Milk of magnesia banishes breast rash

Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or email them via their Web site: Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”

Q: I have suffered for years with dampness under my breasts. This leads to itchiness that will not quit.

When my kids were small, an emergency physician told me to use milk of magnesia on their diaper rash. It worked amazingly well, so I thought I’d try it on my own rash. I got instant relief! I use a blow-dryer after I apply it, and it keeps me dry all day. I have no more itching.

A: Under-breast rash appears to be surprisingly common. Anything that reduces moisture in skin folds may be helpful against the microbes that cause itching and irritation.

Other women also report success with milk of magnesia (magnesium hydroxide). This old-fashioned laxative may help dry the skin and change the pH, making the skin less hospitable to bacteria and fungi.

Readers have suggested anti-fungal powders such as Zeasorb-AF or zinc-oxide cream, also popular for diaper rash. Dandruff shampoo, Listerine, apple-cider vinegar and witch hazel also have been recommended.

Q: Lisinopril almost killed my partner. He had off-and-on swelling, fainting spells, angioedema, itchy, swollen throat and vocal changes due to the swelling. All these symptoms started when he was prescribed lisinopril for high blood pressure.

I told his doctor, who prescribed an EpiPen. However, the symptoms returned. Despite using the EpiPen and Benadryl, he needed the paramedics to whisk him to the emergency room. Then he had to be intubated and put on mechanical ventilation.

My partner was loath to go to the ER because he believed the EpiPen would cure him. Others should know: Use the EpiPen AND call 911; the shot is just an emergency stopgap measure. If you feel your throat swelling, don’t wait: act FAST!

A: Blood-pressure “pril” pills called ACE inhibitors can trigger swelling of the lips, tongue and throat (angioedema). These medicines include benazepril, captopril, enalapril, lisinopril and ramipril. Angioedema is a potentially deadly reaction that can occur at any time (even after months or years of safe use).

Abdominal angioedema can cause symptoms such as stomach cramping, pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal distension due to bowel obstruction. This can be hard to diagnose but may be life-threatening.

You are right to emphasize that angioedema is a medical emergency. After such an episode, the physician should prescribe blood-pressure medication from an entirely different category rather than risk a recurrence.

Your partner might appreciate our Guide to Blood Pressure Treatment so that he can see other types of blood- pressure medicines and evaluate their pros and cons. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (70 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. B-67, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website:

Q: You have written about the Food and Drug Administration warning that Remicade might lead to lymphoma. I am here to say firsthand that Remicade caused lymphoma.

It can be fatal in certain cases. Before risking this drug, find out all about the side effects and make sure your doctor monitors you closely.

A: Infliximab (Remicade) is used to treat serious autoimmune diseases such as ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis and severe psoriasis. The FDA warns that this and similar medications could lead to malignancies like lymphoma.