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How to Give Embarrassing Health Concerns the Flick

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Have you ever noticed how people have a lot of patience for certain health concerns and not others? If someone has a broken leg, people will get out of their seats on the bus so that they can sit down. Smelly feet? People still get out of their seats, but it is more a tactical retreat than an act of grace and decency. A noisy stomach in a quiet meeting? People will start to shoot you sideways glances. Today, I will be unpacking some of those more embarrassing afflictions, offering you an escape rope out of awkward situations.

Acne

Everyone dealt with the odd pimple in their adolescence, but acne isn’t just a teenage phenomenon. Acne Vulgaris is the technical name for when dead skin and oil clog your pores resulting in blackheads and whiteheads. It tends to show up on areas with higher than average oil glands which (conveniently) is the face, back and chest. The old wives tale of ‘just wash your face’ is selling the severity of acne slightly short. Of course, cleanliness will be of some use, but the best treatments involve medical intervention. Topical medications include retinoids, and antibiotic cream. Alternatively, antibiotics come in pill form, and curiously, the contraceptive pill is an effective remedy for acne. It’s not worth waiting for it to get better by itself if it is causing you grief. See your doctor. They can help.

Cold sores

A classic. People feel some stigma when they are displaying a cold sore on their lip. No doubt this is because it is genetically the same as genital herpes, but unlike genetical herpes, up to 80% of people have this virus in their systems somewhere. If you’re feeling a little self conscious, remember that four out of five people know this feeling. In terms of treatment, zovirax cold sore cream is an excellent shout. Left alone, a cold sore will take up to two weeks to disappear, but with a topical treatment like zovirax cold sore cream, it can be halved. It feels like a bit of a no-brainer. Pick up a tube of zovirax cold sore cream today and feel better tomorrow.

Halitosis

Or in layman’s terms, bad breath. The truly frightening thing is, it is really hard to tell when your breath smells. You rely on the honesty (solicited or otherwise) of someone else before you realise. It is caused by sulphur producing bacteria in the tongue and throat. Yep, sulphur: the smell likened to rotten eggs. It can be caused by smoking as this dries out the mouth, certain foods and poor dental hygiene. There isn’t really a silver bullet here. Upping your dental hygiene with mouthwashes, and regular brushing will go a long way. A helpful hack here is brushing your tongue and gums near the back of your throat as this is where the bacteria gathers most often. If you’ve tried everything, there are antibiotics which can fight the bacteria from the inside out. This should be a last resort, however, as rushing to antibiotics at every opportunity is counterproductive.

Excessive sweating

I once had a customer who simply described himself as a ‘genuine sweatsman’. What a term. Some people sweat worse than others, and it can be caused by a whole host of factors: Summer heat, exercise, spicy food, diabetes, certain cancers… For most people, it is the earlier reasons. Breaking into a sweat isn’t a death sentence. There are a few ways around excessive sweating. First of all, you can wear loose-fitting cotton clothing as this fabric breathes a lot better than the synthetic blends. There are also remedies especially formulated for hyperhidrosis which are available readily. Don’t panic about this. It will only make things worse.

Smelly feet

In some ways, this is linked to the ‘genuine sweatsman’ condition I spoke about earlier. If your feet are sweaty, they are going to smell. You can get around this by modifying your footwear; something breathable and open. Similarly, certain fungal infections can cause the old tootsies to whif a bit. You would need a doctor to have a look before you started to get into any anti-fungal creams, however. Here’s a little tip that won’t cost you much. Boil five black tea bags and let the water cool. Soak your feet in this daily, and the tannic acid dry your feet and kill the smell which hangs around. If you’ve got some socks which continually make your feet smell, introduce them to the bin or the rag drawer. There’s no coming back for them.

Flatulence

Some people find this funny. Everyone else around them does not. People tend to be flatulent if they swallow lots of air when they speak or eat. Certain foods like lentils and beans will play their part, as will dairy, and sugary drinks. Put them all together and you end up with the (im)perfect storm. Heaven help us! There is hope amidst this tempest. If you slow down when you eat, you’re less likely to swallow air. Alternatively, you can try charcoal, or pharmaceutical products containing simethicone which helps alleviate trapped wind. Fun fact: most people pass wind 21 times a day. I assume my older brother might have doubled that when we were children.

Noisy stomach

That growling noise which comes from your stomach is probably a lot less noticeable than you think it is. Consider how loud chewing is in your head, but to others, it is (hopefully) barely noticeable. It is a result of your food, liquid and gas travelling through the stomach and small intestine, and it is a normal part of digestion. There are a few things you can do to make it less noticeable if you are self conscious. Firstly, take a big drink, then eat something which isn’t sugary. If you chew slowly and avoid the flatulence inducing ingredients listed above, you are minimising the gas which can add to the grumbling. Above all, stay calm. Studies show that if you’re stressed, the noises can become even more pronounced.

I hope I have saved you from some embarrassment today!

Floyd – Senior Pharmacist