Using powder may prevent a mild case of chafing from progressing into a more serious one,” says Dvorine.

Most any powder will do, but you may be wise to look for one with talc or cornstarch, suggests Hillard H. Pearlstein, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. “They are excellent drying agents that absorb water and moisture,” says Pearlstein.

If you’re chafed in the groin area and you’ve b a fungal infection such as jock itch in the past, an over-the-counter anti-fungal powder may be in order. “That gives you the added benefit of not only cutting down on the friction but killing any fungus that might be present,” says Dvorine.

Dab on some cream. Applying 0.5 percent or I percent hydrocortisone cream (available without a prescription) to the chafed area can provide soothing relief. “Cortisone quiets down the inflammatory response in the skin and allows the, skin to heal itself, which it will do if just given half a chance,” says Dvorine. You can apply the cream I during the day or, if you find that too messy, you i can put it on only at night. If you apply it in the evening, Dvorine suggests removing the cream with mineral or baby oil in the morning and using i the powder by day. He advises against using soap’ and water to wash off the cream, as that can further irritate chafed skin.

Give your underarms a break. Hold off on deodorants or antiperspirants-or at least use them sparingly-if your underarms are chafed. Until the condition clears, don’t shave or trim the hair in your armpits, either, says Dvorine. These practices will only further aggravate the skin.

Wear “bun huggers.” “The advent of the bun huggers in the last five years has been wonderful for eliminating chafing,” says Basler. These sports briefs with tight-fitting legs that end about mid thigh are great for runners.

Cut back. While most cases of chafing don’t get this bad, you may find it is simply too painful to do whatever activity caused the chafing. In that case, Basler suggests you take a few days off from the activity and let the skin heal. Then, when you’re ready to begin again, protect your skin. Before each workout, smooth thick cream on areas where you usually get chafed.

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Canker Sores

It may only be the size of a pencil eraser, but a canker sore can be hard to ignore. You know it’s there-and it hurts like the dickens, especially whenever you eat or drink something. Fortunately, a canker sore is usually a fairly short-lived misery, and there are a few things you can do to find some temporary relief. First, however, you need to be able to tell the difference between a canker sore and what’s called a cold sore,or fever blister, which is caused by the herpes virus. A cold sore often begins as several tiny blisters that eventually form one larger sore. They appear most often ‘on the lips and face. In contrast, canker sores usually travel alone. And unlike a sore caused by the herpes virus, a canker sore is not contagious. A canker sore has a yellow or white-gray center with a well-defined red border. It generally measures three to five millimeters in diameter (approximately the size of a pencil eraser) and is usually located on the inside of the lip or cheek or, less commonly, on the tongue. What causes canker sores? No one knows for sure, says Robert P. Langlais, D.D.S., M.S., professor in the Department of Dental Diagnostic Science at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. “Being run down or tired, or suffering from stress or poor nutrition may contribute. ”

“You see them in students around finals,” says Alan S. Levy, D.D.S., clinical instructor at the University of Southern California School of Dentistry in Los Angeles. He points out that they may also occur as a result of a minor injury in the mouth, such as from a slip of the toothbrush or a jab from a taco shell. Certain foods, such as spicy dishes and citrus fruits, have also taken some of the blame.

About 20 percent of the population seems to get canker sores occasionally, and women are more likely than men to suffer from them. Some women tend to get canker sores at certain times during their menstrual cycle.

Here’s what you can do for relief. Keep in mind, though, that “a canker sore will last seven days with treatment and one week without treatment,” Levy says. A canker sore can take up to two weeks to heal, if one sticks around longer than that, see your dentist.

Get out the styptic pencil. Many a barber has used a styptic pencil to stem bleeding from minor nicks and cuts. Used on a canker sore, it will numb the nerve endings, temporarily reducing the pain.

Make your own remedy. It may sound like a strange combination,but several dentists swear by this homemade remedy. Mix together equal among Milk of Magnesia or Kaopectate and Benylin or Benadryl. Milk of Magnesia and Kaopectate both contain ingredients that coat wet tissues, such as those in the mouth. Benylin and Benadryl contai ingredients that act as mild topical anesthetics an antihistamines (which reduce inflammation). Apply the mixture to the canker sore using a cotton swab. Be careful not to swallow the stuff; you could end up anesthetizing (numbing) the reflex that keeps the windpipe closed when you swallow, warns Langlais.

Go over-the-counter. Use an over-the-counter product like Orabase with Benzocaine. “It’s like oral bandage,” says Becky De Spain, R.D.H., M.Ed., director of the Caruth School of Dental Hygiene at Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas. “It covers up the surface.” If you use something that keeps the sore coated, you’ll help prevent a secondary infection, says Levy. Products with xylocaine, a local anesthetic, can also dull the pain.

Take two aspirin. You can take aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen to help relieve the pain, especially before meals if the canker sore interferes with eating, says Langlais.

Stick to cool foods. Stay away from foods that are hot-in terms of temperature and spiciness. They’ll burn and sting tender canker sores, says De Spain.

Be gentle. Wield that toothbrush extra carefully to avoid Irritating a canker sore. You may want to avoid rough, scratchy foods such as chips for the time being as well.

Stop bad habits. Alcohol and smoking can irritate , a canker sore, says Richard Price, D.M.D., consumer adviser/spokesperson for the American Dental Association. A little abstinence may provide a lot of relief.

Check out your diet. One old wives’ tale blames canker sores on tomatoes. Experts admit some sort of allergic reaction to foods may be to blame, but others point out that food allergies can cause lesions that resemble canker sores. If you’re plagued with frequent canker sores, pay attention to your diet and notice whether an outbreak seems to be linked with any particular food. Likely offenders, nuts, shellfish, chocolate, and tomatoes. What to do if you discover a connection? You guessed it-avoid the offending food.

Learn to handle stress. That’s the best advice for preventing canker sores. Try to find some method of relieving or coping with stress. Examples that you might try include engaging in a hobby, an exercise program, yoga, or meditation.

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