Chat Health: Ask our Doc
Posted 2 years ago
Q I’m on holiday soon, and I’m totally confused about sunbathing. My doctor always told me I shouldn’t do it, but now I keep reading that it’s good for you!
A Too much sun causes wrinkles and increases the risk of skin cancer, especially if you burn. But sunlight makes us feel better and causes our skin to make vitamin D, which many of us are short of – though 15 minutes a day is plenty to boost your levels. So be sensible, and don’t burn!
Q I’ve had a blood test and my cholesterol level’s high. I’m worried. What are the dangers, and can I bring it down without tablets?
A Keep your weight down, exercise regularly, eat a low-fat diet and don’t overdo alcohol. Raised cholesterol increases your chances of heart disease, but don’t be too hard on yourself if it won’t come down – it’s mostly in your genes! Your doctor will advise whether you need tablets.
Q I’ve had three round lumps on my head for years. My doctor says they’re harmless skin cysts, but they’ve grown, and one’s almost as big as a golf ball. Can they be removed?
A Yes, they can. These sound like sebaceous cysts, blocked oil-making glands in your skin. They’re common, and sometimes have a small black dimple in the centre. Rarely, one might become infected, otherwise they’re harmless and safe to ignore.
Should I have the snip?
Q My friend says circumcision reduces the risk of cancer, and all men should have it! Have I missed out? Should I be circumcised?
A Circumcision – removal of your foreskin – is unusual in this country, except for religious or, rarely, medical reasons. True, the op might reduce your risk of cancer of the penis, though pulling your foreskin back to wash underneath it every day will probably achieve the same result!
Erm, it’s a bit… personal
Bulging belly button
Q My belly button keeps bulging out in a lump, especially if I cough, and it hurts. But it disappears if I lie flat! Is it safe to ignore?
A This isn’t one to ignore! Sounds like a paraumbilical hernia, caused by a tear in the muscle around your belly button. Bowel or fat pokes through the tear, causing a lump. There’s a danger of blockage if a portion of bowel becomes trapped, so see your doctor – you need an op.
Q Since having my baby, my nipples and the skin around them have turned dark brown. I can’t wear skimpy tops like I used to, because they show through! Can’t I make them pink again?
A You’ll just have to wait! Pregnancy hormones cause your skin to darken, particularly around your nipples and in a line down the middle of your belly. The brown colour will very gradually fade, though there’s likely to be some permanent darkening.Like the Chat website? Subscribe to our magazine and you will be able to access our latest comprehensive content!