Q: As a teenager, I was blessed with relatively few blemishes. Now, in my mid-20s, I have developed large, deep pimples that heal slowly...

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Q: As a teenager, I was blessed with relatively few blemishes. Now, in my mid-20s, I have developed large, deep pimples that heal slowly and have eroded my self-esteem.

I had tried everything, from expensive department-store skin-care regimens to acid peels at the salon. Nothing was wholly effective, and I had been considering seeking a dermatologist’s help when I heard MoM mentioned on your radio program.

I tried milk of magnesia, and my skin hasn’t looked better in years! I apply a thin layer with a cotton ball three to four times a week, let it dry, then remove it with a warm cloth before applying my normal cosmetics in the morning.

My skin keeps a matte finish longer through the day, and I have been developing fewer and less severe blemishes. MoM works better than anything else I’ve tried, and the price is certainly right.

A: We’ve heard from many readers who say milk of magnesia can be helpful for a variety of skin problems. One reader offered this: “MoM controls my seborrheic dermatitis very well, and it is much cheaper than prescription Nizoral cream. I am a retired physician who has had seborrheic dermatitis for many years. My sense is that doctors are prescribing highly potent, pricey prescription agents. It is good to learn of cheaper, effective alternatives.”

Q: Once there was only one Robitussin cough medicine. Now there are lots. The one with DM almost killed me. I had such a hard time breathing, I thought I was going to die.

I reported this to my pharmacist and was told I might be allergic to the “DM” in Robitussin. He warned me to read all labels on cough medicines from now on. People need to be warned, especially parents who might give this to their children.

A: Dextromethorphan (DM) is the leading ingredient in most OTC cough medicines.

Its effectiveness has been controversial, particularly in children. Parents have been warned to avoid cough and cold medicines for kids 4 years old and under.

Reviewers for the Cochrane Collaboration (an international organization that evaluates medical treatments) concluded: “There is no good evidence for or against the effectiveness of OTC medicines in acute cough.”

Although allergic reactions to DM seem quite uncommon, there are reports in the medical literature of serious breathing difficulties triggered by this cough medicine (Allergy, August 2004). Follow your pharmacist’s advice to read labels carefully.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them c/o King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or via their Web site: www.peoplespharmacy.org