Q: I used Preparation H twice yesterday and once today. I noticed a headache yesterday and attributed it to a lack of sleep.

When I applied the ointment today, my headache returned. I checked my blood pressure, and it was 16 points higher than normal. My typical BP reading with meds is 117/78. A diastolic reading of 94 concerns me.

I understand that the problem with Preparation H is the phenylephrine. Do I need to avoid this medicine?

A: The active ingredients in Preparation H hemorrhoidal ointment include mineral oil, petrolatum (petroleum jelly) and phenylephrine. The phenylephrine constricts blood vessels. That is why it is also found in some decongestant nasal sprays.

The instructions that come with Preparation H state: “Ask a doctor before use if you have heart disease; high blood pressure; thyroid disease; diabetes; difficulty in urination due to enlargement of the prostate gland.” People on blood pressure medication should generally avoid products containing vasoconstrictors, like phenylephrine.

Another reader reported that using Preparation H for a week “resulted in severely elevated blood pressure.” To learn more about measuring blood pressure correctly, drugs to avoid and strategies to control hypertension, you may wish to read our eGuide to Blood Pressure Solutions. It is available in the Health eGuides section of www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.

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Q: Last weekend my wife and I visited our nearest pharmacy to pick up some prescribed medicine. To be prudent, we wore masks and gloves to the drive-up window. We have been dutifully wearing them in other stores we visit.

Not only were none of the pharmacy employees wearing masks, but they were not wearing gloves, either.

Since our pharmacy prepares pills for elderly people like ourselves, shouldn’t they be wearing masks and gloves to protect us from any virus, most notably COVID-19?

A: Policies on masks and gloves vary a lot from state to state and from store to store. Nevertheless, the virus that causes COVID-19 is highly transmissible, and masks, gloves and hand-washing are effective measures taken to prevent the coronavirus’ transmission.

We think that pharmacies should be providing their employees with gloves and masks to protect them and their customers. At the same time, customers should also be using these tools to protect the people serving them as well as others they may encounter.

There are still many unanswered questions about how long the coronavirus can persist on surfaces such as paper bags or plastic bottles. Until we have more information, it makes sense to err on the side of the overly prudent.

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Q: I have been using original Listerine for scalp issues for years.

Courtesy of all the hoarders today, I am no longer able to find amber Listerine. Do the other types of Listerine work as well as the original for other issues than just bad breath? If not, could you suggest something that would work for itchy scalp?

A: If the mouthwash you put on your scalp is blue or green, you might end up with colored hair. One reader soaked her feet in Listerine Freshburst to treat athletes’ foot. She found it turned her feet green.

You should be able to find house brand amber mouthwash with ingredients similar to those of Listerine: eucalyptol, menthol, methyl salicylate, thymol and alcohol (26.9%). Early in the 20th century, the maker actually advertised Listerine for “infectious dandruff.”