Q. Thank you for suggesting almond oil for fingernails. This remedy is fantastic. In just a month, my nails have improved 100 percent. They are stronger, longer and don't split in layers like they did in the past.
I don't know if it is the oil or the massage of the cuticle as I rub the oil in. Also, I wonder if any oil, not just almond oil, would work, but I'm not about to experiment.
A. We are pleased that almond oil helped your nails. Other readers have reported benefit from Hoofmaker and Elon Nail Conditioner, so we suspect that any good moisturizer can be beneficial.
Hoofmaker was originally developed for horses' hoofs but appears to moisturize fingernails as well. It contains glycerin, coconut oil, vegetable oil, lanolin and cetyl alcohol and is available in many discount drugstores. The manufacturer is Straight Arrow -- 800-827-9815.
Elon contains lanolin, petrolatum, beeswax and oxyquinoline (a fungus fighter). Another reader offers this testimonial:
"Last year at this time, my nails were cracking, thin and brittle. I had spent a lot of money on things that didn't work. Then I tried Elon. My nails are wonderful now, but I have lost the toll-free number for the manufacturer. Please provide it so I can order more."
Elon Nail Conditioner is made by Dartmouth Pharmaceuticals: 800-414-ELON. Any pharmacy can order it.
Q. Some time ago, I ran out of Preparation H for my hemorrhoids, but Vicks VapoRub was handy. I tried it and found that it burned a few seconds, but then gave continuous relief from the itching for several hours. Now I prefer to use Vicks. I thought you would like to add this to your collection of "uses for Vicks."
A. People have suggested so many odd uses for Vicks Vapo-Rub that we are no longer surprised. Vicks contains a petrolatum base (which itself might be soothing) and several essential oils, including menthol, camphor and eucalyptol. It should not be used internally, however.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of the People's Pharmacy, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, N.C. 27717, or e-mail them via their Web site (www.peoplespharmacy.com) on the HealthCentral. com network.