Ingredients in Noxzema work against itchy skin

Q. I was troubled for months by itching on my scalp and eyebrows and around the edges of my nose. My dermatologist suggested trying a mild corticosteroid cream for the facial dermatitis, but she cautioned that corticosteroids might cause thinning of the skin.
For my scalp, I tried Nizoral and a variety of expensive shampoos, to no effect. They left my hair brittle and dry.
Then I read in your column about the anti-fungal effects of Listerine. Because Noxzema contains eucalyptus and menthol just as Listerine does, I applied it generously to my scalp and face, leaving it on for about a half-hour before I washed and conditioned my hair with my usual products.
That was six weeks ago, and I haven't had any itching since, which makes me very happy. I just found out at that the product, introduced by Dr. George Bunting in 1914, was given its name after a customer exclaimed, "You knocked my eczema!"
A. Seborrheic dermatitis can cause the kind of irritation you describe. It has been linked to yeast and is frequently treated with anti-fungal medicines.
In the past we have heard from readers who found that the anti-fungal herbal oils in Vicks VapoRub could help against this itching. We are pleased to learn that Noxzema, with its camphor, menthol and eucalyptus, worked so well for you.
Q. I have been prescribed Zetia, and I've been considering buying it from a Canadian online pharmacy. I was told that the name there is Ezetrol. Are they really the same drug?
A. Yes. Ezetrol and Zetia are both brand names for a cholesterol-lowering medication. Its generic name is ezetimibe. It works differently from statin drugs such as Zocor or Lipitor, and blocks cholesterol absorption from the digestive tract.
Zetia can cost more than $80 a month in the United States. In Canada, Ezetrol runs between $50 and $60 per month.
Q. I am taking Dyazide for high blood pressure and have developed skin rashes and itching when exposed to the sun, even after generous coatings with sunscreen. What is it, and why does exposure to sunshine cause this reaction? Can I do something to prevent it? I live in sunny California, and it's hard to avoid the sun!
A. A surprising number of prescription and OTC medicines can cause sun sensitivity. Dyazide is just one. Many antibiotics, blood pressure pills, arthritis medicines and antidepressants can make people far more vulnerable to a rash or a bad burn.
To protect yourself you will need a very high SPF sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB radiation. Seek special UV-protective clothing and a hat that also screens out ultraviolet radiation. There are also umbrellas that can keep damaging rays off your skin.
If all else fails, your doctor might want to consider prescribing a different blood pressure medication. We are sending you our Guide to Skin Care & amp; Treatment, with a list of medicines associated with sun sensitivity and a discussion of sunscreen. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $2 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (60 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. S-28, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.
Your eyes might also be more susceptible to UV damage. Wear a pair of 100 percent UV-blocking sunglasses whenever you are outside.
XIn their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail them at or via their Web site: Their newest book is 'The People's Pharmacy Guide to Home and Herbal Remedies' (St. Martin's Press).
& copy; 2004 King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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