Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 45, Tuesday, November 16, 2010














As if there are not enough issues to deal with when you are a teenager; adding skin problems to the list duly invokes my condolences to all the young ladies who are suffering!

It's important to be aware of the changes that are taking place in your body, the reasons for the changes and the ways of combating the issues that subsequently arise.

There are several factors that contribute to acne, heredity being one. If there is acne in the family there is a chance of simply inheriting it with the family jewels, a fluctuation in the levels of hormones caused by puberty, improper cleansing and use of incorrect skin care products, stress due to a million justified and unjustified reasons, irritation due to chafing, undue scrubbing and rough handling.

There is no proof that acne is caused by food products, but food allergies can cause rashes resembling acne.

I wish there was one simple formula that I could prescribe for everyone with acne but each individual has his/her own distinct level of help required.

Let's start with the most effective way to cleanse acne prone skin.

A mild facewash such as Neutrogena or a neem soap can be used in a circular motion with your finger tips followed by lukewarm to cool, never hot, water. Using a gentle scrub is fine provided you avoid the break out. Clean all around making sure you are not damaging the pimple as this will lead to scarring, making a bad situation worse. If the breakout is intense, avoid scrubbing completely.

An anti-septic clarifying lotion is a good option as it contains salicylic acid, which acts as a peeling agent and loosens debris from clogged pores. It is particularly helpful for blackheads.

Cleansing should be done twice a day or once in the afternoon as well for extremely oily skin.

Products that contain benzoyl peroxide have been found to be useful in some cases but not all. Over-the-counter products are always helpful and you may need help from a dermatologist.

One of the most effective topical anti-acne treatments is Retin A or Tretinoin. It accelerates cell turnover, speeding the production of new skin cells thereby aiding inflamed acne lesions. This is available by prescription from a doctor. A mixture of hyroquinone 2% and Tretinoin is recommended by dermatologists to be used at night to reduce acne.

Sometimes they will put you on a mild antibiotic treatment for a few weeks, which does help the initial battle, but keeping away the acne is the real war.

Herbal remedies that I find personally effective are the use of aloe vera gel everyday. Products like mint with their cooling properties, turmeric and neem for their anti-septic properties, clay for removing oil from the skin, cloves for drying and healing , cucumbers for freshness, iced rosewater cubes to minimise pores are some products that I find very helpful.

Avoid facials like the plague. There are acne treatments that are offered at salons, but if they lather on rich creams you know you are in the wrong place. Long drawn massages with steam are a big NO. If (only if) your skin feels the need for moisture, apply Johnson's baby lotion, splash the face with water and wipe off; this should be enough to take away the tight feeling.

Fair polish removes excess oil from the skin and helps lighten spots as it contains an element of bleach and is therefore very helpful for acne prone skin.

Lastly, a healthy diet, with lots of vegetables and fruits and plenty of liquids will work wonders for anyone, acned or not.

Dear Sadia,
I am a 46-year-old and a mother of two children. I have never done a facial and intend to do one now. I understand there are various types of facials available according to one's type of skin. So, I would appreciate it if you could recommend the type of facial suitable for my skin, which is very dry. Awaiting for your reply. - Thanks, Dalia

Dry skin always needs a little pampering as it is usually thinner than normal to oily skin and more prone to wear and tear. An irregular facial at least once a month in summer and twice a month in winter is a good idea. This will restore the moisture level in the skin making it supple.

There are several different types of facials now available, but since you have never tried one before it is best to stick to a herbal facial where natural mild products are used. Herbal products are least reactive to the skin and chances of a breakout are minimal. Women in their forties most definitely should be involved in an intensive skin care regimen on an everyday basis at home, this is perhaps even more important than a facial once a month. Clean and moisturise twice a day. Use a rich night cream at night, add a few drops of olive oil to make it richer if need be. Sunscreen during the day is essential.

Rejuvenation of the face
I am sure all of us want to look good at whatever age we are in and for some, it comes naturally. Some of us, on the other hand, have to work hard for this. Be it a male or female, some basic rules need to be followed most of the time that don't take much effort. We should all keep our skin clean, use sunscreen with SPF above 30 at least twice daily, moisturise at all times and use a toner regularly.

This should be a regular routine for skin care. Those who have other problems like rough skin, early appearance of wrinkles, prominent lines around the nose (laugh lines), puffy eyes, and sagging facial skin etc, can consult with an expert at an early stage so that minimum intervention is needed to solve the problems. There are non-surgical as well as surgical procedures that can be done to treat these problems.

For a person who complains of rough, dull, luster-less skin, a simple procedure like microdermabrasion will help a lot. This is a type of skin polishing where the top layer is polished off using special crystals. Using adequate moisturiser after this on a regular basis will make the skin look much smoother and fresher. At least 3 to 4 sittings at three-week intervals will give good results.

Those who have started noticing fine wrinkles on their forehead or around the eyes can be helped by the use of Botox injections. Botox is a kind of injectable neurotoxin, which is used to flatten crease lines. It is a very safe procedure and only takes half an hour and can be done at any time. No anesthesia is needed, and any experienced cosmetic surgeon will be able to administer this. It is one of the most common procedures in western countries.

Some think that the crease lines along the sides of the nose and along the neck have become too prominent, or have depressed areas on the face, which make them look sick. For them, different types of fillers are available. Fillers are nontoxic substances used to fill up unwanted gaps or depressions. This can be fat from the person's own body or commercially made fillers that are available in the market. These are very safe and when injected, they lift the desired area therefore reducing the crease or depression. It is usually done under local anesthesia and no hospital stay is needed.

For those with puffy eyelids, upper or lower, first it has to be decided whether these are caused due to any disease or not. If it is due to the accumulation of fat and the sagging of skin around the eyes, a simple procedure like Blepharoplasty is done where the excess skin and fat are removed and the puffiness is reduced. An incision is made along the crease lines of the lids so there is no residual scar. This does not affect the eyes in any way. It can be done under local or general anesthesia and no hospital stay is needed.

For patients who are trying to lose weight but are struggling with the heavy cheeks and chin area that take time to reduce, liposuction of the cheeks and double chin is a good option. It's done under local anesthesia and no hospital stay is needed. Since only a very small incision is made, there is no scar.

For people whose facial skin has started sagging, if they come at an early stage, a simple procedure like the thread facelift can be done. Here a special type of thread is put under the skin, which pulls up the skin taking away the sagging effect. In cases where the thread will not work, a proper surgical facelift needs to be done. Here the facial skin is undermined and the excess skin is taken off. An incision along the sides of the face is made. Usually the scar disappears after a few days. There may be some bruising around the operated area, which will disappear eventually. Here the patient needs to be hospitalised for one night and it is done under general anaesthesia.

All the procedures discussed are very safe and effective and when done by an experienced surgeon, very good results are yielded.

Dentist phobia
Many questions have been raised regarding the fear of visiting a dentist. I hope this topic will help those people who have "dentist phobia!"

If you are worried about dental treatment then you are not alone. In USA, between 6-14 percent (should be more in south Asia) of the population avoid consulting a dentist because of anxiety over treatment. Between 45-55 percent of patients who visit dentists are anxious about the dental environment.

The reasons people fear visiting the dentist are varied and include pain, cost of treatment, lack of control while in the dental chair, embarrassment and fear of the unknown.

The cause of dental anxiety is usually a previous bad experience, but can be caused indirectly through horror stories about dental treatment from family, friends and even the media.

What do you fear most about going to the dentist? Just the thought of having a needle inserted into your cheek and a cavity removed from your tooth is enough to bring tears to the eyes. However, surprisingly it is not the actual dental procedure that most often terrifies patients. According to surveys, the sight of a needle and the sound of a drill were the two most feared elements of dentistry.

Physiological factors related to dental pain
Because of the oral cavity's proximity to the brain, as well as the complex nerve structure of the head and neck, dental pain is often more severe than pain in other parts of the body.

In addition to the sensitivity caused by infections, the initial inability of oral infections in the teeth and bony structures to drain, results in the build up of pressure. As bacteria quickly multiply and produce gaseous toxins, pressure increases and pain results. If an infection is neglected for even a day or two, the pressure can become intolerable.

Controlling dental anxiety
When you make the appointment to see the dentist, tell the receptionist you are nervous about treatment. This first appointment will usually be to discuss your fears about treatment and to do an initial examination of your teeth.

Behaviour Management
This is the simplest method of treatment for nervous patients. It involves a careful and sympathetic approach from the dentist, with explanations of what is being done and allowing the patient control over the procedure. Some patients may want to bring a friend along for support. It may also be possible to play relaxing music or to watch a video while having treatment.

Dental health maintenance
Of course, the most important way to reduce the pain involved in maintaining oral health is by focusing on preventive care instead of the treatment of problems. If you've put off going to the dentist for years and have neglected regular flossing or brushing, you may be experiencing advanced stages of tooth decay or gum disease - both painful problems. The further decay spreads, the more radical the treatment required. This causes trauma to the tooth and gums that results in discomfort.

New advances in dentistry
Dentistry has come a long way over the last few years and many of you will be surprised on your next visit. Even if you have put off going to the dentist and are experiencing problems, your dentist has new ways to provide relatively painless treatment.

For invasive procedures such as wisdom teeth extraction, biopsies and complex root canal surgeries, nerve block are often administered. This involves the injection of an anesthetic to block the sensation of the nerve that sends pain signals to the brain.

By blocking the nerve with an anesthetic, the dentist can numb the area requiring treatment for a specific period of time. To eliminate the discomfort associated with injections, topical agents are applied to tissues prior to the injection. A soothing atmosphere and a calm, reassuring dentist can make your next dental visit more pleasant.

Dear Dr Khan
What is a composite resin (white filling) and what are the advantages and disadvantages of composite? How long does a composite last and is it costly?
- Arman

Dear Arman,
Resin is a tooth-coloured plastic mixture filled with glass (silicon dioxide). Introduced in the 1960s, dental composites were confined to the front teeth because they were not strong enough to withstand the pressure and were generated by the back teeth. Since then, composites have been significantly improved and can be successfully placed in the back teeth as well. Composites are not only used for restoring decay, but are also used for cosmetic improvements of the smile by changing the colour of the teeth or reshaping disfigured teeth.

Advantages: Aesthetics is the main advantage, since dentists can blend shades to create a colour nearly identical to that of the actual tooth. Composites bond the tooth to support the remaining tooth structure, which helps to prevent breakage and insulate the tooth from excessive temperature changes.

Disadvantages: Along with the higher cost and the extra placement time, the patient can experience post-operative sensitivity. Also, the shade of the composite can change slightly if the patient drinks tea, coffee or other staining foods. The dentist can put a clear plastic coating over the composite to prevent the colour from changing if a patient is particularly concerned about tooth colour. Another drawback: composites tend to wear out sooner than silver fillings in larger cavities, although they hold up well in smaller cavities.

Studies have shown that composites last 7-10 years, which is comparable to silver fillings except in very large restorations, where silver fillings last much longer than composites.


Losing abdominal fat

It doesn't look good, and, it is no friend to your health as well. Thus, slash off those extra calories! Focus on calorie burning exercises, instead of concentrating on only sit-ups and crunches. Aerobics can be an answer.

It is not possible to 'spot-burn' abdominal fat, but good news is it's the first thing you burn when you exercise. Research suggests that cardiovascular training, when combined when resistance training, is more helpful when you want to get rid of abdominal fat. Try some regular aerobic exercises, and include some resistance training with free weights, resistance bands, etc.



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