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Health: What's up Doc?

DO you have a health question? Write to: Health Zone, The Mirror, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5AP or email healthzone@ (Sorry, but our experts cannot answer letters personally).

Q I've had a squint in my eye since childhood and would give anything to get it sorted. I'm now 60 years old and my optician said I was too old. Can you give a second opinion?

ADr Rob Hicks says: It's worth asking your doctor to refer you to an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) to find out whether an operation would be beneficial. If your squint is affecting your vision then having an operation to correct it may help. However, if you do not have any problems with your vision and you simply want your squint corrected for cosmetic reasons then you may be advised to leave things as they are. No operation is without its risks and there is always the possibility that the quality of your vision could be affected.

Q My upper body is quite svelte but I have very heavy thighs and have been thinking of liposuction. I also have chunky calves, and wonder whether lipo will help them, too.

A Plastic surgeon Laurence Kirwan MD FRCS says: Liposuction is ideal for the classic pear shape. When losing weight, the upper body tends to lose it first, aggravating the problem rather than solving it. Calves do well with liposuction if the problem is fat rather than big muscles. The recovery from calf liposuction is slow and you have to wear elastic stockings to control swelling of the lower legs for at least six weeks and preferably longer. None-the-less, the final result can be dramatic.

QI have a problem with bad foot odour. Even though I wash my feet in the morning and at night, the smell is noticeable even when I'm wearing my shoes. What can I do?

ANick Mortimer, Lloyds Pharmacist says: Foot odour is caused by bacteria that love the warm, moist environment that is often created inside our shoes! Continue to wash your feet twice a day using an antibacterial soap and dry thoroughly, especially between the toes. Apply a spray deodorant such as Scholl anti-perspirant foot spray. Wear cotton socks and leather footwear to allow your feet to breath and go bare foot when possible.

Shoes that have a noticeable odour are best thrown away or washed, if possible in soapy detergent and bleach. Leave shoes to air out in between use for at least 24 hours and use deodorising insoles to minimise future odour. If perspiration and odour persists, try using a stronger deodorant such as Driclor available from your local pharmacy. This contains aluminium chloride hexahydrate 20% and is a potent antiperspirant that can be used every night until the problem improves and then used every few days thereafter to control perspiration.

If these measures fail to solve the problem after about three weeks, then antibiotic or antifungal treatments may be necessary so speak to your pharmacist or GP.

Q I went on holiday to the Caribbean last month and, towards the end of the trip I noticed brownish patches on my face. They haven't gone away: what should I do?

A Gynaecologist Dr Anne Szarewski says: This is probably a condition known as chloasma, which is more common in women whose oestrogen levels are raised, perhaps through pregnancy or taking the combined oral contraceptive pill. If you are taking the pill, you will need to stop using it (but please finish your packet and arrange an alternative method of contraception first, this is not life-threatening!).

You could switch to a progestogen-only pill.

Sunbathing will make it much worse so you should avoid the sun and wear sunblock as much as possible. It gradually fades, though it may never completely disappear. If, in future, you become pregnant, it will get worse again as oestrogen levels rise. Try to stay out of the sunlight as much as possible.
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 2, 2002
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