Just give up on deodorant this summer…

**Warning: Images will be as gross as this title sounds.**

In my two plus decades of life, I’ve only had two major surgeries. The first was when I was a toddler and my adenoids had to be removed. I was so young that I can only remember what my mother tells me about it. My second major surgery took place at age sixteen amidst learning that I would suffer from a pleasant little condition called hidradenitis suppurativa for the rest of my life.

After a small handful of minor knickings and drainings and antibiotics, my doctor highly recommended that I have the apocrine sweat gland removed from my left armpit (the area in which HS affects me the most). Surgery of any kind can be burdensome, but the bright side in this case was getting a couple days off from school and being excused from gym class for a week. The idea was that removing my sweat gland would significantly reduce the occurrence of painful, golf ball-sized, solid boils in my armpit area.


Two very mild cases. Imagine trying to function with the weight of your arm bearing down on this. (courtesy of AAD)


Eight years have gone by and I still experience minor outbreaks from the incurable HS. Although the cause of the infection is unknown, I did, however, learn about what caused individual outbreaks. These causes included: starchy or heavily seasoned foods, excess body fat, sweat, and even shaving. I also learned that HS affects more females than males and boils have a tendency to pop up during your period.

After I began practicing healthier habits (working out, eating better, tending to my mental health), HS became much less of a problem for me. It wasn’t until recently, when life became a little more stressful than normal, that I experienced one of my most painful outbreaks yet.

Once life calmed itself, I temporarily stopped shaving and I avoided paprika like it was poison ivy, I gained normal use of of my arm back in less than two weeks (outbreaks become so large and painful, some people need to wear a sling). Everyday, I used a non-soap cleanser and treated the affected area with tea tree oil and skipped on deodorant and I noticed that even after sweating puddles in the summer heat for hours, I smelled like a fresh stick of spearmint gum! Now, I rarely bother with deodorant.

I am a feminine woman. I care a lot about hygiene. I like to leave a pleasant fragrance behind. However, I am also able to decipher between what is essential to your health (like bathing), and what is really a standard set by society and sometimes a luxury many people don’t have (like wearing cologne or deodorant).

Yes, like you, my concern when first taking on this practice was smell. Anyone who’s been to liberal arts college or any alternative music festival knows of the smell of which I’m referring; not need to elaborate. If that is the case and HS is still a problem, here’s a few tips I’ll leave you with:

  • Wash the affected area with a gentle, non-soap cleanser
  • Cleaning the area before and treat with tea tree oil or rubbing alcohol before bed (be careful of broken skin)
  • Wear a large bandage over the area during the day, if possible (to avoid irritation from clothing)
  • And lastly, if the affected area is your axillary (armpit), put on a very thin layer of deodorant
  • If you are going deodorant-free, carry a small bottle of oil with and reapply midday

If you’re not a heavy sweater, try going without deodorant on a day when you’re at home all day or won’t be very active. Just apply tea tree oil instead. You, too, can smell like a candy cane in July.


(Featured image by Brooke Cagle)

Realness of Illness #BreastCancerAwarenessMonth

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which means one can expect issues and organizations surrounding the disease to take a front seat in terms of publicity this month. A couple days ago folks celebrated  #NoBraDay, in which I did not participate. A number of people opposed to the campaign/holiday for fairly sensible reasons, however my reason for opting out was simply a matter of physiology.

Today, I would like to call attention to other illnesses that have been more or less making waves as of late. Here are 5 diseases causing as much buzz as breast cancer:

#5 Epilepsy

I heard the term ‘epilepsy’ and ‘epileptic’ before, but I received my crash course on the disorder after my sister suffered a violent seizure in the middle of the night which scared the beans out of me and landed her in the hospital. According to the CDC, less than 2% of Americans suffer from epilepsy, however there are other more common conditions, such as stroke or severe head injury, that can lead to one having the disorder.

Epilepsy doesn’t get as much publicity as breast cancer and I can’t think at the top of my head of too many celebrities going on Ellen discussing it. Sadly, my last memory of hearing of epilepsy in the media was in the police footage of an infamous arrest that’s also gained some media attention.


Photo by Cristian Baron

I remember there being a big MRSA scare when I was in high school. Made gym class a bit more awkward than it already had been. The slightest of itches warranted the DEEPEST of prayers. Good thing I was in Catholic school [insert comedy drum fill].

It looks like Lamar Odom isn’t the only athlete who’s landed himself in the hospital this week. Daniel Fells, New York Giants tight end, has been in ICU for almost a week and may leave the hospital without a foot due to his diagnosis of the infection. This recent case of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is calling attention to athlete’s vulnerability, but also just how easily anyone person can be infected no matter how clean and careful you may think you are.

#3 Lupus

In my twenties, I’ve been running into more and more women with lupus. This makes sense, since most people with lupus are women of color between the ages of 15 and 44. It was revealed that former Disney queen, Selena Gomez, was diagnosed with lupus after it was rumored that she had gone into chemotherapy.


PSA, since we’re on the subject, lupus is an autoimmune disease, while cancer is the growth and spread of abnormal tissue. You’re welcome.

Other celebrities with the disease include: Lady Gaga, Toni Braxton and Michael Jackson.

#2 Gun Violence???

According University of Illinois Chicago’s Dr. Gary Slutkin, gun violence is an illness that is preventable. For more than a decade the epidemiologist has been researching and spread the message of a “cure for violence”. Given the constant heated debates surrounding the topic of gun control in the US, I think this interesting perspective on violence and gun use could either act as an objective breath of fresh air or the idea could just recycled be over and over for click-worthy headlines. Hey, I was successfully baited.

Regardless of your politics, I think most can agree that violence in general has surpassed ridiculous levels on the global scale of violent occurrences.

#1 Ebola

Oh, no! I didn’t forget. But I won’t hold it against you if you did. Just at the beginning of the “social activism through hashtagging” exploded into normality, I made the mistake once of posting the status “is Ebola still a thing?” to be fascetious. Bad idea. But I digress.

Just last year, the world, or at least US news outlets, were in a panic for fear of a spread of the Ebola virus. The good news? No new cases have been reported in any of the three countries affected the most by the virus as of last week!

It is still suggested that anyone leaving that area of Africa, particularly Liberia, should get a medical examination and be on the alert for any sign of symptoms. Ebola makes #1 on this list because it’s “still a thing” and if a case is ever reported again in the US, I am convinced that people will just melt. Nope. They are going to melt.


Jiell Richardson is a web designer/developer, fat yogi padawan, and blogger based in Washington, DC, USA.