Most Embarrassing Questions: Sweating It Out at the Gym
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My crotch gets super sweaty when I exercise. Is there anything I can do?
Like your armpits, your crotch is endowed with many sweat glands, so it’s normal—although not too pleasant—to be damp down below after a workout. Pubic hair can also trap moisture, which can mix with bacteria and cause irritation or odor.
Don’t attempt to soak up sweat with a panty liner; that could up the odds of vaginal irritation. Instead, stick to the hygiene basics: Wear cotton panties, change shortly after working out, and take a quick shower—if you can. And it’s not a bad idea to defend yourself against sweat with clothes made of fabrics that wick moisture away from your skin, like those made with hydrology technology by Asics. Wear loose-fitting garments (forget about spandex), and throw bottoms in the wash after a wearing.
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Q: Is it OK to pop whiteheads?
A: Attention to all of you who secretly delight in popping whiteheads (we know you’re out there): It’s not a good idea. Whiteheads form when oil, or sebum, mixes with dead skin cells and causes bacterial growth just below the skin’s surface. (Blackheads form similarly but are partly open to the skin’s surface.) Squeezing out the white stuff can result in scarring, pitting, or darkening of skin around the trouble spot.
If you absolutely can’t resist fiddling, apply a hot towel to the area, and then gently push on either side of it using two sterile gauzes. If nothing comes out, leave it alone. (You’ll create a scar if you keep pushing.) Apply hydrogen peroxide or an antibiotic ointment like Bacitracin to the spot.
You can ward off future whiteheads by using a mild, exfoliating facial scrub, non-oil-based makeup, and skin products labeled noncomedogenic (they don’t block pores).
If whiteheads continue to— ahem—pop up, dermatologists have special instruments that can remove the spots without damaging skin, and they can also prescribe suitable medications. An exfoliating facial from a trained aesthetician may help too.
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Can yogurt cure a yeast infection if I put it "inside"?
While yeast is naturally present in your vagina (in the form of the fungus Candida albicans), an overgrowth of it is a problem and needs to be treated. If you notice a change in the color, amount, or odor of your vaginal discharge, or if you have increased vaginal itching or irritation, contact your gynecologist before reaching for the yogurt tub. Only she can diagnose a yeast infection and prescribe an antifungal medication (some can be purchased over-the-counter), which is the preferred treatment.
There’s no solid evidence that eating yogurt can prevent yeast infections. However, if you need temporary relief from itching and irritation while you’re waiting for an infection to be diagnosed or for the meds to take effect, it can’t hurt to try a little of the plain variety; just dab it on a tampon to insert.
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Q: I seem to have a lot of earwax. Is it OK to use cotton swabs to get it out?
Earwax, while kind of gross, is actually a good thing because it’s a sticky shield that protects your eardrums from bacteria and dirt. Typically, old wax dries up and falls out or washes away when you bathe. But sometimes buildups do occur and cause mild discomfort or hearing problems. Some people just produce more wax than others; we don’t know why, but it’s not a sign of illness.
As for removing it? Don’t try to dig it out using cotton swabs or anything else, for that matter. You risk perforating your eardrum or trapping water or dirt deep in your ear as the wax gets pushed in farther, which can cause infection. Use swabs only on the outer part of your inner ear and wipe away any visible wax with a warm, damp washcloth.
If wax buildup impairs your hearing or causes any pain, see your doctor. She can safely remove buildup with a bulb syringe or a small instrument called a curette, or she may prescribe ear drops or an over-the-counter product designed to help loosen hard wax.
What about ear candles? These thin, hollow tubes are inserted into the ear and then lit to supposedly extract excess wax. There’s no scientific evidence to support their effectiveness, and you could end up burning your ear or eardrum if you use them.
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Should I treat a bug bite any differently if it's in my pubic area?
No need to treat it any differently. A cold pack can reduce minor swelling, and calamine lotion or an antihistamine pill will decrease itching or soreness.
Do keep in mind that a number of sexually transmitted diseases, such as herpes and genital warts, can look like insect bites. If the bite doesn’t clear up in a few days, or if you notice any discharge or change in color, see your doctor to rule out an STD. In the meantime, avoid sexual intercourse.
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