Health & Family

A nosy question about zinc oxide

Q. I've been advised to use diaper-rash ointment containing zinc oxide to keep my horse's muzzle from getting sunburned while he's grazing. I've been wondering if this would also work to keep me from developing a “horsewoman's tan.” All of the sunscreens I have tried help me avoid sunburn, but I have brown arms from the edge of my gloves to the edge of the short-sleeved shirts.

For decades, lifeguards have used white zinc oxide to keep their noses from burning. It blocks both UVA and UVB rays and provides excellent protection.

You could try the diaper-rash ointment or get a sunscreen that contains zinc and titanium. New formulations contain microfine particles that don't leave a distinctive white color. Human sunscreens can also be used on horses to keep pale skin from burning.

Constipation relief

Q. In the recent past, I took Alli for weight loss. To my amazement, my constant constipation disappeared.

Alli is OTC orlistat. It has been prescribed under the name Xenical. Diarrhea and increased bowel movements are common side effects of orlistat, so it's not surprising that it might combat constipation.

Thumbnail fungus

Q. You often write about toenail fungus, but I want to know how to get rid of fingernail fungus. I have it in both thumbnails.

There are many inexpensive home remedies that might help. None works for everyone, but readers have sent testimonials like this one:

“My doctor told me I had a bad case of toenail fungus. I got a bowl and a bottle of Listerine and soaked my toes in the Listerine every morning while doing my hair. (That took about five minutes.) My nails cleared up in three months.

“My husband also used it. He soaked his nails while watching TV. This has been a great cure and does not cost a lot.”

If home remedies don't work, your doctor can prescribe medications such as Lamisil, Sporanox or Penlac.