Q. After you wash your hands in a public restroom, which is better, hot-air blowers or paper towels? Where I work they have installed noisy dryers in some restrooms. I much prefer paper towels, but have been told the blowers are better for sanitary reasons. Is that true?
A. You win this debate hands down. Several hospital studies comparing hand-drying methods have found that jet-air dryers blow microscopic drops of water containing bacteria around the bathroom (Journal of Hospital Infection, December 2014; March 2015). Researchers concluded that jet- or warm-air dryers“may be unsuitable for use in healthcare settings” since they could facilitate the spread of germs from one person to another.
An Australian study concluded that “From a hygiene viewpoint, paper towels are superior to electric air dryers” (Mayo Clinic Proceedings, August 2012). There’s one other benefit of paper towels: They don’t sound like a jet airplane taking off.
Q. My doctor prescribed Tamiflu when I tested positive for H1N1 flu. I have been taking two tablets daily, one in the morning and another at night. Now that my fever is gone and I am feeling much better, do I have to finish the whole strip of 10 tablets?
A. You are supposed to finish the entire five-day course of treatment with oseltamivir (Tamiflu). Like antibiotics, this antiviral treatment needs to be completed for full effectiveness. If you stop in the middle, you may increase the likelihood that the virus will develop resistance (Eurosurveillance, July 30, 2009).
Q. As a 72-year-old with Type 2 diabetes, I’m a walking pharmacy. I take three pills for diabetes, one for high blood pressure, two for cholesterol and another for GERD. One of my diabetes meds is Actoplus MET, which contains metformin. I read in your column that metformin users should consider taking a B-vitamin supplement. What should I look for?
A. If you are taking a PPI acid-suppressing drug like esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid) or omeprazole (Prilosec) in addition to metformin, you probably need extra vitamin B-12. Both drugs deplete this vital nutrient.
In her new book, “Fortify Your Life,” Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., recommends 500 micrograms of vitamin B-12 daily for those taking either metformin or a PPI. She also suggests alpha-lipoic acid, a multivitamin and vitamin C as well as 300 to 400 mg of magnesium.
Q. My skin is so dry, it itches. When I scratch it, I bleed. Moisturizers have not been helpful. What can I do?
A. An ordinary moisturizer might not be strong enough when the air is really dry due to indoor heating. You could try one with urea, which improves the barrier function of the skin (Journal of Investigative Dermatology, June 2012).
Research has shown that urea can be an excellent skin moisturizer (Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, November 2013).
We are partial to Udderly Smooth Extra Care 20 cream from Redex. It contains 20 percent urea. (Redex is an underwriter of our radio show.)
Joe and Teresa Graedon: www.peoplespharmacy.com