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Fighting mosquitoes with Listerine

TUESDAY, JUNE 26, 2012

Q. To keep your picnic area free of insects, put Listerine in a spray bottle and spray the table and chairs where you are enjoying the outside. You will be bug-free for a few hours, if not days.

It doesn’t hurt the environment or you and your pets. It’s also inexpensive.

A. Others have also recommended Listerine (or its house-brand counterpart) as a way of discouraging insect invaders. Perhaps the herbal ingredients (eucalyptol, menthol, thymol and methyl salicylate) that give amber Listerine its distinctive aroma also repel bugs.

Q. I developed rosacea a few years ago. Although I tried ignoring it, the condition got worse.

A dermatologist gave me samples of Finacea. That helped a little, but there is a $60 copay for the prescription. Metrogel works a little, too, but again has a $60 copay.

My wife told me to use Selsun Blue. I wash my hair with it and drag the suds down over my face. If I hadn’t had an itchy scalp, I would not have bothered. I really thought that this idea was bogus, so it’s not a placebo effect.

This is no extra effort, since I am in the shower anyway. Lo and behold, I got out of the habit of using Metrogel because the rosacea absolutely disappeared. After months of nothing but Selsun Blue as treatment, it’s completely gone.

A. Rosacea is an inflammation of the skin that causes redness and bumps on the nose, forehead and cheeks. Dermatologists think it may be due to an immune response to fungi, bacteria or some viruses.

Selsun Blue has anti-fungal activity. That may explain why many readers report that this dandruff shampoo can be helpful against rosacea.

Q. I quit Zoloft after nine years and suffered horrendous withdrawal symptoms: nausea, brain zaps, vertigo, headaches, digestive problems, and numbness and tingling in my hands, feet and face.

I’m writing to let others know that withdrawal does get better, even on days when you think you cannot possibly survive one more hour of feeling so sick. If I had known at the start what it would take to wean off this antidepressant, I would never have taken it.

The symptoms were horrible for a full two weeks. The third week, I felt a bit better each day, and after that I improved quickly. I still have an occasional brain zap or wave of vertigo, but for the most part I’m back to normal. My sex drive, energy levels and mood all have improved tremendously.

A. Many antidepressants, such as duloxetine (Cymbalta), escitalopram (Lexapro), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft) and venlafaxine (Effexor), can trigger unpleasant symptoms if discontinued abruptly. Patients should be warned about this complication. Neither the manufacturers nor the Food and Drug Administration offers doctors much guidance on how to help their patients phase off such drugs gradually.

We are sending you our Guide to Dealing With Depression for more information on the pros and cons of antidepressants, details on discontinuing and nondrug approaches to managing this disorder. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (65 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. E-7, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website:>

Thanks for sharing your experience. We hope others won’t have to suffer as much as you have.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or email them via their website, Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”

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