Posted Dec. 9, 2008 -- Ladies, let’s be real for a minute. We all have embarrassing beauty questions that we desperately want answered. The problem is that most of us are too embarrassed to ask them. Well, I’m not. Below you will find some of the most frequently asked embarrassing beauty questions and their answers.
Why does my breath smell despite constant brushing?
The fix: Contrary to popular belief, a tongue scraper won't banish bad breath - sulfur compounds cannot be removed manually. Instead, keep your mouth oxygenated by drinking water throughout the day and using an over-the-counter oral rinse with chlorine dioxide in both the A.M. and the P.M. to neutralize sulfur compounds. (Try TheraBreath Oral Rinse.) Chewing on oxygen-rich vegetables, like parsley and celery, can also diminish odors. If these tricks don't work, see your dentist.
Every time I shave, I get a bumpy rash along my bikini line -- what's causing it?
The fix: Put down your loofah; dermatologists now agree that rubbing the bumps to free trapped hairs will only make the problem worse. Instead, apply an OTC acetylsalicylic acid (a.k.a. aspirin) solution twice a day for two to seven days to gently exfoliate the top layer of your skin. (Try Soft Cell.) Once you shed this layer, the looped hairs will be able to poke through. A cortisone injection, administered by your dermatologist, will decrease inflammation in bigger bumps. If ingrown hairs are a persistent problem, you may want to consider laser treatment, which damages the hair follicles and prevents hair growth. You'll need about three treatments (each around $350) followed by a touch-up every six months to a year.
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What's causing my toenail fungus?
Toenail fungus is actually athlete's foot (often picked up from shared showers or borrowed shoes) that has spread into your toenails.
The fix: The most effective treatment is a prescription antifungal pill like Lamisil or Sporanox, but be warned: These treatments are only 70 to 80 percent effective at best, and even when they work it takes nearly a year and a half for the toenail to fully grow out. Prevent a recurrence by wearing shower slippers every time you rinse off at the gym and by not borrowing shoes.
Why do my teeth look so dingy?
Smoking and excessive consumption of dark beverages (like coffee, tea, soda and red wine) are the main causes of stained teeth.
The fix: As with clothing stains, the longer discolorations remain on your teeth, the harder they are to remove - so keep up those twice-a-year dental visits. You can lighten your teeth several shades with a whitening toothpaste that contains carbamide peroxide, but use it only once a day to avoid drying out gum tissue. (Try Rembrandt Plus with Peroxide toothpaste.) Floss treated with the whitening agent silica has also been proven to polish away stains, which often form between teeth. (Try Johnson & Johnson Reach Whitening Floss.) For more dramatic results, your dentist can bleach your teeth up to eight shades brighter with a highly concentrated peroxide gel administered via laser ($800 to $1,500) or in a custom-fitted mouthpiece ($600 to $1,000) that you wear an hour a day for about 10 days. (Though drugstore bleaching kits are much less expensive, they aren't quite as effective -- the gel isn't as strong, and since the mouthpieces aren't created specifically for you, the gel can drip out of them and inflame your gums.)
Why do I have stretch marks?
You may suspect that the marks on your tummy, thighs or hips were caused by pregnancy or significant weight fluctuations. What you may not know, though, is that hormonal changes that occur during normal growth spurts can also cause your skin to stretch and scar.
The fix: No treatment is guaranteed to remove stretch marks, but you can make them less noticeable. Try twice-daily applications of OTC Striae Stretch Mark Crème - several studies have confirmed that it can reduce red or white marks in about four weeks. Or ask your doctor about laser therapy ($450 to $700 per treatment), which can tone down the brightness of recently acquired red marks, or microdermabrasion ($50 to $150 per session), which can diminish the appearance of white marks.
Could there be a serious underlying cause for excess facial hair?
If you fight your follicles on a daily basis or sprout lots of hairs on your chin, see your doctor. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (a disorder characterized by high levels of male hormones) or an adrenal gland problem could be to blame. If you're moderately hairy (you tidy up your brows or upper-lip area once a month), you've probably just got your genes to thank.
The fix: Vaniqa - a new, odorless prescription cream- has recently been approved by the FDA to decrease light to heavy hair growth anywhere on the face ($50 for a two-month supply). Though it doesn't yield immediate results (you'll need to keep using your regular hair-removal methods at first), the cream blocks one of the enzymes responsible for hair growth, gradually slowing it down as long as you continue to use it. For those who don't respond to Vaniqa, six laser hair treatments ($150 each) can significantly decrease hair growth for months. A monthly electrolysis session for up to a year ($60 to $100 each) can remove hair permanently.