Q. You’ve given men advice on coping with jock itch, so I decided to tell you how I deal with the bra itch we ladies get. When I had my last mammogram, the technician said some gals come in looking like they have been scalded. The itch is unbearable.
I tried everything until someone told me to try clotrimazole. It’s sold for athlete’s foot, but by golly it works for this. Now I only use it once in awhile as a preventive.
A. Fungus loves warm, moist environments. That could be inside a shoe or in folds of skin. Men and women get “jock itch” which can occur around the groin. The breast is not immune and your solution makes sense. Clotrimazole (Cruex, Desonex, Lotrimin AF), miconazole (Micatin, Ting) and terbinafine (Lamisil AT) should all work for “bra itch” as well as for athlete’s foot.
Q. I am chronically sleep deprived. I was a medical resident until recently, so I guess I’ve not had enough sleep for five years. Now I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. Before this, I always slept like a stone. I need to be alert when I get up. Do you have any advice?
Q. Exercise in the middle of the day and bright light (sunshine) in the morning can be helpful, but we imagine that a busy physician might not be able to use these non-drug alternatives. Sonata (zaleplon) is a possible solution. This prescription sleeping pill has a quick onset and wears off within about four hours. That makes it useful for people who wake up prematurely and have at least four hours more to sleep before arising.
Q. My gynecologist urged me to take hormone replacement therapy for bone strength because my mom had osteoporosis very badly. But my grandmother on my mother’s side died of breast cancer and so did my dad’s sister. That’s why taking estrogen makes me nervous.
Now he says I should take Evista instead to prevent bone loss and heart problems. I’m getting very confused. Do I really need the Evista and is it safe? Is the calcium I am taking enough? Isn’t taking a baby aspirin daily helpful for the heart? I’d appreciate it if you would send me objective information on these issues.
A. Hormone replacement therapy is indeed linked to breast cancer and does not appear to protect the heart. Evista promotes bone strength without increasing the risk of breast cancer. It may even protect the breast. Side effects include hot flashes, leg cramps and blood clots.
Calcium supplements by themselves may not be adequate to keep your bones strong. Vitamin D, magnesium and a drug like Evista or Fosamax can be helpful if you are at risk of osteoporosis.
We are sending you our Guides to Osteoporosis and Estrogen: Benefits, Risks & Interactions for more details. Anyone who would like copies, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped (57 cents), self-addressed envelope: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. WU-52, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.
A baby aspirin is also protective for the heart, but please check with your doctor to see if it would be appropriate.
Q. I just read your column about a product called “Save the Baby.” Someone wanted to buy it, and you said it’s hard to find. It’s sold in Massachusetts where I live. I have used it for a long time, and wanted to let you know it is available.
A. Thanks for the information. Our reader grew up in Massachusetts and wondered if this old-time remedy was a regional product.

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