Break That Sugar Addiction!

How can anyone resist sugar? It’s all around us! But here are some compelling reasons to quit..

There is something about sugar that appeals to more than just our taste buds. It hijacks our emotions, our brain chemistry and our hormones as well. It gives us an instant rush of energy and emotional satiety, leaving us craving for more. The more we have, the more we crave for it. This is because our body develops tolerance to sugar, and gradually we need more of it to feel the same rush. This leads to craving even when we are not hungry. Cravings lead to overeating, even after we know we are full and shouldn’t eat more. Tolerance and craving are the hallmarks of addiction.

So why is sugar so addictive?

Studies have shown that sugar lights up the pleasure centre of our brain, called the nucleus accumbens. Its releases the pleasure hormone called Dopamine, which is responsible for the rush of energy and happiness. These are the same pleasure centres which are stimulated by other addictive drugs or activities like alcohol, cocaine, tobacco or gambling. Another hormone which has been linked to sugar addiction is Leptin. Some people may lack this hormone and that makes them genetically prone to food and sugar cravings. So this is’nt just about being greedy, gluttony, lazy, fat or poorly motivated. Anybody who has tried to give up sugar knows how hard it can be.

Why is sugar bad for us?

Sugar can have a detrimental effect on almost every system of the human body. It is especially bad for growing children. Not only does excess sugar rot the teeth and lead to obesity, it can lead to multiple nutritional deficiencies. It interferes with the gut’s absorption of Calcium, Chromium and Magnesium. It can lead to behavioural changes like increased crankiness, poor concentration, a short burst of hyperactivity followed by a longer period of sluggishness and inertia. It can cause headaches, anxiety, palpitations and dizziness, in young and old alike.
Excess sugar in your diet can directly or indirectly increase systolic blood sugar, cause kidney and gall stones, hormonal imbalance, faster cell death and cell ageing, and trigger various cancers. It increases the risk of Diabetes, Heart disease, Gout, Fatty Liver, Cataracts and Parkinson’s disease.

I have cut out sugar and candies from my life but I’m still not able to get over my cravings..

This is because sugar is all around us. We just fail to recognize it sometimes. Starch equals sugar. White rice, maize and potatoes are rich sources of starch. Almost all processed food contains added or hidden sugars to mask the taste of refined flour, chemicals and preservatives. Breads, pastas, sodas, wafers, sauces, syrups, salad dressing and chips contain sugar as well. Granola bars and energy drinks contain huge amounts of sugar as well. Check food labels for ingredients. ‘Sugar’ maybe hidden behind names like Glucose, Dextrose, Sucrose, Lactose, Molasses, Corn syrup, and such.

How can I tell if I’m addicted to sugar?

There are some clues – (1) You eat certain sugary or starchy food even when you’re not hungry, because you are craving for it. On some days, you crave for dessert even when you’re full and can’t really eat any more! You make excuses to eat more sugar (2) Dieting makes you apprehensive and cranky. You worry about cutting out certain foods from your diet. In fact, you can eat sugary food till it makes you sick. (3) You feel ill and exhausted from overeating. (4) You have developed medical ailments like Diabetes, as a direct consequence of your overeating. Your bad dietary habits have also lead to social isolation due to obesity. But you still can’t stop. You choose sugar over good health and relationships. (5) You eat when you’re happy, you eat when you’re sad and you eat when you’re mad. You realize that you need more and more sugar to experience the same pleasure or numb the negative emotions. (6) You find yourself craving sugar at odd hours. You will order that 2 am pizza or drive out to that late-night café just to order some pastry. (7) You have a secret sugar stash at home, and you find yourself rushing to binge on sugar when you find yourself alone. (8) You have a habit of “rewarding” yourself with sugar for even minor achievements, or to keep yourself motivated.

How much sugar can I have in a day?

According to the American Heart Association, one should not have more than 6 teaspoons a day for women (approx. 100 calories) and 9 teaspoons a day for men (approx. 150 calories). This includes sugars from fruits and starch.

How can I ditch my sugar addiction?

This requires commitment and honest effort and it’s not as hard as it might seem. Cutting out all sugar and starch might be too drastic and lead to severe cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Take small but determined steps. Start by giving up all sweets, candies, pastries and cocoa. Get rid of your sugar stash to avoid temptation. Simply stop buying sugary foods. Let your friends know that you’re trying to detox, and that you would prefer flowers over chocolates for next Valentine’s Day! Go an entire month without sweet treats, and then add colas and processed food to your list of ‘banned foods’.
You don’t have to give up rice, wheat and potatoes altogether. Aim for portion control.
Artificial sweeteners do not help. Use honey. Or have some milk, fruits, nuts, dates, berries, frozen yoghurt or oats when you feel the pang for sugar. Increase your fibre intake. It decreases sugar absorption in the body and controls hunger pangs. Fight the urge to have a drink or a smoke, which could be more acute when you’re detoxing from sugar. Drink plenty of water instead, and remain well-hydrated.
Good sleep and adequate exercise are also helpful when you’re trying to wean yourself off sugar. Cultivate a hobby, to keep your mind occupied. Have multivitamins containing iron, magnesium and chromium to stave off hunger. Have small amounts of health fats like eggs, fish, flaxseeds, peanuts, olives and tofu. They improve your overall sense of satisfaction from your meal, and reduce the urge to reach out for sugar. Some find it helpful to chew on sugar-free gum. Chewing fills your mouth with saliva which fools your brain into believing you’re not hungry anymore. Eat regularly and have several small meals a day. Do not give long gaps between meals. That is when the cravings raise their ugly head again!

As you wean yourself off sugar, the cravings begin to go away and it becomes easier to stick to your new diet. Allow yourself the occasional cheat day, but do not binge, or else your cravings might return. Several studies have shown that sugar is actually MORE addictive than cocaine. Worse, it is legal, inexpensive, widely and freely available, and the ill-effects are not as immediate or pronounced. This is why sugar addiction is often under-estimated and this has lead to an obesity epidemic. Educate yourself and start taking remedial steps to break the sugar habit.

LATEST INNOVATIONS IN SKIN CARE COSMETICS

In this month’s fashion related blog, learn about the latest and greatest in skin care related trends, fashions and fads.. What makes sense and what does not..

(1) “The 5:2 Skin Diet” – This translates into going makeup free for 2 days in a week. This trend is becoming increasingly popular in Europe. The idea is to help your skin to detox. And try to find its right moisture and sebum levels without being regulated by cosmetics. By dermatologists feel this does not really have any special benefit for your skin. Be sure to go easy on the make up. Take off your make up, carefully and thoroughly, before you go to bed. Cleanse twice- use a cleansing milk the first time, to remove make up. And a face wash the second time, to clean out your pores. This simple step is a lot more beneficial than the 5:2 skin diet.

(2) Face Masks – It comes down to clay-based masks and panda-faced serum soaked face sheets. The choices are truly mind-boggling with ingredients such as Vitamin C, Arbutin, Collagen, Charcoal, Ginseng, Pomegranate seed, Green tea, Acai Berry, Tannins, Avocado and Hyaluronic Acid to name a few. New innovations include water rubber masks, overnight peeling masks, layering double masks and foil masks to name a few. The L’Oreal Paris Clay Masks are promising too. The benefits include hydration, cleansing, skin softening, brightening, revitalization or mattifying – based on your choice of face mask. Masks are safe, quick and easy to use; and give an instant boost to your skin when you are strapped for time. Face Masks are becoming increasingly popular among patients and Dermatologists alike.

(3) ‘Biofilm’ fighting creams – Biofilm is the formation of extracellular matrix by skin bacteria, which renders the bacteria resistant to antibiotic assault. This has lead to antibiotic resistance in the treatment of acne. To fight this menace, researchers have now come up with creams containing anti-microbial enzymes aimed at the disruption of biofilm formation, and prevention of reformation. This can enhance the effect of antibacterial drugs, both in oral and topical form. Garlic, Flavenoids, Resveratrol (in red wine), Cranberry juice, Chlorogenic acids (from coffee and cinnamon), Frankincense, Sage and Wheat Bran extract, are natural anti-biofilm agents. This trend receives the Dermatologist’s stamp of approval.

(4) Probiotic Skin Care – Our skin hosts a rich variety of resident bacteria and fungi, which fight against external bacteria and protect our skin from infection and contamination. Excessive cleansing can destroy the “friendly bacteria” on our skin as well. This is a real concern, especially with widespread use of cleansers and soaps which contain antiseptics like Triclosan. On the other hand, when the skin barrier itself is compromised, these resident bacteria can turn problematic, as seen in acne. The pH balance of our skin, along with sebum (oil) content, sweat content, moisture levels and a sturdy skin barrier (free from diseases like Eczema), are necessary to maintain healthy population levels of these friendly bacteria.

Probiotic skin care contains live bacterial cultures, which when applied topically, influence the composition of bacterial flora on the skin. They produce lactic acid on fermentation, which maintains the acid mantle of the skin and destroys foreign pathogens. Probiotics also produce potent antimicrobial agents and lysates which protect the skin. Therefore, probiotic containing cosmetics are particularly helpful for people suffering from acne, dry skin and/or sensitive skin. These skin benefits have been researched and confirmed through small-scale clinical studies.

(5) Cosmetics containing Stem Cells and Growth Factors –
There is a whole variety of cosmeceutical and pharmaceutical skin and hair care products which contain stem cells. These are touted as ‘The’ magical fix for every concern ranging from hair fall to wrinkles. Stem cells are not to be confused with ‘Growth Factors’, though most pharma reps and beauty shop sales girls will use the two terms interchangeably. Stem cells have a lot of exciting applications in the field of medicine, and have the potential to change the way we approach disease management. Any layperson knows this. Which is why we get super excited at the idea of using stem cells in our beauty creams.

Stem cells do NOT work in cosmetic/anti-ageing creams and treatments. The stem cells used in cosmetics are dead. Plant stem cells do not work on human beings, besides being too large to penetrate the skin. The FDA has not approved these treatments because there is no scientific evidence regarding the efficacy of these products. Use of human-derived stem cells in beauty creams does not exist, and probably never will, as this is a very controversial area. Stem cells cannot survive outside the lab, in a jar of beauty cream that sits on the shelf for many months. They simply do not work that way.

Growth factors, on the other hand, are generally derived from cultured human skin tissue called fibroblasts. These produce the components necessary to support skin structure and elasticity. Growth factors are sometimes derived from one’s own blood (used in the highly popular “Vampire Facial”) and sometimes from snails or plants. Growth factors can improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, under eye puffiness and skin discoloration. It gives the skin an overall radiance and translucency. The results take 6-12 weeks to show. Serums containing a combination of growth factors and antioxidants show faster results.

(6) “Plumping” Ingredients in Cosmetics – Also touted as Home DIY Fillers. These are based on Hyaluronic acid, just like in-office fillers like Juvederm or Restylane. ‘Fillerina’ is a popular example. They have full face plumping gels, lip plumping gels as well as gels specially formulated for the skin around the eyes. The ingredients work by attracting and trapping water in your skin, leading to the plumping and filling effect. Most products promise results in 7-14 days. I am not particularly impressed with such products as most of them are just as expensive as a syringe of dermal filler, without the instantaneous, gratifying and guaranteed results.

(7) Fat Dissolving Injections – Double chins cannot be exercised away. Liposuction involves painful surgery, post surgical oozing and bruises, several days of healing and compression bandages; and some people are left behind with tell-tale puncture scars where the lipo needles were inserted into the neck. Kybella is the only FDA approved injectable drug to dissolve chin fat, using fine needles, in a virtually painless manner. It works best in people with medium amount of chin fat. In clinical trials, the results have lasted several years. The injections are administered once a month for 3-6 months, depending upon the amount of fat present under the chin. Kybella gets a big Thumbs Up from me!

(8) DNA based skin care – A lot of you might have figured out by now that ageing is, to a great extent, genetically determined. DNA based skin care takes customized skin care 20 steps ahead. The dermatologist will take a sample of DNA from the inside of your cheek using an earbud-like device. Then a specific part of your DNA, known as the SNP, is examined. 5 different SNPs are analysed – the one that is responsible for sun damage, the one responsible for damage from excessive sugar in the body, the one that controls collagen formation, antioxidant protection and finally, inflammation control factor. Some of you might be more prone to damage from sun exposure. Some may suffer from faster collagen degradation. The dermatologist will recommend skin care, antioxidants, growth factors and/or nutritional supplements based on your DNA report.

The technology is very new. And ageing is much more than just DNA. Poor lifestyle choices, chronic stress and illnesses, prolonged exposure to sunlight and drugs can also affect ageing of the skin. Customized skin care does not account for these variables. Even so, I am very excited and optimistic about this trend!

(9) Home based skin care devices – Home Microdermabrasion creams and kits are last season. The latest fad is hand-held low light laser devices for hair regrowth (in the form of laser combs or hats), and hand-help IPL devices (based on light, and not laser) for permanent hair removal. All evidences suggest that this is a fad which over-promises but will invariably under-deliver. Hand-held phototherapy devices used to treat skin conditions like Vitiligo, have lived up to its promise and it is a worthwhile investment. Hand-held Acne devices like “Zeno” or “TRIA skin clarifying system” use blue light, sonic vibration and heat to get rid of acne on short notice. The devices are fairly safe but they only work on mild acne.

(10) K-Beauty Boom – Korea is the new Mecca of skin care. Cosmetic products from South Korea made a big splash on the international market due to certain unique ingredients like pearl powder, snail secretions, bee venom, starfish extract, truffle serum and seaweed to name a few. Colourful, attractive package and aggressive marketing of the image of pristine, porcelain Korean skin, added to its appeal amongst the masses and the classes. Some of these ingredients are no doubt promising and effective. However, K-Beauty typically consists of 8-10 steps and just as many products applied to the face, which is more assault and less pampering for the skin.

Spot and Prevent Skin Cancer Now!

Skin cancer is among the 5 most common cancers in the Western World and it is not uncommon in the East either. Unfortunately, due to poor awareness, skin cancer is often detected at a late stage in the darker races..

Cancer can affect any tissue in the body. When a tissue gets affected by cancer, it’s cells become abnormal and multiple rapidly, and unnaturally. As the disease worsens, these cancer cells can migrate from the original tissue to affect other tissue in the body.

Skin cancer is broadly divided into Melanoma and Non-Melanoma cancer. This classification depends on the part of the skin where the cancer originated from. The human skin has two broad layers – the superficial layer called Epidermis, and the deep layer called Dermis. The epidermis is made up of skin cells called Keratinocytes. The two layers of skin are separated by the ‘Basal Layer’, which is made up of basal cells, with the occasional Melanocyte, which contains the pigment Melanin.

Non-Melanoma skin cancers arise from the Keratinocytes (Squamous cell cancer) and Basal cells (Basal Cell Cancer). Melanoma arises from the Melanocytes in skin.

There are also various pre-cancerous skin conditions. These often look vague, innocent and do not cause much itching or discomfort. Therefore they are usually ignored by the patient. Worse, they often mimic common skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, so they may go undetected by family physicians for months or years.
According to statistics provided by the American Academy of Dermatologists, it is estimated that 160,000 cases of Melanoma will be diagnosed in the United States in 2017. Melanoma rates have doubled in the US in the last two decades, and over 1 million Americans are living with Melanoma. The darker races are often diagnosed in late stages of skin cancer, and have a have a worse prognosis and lower overall survival rate.

Could there be something about you, which leaves you vulnerable to develop skin cancer? You are more likely to develop skin cancer if –

1) You have light skin with red or blonde hair
2) You have light skin with green or blue eyes
3) You have a close family member who has suffered from skin cancer
4) You have more than 20 moles on your body or you have more than 5 large moles (of size 5 mm or greater)
5) You have multiple freckles across your face and body; and a tendency to burn rather than tan
6) Multiple episodes of blistering sunburn, especially in childhood
7) You are a Caucasian living for many years in tropical countries, Australia or New Zealand
8) You have spent many years in outdoor activities, tanning, or spending time in tanning beds, especially without sun protection
9) Patients who have been under treatment using Ultraviolet or other Radiation for other medical conditions
10) Certain hereditary disorders like Albinism makes a person extremely sensitive to sunlight, and therefore more vulnerable to skin cancers
11) If you have worked in industries which involve contact with coal tar, petrochemicals or arsenic.

How can one tell if a mole is harmless or turning cancerous? Dermatologists urge you to learn the ABCDE of skin cancer –

A is for Asymmetry – A mole is generally round or oval but symmetrical in its shape. When a mole turns cancerous, it loses its symmetry and becomes uneven in shape.
B is for Border – A mole has smooth, well-defined and rounded borders. A melanoma’s border is ragged, notched, blurred or irregular
C is for Colour – A mole is uniform in colour – be it brown or black. A melanoma’s colour is clumpy with areas of lighter and darker pigmentation
D is for Diameter – Melanomas are usually over 6 mm in diameter. A pencil eraser is often used as a standard to describe 6 mm.
E is for Evolution – If a mole is growing larger or darker in size, has turned itchy, if it bleeds or ulcerates, this may be an indication of evolution to Melanoma.

Basal Cell Carcinomas (BCC), are usually dark crusted nodules with rolled up pearly borders. They are most likely to be found on the nose, forehead or scalp of elderly men. This type of skin cancer causes local ulceration and invasion, leading to the collapse of the nose or damage to the ear, if they are affected. However is unlikely to spread to the lymph nodes. Smaller BCCs can be frozen with liquid Nitrogen, leading them to blister and peel off. Larger BCCs may need surgical excision. Hugh Jackman created more awareness on this type of skin cancer, when he revealed he has suffered from BCC several times, and has required multiple surgeries on his nose to have them excised. Contrary to popular belief, not all skin cancers are black in colour. BCCs may be pink or pearly in colour as well.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is usually described as a cauliflower shaped growth of skin tissue. SCCs generally develop in sun exposed areas, or areas which have been exposed to repeated trauma, infection or chronic skin disease. This type of cancer does spread deeper into the tissues and travels to the lymph nodes, but if detected early, it can be treated successfully by surgery/amputation followed by chemotherapy and/or radiation. Diane Keaton has suffered from SCC and is now an active advocate for sunscreen use.

Melanomas are the deadliest of all skin cancers. It does not always occur on sun exposed parts of the body. It has been known to occur on the back, thigh, genitals, nails and even the soles of the feet. They look subtle and innocuous and have often spread its tentacles across other organs by the time they are detected. Even dark skinned Bob Marley died of Melanoma.

How can I protect myself from skin cancer?

1) Sun protection – Follow the Slip-Slop-Slap-Seek-Slide formula. Slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek the shade and slide on a pair of sunglasses. Protect your skin and eyes from harmful ultraviolet radiation using clothing, sunscreen, sunglasses and staying in the shade.

2) Use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant, pharmacy-grade sunscreen over all sun exposed areas 20 minutes before stepping out in the sun. Reapply every 4 hours, if you plan on remaining outdoors. SPF 30 and above is good enough for day-to-day use. Choose SPF 50 or above for sporting activities.

3) If you’re a Caucasian living in a tropical country, or a country like Australia which has a hole in it’s Ozone layer, then you might consider getting some UV Protected clothing. Unlike a sunscreen, UV Protective clothing provides day long protection.
UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) is the designated rating given to sun protective textile and clothing. A garment must have a minimum UPF of 15, in order to be rated as “sun protective”. A UPF rating of 15 indicates the fabric of a garment will allow only 1/15th (roughly 6%) of available UV radiation to pass through it.
If your clothing does not come with a UPF label, how can one determine if a said piece of clothing is sun protective? The popular notion is that white and thin cotton garments provide the best sun protection. This is wrong. As a thumb rule, pigment-dyed fabrics (in dark colours like black or indigo) which are thick, tightly woven and non-stretchable, provide the best sun protection. If a fabric is specially treated in optical brightening agents (present in most ‘long lasting white’ detergents), its UPF is enhanced. Dark coloured denims, wool garments, 100% polyester and unbleached cotton have high UPF rating. Natural fibres like bleached cotton and rayon, or polyester crepe and viscose score low on the UPF scale. If a fabric is stretched or worn out to 10% or more beyond its natural dimensions, its UPF rating falls tremendously. A high UPF garment also loses its sun protectiveness, if it gets wet.

4) Check the daily UV Index of your city – UV Index provides a forecast of the expected risk of over-exposure to radiation from the sun, for the following day. It stands on a scale of 0 to 11+. It is accompanied by recommendations for sun protection.
For instance, UV Index of 0-5 indicates low risk of radiation. A pair of sunglasses, along with a hat or SPF 15 sunscreen is sufficient if you only plan to spend 40-100 minutes in the sun.
UV Index of 6-8 indicates high risk of exposure to radiation. The recommendation is to use sunscreen of SPF 30 or above, along with a hat and shades, and not more than 20-30 minutes of sun exposure for the day. UV Index 11+ indicates extreme risk of exposure to radiation, and is declared as a “Sun Alert” day. People are urged to stay indoors and not spend over 15 minutes out in the sun, even if you’re wearing sunscreen.

5) Visit a dermatologist once in 2 years for full body mole screening and skin cancer check. If you have a close family member who has been diagnosed with skin cancer, then get a screening done once a year. If you have suffered from skin cancer yourself, then you might need to visit the dermatologist every quarter, to get your skin examined.

HAVING A “SKIN EMERGENCY”?

Crisis tends to hit the household when medical help isn’t handy. The mind freezes as panic takes over, and you end up doing something silly like putting toothpaste on a burn. Here’s what you should do..

(1) The “Do’s and Don’ts” of skin burns-

Has your child burnt his hand with a firecracker? Have you had hot oil splatter on your face? What does one do while you wait for a doctor’s appointment? Should I wrap a towel over it? Or should I soak the part in water?
How you manage your burn in the first 24 hours will dictate how the burn will eventually heal and if you’ll be left with a scar. Splash cool water on the burnt area for several minutes, and apply ice on it for a few seconds, 2-3 times a day to soothe the area. Do not apply egg white to the burn. Raw eggs harbour multiple bacteria which can infect the wound. Do not use bandaids or fluffy cotton. Do not pop any blisters. Cover the area with wet gauze like Sofratulle. Apply an antibiotic ointment like Fucidin. It is important to keep the area moist with unscented antiseptic creams. If you don’t have one, then use Vaseline petroleum jelly. Wash the affected skin with an unscented antibacterial Triclosan soap. Take pain medication like Paracetamol or Tylenol.
Dermatologists no longer prescribe Silverex cream as the silver content can stain and darken the skin. Turmeric is an excellent home remedy for superficial burns. But avoid turmeric in open wounds which are oozing, as the turmeric forms a dry cake over the wound which peels off the fresh skin underneath.
Most importantly, make an urgent appointment to meet with your dermatologist at the earliest. For deep and extensive burns, rush to your nearest hospital and ask for the services of a plastic surgeon. Your dermatologist/plastic surgeon team can also work together on healing any residual marks or scars from the burn.

(2) Does your child have Chicken Pox?

Does your child have fever and little itchy watery blisters over his body? Chicken Pox is not fatal or dangerous in children. Give tepid sponging for fever, and Paracetamol for aches and pains. Chicken Pox does not leave any marks or scars, unless the blisters have been popped. Cetrizine will help with the itching, and let your child wear mittens as an added measure. Your child’s caretaker during this period should be someone who has already had Chicken Pox, as they are now immune to the virus. Your child can have a cool shower, but do not use towels for drying. Let your child’s body dry naturally under a fan. Make sure they stay out of the sun, get plenty of rest, fluids, and clean nutritious home-cooked meals. Warm saline gargling can soothe a sore throat. Apply Calamine or Soframycin cream to the blisters. Use Cetrilak shampoo if there are blisters and scabs on the scalp as well. When all the blisters turn into dark scabs, you can tell that your child is no longer contagious. Keep a close watch for similar symptoms in other family members.

(3) Suffering from a nasty sunburn?

This is what happens when you’re not sunscreen-smart. But lectures aside, how does one manage sun burn? Have a cold shower, apply cool compresses to the affected area and use Calamine or Aloe Vera based moisturizing lotions several times a day to take the edge off the sting. Drink plenty of fluids and electrolytes, and take anti-inflammatory pills like Ibuprofen for some pain relief. Sunscreen may sting your skin at this point, so keep the sun burnt area covered with clothing and stay indoors till your skin heals. However, if your skin is swollen, blistered or extremely painful, then rush to your dermatologist. Sunburns can be particularly severe in children, and requires immediate medical attention. Multiple episodes of sunburn, especially in childhood, increase your risk of developing skin cancer as an adult. So do not skip the sunscreen.

(4) Head lice invasion in your household?

When it comes to head lice, home remedies do not always work. Mums use vaseline petroleum jelly and mayonnaise to coat their kid’s scalp as a treatment for head lice. This does not always work in suffocating the lice or their eggs. It may only stun them for a while, and you will still have to use a lice comb to get the lice out. Besides, it’s a nightmare to wash all that mayonnaise out!
If your kid has been around someone with lice, then use olive oil and a hot towel instead of vaseline. But if you SEE lice on your child’s head, then consult a dermatologist for medical management. Shaving your child’s head or swimming in chlorinated water will not get rid of head lice.
Lice shampoos must be used by ALL members of the family. Permethrin containing lice-shampoos work the best. If there are nits on the eyelashes, apply a generous layer of petroleum jelly to your child’s eyelashes while he/she is asleep. Wash off the next morning. Remember to clean the lice comb in hot water, vinegar or Lysol. Wash all clothes and bed linen at the end of the treatment. Skipping these simple steps is the most common reason for treatment failure.

(5) Are pinworms tormenting your child?

You might actually be able to see the tiny white thread worms around your child’s anus. You might also find them in your child’s underwear. The itching is worse at night leading to crankiness and restless sleep. In female children, it can cause vaginal itching as well. They can even irritate the urethra and cause bed-wetting episodes in children who have been potty-trained. You can gently stick a piece of cellotape to your child’s anus and get rid of the worms and their eggs. You can also apply menthol or camphor based cream on your child’s bottom, to suffocate the worms. This is only a temporary measure so your child can have a peaceful night till you can get them to the doctor’s office the next day.
Encourage hand hygiene to avoid infection in the future.

(6) How can I avoid catching a skin infection from my pet?

– Check your pet regularly for fleas, sores or patchy hair loss. If you see a rash, non-healing wound or areas of bald skin on your pet’s fur, take him to a vet without delay.
– If you or your pet suffer from an open wound, keep the wound covered. MRSA, a particularly virulent and antibiotic-resistant strain of the bacteria Staph Aureus, can be spread from animals to human. Do not let your pet lick your wounds.
– Scabies and fungal skin infections can be passed on from animals to humans. If you are adopting a stray, make sure to take your new pet to a vet for a thorough examination, followed by prompt treatment if found necessary.
– If you have suffered a bite or a puncture wound from an animal or pet, consult your physician at the earliest, even if the injury was accidental. The risks are higher if the animal was a stray, if the wound was deep enough to draw blood, and if the bite is closer to the head or neck.
– Wash your hands before and after handling pets.

(7) What should I do if I’m stung by an insect?

If you were stung by a snake or a scorpion, do whatever you can to find yourself in a hospital at the earliest. If you are stung by a bee, wasp, spider or caterpillar, here’s what you can do till you can meet your doctor.
Place an icepack on it. Keep the affected limb elevated for some time. Do not itch or shake vigorously as it encourages the spread of the venom. Apply Hydrocortisone cream every 4-6 hours. Take an antihistamine like Cetrizine or Benadryl. Take an anti-inflammatory drug like Tylenol or Ibuprofen, if you have pain and swelling. Meet your doctor if the rash/pain worsens over the next 12-24 hours.

Home remedies and old granny’s concoctions, while well-meaning, do not always work. In fact in some cases, they’re bad advice which can make matters worse. Your first aid kit at home must contain the following basic OTC medications – Betadine (preferable to Dettol or Savlon), Hydrocortisone 1% cream, Aloe Vera, Calamine lotion, Tablet Benadryl, Tab Paracetamol, Tablet Ibuprofen and Mupirocin ointment. These medications can provide relief till you can get an appointment with your doctor. In some cases, they can even relieve your symptoms completely and save you a trip to the hospital. Be Aware, Be Smart!

The Dangers of Anti-Vaccination Stance

Half knowledge is more dangerous than no knowledge; and the vaccination drive has perhaps become a victim of its own success. Here’s why rejecting immunization is dangerous for your child and your community –

The immunization drive has been so successful and effective in controlling a wide range of mutilating and potentially life-threatening contagious diseases – that it has been widely acknowledged as one of the top ten medical achievements of the 20th century. Parents of our generation have never seen the crippling effect of Polio, the scourge of Small Pox or the terrifying lockjaw and seizures caused by Tetanus. Parents of the previous generation have forgotten how dangerous these illnesses used to be. However, with more and more people rejecting vaccines, several conditions like Measles, Polio and Whooping Cough, are making a comeback even in developed nations like the United States. The world had come so close to permanently eliminating these diseases at the turn of the century. Sadly, in less than two decades, it looks like the medical community will once again have to push the boulder to the top of the mountain, so to speak.

Fear-mongering about vaccinations and their supposed lack of safety is not a new phenomenon. Most people tend to react with fear, resistance and suspicion when faced with anything that is new and unfamiliar. When Edward Jennar introduced the small pox vaccine in 1802, the rumour mills insisted that the vaccine would turn you into a cow! The objections could be based on sanitary, religious, political, philosophical or scientific grounds. Rallies have been organized, documentaries have been made and lawsuits have been filed, going up to the Supreme Court.
But before understanding the history and the psychology behind the anti-vaccination movement, let us first review the various reasons why every doctor of every speciality strongly recommends immunization.

Immunizations can literally save lives. It can save you from death and disability. It is safe and effective and this has been proven through decades of study and data. Vaccines undergo years of research, testing and modification before they are approved for clinical use. The testing and data collection never end.

They are very affordable, especially if you consider the cost of treating a deadly infection, along with valuable time lost at school or work.

Getting your child vaccinated not only protects your child, but protects the community at large; as your child will not be responsible for endangering the health of another child. Over 90-95% of the population must be vaccinated to prevent outbreaks. Infections like Measles and Rubella are so contagious that a single ill child can infect 12-15 children and this can very quickly trigger an outbreak. It protects the truly vulnerable like infants, pregnant women and children suffering from Leukemia and AIDS, who cannot take vaccines due to their badly compromised immune system.
Vaccinations can protect future generations as well. For instance, vaccinating boys against Mumps can protect them from infertility and vaccinating girls against Rubella can protect their future children from blindness, deafness and cardiac abnormalities.

So why are so many parents refusing to get their child vaccinated?

In Jennar’s time, people felt that infecting their children with the lymph of a cowpox blister by making a nick in the skin is unsanitary, unnatural, cruel and unchristian. People resented the government making vaccines mandatory in the interest of public health. They believe it infringes on personal liberties and their right to control their bodies as well as those of their kids. In some states, the government slapped vaccine refusers with penalties, their children were denied school admissions and insurance companies refused to provide coverage to unvaccinated individuals.

Some parents refuse vaccination because they believe that diseases like Measles and Whooping Cough are almost unheard of, and therefore their child will remain protected by herd immunity, even without vaccination. However, herd immunity only works if over 95% of the population has been vaccinated. This means that herd immunity only works when nearly all children are vaccinated. This will protect kids who are on Chemotherapy or suffer from AIDs. These children are at high risk of contracting any kind of infection, but cannot take vaccines due to their compromised immune system. In several pockets of USA where many parents have refused vaccines, outbreaks of Measles and Whooping Cough have been reported after several decades. Besides, herd immunity does not work against infections like Tetanus, which are contracted through infected wounds and are not passed on from person to person.
Parents think they will get their kids vaccinated when and if an outbreak is declared. This does not always work. Diseases like Measles are so contagious that your child might contract it from a friend even before the friend develops the actual symptoms! It takes 2-3 weeks to develop immunity after a vaccine shot, and your child is at risk of contracting an infection in that time. Also, most vaccinations require multiple doses to develop full immunity, so one random shot might prove to be worthless.

The biggest blow to the immunization drive was delivered by a (now) disreputed gastroenterologist named Andrew Wakefield. In 1998, he published a study in a leading medical journal named Lancet, on how the Measles vaccine was causing Autism in children. This is perhaps one of the most hideous and damaging medical hoaxes of all time. Autism is a poorly understood ailment caused by multiple known and unknown factors. The media caught hold of this study and various documentaries were made with parents of autistic children speaking with anguish and vexation. This study is now discredited on various counts. Wakefield based his conclusion on a sample size of 12 children, which is a very small number for any credible scientific study. 5 of the 12 children were subsequently found to have pre-existing conditions. On further investigation, it was found that Wakefield had accepted a large sum of money by anti-vaccination groups who paid him to find a link between vaccinations and neurological conditions. Investigations revealed that Wakefield had falsified and manufactured data to achieve a biased conclusion. Even Wakefield refused to elaborate his “research” on a larger sample size of patients to try and replicate his initial findings. He was eventually stripped off his medical licence in 2010. The Lancet formally retracted the paper in the same year. Most importantly, numerous large-scale studies and research projects have subsequently confirmed that there is NO evidence to connect MMR and DPT vaccinations to Autism and other neurological conditions. Even UK’s National Autistic Society issued a statement to this effect, and encouraged parents to continue vaccinating their children.

There has also been a lot of concern about the toxic nature of some of the preservatives in vaccines like Thimerosal. This Mercury derivative was allegedly linked to various neurological conditions. Even though no concrete evidence was ever found linking the two, most vaccines now do not contain this preservative. Cases of Autism continue to rise even though Thimerosal is no longer used in childhood vaccinations since 1999.

There are still a lot of conspiracy theories that allege that mandatory vaccinations are a result of an unholy nexus between the Government and Pharma companies, to profiteer by creating a panic about infectious diseases “that are’nt so bad anyway”. The truth is that, several companies stopped manufacture of the DPT vaccine after Wakefield’s damaging study. The profit margin on vaccines is lower than that on drugs. And the cost of treatment far exceeds the cost of immunization. Yes, Pharmaceutical companies DO indeed work for profits. But if they were only concerned about the financial bottom line, they would focus more on keeping diseases active to produce more and more medicine, rather than vaccines.

There have also been vaccine refusals on religious grounds. In several Islamic nations, rumours began to spread that vaccinations are a conspiracy of the United States and United Nations. It was claimed that these medications are designed to cause impotence and diarrhoea, specifically amongst Muslims, and were meant to sterilize the believers and reduce their population. Unfortunately, the poorest and most downtrodden have been worst hit by this stance, resulting in the resurgence of Polio in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. People travelling to and from these countries are likely to contract illnesses and carry them across international borders.

Some opposed vaccines as the preservatives might include Gelatin, which is derived from pork. The Rubella vaccine is manufactured from cell lines derived from aborted foetuses. This was misconstrued to mean that actual foetal parts were used to create vaccines. However, several religious leaders have advised that gelatin taken in medicine via non-oral route is not against religious tenets, and that in matters of life and death, even religious texts allow exemptions.

The HPV vaccine was created with the intention of preventing cervical cancer. However, many worried that the vaccine would encourage young women to turn promiscuous as it protects against certain strains of genital warts.
Some parents are too paralysed by fear and confusion to take a decision. Some believe that their children are protected as long as they’re breast-fed and therefore, vaccinations can be delayed. Some believe that general hygiene and good diet can protect against disease. And if a child does contract an ailment despite that, then modern medicine is now well-equipped to treat such an infection. They feel that it is better to acquire an infection and develop immunity to it in the “natural” way, rather than using vaccines which may not provide 100% protection anyway. All of the above views are either flawed or factually incorrect. Many parents are shocked and alarmed at the idea of injecting infants with multiple vaccinations in a single shot. They feared it would overwhelm their child’s immune system. However, various studies over several decades have proven that vaccines are safe even in preterm infants.
No medication is 100% safe and that is true for vaccinations as well. However, given their tremendous efficacy, the incidence of side effects is negligible. There is still no effective medication for infections like Polio, Tetanus or Hepatitis. So when in doubt, BELIEVE IN THE SCIENCE.