Peoples Pharmacy

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY

March 17, 2006|By JOE GRAEDON AND TERESA GRAEDON

I have read in your column that cholesterol-lowering drugs might affect hair color. I was relieved, because I was afraid I was going nuts.

My hair has been pure white for years. Since I started taking Zetia, I have noticed that it has turned steel gray, with black mixed in. My doctor has never heard of this side effect.

We have not been able to find any scientific documentation on this interesting observation. Nevertheless, we have heard from dozens of readers who have reported that their hair has become darker while they were taking Zetia, Zocor or other cholesterol-lowering drugs.

I am a diabetic, and I'm afraid I'm missing something in my diet. My hair is falling out, and my nails refuse to grow. They just split, despite nightly moisturizing.

My doctor doesn't know why my nails and hair are having trouble. I eat carefully, but I take a lot of medicines: insulin and metformin for diabetes, atenolol and HCTZ for blood pressure, lovastatin for cholesterol and Prilosec for reflux. Could any of them be contributing to this problem?

We are concerned that you might be deficient in vitamin B-12. While hair loss is not the most serious sign of vitamin B-12 deficiency, it is one possible result. Your diabetes medicine metformin (found in ACTOplus Met, Avandamet, Glucophage and Glucovance) and your reflux drug omeprazole (Prilosec) could both contribute to lower levels of vitamin B-12.

Other symptoms to be alert for include anemia, fatigue, unsteadiness, nerve damage (burning, tingling, weakness or numbness in hands or feet), depression or mental confusion.

Please ask your doctor to test your B-12 and methylmalonic acid (MMA) levels. If you are deficient, you might need vitamin injections.

Eight years ago, when I had my daughter, I needed to use Lansinoh for dry, tender nipples from breast-feeding.

I started to use it on my lips instead of ChapStick or Vaseline, and I have never had dry lips or cracking on the corners of my mouth since.

Readers have told us that the Lansinoh (nipple cream for breast-feeding mothers) is good for dry, cracked skin on the feet, hands and elbows. This purified lanolin product is distributed to pharmacies by Hollister.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or e-mail them via their Web site: PeoplesPharmacy.com.

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