Dear Diana, I have noticed small areas of skin on the front of my leg which are constantly rough and sometimes bleed a bit. I am concerned about skin cancer. How can I tell if I might have a problem? ……Jacqui Paxman Manchester
Hello Jacqui, they may be a symptom of non-melanoma skin cancer which tends to develop, often on skin that has been over exposed to the sun. Spots or sore places are fairly common, but when they don’t heal up after 4 weeks it may be time to get them checked out, especially if the spots or sores hurt, are itchy, crusty, they scab over or bleed. If an area of skin is broken down (an ulcer), and you don’t remember an injury that could have caused it get it checked out. Also if you notice red itchy patches on your skin or develop small lumps which might be shiny, pink or red and grow slowly talk to your doctor. Did you foolishly sunbathed all those years ago, or do you work outside with much of your body exposed? If so get a friend to check out your back for any skin changes. or possible skin cancers. If these changes don’t clear up after a month or so, get your skin checked out by your doctor. It may be basal cell carcinoma which is a type of skin cancer, the most common one in the UK. It is also sometimes called a ‘rodent ulcer’. It can be treated successfully.
Hello Diana, I have a problem with weepy eyes. My eyes water a lot, particularly in the winter time. Can I do anything to stop this happening or is it just another sign of ageing?
Barbara, it happens to me too! Watery eyes can affect anyone, but it’s most common in young babies and people over 60, causing blurred vision, sore eyelids and sticky eyes. It occurs if too many tears are produced, or they cannot drain away properly. My optician tells me glands in the eyelids normally secrete an oily substance that slows the evaporation of tears between blinks. When glands aren’t functioning properly the result can be dry patches on your eyes. These become sore, and extra tears are produced as a reflex, causing eyes to water. If weepy eyes are the result of dry eye syndrome, your optician may suggest lubricating eye drops, and advise you to avoid cold winds and activities that aggravate.
Hello Diana, my problem is Gout which is very painful indeed. It comes and goes without warning and distresses me. Why do I get Gout, I thought it was a man thing, and what can I do to relieve the pain? ….. Mary O’Donnell Belfast
Mary, gout is a form of arthritis in which small uric acid crystals form inside and around the joints, caused by excess uric acid in the bloodstream. It causes sudden attacks of severe pain and swelling often without warning in the middle of the night, most commonly affecting the big toe. Painful and debilitating it mainly affects men over 30, but women after the menopause. It usually occurs in the toes, ankles, knees and fingers, with swelling in and around the affected joint, which feels hot, very tender and looks shiny and red.
The good news is men are more likely to have body odour and sweat more than we women! However when girls reach puberty they produce body odour when the apocrine sweat glands develop. Apocrine sweat is produced in the groin, armpits, and the areola of the nipples, mouth, feet and hair. Bacteria on your skin feed and break down the acids in your sweat, and bacterial by-products cause a change in body odour (bromhidrosis). Excessive sweating and body odour is unpleasant and can affect a person’s confidence and self-esteem. So what can we do to help ourselves? Being overweight can make sweating worse. Spicy foods such as curry or garlic can make your sweat smell, and eating a lot of red meat tends to make body odour unpleasant. Also some types of medication such as antidepressants and certain medical conditions can produce odours. A fruity smell may sometimes be a sign of diabetes, while a bleach-like smell can indicate liver or kidney disease. Smelly feet (bromodosis) are usually caused by wearing shoes and socks that prevent sweat, which attracts bacteria, from evaporating or being absorbed. Some people sweat excessively, much more than the body needs to regulate temperature, this could be due to a condition called hyperhidrosis.
Dear Diana I am in my 60’s and trying hard to maintain my physical fitness. However, I’m a bit overweight and not as supple as I’d like to be. My problem is getting up after doing my floor exercises. Have you any tips to make it easier? Janet Evans …Bournemouth
Oh Janet, you are not the only one who has difficulty. A lot of people don’t want to do floor exercises for this reason, the fear of getting stuck down there! Fortunately there’s a technique to help get you up off the ground! Begin by rolling onto your side (whichever side is most comfortable). Now place both hands on the floor and with straight arms push your upper body up. Then twist onto your knees and at the same time lift your hip off the ground. You should now be in a kneeling position with both hands and knees on the floor. Next bring one foot and place it forward. From that position you will be able to safely push off and carefully stand up.
Should you have difficulty getting up out of a chair try this technique. Sit upright on your chair feet flat on floor, lean forward from your hips. Keep your head up, look up and with nose over your toes, push and stand up. To begin with use your hands on seat to push up, but aim to keep hands on your thighs and use the power of your front leg muscles (quadriceps) to propel you. Strong muscles help maintain mobility.
Hi Diana. Recently I have been suffering from bad breath which I find rather embarrassing. Why should I have this, and how can I get rid of it?
Jackie Worthington Sussex
Bad Breath (halitosis) is caused by anaerobic sulphur that feeds on debris on your tongue, gums and between teeth. This produces bacteria and unpleasant-smelling gases. Food trapped between your teeth is broken down by the bacteria, also responsible for gum disease and tooth decay. These bacteria can live on the rough surface of your tongue, so both brushing your teeth and cleaning your tongue helps control bad breath.
One in four people are thought to have halitosis on a regular basis, the most likely cause being poor oral hygiene. It’s essential to brush teeth regularly and I always make sure to floss or use a small interdental brush between my teeth.
Dear Diana – or maybe I should be addressing the cookery page! Don’t laugh, but since having eye surgery last year I no longer need to wear contact lenses. This leaves my eyes unprotected and very sensitive to things – particularly when cooking. When chopping a red onion last week I was incapacitated with streaming eyes. Are there any of those wonderful old wives cures which work? Or an onion chopper which actually does what it claims it will?
Angela Twiselton Northampton
Sheila I’m so pleased your eye surgery was successful, and there are ways to avoid too many tears in the kitchen! Cutting an onion produces a series of chemical reactions that unleashes propanethial S-oxide, an irritant that causes the tears. An effective way to help stop the waterworks is to chill the onions. When the onion is cold less propanethial S-oxide will evaporate.
Always use a sharp knife and position your chopping board by your cooker and under the vent hood. Turn the exhaust fan on and it should pull the irritants away from you and your eyes. As soon as you cut the onion in half, turn both halves down on your cutting board, leaving the side you aren’t currently chopping unpeeled. Once you’ve finished with the first half put the diced onion into a bowl on the other side of the kitchen, before attacking the rest. Breathing through your mouth while chopping will reduce tears because your olfactory nerves are located close to your tear ducts.
I know wearing goggles might make you feel silly but they’re very effective in avoiding waterworks. Putting any type of airtight barrier between your eyes and the onion helps—including those contact lenses!