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14 - 20 Jan , 2012
expertadviceHeart TO Heart
For relationship advice and more, talk to your super-smart Sis.

Q: My husband and I met when we were both working abroad. We fell in love and got married there with the blessings of both our parents because we knew that we could not come back to Pakistan for at least another year. After we had been married for a year, we came home for a month on holiday. When I met my husband's family, I was introduced to his younger brother. I at once felt as if lightning had struck and fell head over heels in love with him. When we talked later, he said that he had felt the same. Now my brother-in-law and I are crazily in love and we don't know what to do. My husband and I have come back to our jobs, but I am dreaming of my brother-in-law all the time. He is unmarried and is very keen that we get married. What should we do? My husband and I decided to wait to start a family so I do not have the complication of having a child to take into consideration. Sara, Toronto
Heart TO HeartA:
Yes, you do not have the matter of a child to take into consideration, but have you thought of what would happen if you decided to divorce your husband and marry his brother? His family would be shattered and your husband and his brother would be estranged for the rest of their lives. Other relatives would also take sides and your relationship with your in-laws would become very tense and unpleasant. As far as your "love" for your brother-in-law is concerned, remember that you fell hard enough for your husband to decide to marry him in a strange land without either of your families being present. Think long and hard about matters before you take a decision. This decision will not just change your life; it will change the lives of several people.

Q: I am a 14-year-old school girl in a dilemma. My father and his younger brother are on bad terms and have not spoken to each other for years. My uncle is childless, and he and my aunt are very fond of me. They often meet me at the school gates, chat and give me gifts like books, a new dress or a game. They caution me not to tell my father about this. My mother knows and she asks me to keep these meetings secret from my father. According to her, my uncle and aunt are good people; it is my father who is in the wrong. I feel guilty to deceive my father, and hate myself. Please tell me what I should do. Ayesha Baloch, Karachi
It is not really difficult for you to reach a decision. If you wish to be loyal to your father even if he could be in the wrong, simply tell your aunt and uncle not to meet you and give you gifts. Explain that this is only because you do not wish to deceive your father and not because you do not like them. Surely, they will understand. In the other case, you will have to come to terms with your guilty conscience or frankly tell your father everything. In fact, you may be able to broker reconciliation between the two families with love and tact.

Q: I have a boyfriend who is very affectionate and good-natured but, frankly, he is not very intelligent, compared to my father and brothers who are very smart and clever. I love my guy and would not hesitate to marry him, but am worried about how he will fit into my family. This is a rather silly fear but, sometimes, I wonder whether I should call off our relationship. I am 19 years old and he is 26, working in a local bank. Zareen, Karachi
Is your boyfriend confident about becoming part of your family or is he having some reservations? It is more about how he is feeling, than your own emotions. You could invite him over to your home often so that your folks get to know him and appreciate all his fine points. If he is capable of looking after you, your home and your family in a satisfactory way, they may have no qualms about your selection. In case there is a huge discrepancy between their expectations, viewpoints etc, you and he must do some serious thinking. If you are strong and supportive, and willing to stand by him, you should not end the relationship.

Dr Shah Hussain

DermatologistQ: How can I prevent my cuticles from drying and peeling? Nimra, Lahore
You will need to take 5 mg biotin supplements daily for six to nine months. Dietary sources of biotin are whole grains, nuts, egg yolks, legumes, liver, cauliflower, bananas and mushrooms. Apply a moisturising cream to the nail and cuticle and avoid detergents, solvents and frequent hand washing. Avoid biting your nails, pushing cuticles back or removing them or wearing nail enamel continuously. Do not use acetone as a nail paint remover, as it can damage the cuticle.

Q: Every year during winter, my cheeks and nose get flaky. Would going for a peel help? Amra. Karachi
Skin flakes when you use face washes containing salicylic or glycolic acid or use harsh soaps. Use of toners, Fuller's earth (Multani mitti), retinol-based anti-ageing or skin lightening creams and fruit pulps can also cause the skin to flake. Use Cetaphil cleansing lotion to wash your face, as it maintains the pH balance of the skin while cleansing it. Avoid hot showers, as these will dry out your skin further. Use an oil-free moisturiser in the morning and a thicker cream at night. It is always good to apply a moisturiser on a moist skin surface as this will lock the moisture in the skin. You may take a 500 mg supplement of evening primrose oil every day. It isn't a good idea to go for a peel when your skin is dry and flaky. Peels can penetrate deeper layers of skin and cause increased pigmentation if applied on dry flaky skin.

Q: My heels have developed painful cracks in them. I never had this problem before, and I don't know how to heal them. Please help. Yusra, Islamabad
Cracked heels are more in winter and may be hereditary, or may occur if you are in contact with water and soap for long hours. While bathing, wash your feet with lukewarm water and mild soap. Use a foot scraper to scrape off the dead skin. Pat your feet with a clean towel and then apply a moisturising cream while they're still moist. If possible, wear cotton socks all the time. You may have to use a salicylic acid-based cream at night. This will provide moisture, remove dead skin and help in healing the cracks.

Q: Can you suggest a good hair mask I can make at home for dry hair? How often should I deep condition my hair? Nadia, Hyderabad
Hair masks can be used for extremely dry or damaged, chemically-treated hair. They help strengthen the hair shaft and repair damage by providing hydration. A mixture of equal parts honey and almond oil makes a good conditioning mask. Rub the mask into your hair and wrap your locks in a plastic wrap; shampoo after 30 minutes. You could also mix a teaspoon each of almond oil and honey. Leave the mask on for at least 20 minutes, and then wash off. Deep conditioning is advisable once a week.

General Physician
Dr Sadqa Gul
General PhysicianQ: I am a 21-year-old woman. My mother died from breast cancer, with secondary lymph and ovarian cancer. Three of her sisters have had breast cancer, one has died, and another one also had ovarian and cervical cancer at different times and had a full hysterectomy. I examine my breasts every month and have had my first smear test a year ago, and am due another soon. Is there any screening I can undergo for ovarian cancer or any self-examination or symptoms I should be aware of? Please advise. Sameena, Karachi
Self-examination is not really an option for early detection of ovarian cancer because an enlarged ovary can only be felt when it has grown to a significant size. Also there is no single reliable test that will detect cancer of the ovary in its earliest stages. There are a number of tests available that can give useful information when they are performed together. These include a blood test for CA-125 and an ultrasound scan of the pelvis. CA-125 is a substance that is shed by cancer cells that is detectable in the blood. If this test were abnormal in conjunction with an abnormal ultrasound examination this would be suggestive of ovarian cancer. However, the test for CA-125 can be normal in approximately 20% of women with ovarian cancer. Your question touches on a very topical area of debate in cancer screening and management. It might be worth seeing a gynaecologist with a special interest in ovarian cancer in order to get a specialist opinion on your particular situation.

If you want to discuss problems related to skin, hair and nails or if you have any health related queries that need to be answered, or if an onerous emotional problem is weighing you down, share it with us at askexpert@magtheweekly.com. Kindly mention your age and the column you have the question for in the subject line.

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