The People's Perspective on Medicine

Sweaty Arm Pits Pose Embarrassing Problem

Q. My daughter suffers from excessive underarm perspiration. I told her to ask her doctor about it, but the doctor said she has not heard of a prescription deodorant to deal with this problem.

My daughter has ruined many of her clothes. She perspires all the time and she would like to eliminate it as much as possible. What can she do to stop sweating so much?

A. Another reader offered the following suggestion for a similar problem. “I had a terrible time with underarm perspiration when I was younger. But ever since reading The People’s Pharmacy over 20 years ago I haven’t had a problem.

“Here’s the cure: Ask a compounding pharmacist to make up a 25 percent aluminum chloride solution. No prescription is necessary. For the first several months, apply the solution every two to three days before bedtime. Never put it on damp skin or freshly shaved armpits. If irritation occurs, cut back. After many months, this antiperspirant will only need to be used about once a week; then in another couple of months, less frequently. This is cheaper and more effective than deodorant.”

Your daughter should ask her dermatologist whether aluminum chloride would be appropriate. It is available at a lower concentration in the antiperspirant Certain Dri or can be prescribed as Drysol. Botox is also being injected around armpits to stop serious underarm perspiration for months at a time.

Q. I am a 70 year old woman. My cholesterol has always been between 206 and 220 with high HDLs and a good ratio. Last summer, my doctor said 214 is no longer acceptable and put me on Zocor. My HDL was 65.

My cholesterol has now dropped to 145. Since I’ve read that low cholesterol may be linked to strokes I am concerned. My mother died of a massive stroke and my father of a cerebral hemorrhage.

My weight and blood pressure are normal and I exercise daily. When I see my doctor again, should I question the need for Zocor?

A. Low cholesterol has been linked with bleeding strokes. With your family history, you should certainly discuss this issue with your physician. Your ratio of total cholesterol to good HDL cholesterol was great even before you started on Zocor. Many experts now believe that this ratio is more important than cholesterol levels alone.

Q. My partner and I are in our fifties. A year ago he was able to get an erection, though not maintain it for too long. We could, however, at least have intercourse.

His erections have dwindled and now he cannot maintain one long enough to satisfy me. Viagra helps him achieve an erection, but he still can’t keep it for more than a few minutes.

I am a normal, healthy woman and would like more from our sex life. Is there anything that could help?

A. There are other effective treatments for erectile dysfunction besides Viagra. A vacuum pump can help produce a suitable erection. So can self-administered injections (Caverject) or penile pellets (MUSE) of the drug alprostadil.

We are sending you our Guides to Treating Sexual Dysfunction and Drugs that Affect Sexuality. 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. YP-96, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.

Your partner needs a thorough work-up to see what’s behind this problem and which treatment would be best.

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    About the Author
    Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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