Baking soda rinse can take the edge off smelly feet


June 11, 2000|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,Special to the Sun; King Features Syndicate

Q.My daughter called last night and complained that her brother's feet were stinking up her house. He lives with her family in their three-story home.

I seem to recall a remedy for smelly feet in your column some time ago, but I forget what it was. Could you repeat it? Is there a house deodorizer? The smell from his feet is sickening.

A.We have received many suggestions on how to deal with smelly feet, but we're not sure which one is strong enough to deal with such a powerful problem. One time-honored remedy is to soak the feet in a baking-soda solution 30 minutes a night for a month. Another is to urinate on the feet in the shower.

Using an antiperspirant on the feet might reduce sweating and help control the smell. Tannic acid can also help with sweating, either in a foot powder of bentonite, talc and fluffy tannic acid (ask the pharmacist to make it up) or in a tea soak made by steeping five tea bags five minutes in a quart of hot water.

Q.I would like to know about kava kava. Is there any downside to it?

What I have read is limited but overwhelmingly positive. Are there any drug interactions with kava kava or dosage limits in taking it?

A. Kava (or kava kava) is made from the roots of a shrub native to the South Pacific. Animal research proves that it causes muscle relaxation, and it has been recommended for treating anxiety and insomnia.

The tested dose is 100 milligrams of dry kava extract three times a day, standardized to 70 milligrams kava lactones in each dose. At higher doses, people might find it hard to walk straight or remember things, and at any dose they should avoid driving or combining kava with alcohol or anti-anxiety drugs such as Ativan or Xanax.

Some people find that kava upsets the stomach. It can lead to blurry vision, yellow skin and rashes or allergic reactions. Daily use for months might result in serious complications.

Q.Have you heard that Maalox can be helpful in preventing diaper rash? They told me at the hospital when my baby was born that I should coat her bottom with liquid Maalox and let it air dry. It counteracts the acid that causes the rash.

A. What a novel approach! Traditional recommendations for diaper rash include changing diapers frequently to keep the area dry and clean, exposing the baby's bottom to air for a couple of hours daily and using a zinc oxide cream as a barrier to moisture.

Q.It is time for yardwork and gardening, and the chiggers are out. Are there any treatments, home or medical, that can alleviate the itching or make the bites go away more quickly?

A. When it comes to chiggers, an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure. Spraying socks and pants with insect repellent or sprinkling them with powdered sulfur before heading outdoors can help keep the critters from biting in the first place.

If you do get a bite, you might try a little dab of Vicks VapoRub on the spot. It doesn't clear the bite away any faster, but it takes the edge off the itch.

Q.When I reached menopause, my doctor put me on Premarin and Provera. He recently switched me to Prempro.

I have been hearing that the longer you are on hormones, the higher your risk of breast cancer. I am getting nervous about this and would like to know about other ways to keep my bones strong.

A. Several alternatives to prescription drugs can prevent osteoporosis or hot flashes. Most people know that exercise, calcium and magnesium are important for bone strength. Vitamin D is also essential, but the optimal dose might be higher than that usually recommended. Postmenopausal women might need 800 to 1,000 IU of this vitamin daily (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May 1999).

Some women find that foods such as soy and rye or herbs like ginseng, black cohosh or dong quai are helpful in controlling hot flashes or other symptoms of menopause.

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 at their Web site ( on the network.

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