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Health: What's up doc?

Q I AM in my late twenties and have a couple of lumps the size of peas under the skin on my legs. The doctor said they are fat deposits and are harmless. Are they common and can I get rid of them?

A GP Dr Rob Hicks says: These fat deposits are called lipomas, which commonly appear in areas where fat can expand, for example on the abdomen, hips, thighs, arms and legs. In areas such as the abdomen and thighs they can become quite large because they can expand easily. However, they aren't at all dangerous.

It is possible to have them removed, but the scar can often be larger than the original problem. Some people claim that massage has helped their lipomas shrink and in some cases disappear altogether.

Q I AM on the contraceptive pill Cilest. If I take it even as little as an hour late in the morning, I bleed immediately and it doesn't stop for five days.

Is there something wrong with me and am I still protected?'

A Gynaecol-ogist Anne Szarewski says: You are still protected and there's nothing wrong with you. This is a common problem known as breakthrough bleeding and it suggests that Cilest isn't the right formulation for you - the balance of oestrogen and progestogen isn't quite correct.

You might be better suited to Minulet as this formulation is generally very good for cycle control and should allow you more leeway in when you take the pill.

Ask at your family planning clinic to change your make of pill.

Q MY daughter has just had nits and I am concerned about using the shampoo the school nurse suggested for her.

I have heard it contains very strong chemicals, what would you recommend?

A trichologist Philip Kingsley says: I would suggest using lotions rather than the shampoos because you can be more accurate with where you are applying and you don't have to apply it to the whole head of hair, which can cause damage.

The lotions do contain strong chemicals, which are ill-advised for children under five, however there is no evidence that they are carcinogenic.

The key problem is that often they are over-used, either because people don't get rid of the nits properly, or the child becomes reinfected.

An effective solution is to use an ordinary conditioner on the hair and then to run your forefinger and thumb (or a nit comb), all the way down the hair shaft from the root.

This may be time consuming but will get rid of the problem.

Q I PLAY a lot of tennis but after a long game, my back and shoulder blades start to really ache.

I warm up the other parts of my body but wondered if there were any good exercises I could do to loosen up my back muscles?

A Physio-therapist Sarah Key says:

When your arm holds a tennis racket it acts as a very long lever, controlled by relatively small muscles in the shoulder and shoulder blade, so that is why tennis often causes so many problems. There are some good exercises that will help loosen you up.

You can ease this pain by doing 'the plough' a yoga stretch, for 30 seconds.

Lie on your back on the floor with a pillow under the base of your neck.

Then raise your legs up and over, placing your toes on a stool behind your head.

Also, while you play tennis your head is probably pushed too far forward, putting a strain on your back.

To help prevent this, lie for one minute with a Back Block (or a 5cm stack of books) under your upper back and your head pushed back onto the floor.

If you find it difficult getting your head back to the floor, you can use a low pillow the first few times.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 31, 2000
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