Q: Do you have any remedies for red bumps after a bikini wax?
A: Dermatologists have a name for razor bumps, whether they occur on a man's neck or around a woman's bikini line: pseudofolliculitis barbae. In this condition, hairs that have been removed either by waxing or shaving don't grow back through the surface of the skin. Instead, they become ingrown and cause bumps and inflammation.
A dermatologist we consulted suggested that waxing may be more likely than shaving to cause bikini bumps. That's because after the hair is pulled out, it is more likely to become ingrown.
He recommended applying OTC hydrocortisone cream to the area after hair removal to reduce irritation. He pointed out that a permanent solution for people with dark hair is laser hair removal.
Others have suggested that aloe vera gel applied to the region may reduce irritation and inflammation and offer another option in addition to or instead of the hydrocortisone cream.
Another favorite home remedy, amber Listerine, has been pressed into service for folliculitis. One reader noted, "I decided that if Listerine killed germs in a person's mouth, it might kill the germs on my skin. I tried it, and the condition cleared up so dramatically that I use only Listerine when the folliculitis recurs." The alcohol and antimicrobial oils in the mouthwash may reduce the likelihood of infection taking hold in the follicles and contributing to inflammation.
Q: I take meds to control my high blood pressure (verapamil and clonidine), cholesterol (atorvastatin) and pain (tramadol). This causes major constipation, which I suspect is related to the drugs. Are there any natural remedies to help with this problem?
I drink lots of water, but that doesn't help.
I would hate to add another drug to the list to combat constipation caused by the meds.
A: You are batting a thousand for drugs that cause constipation. Every one of your medications can contribute to this problem, so it's no wonder you are suffering.
The first strategy might be to ask your physician to determine whether there are alternate medications that don't have constipation as a side effect.
That way, you get to the source of the problem.
Nondrug strategies to combat constipation include sugarless gum, psyllium (which will also help with cholesterol control), magnesium and "Power Pudding."
This formula involves unprocessed bran, prune juice and applesauce. A tablespoon taken with plenty of water can be helpful.
We are sending you our Guides to Constipation and Digestive Disorders with more details as well as a dynamite pumpkin-bran muffin recipe to ease your discomfort.
Anyone who would like copies, please send $4 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (70 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. GG-33, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. They each can be downloaded for $2 from our website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Email them via PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is "Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them."