Q: I read with interest the letter from the large-breasted woman with a possible fungal infection under her breasts. She mentioned that cornstarch hadn’t worked. I was told by a doctor that the fungus actually FEEDS on the cornstarch and to avoid it. Do you have any information on this?

I do use amber Listerine and also milk of magnesia. Yes, the Listerine stings if I have a rash, but it leaves me feeling cool and dry. For me, the milk of magnesia seems especially effective in fighting the rash. I wash my underwear after every wearing.

A: Thanks for sharing your experience with under-breast rash. There is a medical term for this condition: inframammary intertrigo. However, relatively little research has been devoted to it.

Many doctors as well as patients are convinced that cornstarch can fuel skin fungus. We have been unable to find studies confirming this belief. The one study we found that addressed it directly found that “cornstarch and talc powders do not enhance the growth of yeasts on human skin” (Pediatric Dermatology, April 1984).

Keeping skin dry and reducing friction are pillars of preventing irritation. Some people find that a diaper cream containing zinc oxide can be helpful. Health care providers have recommended moisture-wicking textile with silver for under-breast rash, to keep the area dry (Wound Care Canada, Vol. 11, No. 2, 2013). Silver also has antimicrobial activity, but these cloths are sold as wound care and are a bit pricey.

Listerine also has antimicrobial activity. The menthol and methyl salicylate trigger a cooling sensation. Washing underwear after each wearing seems like a sensible precaution to avoid repeat infections.


Q: The past few years I have tried several different products to avoid being constipated. In one of your articles, you suggested eating kiwi as a regulator.

I tried it, and the results were amazing. I eat one at night, and by the morning all is back to normal. There are no cramps, gas or any of the usual uncomfortable side effects. My only problem is what happens when kiwi is not in season and I can’t find them in the store.

A: We are delighted that this simple, natural suggestion is working for you. A recent trial found that kiwi was as effective as the old standbys, prunes or psyllium, for increasing frequency, improving stool consistency and reducing straining (American Journal of Gastroenterology, June 1, 2021). In addition, volunteers reported fewer side effects, especially bloating.

You can learn more about managing constipation and avoiding drugs that could make it worse in our eGuide to Controlling Constipation. This online resource may be found under the Health eGuides tab at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.

Q: I would like to add a suggestion for the reader who is using Selsun Blue for eczema but would like to use something that didn’t need to be washed off. I have had excellent luck with Scalpicin. This product is also an OTC dandruff treatment, but it comes in a spray bottle and does not need to be washed off. I have eczema around my eyes and ears, and Scalpicin is a godsend.

A: Scalpicin contains low-dose hydrocortisone (1%) along with menthol, aloe, tea tree oil and carriers such as denatured alcohol, water and propylene glycol. The botanical ingredients, although listed as inactive, are often recommended to soothe itchy irritated skin.