Q. I have recently developed an itchy rash under my breasts. I am allergic to fragrances (both natural and synthetic), and many powders and lotions just make the condition worse.
So far, going braless is my best solution, but this is not a pretty sight in a menopausal woman. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
A. We have been surprised by the number of women who complain about under-breast rash at this time of year. Then again, yeast and fungus thrive on the skin in hot, humid weather. Warm, dark skin creases such as the groin or under the breasts are especially susceptible to this problem.
Some people report that anti-fungal creams such as those sold for athlete’s foot help or even clear up the rash. Your fragrance allergies rule out a few popular approaches, like Listerine and Gold Bond Medicated Powder. Vinegar applied to the rash may make it less hospitable to fungus.
Some women find that bra liners, which wick the moisture away, are helpful. Others use a diaper-rash ointment with zinc oxide to protect the skin. One woman found that a mixture of 1 part witch hazel and 1 part unscented milk of magnesia made a soothing lotion.
Q. I’ve begun having some memory problems, and they’ve made it difficult at times to function. Sometimes I forget how to use equipment I’ve used hundreds of times, or I have trouble with math that has always been easy for me.
I’ve taken many anticholinergic drugs through the years (antidepressants, tranquilizers, incontinence drugs, allergy drugs). I am just learning that these drugs could lead to cognitive difficulties.
There is a strong history of dementia in my mother’s family, and I have fears that some of the damage may be irreversible. Do you have any information that will help?
A. You need a thorough work-up to rule out obvious contributors to mild cognitive impairment, like thyroid problems or vitamin deficiency. This also should include a review of your current medications to minimize exposure to drugs that could affect your mental clarity.
To help you with that process, we are sending you our Guide to Drugs and Older People with lists of drugs that may be inappropriate for older people. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (68 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. O-85, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.
Q. I am a pharmacist who catches medical errors on a daily basis. The stats on pharmacy mistakes are frightening.
Hiring uneducated technicians for pharmacies is incredibly dangerous. I catch three or four errors per day and report them, only to be chided by my manager. I’m made to feel terrible about caring if our patients are getting the correct medication or not.
Errors are not only coming from physicians and other prescribers. Patients need to be mindful of medications when they receive them, and verify the correct medicine is inside the bottle. I am diligent, but if I weren’t here, would someone else be as careful catching errors made by pharmacy techs?
A. A 2009 study found an error in one in every five prescriptions filled in pharmacies (Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, March-April 2009).
We urge readers to follow your good advice and always check prescriptions before leaving the pharmacy counter.
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: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”
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