Embarrassing personal health questions answered

We all have those embarrassing beauty questions that we want answers for but are too afraid to ask.

Everything from bad breath to blushing can be a point of discomfort when it comes to being around other people. Rest assured, most of these issues are very common and easily fixed.

What can I do about ingrown toenails?
Ingrown toenails can not only look unsightly in thongs and sandals, but they can also be painful.

The most common cause of ingrown toenails is clipping them the wrong way. Clipping nails too short or too much on the corners causes the nail to begin to curve and grow into the skin of the nail border, pushing against the skin and causing pressure, swelling and tenderness.

Your best weapon against ingrown toenails is to cut toenails straight across the top in a flat line, and not cut them too short.

If you clip nails the correct way and still get ingrown toenails, it’s worth having the issue checked by a professional as there can be underlying causes, such as hereditary factors and even the length of your toes.

Why do my feet smell so bad?
Unfortunately, even with top-notch personal hygiene, foot odour can be stubborn.

Sweat itself is odourless, but once it soaks shoes and socks it creates the ideal environment for the normal bacteria on your feet to thrive.

When these bacteria interact with moisture, they emit sulphurous by-products, causing that well-known foot odour.

Ensure you wash and dry your feet thoroughly (especially in between your toes) and spray on a foot antiperspirant spray. Choose socks made from breathable materials such as cotton or wool instead of polyester or nylon.

Rotate your footwear to allow them to air out in between wears (a spritz of an antibacterial spray won’t hurt either).

How do I treat fungal nails?
A fungal nail infection can develop at any age, but it’s more common in older adults. As the nail ages, it can become brittle and dry. The resulting cracks in the nails allow fungi to enter. The most common type of fungus is called dermatophyte. Yeast and moulds also can cause nail infections.

Unfortunately, they can be very difficult to treat, with some taking months to clear up completely. Your doctor may prescribe antifungal drugs that you take orally or apply to the nail.

Prevent reinfection by:

  • discarding old shoes or treating them with a disinfectant
  • wearing footwear in shared pool areas
  • choose shoes made of breathable material
  • disinfecting nail clippers after every use

Why do I blush so often?
Blushing is a normal bodily reaction that happens to most people, at least occasionally. In fact, some research has found that just by telling someone they are blushing is enough to induce it.

Blushing is primarily caused by the activation of the ‘fight or flight’ mode within our body. But when patches of red pop up randomly on your cheeks, forehead, or chin, rosacea may be to blame.

If that’s the case, a dermatologist will be able to diagnose it and offer medication or creams to ease the redness.

Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day, as sunlight is a trigger for the flushing of rosacea.

Related: What exactly is rosacea and how can it be treated?

How do I get rid of bad breath?
Brushing is great for preventing cavities but that alone only masks bad breath without getting rid of it.

The best way of making sure you do not have bad breath is to keep the whole of your mouth clean, including your teeth, tongue and throat.

You can usually treat bad breath at home by:

  • gently brushing teeth and gums at least twice a day for two minutes
  • using a fluoride toothpaste
  • gently cleaning your tongue once a day using a tongue scraper or cleaner
  • cleaning or flossing between your teeth at least once a day
  • getting regular dental check-ups
  • using an antibacterial mouthwash or toothpaste.

If it doesn’t go away, it could be a sign of gum disease, heartburn, dry mouth, or a sinus infection.

How do I moisturise chapped lips?
Chapped lips are typically caused by environmental exposures that lead to irritation, including saliva and licking your lips, spicy foods, and cold, dry weather.

Tiny cracks in the skin on your lips can make them sensitive as well as rough-looking.

Use a lip balm made with petroleum jelly, castor seed oil, or shea butter. This will seal in moisture and protect lips from the elements. And look for one with SPF 30. Stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day.

Chapped lips can also be a sign of an underlying medical condition including thyroid disease, vitamin deficiencies and inflammatory bowel disease.

If your lips aren’t healing as quickly as you’d expect, see your GP to rule out these conditions.

Can I get rid of dandruff once and for all?
Dandruff can be stubborn, and what works for one person may not work for another.

Dry scalp or seborrheic dermatitis, a scalp condition caused by an overproduction of skin oils, are common culprits.

For mild dandruff, try daily cleansing with a gentle shampoo to reduce oil and skin cell build-up. If that doesn’t help, try a medicated dandruff shampoo. You may need to try more than one shampoo to find the one that works for you. And you’ll likely need repeated or long-term treatment.

Do you have any embarrassing body questions that you’ve always wanted to know the answer to? Are you comfortable talking to your GP about these things? Why not share your thoughts on the topic in the comments section below?

Read also: What is causing your bad breath?

Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Ellie Baxter
Ellie Baxter
Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.
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