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Home Eminent Columnists

Eminent Columnists

I'm 15-years-old and already have an acne problem. The wounds, although cured, leave behind blemishes and marks that are quite unlikeable. Nothing seems to totally eliminate acne scarring. I'm still trying to understand my skin type. Could you aid in easing my acne problem's potential long-term ruins? Thanks. - Pranava.

Acne scars are now very much treatable. Since you are 15-years-old and seem to be suffering with marks left behind by acne, I would give you a few tips. Firstly, avoid meddling with your acne since such acne might leave deeper and more prominent pigmentation or blemishes, which would take considerable time to get away. Do not trust any over-the-counter product to cure you of your acne or its blemishes, since acne is treatable and not curable. You need to use appropriate medication to keep it under control. Skin type during teens is a mixed type since in some areas there will be prominent sebum production (oil) and some areas may feel a bit dry. Avoid taking excess of oily, spicy and fatty foods. Drink water or fruit juices to hydrate your skin. Do not rub your skin too hard with the towel or cloth; this might damage upper layers of skin causing secondary infection. To prevent long term damage to your skin, kindly consult your dermatologist for appropriate medication.   

Why do I have random pimples on my arms and abdomen? Is it because of the weather or the food that I eat? What can I do to prevent it? Thanks. - Ram Kumar.
You have not mentioned, since how long and how frequent or how persistent these lesions are. So, kindly send me the details for further help.

I have been suffering from psoriasis since the past few years. I was put on many medications like creams and tablets. I tried homeopathy but there was not much response. I have heard about biologicals. Are these effective and safe? Please let me know. - Sai Sudeep.
Psoriasis is a chronic disease and persists for years. But it can be brought under control with various medications. When you are under medication it gets controlled and once medication is stopped it might reoccur. Permanent cure of psoriasis with medications alone might be impractical since the disease is multi-factorial and it occurs because of several factors such as genetics, environmental changes, stress etc. There is no need to get disheartened because medications when used properly as directed would definitely bring the disease under control. Biologicals are a newer line of treatment wherein the basic cellular changes of the particular disease are targeted. They are in use for several other diseases including rheumatoid arthritis. Their safety is proven and the drugs have the approval of USFDA. Few preliminary investigations are required before confirming that you are suitable for such medications. For example, a person with strong predilection for acquiring tuberculosis or previously affected might not be suitable for such medications. These biologicals work by targeting specific steps in pathogenesis of psoriasis and they are non-toxic to other organs. Patients with moderate-to-severe type psoriasis are ideal for this treatment. Psoriatic arthritis also responds well to this line of treatment. Cost factor restricts the use of these medications since it would cost you in thousands. So, these are started if the patient is not responding to routine medications. Kindly approach a dermatologist for further management.

Month: January 2011. 



In summers when I have a-couple-of-days hair growth on my face, my chin starts itching. And when I shave, I have red spots that  at times bleed. I can tell this is going to happen before I shave due to the itching. It’s always only on my chin and it’s not every time I shave. What is the cause and how to prevent it. Please suggest a remedy. - Noel.

Itching in the beard area can be because of Seborrheic Dermatitis, something similar to dandruff on the scalp. Post shaving you might be developing Pseudofolliculitis, which is a reaction pattern to ingrowing tough hair. Also there is a possibility of Seborrheic Folliculitis again because of Seborrheic Dermatitis. Kindly approach a dermatologist for proper evaluation and further management. Meanwhile, you can try not to go in for a close shave. Apply good moisturizing creams such as Emoderm at night.

I have two questions about my skin. My first question is about persons who have white patches on their skin; there is a common belief that if milk is taken after fish it might cause these disorders. Is it true? Kindly tell me about the reality and also what are the real factors behind it? Is it curable? My second question pertains to hair; kindly tell me how can we get rid of dandruff? Is it possible to cure falling hair? Hope you can help clarify my doubts. - Suguna.

Regarding your first question I presume that you are asking on behalf of somebody so let me answer in a more general way. People say so many things, most of the time without any scientific background. Today’s medicine practice is evidence based and not hear say. I have not come across anything in my practice till date which has suggested that combination of milk and fish causes white patches or Leucoderma. Leucoderma or to be exact Vitiligo is an autoimmune condition, something similar to thyroid or diabetes problem, where in our cells are attacked by our own body Lymphocytes. In Vitiligo, Melanocytes, the colour producing cells in the skin are destroyed by these cells leading to its formation. White patches can also be produced if these cells are destroyed by outside factors such as chemicals or burns. Regarding its curability there are different patterns of Vitiligo, such as those occurring only on lip and tips of fingers, those which occur in only one side of the body, those which occur around bony prominences and those which are generalized in appearance. One can roughly say Vitiligo in areas which have abundant hair has better prognosis than compared to areas affecting non-hair bearing areas. There are several medications which can effectively treat Vitiligo. Including latest NB UVB therapy and Excimer Laser, can be used to treat the lesions effectively. Cases where there is poor response to treatments but the disease has not progressed for more than one year, we can consider surgical options of management such as grafting or melanocyte transfer techniques.

Regarding the hair problem, dandruff is absolutely treatable with various anti-fungal shampoos such as ZPTO (zinc pyrithione) containing shampoos. But unfortunately it is recurrent i.e. it is going to repeat itself. Dandruff is superficial flakes of skin dead layers which accumulate on the scalp and excess formation is associated with a fungus called Malassezia furfur. Eradication with good anti-fungal products can give remissions for long duration.

Third part of your question about curing of hair fall depends on the cause for the hair loss and it is beyond this article to go into details of the causes. Taking good nutrition and avoiding stress are important. Kindly consult your dermatologist for further information and treatment.

Month: December 2010.

This month our sojourn of temples down South will take us to the land of Tamil Nadu. There are numerous temples in Tamil Nadu and all of them are easily accessible and well connected. 

The main shrine is known as Adipureeswarar and is dedicated to Lord Shiva; it is a lingam made of earth and covered with a kavacham. This kavacham is opened only on the day of Karthikai or full moon. This ancient temple, which is in northern Chennai, was built during the Chola period and was a Vedic centre during that time. The Chola kings who were reining the Thondainadu (old name of this place) patronized the worship of Shiva. King Rajendra Chola rebuilt the central shrine of Adipureeswarar and erected a vimanam with black stone. Great Saivite saints Pattinathar, Ramalinga Adigalar, Appar, Sambandar had visited this temple and sung the glory of the Lord.

There is also one Tripata Trimurthy shrine which combines Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma; which shows that Vishnu and Brahma are engaged in the worship of Shiva. A separate shrine for Vadivudaiyammai is also there, which attracts large crowds during the month of Aadi on Tuesdays and Fridays. There are separate shrines for other deities like Ganapathy, Subramanya etc. You can also see the images of the 63 Saivite saints inscribed around the main shrine of Adipureeswarar.

The temple architecture is superb and is one of the three important Shivasthalams (places where Lord Shiva is worshipped) other than Thiruvanmiyur (Marundeeswarar) and Thirumayilai (Kapaleeswarar). This temple is associated greatly with dance of the Lord which is widely known as ‘Sundaranatanam’ which means dance of Sundarar (another name of Lord Shiva). The most impressive thing in the temple is its Rajagopuram and mandapams. The temple is situated in a vast compound and the inscriptions on the pillars of the mandapams are that of the 12th Century.

Festivals in this temple are celebrated with great significance and are related to the dance of Thyagaraja. The Saivite saint Sundarar’s association with this temple is also celebrated with great reverence.

This old temple is situated in Thiruvanmiyur on the road to Mamallapuram. It was built in the 11th Century by the Cholas. The presiding deity of this temple is Lord Marundeeswarar (Lord Shiva). It is said that the author of Ramayana, Valmiki worshipped here. The name is due to his association. ‘Valmikiyur’ in due course became ‘Vanmikiyur’ and finally ‘Vanmiyur’. A shrine dedicated to Valmiki and Pamban Swamigal Samadhi is also found near this shrine.  

A few decades ago, the Marundeeswarar temple at Tiruvanmiyur used to be virtually deserted. Today, it has been colourfully painted up and receives a steady crowd. The name of the temple tells the story. Lord Shiva is said to have given relief from health problems to the sage Agastya, the Sun God and the Moon God here. While Agastya was suffering from a stomach ache after he had vatapi, the Sun and Moon were suffering from a terrible disease because of ‘gurupatni dosham’. It was Agastya who named the deity as ‘Aushadeeswarar’, the Tamil translation of which is ‘Marundeeswarar’.

The Sun and the Moon, it is said, perform puja at this temple every evening. The deity faces west as the Sun does the honours at sunset time. Unlike other Shiva temples, this temple does not have a shrine to the Navagrahas because the Sun and Moon are in prayer mode here.

The main ‘lingam’ is described as Swayambu. He is also called ‘Palvannanathan’ because Kamadhenu, the divine cow, used to shower him with milk constantly. There is a small pit on the ‘head’ of the deity which legend says is the mark of Kamadhenu’s hoof. The ‘devi’ here is Thiruppurasundari.

There is an architectural peculiarity in this temple. Part of it has been built in the Chola style of architecture and part of it in the Pallava style. The Kumbabhishekam after renovation was conducted in 1995. Those who visit this temple sincerely believe, as do the priests, that the mixture of sacred ash, milk and water offered at the temple and consumed thereafter can cure any ailment.

This temple is dedicated to Lord Muruga and is situated about 40 km south of Chennai. The Thiruporur temple is located at a place named Thiruporur which is believed to be the place where Tarakasuran was vanquished by Lord Subrahmanya. Soora Samharam, the defeat and salvation to the demon Soorapadman, is an important festival of this temple. It was built by Chidambara Swamigal in the mid-17th Century. The presiding deity of this temple is Lord Shanmuga and there is a shrine of Devayani inside the temple courtyard. A tank lies on the southern side of the temple and is known as Vallayaar Odai or Shanmuga Theertham.

There are two chakras (wheel) in the temple which were installed by Swamigal. The first chakra known as ‘Srichakra’ is on the left hand of Lord Shanmuga and the second chakra, which is known as ‘Theertha-chakra’ is present in the sanctum sanctorum.
The five smaller shrines located in the temple are of Vinayaka; Lord Muruga with abhaya and varada-hasta; Lord Muruga where he resides with his staff varada-hasta and dhandayudha; Subrahmanya with kamandalu and rosary in hands; and Goddess Durga.

The presiding deity, Lord Shanmuga, is also known as Kandaswamy. There are beautiful stone inscriptions inside and it is believed that the Chola kings used to worship the deity of this temple. The shrine of Devayani has the image of Arcot Nawab inscribed on it.

The stone idol of Lord Shanmuga faces the eastern side and is beautifully adorned with ornaments. An important thing in this temple is that only a particular priest has the right to change the cloth of Lord Shanmuga and put the silver shield on him. A smaller deity is also present near the main idol, which is known as ‘chinnavar’ or younger.

Month: December 2010.

There was something about Raj. From his childhood. Even his mother could not put a finger on it exactly. Rose Mary Kutty, the head nurse could tell you that, but much later.

She was carrying the baby around crooning to him for an hour, and discovered that her pen was missing from her pocket. It was later found in the baby’s crib, as he was sleeping. The doctor too lost the pad of his stethoscope, as he looked away for a second, while checking the toddler’s lungs.

All the visitors to his home soon became so wary of the little brat’s skills that they used to leave their valuables outside before stepping into the household. Kind uncles and aunts and neighbours who had trooped in with gifts and money to bless the toddler on his first birthday, found themselves surreptitiously relieved of more than they had come to offer.

A reputation he developed to the extent that all his class fellows’ used to hold their school bags and lunch boxes close to their chests whenever he was around. Only to be relieved of their cycle stands and costly gym shoes elsewhere. He was the despair of his father who did not know what career his son would do well in.

Medicine and surgery were out of the question, as helpless patients would not want to wake up from their anaesthesia, to discover that they had been relieved of their valuable kidney or the liver while their appendix was being operated upon. 

Raj would undoubtedly do well in a trade. Of that, he was sure. Becoming a civil engineer would lead to the disappearance of a floor or two of a multi-storey project from inside without anybody knowing about it, while the outside would look like it was meant to! 

In fact, the man had developed a knack for concealing all his pilferages perfectly. So, the patient who had one kidney less would never feel it and the person who had lost his brain would join the smartest academicians and the one who lost his heart would join Bin Laden or the Shri Rama Sene.

No hotel would absorb him for fear of making losses in profitable ventures without knowing how. Cashew paste in the curries could get replaced by peanut paste and masked in an extra dose of strong red chilly powder. The unsuspecting client who feasted on the chilly laced peanut paste curry would need some strong antacids for the next day for sure.

His father was in despair, while Raj went about happily enough peddling second-hand goods in neighbouring towns and getting along just fine.

When the folks started getting too sharp for Raj to pilfer anything, he chose a different route - he hounded the pets in the town by stealing their dog bowls and biscuits.

‘Incorrigible’, thought his father. When asked to start a business by his father, he offered to start a second-hand footwear shop, keeping in mind the fact that the devotees to the temple were steadily increasing and all would leave their chappals outside.
Just as everything seemed to be going out of control, a local politician took Raj under his wings. Raj flourished and did well, while the politician did lose a couple shirts and a free taxi ride without knowing it.

Not before long, in the career of his choice, where everyone he met was much like him, Raj flourished. He became a champion at brokering deals which put to shame the small amounts he had pilfered earlier.

Raj got famous for the way he handled his work. Pretty soon, he was made an important minister in the government. More about that some other time...

Month: December 2010.

Preservation and Promotion of Hindu Art and Culture

When the last ruler of Asaf Jahi dynasty Nizam the VII was holding the reins of government, the Telugu Academy was in existence as an active institution in Hyderabad. Professor Subba Rao, the President of the Hyderabad Telugu Academy requested the Government to sanction financial aid. He informed that the five-year publication plan of the Academy also included the translation of the Holy Quran into Telugu, a history of Persian literature, a history of Urdu literature and a history of the Deccan. The Nizam issued a farman on 27th July 1944, sanctioning the non-recurring aid of Rs. 4,000/- and annual aid of Rs. 2,000/- to the Academy.

A few years earlier, M/s Brown and Richard had written to the Government of Hyderabad from London that the Indian Society, London was working on a proposal to bring out a book on the ancient Hindu structures in Hyderabad Deccan and that they were in need of financial aid. The Nizam gave his assent to the proposal granting 100 pounds to the Indian Society through the farman issued on 8th July 1934.

These cases show the liberal attitude and whole-heartedness with which the Nizam and his government went on granting whatever aid was asked for in connection with the preservation and promotion of Hindu art and culture. 

Month: December 2010.

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