July 9, 2014 at 1:00 am

To Your Healyh

One very common shaving myth debunked

Dear Dr. Roach: Iím a 48-year-old, athletically fit man with excessive body hair on my back, chest and arms. I see that the younger generation of men at the gyms, pools and beaches seem to all groom (shave) their body hair for better appearance. I started trimming down but have not fully shaved. My concern is whether when you cut hair, it grows faster. When Iím in my upper 60s or 70s and decide to stop, will my body hair grow to 4 inches long? Does your body hair continue to grow at a normal rate when youíre older, or does it slow down? Please advise.

M.C.

Dear M.C.: No, itís a myth that cutting or shaving hair makes it grow faster. It certainly might seem to come in more coarsely, since the cut hair under the surface of the skin is thick. But there is no effect on hair growth. Hair growth rates stay roughly the same throughout adulthood.

I am aware that the current trend is for hairless-appearing skin. However, I see a lot of people with infections from shaving. If you do shave, use plenty of mild shaving cream or gel, always use a new, sharp razor, and use a soothing aftershave cream or lotion to help close the pores after shaving.

Dear Dr. Roach: Could you please discuss the use of ultrasounds during routine pregnancies? How many typically are performed, and are there any possible negative effects on the fetus? Are doctors today performing more ultrasounds (including 3-D ultrasounds) just because they can and because itís exciting for the expectant parents, or is there a medical reason for performing these?

My daughter-in-law is in her sixth month and has had two ultrasounds, plus a 3-D session. She is under the impression that she will have at least one more. To my knowledge, this is not a high-risk pregnancy (sheís 26 and everything is going fine). Iím just wondering if so many sessions are really needed and what is known about the effects on the fetus.

G.M.

Dear G.M.: There is some controversy over whether an ultrasound poses risks to the developing fetus. The Food and Drug Administration has noted that there may be some heating of tissues and that any long-term risks are unknown. I did find studies showing that there is no long-term risk of leukemia, hearing loss or abnormal eye development.

A 2013 guideline from multiple groups, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, recommended a standard first-trimester ultrasound, and a standard second- or third-trimester ultrasound. Any other ultrasounds would be based on a clinicianís concern for a potential problem.

The guideline specifically states: ďFetal ultrasound should be performed only when there is a valid medical reason, and the lowest possible ultrasonic exposure settings should be used to gain the necessary diagnostic information.Ē I donít have enough information to know why your daughter-in-law has had more ultrasounds than is usually recommended for a normal pregnancy. Perhaps her obstetrician has a low-level concern she hasnít shared with her, or your daughter-in-law with you.

While not the case for her, I am concerned about the growing trend of so-called keepsake ultrasounds that are not performed for valid medical reasons, such as those done in shopping malls. These might not be administered with the same degree of expertise and safety as a medical ultrasound.

Email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu.