Can Preparation H Make Your Belly Look Leaner?

We've all been there. Standing in front of the mirror in a bathing suit that you swear looked better last year, wishing you hadn't been the Girl Scout's No. 1 cookie customer. With your friends waiting in a car stuffed with beach chairs and towels, there is no quick fix for that slightly flabby postwinter look—or is there?For years, bodybuilders have sworn by an unusual method for looking leaner fast: they apply over-the-counter hemorrhoid ointments like Preparation H to their stomach or anywhere else that doesn't look as defined as they'd like.Does it work? Yes. Although the ointment does not dissolve fat or take off pounds, when applied it does make your body appear more toned, says New York City dermatologist Dr. Craig Austin. Here's how: Preparation H's active ingredient is phenylephrine, a natural vasoconstrictor, which means it constricts blood vessels. By constricting blood vessels, excess water is removed from under the skin. This in turn creates the illusion of a tighter,...

Can Certain Hairstyles and Smells Make a Headache Worse?

If you're migraine-prone, getting primped for a night out can be a real headache—literally. Certain hairstyles, perfume and even earrings can trigger or worsen a headache."During a migraine, the scalp is hypersensitive," says Dr. Seymour Diamond, founder of the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago and executive chairman of The National Headache Foundation. "If you put your hair in a tight bun or [ponytail], you are creating pressure that pulls on the scalp, intensifying the pain." The scalp area becomes more sensitive because of a nervous phenomenon called cutaneous allodynia, which occurs during a migraine, he says. But your choice of hairstyle isn't the only thing that can intensify the pain. Earrings, headbands and even certain smells like perfumes or hairsprays can do it, as well. Migraines are sensitive to certain triggers, including smells, which originate as electrical impulses deep within the brain, Diamond says. The trigger created by the smell then spreads throughout the...

The Four Worst Weightlifting Blunders

Getting a good workout is not just about running on a treadmill or using a stationary bike. Weightlifting is another important part of any gym routine—especially if you're trying to slim down. Increased metabolism from growing muscles can speed up fat loss, and lifting weights can also create stronger skeletal muscles and bones. An hour of vigorous weightlifting can burn just as many calories an hour of playing basketball, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But if you don't train properly you may not achieve the results you want—or, worse, you might even injure yourself. So before you pick up the free weights, take a look at our list of the top mistakes to avoid when weightlifting, according to Joe DiAngelo, a New York City certified personal trainer of more than 10 years. ...

Health: Can Metal Earrings Irritate Your Skin?

Everyone loves a bargain; but, when it comes to buying earrings, you may want to dig a little deeper into your wallet. In a study published online this month in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, researchers tested several types of inexpensive earrings and found that nearly one third contained nickel, which can trigger an allergic reaction in some wearers. For the study, Howard I. Maibach, a professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco, and his collaborator, Jacob Pontoppidan Thyssen, M.D., purchased inexpensive (all under $50) earrings from 34 different locations in San Francisco in October 2007. The earrings were then examined with a routine spot test using solutions in order to discover the presence of nickel. Of those earrings, 30.7 percent tested positive for nickel.The presence of the metal may cause allergic contact dermatitis, which can leave you with swollen, reddened and itchy skin. Research has indicated that exposure may also...

Herpes: Is a Cold Sore an STD?

Cold sores--they always seem to pop up when you have a big interview, first date or important event. You know what they look like and what a pain they can be, but are they a sexually transmitted disease? According Dr. Craig Austin, a dermatologist in New York City, cold sores usually aren't a sexually transmitted disease (STD). They are caused by the herpes simplex virus. There are two kinds of herpes virus: HSV-1, which is usually not an STD and occurs on the lip, and HSV-2, which usually causes herpes genitalis, which is essentially an STD in the genital area. Both viruses can be transmitted by saliva, body secretions or oral sex. If you contract either kind of herpes you will always have the virus because the cold sore lives in the sensory nerve and stays dormant in the nerve until outbreaks occur. Some people only get one cold sore in their lives and may not realize they are carrying a latent form of the virus. Even if you don't have a visible cold sore, there's a chance you can...

The 9 Unhealthiest Summer Vacation Destinations

Your summer vacation should be a chance to escape the stresses of everyday life. But how much can you relax, really, if you're in an area that's unhealthy, unsafe or uncomfortably hot or humid? No place is perfect, of course, or entirely immune to crime, pollution and bad weather. But statistically speaking, there's a higher risk that you'll encounter one or more of those summer vacation spoilers in one of these nine destinations: ...