I haven’t been writing much about the Art of Aging, because, well, I’ve been busy aging. I have focused on my other blog, The Church of Heughanology, to the detriment of this blog. However, I was having a fascinating convo on Twitter with a friend who was bemoaning the problems she was having with skin folds. I realize that nobody ever talks about folds as it relates to aging. I decided the topic needed attention.
We all have experience with skin folds from the time we are born. To make this easier, I like to call a fold, any place on your body that a part of your skin touches another part. (Now I am not going to get into genitalia although some of my remarks and advice could pertain to that area of the body. Oh, who am I kidding? I’m always getting into genitalia). Some of the parts I am talking about are the armpits, between the toes, behind the ears, and your plumber’s crack (the place where your butt cheeks start to split). I always loved an old joke I used to embarrass both of my teen aged daughters. Whenever they were watching a movie with their friends where you could see a guy’s butt (especially their favorite movie star’s butt) I would say, “Aw his butt’s not so hot. It’s broken. It has a crack in it!” I laughed despite their groans! But (no pun intended) I digress.
We all know that the aforementioned areas stink. The stench occurs when sweat sets in these folds for any length of time. The intensity of the smell (IOS) is the result of a chemical formula related to amount of sweat (S)/the amount of heat in the fold(HF)/the time both get no air or water (TNAW).
Did any one notice that is WANT spelled backwards? But (no pun intended) I digress. Frequent washing and regular clothing changes can prevent most of the problems with fold stench, but we also need chemical help such as deodorants, foot powder, shampoos and feminine hygiene products (Oops! I got into the genitalia thing!). If you don’t think this is a problem, walk into any drugstore and there are walls full of these products!
Add the problem of gravity as we age, and a few more folds may develop. No one tells you about this. One day you’re walking around the house and a waft of stench passes under your nose. You turn around in circles, like a dog chasing it’s tail, when it dawns on you. The odor is coming from that fold on your belly that developed after you lost 50 pounds or had gastric bypass or you just are heavier than you might like to be. The result is the same, that stretched skin becomes a fold. The same thing happens under your breast as you age and gravity takes over. And those areas need air and water and powder, and deodorant, and something for chafing (not a dish).
I mentioned a convo on Twitter about the fold problem. It started because my friend’s husband very kindly said, “Can’t you do something about that smell? ” Of course my friend responded demurely, “As soon as you do something about those smelly oval things hanging between your knees!” You have to give her some props for being so quick at her age.
So, here are some practical steps to prevent odor, rashes and potential infections:
- Clean area with antibacterial soap at least twice a day and after exercising. (If you don’t exercise, then you don’t have to wash as often.)
- Dry area thoroughly. I find I have the most trouble under my bewbs. This can be embarrassing, if like me, you get the bright idea to use your hair dryer set on cool to dry under your breasts. When hubs walked in, he kindly asked, “Are you going to curl them now?” He stopped laughing when I kicked him. However, the hair dryer does work.
- Apply baby powder (unscented) in the folds, but not too heavy or you’ll get clumps and that can cause irritation and odor which is what you’re trying to prevent.
- Do not look in the mirror when doing this. Severe depression could result. The few times I looked in the mirror, I thought, “OMG! I’ve died and turned into Buddha!”
- Persistent rash or open areas on the skin, should be seen by a physician. You might have a yeast infection or other more serious condition.
I have done my duty to the young people who will have fair warning about the perils of stinky skin folds. I hope it was helpful for other older folks to see that we all have similar problems. Now that I’ve opened the discussion about fold stench, next time I can talk about strange hairs in strange places (another joke God plays on older folks)!