Zinc oxide as deodorant

Years ago, I was suffering with sensitivity to all underarm deodorants on the market. I found an alternative product at the health-food store and bought it, though it was dreadfully expensive ($12). The directions said to apply a small amount of this white paste to each clean, dry armpit only once a week. I tried it, and it worked. The ingredients were zinc oxide, rose water and some kind of powder. The tin was so small, I used it up in no time. Then I bought a tube of cheap zinc oxide ointment (75 cents) and used it. I've been using it ever since, with nary an odor. It's not an antiperspirant, but it is a marvelous deodorant. It's safe: Diaper-rash cream is made of zinc oxide.

Thanks for telling us about your experience. According to our cosmetic consultant, zinc oxide has antimicrobial activity. We agree that it is safe for skin, and it seems to be an inexpensive approach to underarm odor.


A very distressed sufferer of leg cramps wrote to you for advice. I was surprised that you did not suggest placing a bar of soap under the sheet, as you have information citing this cure on your Web site. I, too, was suffering nightly from excruciating leg cramps. My husband read of this inexplicable soap cure on your Web site, and, desperate for relief, we decided to try it. After years of not being able to go a single night without cramps, I have been episode-free ever since I first placed the soap under the sheet three months ago. I replace it with a fresh bar each month. Initially, I was quite curious as to how a simple bar of soap could bring such pain relief. At this point, though, I am no longer concerned as to how or why this works, I am just grateful and relieved that it does.

Thank you for reminding everyone of this simple and safe approach to preventing leg cramps. We, too, have tried it and found it helpful, although we have no plausible explanation.


There is an ad in a vintage Good Housekeeping magazine from October 1927 where Listerine mouthwash is recommended for women with bad skin. I find that nothing is really new and that Listerine has been used for treating skin problems for decades.

We were not able to find the advertisement you referred to. Listerine was introduced to physicians in 1879 for use as a surgical antiseptic. In 1914, it was brought to the market as the first commercial mouthwash. Readers have told us that Listerine is helpful against dandruff, jock itch, nail fungus, lice and blemishes. The Food and Drug Administration sanctions its use only as a mouthwash.

I have started taking Certo and grape juice for my arthritis but wondered if you can use Certo in other juices, such as cranberry, orange or apple, and get similar results?

There is no scientific data supporting this remedy for joint pain. One reader reported good results mixing Certo with pomegranate juice. Try 1 tablespoon in 8 ounces juice and report your results at

I was alarmed to read in your article on sunscreens that benzophenone-3 (BP-3) could be a hormone disruptor. I looked at my sunscreens and found that they did indeed have the active ingredient benzophenone-3. What sunscreen does not have BP-3?

Most parents don't want to expose children to a compound that might disrupt hormones. That is why the concern about BP-3 (also known as oxybenzone) got such attention. This compound, found in many sunscreens and lip balms, can mimic estrogen.

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that raised the alarm on this issue, has made some sunscreen recommendations on its Web site: Products that rely primarily on zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the blocking agents are generally on the approved list, which features brands such as Keys Soap Solar Rx, TruKid Sunny Days Face Stick, and oxybenzone-free products from Badger, Blue Lizard, California Baby and CVS.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or e-mail them via their Web site.