Five Body Issues No One Wants To Talk About (But We Will!)

As a dancer, you know how beautiful the human body can be. So when you discover something heinous, such as a boil on your bum or a patch of cellulite on your thigh, it can be demoralizing to realize that your instrument is less than perfect. But you aren’t alone. Every dancer has to deal with her share of embarrassing physical ailments. DS asked three doctors about how to cope with five blush-worthy body issues.

Boils

It looks like a monster zit, it’s located under the seam of your leotard and it throbs like crazy. What is it? A boil—on your butt!

Definition: A boil is an abscess caused by an infection deep in the skin. Eventually, the center will soften and fill with white, infection-fighting blood cells called pus.

Causes: Ingrown hairs, plugged sweat glands, prolonged sitting, hanging out in a sweaty leotard.

Risks: If left untreated, boils can spread.

Prevention: Wash with a mild antibacterial soap and change out of your sweaty leotard after class. If you have a full day of classes, pack a change of clothes.

Solutions: Never attempt to drain a boil yourself, which can cause a rupture beneath the skin that will spread the infection. If a boil isn’t clearing up by itself, Dr. Ariel Ostad, a NYC-based dermatologist, recommends seeing your doctor, who may prescribe an antibiotic and lance the boil—a process in which the abscess is pierced to drain the pus. You should be able to dance while it heals.

Cellulite

Cottage cheese, dimples, orange peel—these are just three of the descriptive names for that annoying thing called cellulite. Is there anything you can do? Sort of—but is it worth it?

Definition: Cellulite is a series of fat pockets trapped in the skin that cause dimpling. It’s most common on the buttocks, abdomen and thighs.

Causes: Though the precise cause of cellulite is up for debate, some experts suggest the female hormone estrogen is the culprit. This may explain why 85 percent of women develop cellulite, while hardly any men do. Genetics may also play a part. Cellulite occurs even if you eat a perfect diet and dance every day. “It isn’t just possible, it’s probable,” says Dr. David J. Goldberg, a leading cosmetic dermatologist in NYC and Hackensack, NJ. “When you look at the cover of a magazine and see women with smooth thighs, it’s called airbrushing.”

Risks: Cellulite is not a disease. It’s perfectly natural and can’t harm you.

Prevention: None.

Solutions: According to Dr. Goldberg, over-the-counter cellulite solvers don’t work, though some medical treatments are available, such as a deep tissue massage therapy called Endermologie or a skin-tightening procedure called Accent RF. Unfortunately, these methods can be costly, time-consuming and temporary. Better choice: Spend your energy improving your technique, rather than worrying about a little cellulite.

Athlete’s Foot

If your feet itch like crazy and you want to plunge them into a bag of ice, you might have a condition called athlete’s foot.

Definition: Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection characterized by itching and a red, flaky rash. It’s more common in men than women and usually occurs between the toes and on the bottom and sides of feet.

Causes: Direct contact of foot to fungi. (Fungi can also grow in sweaty shoes!)

Risks: If left untreated, athlete’s foot can spread to toenails and cause increased discomfort.

Prevention: Change out of wet socks and dance shoes after class or rehearsal, says Dr. Ostad. Use powder between your toes and under your feet to soak up excess moisture. Never share shoes or socks, as athlete’s foot can be contagious. Once you have it, it’s difficult to get rid of and likely to return. It’s also a good idea to wear flip-flops in public spaces, such as locker rooms and swimming pools.

Solutions: Try over-the-counter creams for immediate relief. If that doesn’t work and the rash seems to be worsening, see your dermatologist for prescription-strength cream.

Yeast Infections

Do you have a substance that looks like cottage cheese in your vaginal discharge? If so, you might have a yeast infection. Other trademarks include thick, yellow discharge, itching and irritation in the vagina, pain when urinating or having intercourse and redness or swelling of the vulva. (The vulva is the folds of skin outside the vagina.)

Definition: A yeast infection happens when there is an overgrowth of yeast-like fungus called candida.

Causes: Candida may multiply when you’re stressed or taking antibiotics that upset your natural bacterial balance. Other causes include douching, wearing tight clothes that trap heat and moisture, laundry detergents, perfumed soaps or scented sanitary products.

Risks: A yeast infection often clears up on its own. But since the symptoms are similar to other more serious conditions, make an ob-gyn appointment to get a proper diagnosis.

Prevention: If you’re taking antibiotics, eat yogurt or other foods that contain a yeast-killing bacterium called acidophilus. Keep your vaginal area dry, whether that means switching to cotton underwear and leotards, changing out of sweaty clothes often or out of a wet bathing suit right after swimming. Eat a balanced diet and avoid scented sanitary products that irritate your nether regions.

Solutions: According to Dr. Dennis Eisenberg, an ob-gyn in Plano and Frisco, TX, over-the-counter creams like Monistat usually work. But if the symptoms don’t disappear in a few days (or it’s your first infection), see your doctor. Eisenberg also recommends Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment to relieve itching.

UTI

If it feels like you have to pee, but then you hardly get a drop in the bowl, you might have a urinary tract infection, or UTI. Other symptoms include a constant feeling that you have to pee, burning during urination and blood and/or bacteria in the urine.

Definition: The urinary tract comprises the structures that urine passes through when leaving the body: kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. A UTI occurs when this tract becomes infected.

Causes: More common in women than men, a UTI most often develops when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra. This can happen from poor hygiene, wiping back to front and sexual activity.

Risks: If left untreated, the infection can spread to your kidneys and become extremely serious, so don’t delay in getting to the doctor. The good news is that UTIs are usually easy to treat.

Prevention: Always wipe properly to avoid spreading gastrointestinal bacteria from your anus into your vagina and urethra. Drink natural, unsweetened cranberry juice, which has been associated with fighting infection. And if you have to pee, pee! Don’t hold it.

Solutions: See your doctor, who will prescribe an antibiotic. In the meantime, drink plenty of water to flush your system. It’s safe to dance with a UTI, though the discomfort may sideline you for a few days.

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