10 Embarrassing Health Problems

If you've  ignored a mortifying health problem because you're just too bashful to talk about it - you're not alone. From dandruff to bad breath and warts, we're talking about the most embarrassing conditions...

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    They are ugly and unsightly, but the good news is – warts are usually harmless. Causes: Common warts, usually found on the hands, fingers and sometimes feet, are non-cancerous skin growths caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). (FYI: HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States.) Treatment: There are several over-the-counter options to choose from to get rid of warts, but if those don’t work, it might be time to see a doctor. One popular treatment uses lasers to eliminate the blood supply to the wart, which causes the wart to dry up and go away.
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    Toenail Fungus

    This next health issue ranks right up there as one of the worst – toenail fungus. Causes: It happens when athlete’s foot invades the nail bed. To avoid this from happening try and keep you’re your feet as dry as possible, bring your own instruments when you get a pedicure and wear flip flops when you use the shower at the gym. “Public spas, showers and health clubs are wonderful breeding ground for fungus,” Dr. Suzanne Levine told FoxNews.com. “And once it invades the nail bed, we are talking about a difficult treatment.” Treatment: Levine prefers topical treatments over oral medications. She said it’s a little more tedious, but well worth the results.
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    Smelly Feet

    And while we’re on the subject of feet – this next problem can really clear out a room. We’re talking about smelly feet. Causes: The main culprit of stinky feet is sweat. Your feet have more sweat glands than any other part of the body. In fact, in one day, each foot can produce more than a pint of sweat (yuck!). And combined with bacteria inside your sneakers and shoes, your feet can start to smell in a flash. Treatment: There are a few simple things you can do to reduce the odor emanating from your feet including wearing clean socks, rotating the shoes you wear and washing your tootsies with antibacterial soap. Applying antiperspirant to your feet can also help. But if the odor is not going away, it may be time to see a doctor. There are several prescription medications that can reduce sweat and help kill bacteria on your feet.
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    Hyperhidrosis (Excessive Sweating)

    Let’s face it – we all sweat. It’s a natural function that helps our bodies stay cool. But for some people, it goes way beyond just a little perspiration. Causes: It’s called hyperhidrosis, which results in frequent or constant excessive sweating, and appears to be caused by overactive sweat glands.  Treatment: The good news is there are several effective treatments. First, try some strong over-the-counter antiperspirants containing aluminum chloride. If those don't work, see your doctor about some prescription strength antiperspirants Now, if you're still experiencing abnormal sweating, your doctor may recommend some oral medications, and in severe cases - surgery. But, recently the FDA approved Botox as a treatment for hyperhidrosis. It works by controlling excess perspiration by inhibiting the sweat glands from functioning for a period of time. It's most commonly used for sweating on the hands, soles, under the arms, and the forehead. It lasts for several months.
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    Urinary incontinence is a common problem that affects more than 13 million Americans. But you don’t have to live with this embarrassing condition. As urologist, Dr. Debra Fromer said, incontinence is not a normal part of life. “Incontinence is a disease,” she said. “It's an illness that can really debilitate some people." Causes: Problems usually start when muscles that keep your bladder closed are too weak or too active. If muscles are weak, even a laugh or sneeze can lead to an accident. If the muscles are overactive, then you may feel the urge to go the bathroom a lot. This is an overactive bladder. Other causes include pregnancy and delivery, prostate problems and nerve damage. Treatment: Depending on the cause of the incontinence, treatment may include simple exercises, prescription medications or surgery. In Fromer’s practice, she is able to transform the lives of patients with a simple sling procedure. “What we do is put a little strip of mesh, the same we use in hernia repairs, underneath the urethra between the vagina and the urethra, and what it does is support the urethra,” she said. Complications from this surgery are extremely rare with most patients only complaining of leg pain for a few days.
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    Next - the touchy subject of hemorrhoids. About 10 million people suffer from this condition, which is the result of increased pressure in the veins of the anus. When that happens, the veins bulge and expand, leading to burning, itching and bleeding. Causes: Hemorrhoids may result from constipation, sitting for long periods of time, and anal infections. In some cases they may be caused by other diseases, such as liver cirrhosis, the National Institutes of Health said on its website. Treatment: Fortunately, there are several treatments including over-the-counter creams that can help with itching and swelling. Witch Hazel can also reduce itching, as well as sitting in a warm bath for 10 to 15 minutes. And while most treatments are effective, some severe cases may require surgery. It’s also important to maintain a high-fiber diet to prevent those painful hemorrhoids from making an encore appearance.
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    Are those white flakes on your dark shirt making you run for cover? Well, you’re not alone. Dandruff is a common chronic scalp condition that leads to itching and flaking of skin on your scalp. Causes: Dandruff can be caused by several factors including dry skin, not shampooing enough, psoriasis and eczema. Treatment: And while those flakes may be embarrassing, the good news is that dandruff can almost always be controlled. You can try dandruff shampoos sold at your local grocery store, or if you need something a little stronger, an over-the-counter shampoo may do the trick.
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    Hair Loss

    It can start with a few strands here and there and then over time your hair line may really start to thin out. Pattern baldness is the most common type of hair loss, and affects an estimated one-third of men and women. And while some people embrace their baldness, for others, it can really affect their self-confidence. Causes: Excessive hair loss can be a result of an underlying medical condition, poor diet, certain medications hormonal changes and genetics. Treatment: Although there is no cure for baldness, there are several treatments available to help promote hair growth. FDA approved medications include Rogaine and Propecia. You can also opt for surgery as well, so make sure you talk to your doctor about all these options.
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    Hypertrichosis and Hirsutism

    On the other spectrum, some people suffer from excessive hair growth. And while a hairy back or chest can be taken care of with a little wax, that remedy may not do the trick for people living with hirsutism or hypertrichosis. Hirsutism is defined as excessive hair growth of thick or dark hair in women in locations such as the face, chest, lower abdomen and back. Causes: This condition is caused by an overproduction of male hormones (androgens.) Family history and ethnicity are also factors. Treatment: Remedies for hirsutism involve a combination of medications, hair removal procedures such as electrolysis or lasers, plus self-care methods. Informally called "werewolf syndrome" - hypertrichosis is a rare disorder that results in abnormal amounts of hair growing over the entire body or localized spots. There are two types of hypertrichosis: Generalized hypertrichosis, which occurs over the entire body, and localized hypertrichosis, which is restricted to certain areas. Causes: Although there is no concrete answer as to what causes this condition, many experts believe it is a genetic disorder. (Hypertrichosis is either present at birth or it develops later in life.) Treatment: Depending on the type of hypertrichosis, doctors can treat the condition with medication or hair removal therapies.  
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    Bad Breath (Halitosis)

    Gum, mints, mouthwash, tongue scrapers… just check out your local drug store and you will see a slew of remedies to curb bad breath. That’s because no one wants this embarrassing condition. Causes: There are several things that can cause bad breath - also known as halitosis - including certain foods, digestive problems, poor dental hygiene, diseases, dry mouth and the frequent use of tobacco products. (No one likes cigarette breath!) Treatment: In many cases, simple remedies like brushing your teeth and avoiding certain foods can help freshen up your mouth. However, if your breath becomes an ongoing problem, it could be a sign of a more serious condition, so make sure you see your dentist or doctor. RELATED: Slideshow: 9 Ways to Banish Bad Breath
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