Q. You’ve written about sunscreen, but I haven’t seen you address the topic that worries me most. By using sunscreen every day, you may limit the amount of vitamin D your body makes. Some studies suggest that lower vitamin D contributes to a greater risk of cancer. When scientists study sunscreen, they should monitor vitamin D in participants. Has anyone done that?
A. Yes! And the most recent research suggests that using SPF 15 sunscreen that also blocks UVA radiation does NOT prevent vitamin D formation (British Journal of Dermatology, November 2019).
We know this contradicts popular wisdom about sunscreen, but a review of the medical literature concluded that daily sunscreen application does not seem to interfere with skin synthesis of vitamin D (British Journal of Dermatology, November 2019). The studies in the review, however, used moderate SPF sunscreen rather than the very high sun protection factor sunscreens that are now popular.
Q. I recently started taking care of my own health issues. I had hand tremors that made the mouse run laps around the computer screen. After researching all my prescription medicines, I quit taking lisinopril for high blood pressure.
After a month being off it, the tremors are gone. They had been so bad that another nurse friend noticed it when we were out for dinner. I have many hobbies and could not imagine being unable to knit, crochet, sew or embroider again.
A. Your story took us by surprise. We have been interested in ACE inhibitors like lisinopril for decades. This blood pressure pill works well for most people, with relatively few side effects.
Some develop an uncontrollable cough, though. A few others experience something called angioedema, which can be life threatening. In this condition, the tissues of the face, especially the lips, tongue and throat, swell and may block the ability to breathe. Angioedema can also occur in the abdomen, causing intestinal blockage.
Tremor is listed in the prescribing information, but it appears to be quite rare. You are the first person who has told us about experiencing this complication.
We trust you are in touch with your doctor about other ways to control your blood pressure. We offer more information about lisinopril, other medications and nondrug approaches in our eGuide to Blood Pressure Solutions. This online resource is available in the Health eGuides section of www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.
Q. Does Vicks VapoRub ointment still have the ingredient that kills toenail fungus? I used to work in a nursing home, and the nursing staff rubbed Vicks into the feet, paying special attention to the toes. It definitely cured active nail fungus in some residents who came to us with horrible problems.
A. Vicks VapoRub contains camphor, eucalyptus oil and menthol, along with inactive ingredients including cedarleaf oil, nutmeg oil, petrolatum, thymol and turpentine oil. About 15 years ago, the manufacturer began using synthetic rather than natural camphor, but we haven’t seen any indication that the effect on toenail fungus has changed. Camphor, menthol, thymol and eucalyptus oil are active against five types of fungus that can infect toenails (Phytotherapy Research, April 2003).
Health professionals are often skeptical about such home remedies. However, there is some clinical evidence that Vicks can be helpful against toenail fungus (Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, January-February 2016).
— King Features