Why is it that every time we sit down to watch TV, we're overwhelmed with commercials featuring girls like Jennifer Love Hewitt shucking for Neutrogena, but we never once see skin care-related commercials for guys? Just once, I'd love to see someone like Freddie Prinze, Jr. or Ashton Kutcher do an ad for jock itch.
Unfortunately, those commercials will probably never happen. That's why it's up to us to help guys get through those times when things start itching, smelling and festering.
Jock Itch What is it? It's just a simple fungus, but it's also the nastiest fungus a guy can ever get on his body.
What causes it? The fungus loves warm, moist areas, so it's only natural that it thrives on a guy's applesack. Most of the time, it's caused by not showering immediately after working out -- but it's also due to wearing tight underwear that doesn't breathe. Guys who are overweight and sweat a lot are also targets.
What are the symptoms? In addition to your package itching, you may experience red, scaly, raised bumps that ooze pus (and girls just love when that happens).
How can I get rid of it? "Jock itch is fairly easy to remedy nowadays," says Ronald Reese, M.D., a dermatologist in Redding, Calif. "Most of the time, men can get rid of jock itch simply by wearing proper-fitting undergarments made with breathable fabrics." Reese continues that although these changes in underwear can eventually cure the itch, you might also want to use an over-the-counter cream for quick relief (products that contain miconozale are the best). Of course, if your genitalia starts looking like a McRib sandwich, see a doctor immediately -- it probably means you caught the infection too late.
Secret tip: Wash your workout clothes (especially jock straps and gym shorts) after every workout -- that's where the fungus likes to hang out.
Athlete's Foot What is it? It's a fungus kind of like the one that causes jock itch, but not as painful -- and when you get it, you'll know.
What causes it? Athlete's foot develops when the feet are trapped in shoes for ungodly periods of time. The shoe is like a Dutch oven, and when it gets hot enough, the foot sweats like Roger Ebert at a weenie roast. Once the foot has been exposed to these conditions long enough, fungus starts to grow, and it's all downhill from there. There's also a chance of catching it if you don't dry your feet thoroughly before putting on socks.
What are the symptoms? Look for dry, cracking skin between the toes; rashes; blisters; and foul-looking toenails. Sometimes your nails will turn yellow, and you might even lose them altogether.
How can I get rid of it? "If you catch this in time, a simple cream bought at a drugstore can usually cure athlete's foot," says Peter J. Panagotacos, M.D., a dermatologist from San Francisco, Calif., with more than 30 years in the business. "Of course, if creams don't solve the problem, I suggest seeing a professional immediately. A severe case may require foot soaks or oral medication."
Secret tip: Air those dirty dogs out as often as you can: Wear sandals during the hot, sweaty summer months, and go barefoot at home whenever possible.
Ingrown Facial Hair What is it? Ingrown hair is usually curly, coarse hair that instead of growing outward, curls around and grows back into your skin. Thick, coarse hair that gets shaved frequently is usually the cause of this.
What causes it? "Most men who suffer from ingrown hair are most likely shaving the wrong way," Panagotacos continues. "Many men will rush through the job with little or no preparation beforehand. A good shave takes at least 10 minutes -- if you can't spare the time, it's probably safer if they don't shave at all."
What are the symptoms? When you get an ingrown hair on your face, you'll know. It'll start off like a small pimple, and you might think it's just razor burn -- but after a week or two, you'll notice that it gets bigger and hurts when you press it. That's because it's infected and is slowly filling up with pus.
How can I get rid of it? Dermatologists will treat ingrown hair by making a small incision to the "head" of the infection, drain any nasty pus, and literally pluck out the finicky hair. Although we don't advise it, you can do the same thing by getting a hot hand towel, pressing it to the area, thus softening the skin. Work the bump open like a pimple, and softly squeeze the pus out. Then with a pair of tweezers, pluck out the hair -- it'll be easy to find at that point. Wash your face again with hot water and immediately apply vitamin E to the area to prevent a scar. Like we said, it's a pretty nasty job best left for professionals.
Secret tip: Here's how to shave and not get ingrown hairs: Wash your face with hot water and soap (scrub with a loofah sponge if you have one handy). If you're the fancy type, you can use a gritty facial scrub to get rid of the dead skin cells and guarantee a smooth shave. Rinse, and then always -- and we mean always -- shave in the same direction as your hair grows. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either high or wrong.