DR. WALLACE: I think I might have obsessive-compulsive disorder. I think I am a huge germophobe, because I wash my hands compulsively.
I also wash other areas of my body, like my feet and my face, many times each day, sometimes once or even twice an hour. I also take a minimum of three showers each day and I scrub like a carpet-cleaning machine.
There are also times when right after washing up, I doubt that I did it well enough, so I wash again just to make sure I got everything really extra clean.
I should also tell you that I have always been a pretty clean person when it came to my personal hygiene, but once COVID-19 came along, I took all of my washing to a new level.
I think that even after the pandemic ends — if it ever does — I will still be washing myself compulsively, since it's now such a habit and such a big part of my life. Right now, I can't leave my house without a big wash-up first. — Washy, Sanitary Girl, via email
WASHY, SANITARY GIRL: Obsessions are often defined as intrusive and unwanted thoughts or urges that cause guilt, distress or disgust. In an effort to get rid of those thoughts, the sufferer develops compulsive behaviors.
These behaviors may not be diagnosed for years if the sufferer tends to hide the symptoms. At least in your case, you have demonstrated your willingness to be public about this by writing to me here.
One important step in overcoming OCD is finding a way to ignore the thoughts that try to tell your brain that your fears are real.
When you stop performing these tasks and nothing bad happens, you'll start to realize that your fears are unrealistic. Now, having said this, the actual implementation of these changes can be quite challenging.
Start by speaking with your primary physician about your situation. She or he can help direct you to a suitable professional who can help you on your journey toward overcoming your fears. The good news is that you are not alone. Your situation is more common than you think, and this pandemic has exacerbated fears in individuals who previously had only minor obsessive actions. We here at this column have actually received several letters on this same topic. Get the professional guidance you need, and good luck on your journey. Please take action as soon as possible.
I'M EXCITED TO GET A PEDICURE
DR. WALLACE: My mom told my sister and I that once the pandemic was over and nail salons were open again, we could all go out to get a pedicure together.
I've had a manicure before, and I am so excited to get my first-ever pedicure. My mom wants to make us an appointment soon, since some salons are now reopening in our area.
But now that I have had time to think about this some more, I have a question that I'm pondering. Is it possible to get a toenail fungus from a pedicure out of a salon? — Want Healthy Toes, via email
WANT HEALTHY TOES: To answer your question bluntly: Yes, it is possible to get an infection or warts. For your protection, make sure the instruments are clean and sterilized before they are used on your feet. Request a disposable pumice stone be used, and if they don't have disposable ones, skip the foot scrub. Alternatively, you can bring your own set of instruments.
If you're not sure the foot tub is clean, politely ask for it to be cleaned with warm water. Always wear flip-flops or disposable slippers while walking around in the salon. Only go to a salon that clearly displays their state licenses and sanitation procedures.
Avoid making an appointment within 24 hours after shaving your legs, or if you have an open cut or sore on your foot.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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