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How much junk is in that gunk?

Some squeaky-clean solutions to break down body build-up

ILLUSTRATION BY KRISTIN KELLOGG

April 19, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST

Summer’s just around the corner, and soon the days will be filled with lying on the lawn or on the beach in the sun and wearing midriff shirts and walking around barefoot. With all that exposure, the human body is more prone to getting certain bacteria in uncomfortable places such as the ears, between the toes or even inside the nose. It’s a gross thought, but how do you get out the gunk?

Saline it ain’t so
Aaaachooo! Sound familiar? The best way to flush out allergens, pollen and other particles that aggravate sinuses is with a saline nasal rinse.
“There are studies that prove that if you wash your nose, you use less medication, prevent the symptoms of allergy sneezing and congestion, and you reduce the incidence of sinus surgery,” says Dr. Hana Solomon, a local pediatrician and creator of the nasal wash Nasopure. Nasal washes such as NeilMed and Nasopure can be easily found at local drugstores for $13 to 25.
Feeling cheap? Try the homemade recipe, which consists of 3 tsp. of iodine-free salt and 1 tsp. of baking soda. Measure 1 tsp. of the mixture, and add it to 8 oz. of distilled or previously boiled water. Use a nasal bulb or mini squirt bottle to spray the solution up one nostril and out the other. It can be squirted one to two times daily in addition to prescribed nasal spray.
The salt in the solution helps thin the mucus and removes 80 percent of the allergens in the nose. The number of rinses per day depends on the environment that person is exposed to on a daily basis. “Three times a day if you have an infection, twice a day if you have some symptoms or if it’s allergy season and once a day for prevention,” Solomon says.
But it isn’t the best solution (pun intended) for every nose. “You’re always going to have someone it doesn’t work for,” says Dan Cornell, a pharmacist at Flow’s Pharmacy in Columbia.

Waxy museum
It comes in brown, yellow and even orange. You know the stuff. It’s found in that dark, warm place where most headphones happily reside. This colorful gunk protects inner ears from being exposed to water from showers or swimming.
Swimming can cause water to get trapped in ears if they aren’t clean. If you’ve already got a gob of earwax nestled in the ear canal, water can get stuck behind it. “It’s like a puddle of water that gets nasty, and then it could get infected,” Solomon says.
She recommends either drying your ear canals with a hair dryer or adding a little solution of half vinegar or half water in the ear because this will kill any bugs and prevent swimmer’s ear. If water stays in the ear canal, it can cause a hard-to-reach fungus to grow in the ear. Talk about an itch that can’t be scratched.
Instructions for medicinal fluids such as Debrox and Murine recommend putting about five to 10 drops into the ear canal in order to get rid of normal earwax. Leave it there for several minutes while keeping the head tilted. Then rinse the fluid out with warm water. The treatment can be used for up to four days. If all that sounds like too much of a hassle, a doctor can also remove the sticky earwax from a patient’s ears.
As for using Q-tips, that’s probably not the best procedure for cleaning ears. “Most people do use Q-tips,” says Darren Alberty, a pharmacist at D&H Drugstore. “It actually can compact wax that’s there and not remove everything. In some folks it might make the wax harder to remove later on.”

All jammed up
Hanging around the pool barefoot or rinsing off at beach showers without shoes on might feel invigorating, but it makes feet more prone to contracting bacteria that like to nestle between your toes. Collecting toe jam doesn’t help because it can trap bacteria in between your digits.
Toe jam and bacteria can cause a fungus infection and a rash on feet and between toes, also known as athlete’s foot. It’s easy to contract this bacterium around the pool and in public showers because fungus enjoys moist and warm areas. It’s also highly contagious.
Over-the-counter antifungal creams and powders such as Tinactin Antifungal Cream or Gold Bond Medicated Powder can be used to eradicate the fungus. In more severe cases, prescribed pills can remedy it. There are also preventative measures that could be taken to make sure that the bacterium will think twice before messing with your feet. Try using talcum powder and wearing shoes in public showers and around the public pool to avoid catching that kind of gunk between your toes. And if you still manage to get it, limit your footsie action.

Fuzzy navel
Sorry folks, there’s no cure for this type of belly fuzz, also known as navel fluff. According to Karl Kruszelnicki, a scientist known for his research on belly lint, people with hairier tummies are more prone to bellybutton lint, or what he calls BBL. The most common sufferers of BBL are male, older and have an innie.

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