Q: I have a small bump on the skin near my vagina. How do I know if it's an STD?
A: Here's a good way to tell: If the skin around the bump is red, swollen, painful and feels hot, then it could be herpes, Carusi says, which is one of the only STDs that causes skin lesions outside the vagina. Also, check for other small sores in a cluster that look like chicken pox. If this sounds like what you've got, then Carusi advises you to get checked out right away. The other sexually transmitted infection that results in bumps is genital warts, and these are usually raised, flesh-colored and painless. Genital warts can be caused by HPV and can only be treated by a doctor (avoid over-the-counter medications). More likely, this could be a pimple resulting from a blocked gland or hair follicle, or oil that has accumulated under the skin. Try a hot compress, and if it hasn't gone away after a week, then make an appointment with your doctor.
Q: In a situation when I don't have time to shower—after a surprise sleepover, for example—can I use those facial cleansing cloths to wash my private parts?
A: If they contain makeup remover, hydroxy acids or acne medication (like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide), then Carusi strongly advises against it. But if the package of towelettes is marked "fragrance-free" or is meant for babies, then you might be able to get away with it once in a while, but you shouldn't make a habit of it. Carusi says that while it's highly unlikely that these will cause serious problems, they might result in dermatitis, a painful skin irritation that needs to be treated with prescription creams.
Q: Do women get worse hangovers than men?
A: Yes—even if differences in the amount of alcohol consumed are taken into consideration. A 2003 study conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri confirmed that women are more likely than men to suffer from day-after headaches, nausea, dizziness and dry mouth, and more likely to feel the effects more intensely. This is because women have less water in their bodies to dilute the alcohol and have lower amounts of the enzyme dehydrogenase, which helps break down alcohol. Hormonal changes in the days before a woman's period also speed up the rate of intoxication.
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