Category Archives: Health

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A Medical Shave

Category : Beauty , Health

Dear Reader

Pardon me for choosing a very mundane topic this time. But someone actually asked me this question: How does a dermatologist shave? 

Since dermatologists are humans and are unlikely to be different from the 7 billion others we have on the planet, I transformed the question into a more acceptable form.

Is there a medical way of shaving?

Shaving (Photo credit: Improbable Roach)

I must admit that I never considered a medical shave though I have worked on ‘Medical Facials’, a term the cosmetic dermatology (industry) introduced into the forefront through the back door. Since dermatologist deals with the skin and the hair, the two fundamental components of a shave, I decided to introduce the uninitiated to the art of good ‘medical’ shave!

But before I start, I think I should mention two disclaimers: Since the medical shave involves using pharmaceutical products, please consult your physician to decide whether my medical shave suits your skin. Second, if you are a barber or a cosmetic tycoon thinking of stealing this idea, beware. Creative commons, attribution license apply!

Safety Razor Set - A safety razor, shaving bru...
Safety Razor Set – A safety razor, shaving brush, and mug with shaving soap. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The basics first (Yes, this guide is for professionals and novices): You need access to hot and cold water, good lighting, a decent shaving blade, disinfectants, shaving form, brush, a toner containing salicylic acid, after shave and if possible a steamer. Now you need to procure two things that are not immediately apparent. An exfoliating cream containing alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) at a concentration of 10 to 20%. (Don’t worry, It is not as bad as the sulphuric acid from chemistry lab). You may also need a 2.5% Benzoyl peroxide gel. Check with your spouse, before you approach the chemist. You may find these in your house.

Half an hour before the anticipated shave, apply the AHA cream to the area. This will basically detach dead cell accumulation around hair follicles. Just before the shave, use steam or hot water to soften the hair. Put the shaving blade in warm water with some disinfectant. Apply shaving foam and use the brush in short circular motion. This will not only spread the foam better, but also keep the hair straight and decrease the chances of ingrowth. Keep the shaving foam for at least 10 minutes before you shave to soften the hair properly. You may do other things like brushing your teeth during this time.

Illustration from Shaving Made Easy. How to sh...
Illustration from Shaving Made Easy. How to shave the left side. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shave in the direction of hair growth in a single uniform action avoiding undue pressure. Multiple passes increases skin irritation and chances of ingrowth. Twin / multiple blade systems offer little advantage. After the shave, wash with cold water or ice to close open pores and to reduce inflammation. Use a salicylic acid containing toner to cleanse and close the pores. Salicylic acid is also anti-inflammatory. Apply aftershave only on the neck and under-chin. These are the areas where cuts commonly occur. After-shave will be a good antiseptic to prevent infection. But it is not advisable to use it on the other areas of the face since most of the aftershaves contain photosensitizers that make your skin dull on sun exposure. Use the 2.5% Benzyl peroxide gel after the shave if you have a tendency to get razor bumps.

So that is my ‘Medical Shave’ for you. Hope you enjoyed it. If you want a demonstration video, post a request on my youtube channel here.

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The male psychology

How to market a cosmetic product or service to men? From my experience women tend to notice new products in the market more than men. It may be easier to reach men through their partner because of this. Gift coupons might work as a significant proportion of men’s cosmeceuticals are gifted by their female partner. However the purchase of personal care products is borne out of necessity in men. Men give more importance to price and endorsements. It is vital to give a convincing explanation of how a product works. Men do not have preconceived ideas about what they require to improve their looks. They are more open to suggestions. Men do not compete with each other as far as looks are concerned. They just want to be different. Men generally come with their partners for consultation and consider them experts while women usually hide cosmetic services from their male partners. Tired looks is a common male complaint. The most common male concerns are hairloss and body odour.

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My personal experience with KIRTADS healer

Traditional healer stand in an open market in ...
Image via Wikipedia
So on to my personal experience with a KIRTADS healer. I went inside one of the shacks (there were many, specialised in various segments perhaps) and met a dark, well built healer with a smooth-shaven face. (Not the features you expect for a traditional healer.) I told him that one of my friends has a thick skin condition like psoriasis. He immediately recognised psoriasis (may be it is a common complaint) and advised me that psoriasis requires exfoliation of thick skin from outside and purification of blood from inside and recommended concoctions for both. I realised that at a conceptual level, their approach is not very different from ours. Purification of blood is a very popular concept among traditional healers. It is a very appealing concept and has very high placebo value. Even if you go to a modern pharmacy in India and ask for “blood purification mix”, I am sure you will get something or the other OTC!!
Next I asked him whether he has any medicine for being fair. I sensed a qualm before he offered me “slim oil” for the same. May be he equated fair to beauty and by a complicated reasoning process – beauty to being slim. He did not offer me any further explanation. I feel “fairness creams” is a modern fad and never existed before. That brings me to certain ludicrous claims of Indian “fairness creams”. More on this in the next post.
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Diluting the Diagnosis

Psoriasis of the back.
Image via Wikipedia
Today I want to add another episode to the SCAM (Specialist in Complimentary and Alternative Medicine) series. This is a true story that happened about 2 years back. One of my patients with (not so severe) psoriasis had lower back ache. He was aware of the possibility of psoriatic spondylitis. I told him that lower back ache from psoriasis is relatively uncommon and the back-pain might not be related. He went to a homeopathic “physician” practising nearby and was promptly recommended x-ray of the spine. The homeopath diagnosed psoriatic spondylitis or its homeopathic equivalent and started treatment. I must admit that I lack his skills to promptly diagnose psoriatic spondylitis from x-ray. But why do these scams use the diagnostic tools of modern medicine. Hope they don’t dilute it to make it more potent.
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The COMplete growth PLAN

English: USDA MyPlate nutritional guide icon
Image via Wikipedia
Just as we welcome Dr Prasad’s Laddoos, our TV advertisements also give us several “medically (in)correct” information. Today I saw one ad while watching a malayalam movie. A group of mothers go to a nutrition research centre to find the truth about a children’s dietary supplement. The doctor explains to them that he has been conducting research on kids consuming the COMplete PLAN and show kids in bright yellow T shirts. The others not taking the drink are in dull grey outfit and look visibly depressed. I was impressed by the doctor’s claim that consuming the drink makes the kids grow twice as fast. But my excitement was short lived. Another drink promised to boost the stamina three times! They had none other than Dhoni and Sachin to vouch for them. I am sure tomorrow’s world will be full of giants with huge stamina! 
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Totalitarian Agriculture

Category : Health

Diabetes Mellitus
Image by anaxolotl via Flickr

So continuing with the discussion on diabetes, my theory is that diabetes is a by-product of the totalitarian agriculture. We can see that the incidence of diabetes increased with our gradual (cultural) shift from a predominantly protein based diet of hunter-gatherers to a predominantly carbohydrate based diet of agriculturists. As Daniel Quinn‘s Ishmael ( a Gorilla) points out, human civilisation is unsustainable and our fall towards an apocalyptic destiny is accelerating. The combination of diabetes and obesity is the largest epidemic the world has faced and could well be the driving force behind this acceleration.

Well, as an afterthought. Did you turn vegan because you feel hunting/killing animals is against nature!? Think again!!

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The Story of D

English: Cain and Abel
Image via Wikipedia

Sorry guys! I am bored of Dr Prasad and his laddoos. So let me put him on the back burner for now and continue my discussion on diabetes. But I may return to this topic later, especially if I receive any comments on my previous posts.

Let me start off today with a reference to a book and its sequel, both of which are popular. The book is Ishmael by Daniel Quinn and the sequel is ‘The story of B‘.

If you have not read the book, see if you can find it in your library. Anyway the core messages are the following.

  • Takers as people often referred to as “civilized” represented by the agriculturists.
  • Eating of the forbidden fruit of the tree from the book of genesis would not actually give humans divine knowledge but would only make humans believe they had been given it, and that the Tree represents the choice to bear the responsibility of deciding which species live and which die.  
  • Abel’s extinction metaphorically represents the nomadic Semites’ losing in their conflict with agriculturalists. 
  • In the story of B he proposes that the people of our culture established a style of agriculture that B labels “totalitarian agriculture”. “Prehistoric” hunters and gatherers operated according to a worldview that promoted coexistence and limited competition between predator and prey. However, the totalitarian agriculturist operates with the worldview that the world is theirs to control and all the food in the world is theirs to produce and eat.

You may not see any immediate relation to diabetes, but that’s what I am coming to!