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18 Feb - 24 Feb , 2012
expertadviceHeart TO Heart
For relationship advice and more, talk to your super-smart Sis.

Q: Is it true that one can become addicted to the internet? I am a 15-year-old school girl who spends an approximate six to ten hours on the computer. I love Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites and just cannot resist going on them. My parents keep nagging me to get off the laptop but when I move away I feel miserable. Is this normal? Many of my friends also surf the net but not as much as me. Mahwash, Karachi
Net surfing has indeed been recognised as an addiction by psychologists recently when taken to extreme limits. In your case, you seem reluctant to get off the computer because of your interaction with friends on it. But six to ten hours daily is too much! Try other social activities such as hanging out with friends, going to the movies or joining a club for sports, swimming or gym. You may have to first make an effort to do this but as soon you start indulging in other healthy activities, you will have a better lifestyle. EXPERT ADVICEIf nothing works then you must consult a psychiatrist to help you get over this addiction.

Q: I have a very sincere and gentle boyfriend and we have been together for nearly a year, but now I feel bored in his company. We are both 17 years old and the problem is I don't know how to dump him without hurting him. I am certain that he will be devastated at this decision of mine, but at the same time I cannot continue with him. I need your advice, please help! Tooba Malik, Lahore
Both being dumped and dumping involves hurting, but this will pass, and life will flow normally again. If your boyfriend is very sensitive and emotional, you should lay the ground first by showing him in small ways that you are losing interest in him. That will give him clues that the relationship is heading for an end. Stop going out with him by giving him lame excuses and reduce contact with him. Let him know that you are too busy to have time for him. When he asks you what's happening, you can tell him frankly that you are not the right person for him, and that perhaps you should be going out with others for some change. In short, let him down gently, without harming his self-esteem or confidence. You can always remain good friends after this as well.

Q: I am 28 years old and am painfully shy. I freeze when I have company and stutter and stammer when people try to have a conversation with me. This is affecting my career and marriage. I am being passed over for promotions and my husband of four years (we had an arranged marriage) is now losing patience with me and is calling me boring and not a good life companion. He goes out alone with friends now because he says that I do not know how to behave in company. I wasn't particularly shy as a child, but I became shy after I entered my teens. What should do? Nasreen, Karachi
Many people are shy but not many are so shy that it affects their lives. When one is shy it means that one lacks self-confidence. Most often there is a reason behind intense shyness and there is probably a reason behind yours too. You say that you became shy when you entered your teens. Many girls become a little shy around that time but they soon get over it. You didn't and your shyness is affecting both your career and your married life. This is serious! Think back. Something must have happened around the time you entered your teens. It must have been a very unpleasant experience which hit your self-esteem. If you just cannot remember anything, you may be blocking the incident from your conscious mind. If that is the case you need the help of a psychiatrist or a counsellor to help you overcome this. Once you come to terms with whatever traumatic event happened around the time you became a teenager, you will slowly recover your self-confidence and get over your shyness.

Dr Shah Hussain

EXPERT ADVICEQ: The skin on my eyelids is always flaky and dry. What could be wrong? Please help. Tameema Ali, Karachi
You seem to be suffering from seborrhoeic dermatitis. Wash your scalp with an anti-dandruff shampoo with 2 per cent ketoconazole and pyrithione at least twice a week. Cleanse your eyelids with warm water and a mild cleanser. Apply coconut oil on the eyelids twice a day. You may also apply a miconazole eye ointment once a day. Avoid using eye makeup, as it can increase the dermatitis or bacterial or fungal infection. Consult a dermatologist if the problem persists.

Q: My lips are always dry. I've tried a number of brands of lip balms, but nothing seems to help. What would you suggest? Javeria Aleem, Lahore
Chapped lips could occur due to exposure to cold, dry air, certain vitamin deficiencies, licking your lips, dehydration, contact with irritants or allergens in cosmetics or intake of certain drugs like isotretinoin. Try using uriage lip balms four to five times a day. Use a sunscreen on your lips when out in the sun. Avoid licking your lips, as this will only increase the dryness. Use a lip-gloss instead of lipstick and keep yourself well hydrated. A supplement of 500 mg evening primrose oil and a vitamin B complex every day will also help.

Q: I am out in the sun for two to three hours every day. What kind of SPF do I need? Nida Khan, Lahore
Sun exposure means exposure to both UVA and UVB rays. While UVA can cause allergic reactions, pigmentation and ageing, UVB can cause sunburn and skin cancer. SPF or sun protecting factor indicates the sun protection ability against only UVB rays. Hence while choosing a sunscreen, choose a water-resistant one that protects from both UVB and UVA rays and has SPF of at least 30. A sunscreen rubs off with normal wear, so it needs to be reapplied every two hours. Wear protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses whenever possible.

Q: I am 28 years old, and since the last year-and-a-half, I've been getting excessive facial hair growth. Is it okay to wax this hair off? Please suggest a long-term solution. Reema, Islamabad
The best way to get rid of your excessive hair growth is through laser hair removal. You may require six to eight sittings at an interval of four to six weeks for permanent hair reduction. An average of 90 to 95 per cent of the hair is removed permanently by the end of the treatment. The remaining 5 to 10 per cent becomes light and unnoticeable. Long pulse Nd:Yag or diode laser or SHR are all very safe for the Indian skin type. If you want to go for a laser treatment, the only quick-fix between two laser sessions would be shaving. It is unadvisable to go for waxing, plucking, threading or depilatory creams as these will hamper the outcome of the laser treatment. Excessive hair growth could also be due to polycystic ovarian disease, so get your hormone levels tested before you go for any treatment.

General Physician
Dr Sadqa Gul
Q: How soon into a pregnancy can you expect to experience morning sickness? Yusra, Karachi
Morning sickness can be experienced as early as 10 days after fertilisation. This means that a woman could experience nausea and vomiting before she is even aware that she is pregnant. The EXPERT ADVICEhormones HCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin) and oestrogen can both cause morning sickness. HCG is only present in the body during pregnancy and it is excreted from the body in the urine. Detection of HCG in the urine is the basis for most pregnancy tests in popular usage.

Q: I had a miscarriage in November when I was 9 weeks pregnant. After that I decided not to get pregnant again until I had totally recovered from the miscarriage. However, I got pregnant again in April. I hadn't been taking my folic acid supplements at the time. My doctor told me that this might affect my new baby's health. I am really worried that my baby might not be born normal. What do you think? Zoya, Karachi
Folic acid supplements play an important role in the prevention of neural tube defects. It has been shown that if women take folic acid supplements prior to becoming pregnant the increased level of the folic acid can reduce the risk of spina bifida and other neural tube defects. However, if a woman does not take this advice it does not follow that there is a strong possibility of her newborn baby being born deformed. On the basis of probability it is far more likely that the baby will be born normal.

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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