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28 Apr - 04 May , 2012
expertadviceHeart TO Heart
For relationship advice and more, talk to your super-smart Sis.

Q: I am a 24-year-old woman. My best friend wants to marry me and I informed my parents about it. His mother knows, but not his father. I love him, but the problem is our sectarian difference and the age barrier we have. He is younger to me by a few months. We do not have a problem getting married despite the barriers, but our parents are not ready to accept it. There is no negativity between the families, but there's mutual insecurity popping up. My parents said that they do not dislike the guy, but all they think about is the sectarian differences. I do not want to lose him and I just can't wait until his father comes to know of this. How do I encourage him to tell his father about this decision? Please help. Batool Zehra, Karachi
From what you've written, the only real problem seems to be his father's reaction to the alliance. If your boyfriend wants to have a life with you, his first step would be to tell his father and based on the EXPERT ADVICEseverity of it you make your decision. Perhaps you both could suggest an engagement for a year to see whether religious and age differences do crop up. If they do, you'll both be happy you never took the plunge, and if the love grows. I'm sure both families will respond favourably. The one year will also give the families a chance to know each other as well as both of you as individuals.

Q: I have been with my girlfriend for two years now. I've even proposed marriage, the problem is she is her height is 4'5 and I am 5'6. My family and friends are not happy with me choosing her. We have been in a relationship for a year and we have had a lot of problems adjusting. I am not comfortable in hanging out with her because of our height difference. I am disappointed every time. She doesn't even care about this. What do I do? Nadir
It seems you have a lot of apprehensions about this relationship going the distance and that is not the right note on which to enter marriage. Height has nothing to do with love or social acceptance. Bollywood couple Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan are the perfect example of a celebrated couple who got married, had children and stayed together for over 40 years. What makes a difference is that you are not happy with your chemistry and have personality conflicts. Also, it seems that what people around you think, affects you. You've both tried your best for two years to make it work. It seems pretty apparent it's time to move on now.

Q: I have been in a relationship with a guy for seven months. We had some misunderstanding and he doesn't want to talk to me now. I share everything with him and it's next to impossible for me to live without him. What do I do? Shiza Ali, Lahore
A small misunderstanding cannot break a strong relationship. The point is, was it just you sharing stuff with him or was it a two-way street? Was he as dependent and involved as you were? If so, he will miss the togetherness, sharing and caring and not let something petty affect it. Just let him know you're keeping your hand extended and heart warm.

Dr Shah Hussain

Q: Can you suggest home remedies to get rid of dark elbows and knees? Nadia Rafique, Lahore
Excessive dryness and friction may lead to darkening of elbows and knees. At home, you can use a mixture of chickpea flour and malai as a scrub over the affected areas. Coconut milk is a natural moisturiser. Apply the milk, leave on for a while before your bath, and wash off with water. You should EXPERT ADVICEapply a good moisturiser that contains coconut milk or cocoa or shea butter. At bedtime, you could apply a 6 per cent glycolic acid-based cream on the affected areas. Do this for about six to eight weeks. You could try a few sessions of diamond and phenol peels.

Q: I have small white nodules near my nose. They look like pimples, but they don't go unless I pop them. What is the best way to get rid of them? Sidra Zeeshan, Karachi
You might have milia. Milia are keratin cysts that occur due to the blockage of sweat glands. They look like whiteheads but are harder. Milia have to be extracted if they do not resolve on their own. Do not try to extract them on your own, as it may cause scarring. The extraction is a simple safe procedure and can be done at any skin clinic.

Q: I have a normal-to-oily skin type, but I have these dry light patches on my face. What can they be? Javeria, Karachi
You may be developing pityriasis alba. There is no specific known cause for this, but it is common in those who have sensitive skin. The condition may aggravate with sun exposure and lack of vitamin A in your diet. You could apply a cream containing 1 per cent hydrocortisone on the white patches at bedtime to take care of the pigmentation. It is essential that you wear a sunscreen with SPF 30 during the day. Also include vitamin A-rich foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, milk, margarine, eggs and fortified breakfast cereals in your diet.

Q: I'm in my mid-30s and my skin has started to become lax. What can I do to make it firm again? Huma Asif, Islamabad
As we age, the collagen and elastin fibres in the skin begin to degenerate and become loose. This causes laxity and sagging of skin. Non-surgical skin tightening can be done using radiofrequency energy or infrared laser. The deeper layers of the skin are heated without burning the skin. This results in the production of new collagen and tightening of old collagen, causing a tightening effect on the skin. It is a safe and pain-free treatment. You can resume normal work immediately after the treatment, as there are no tell-tale signs. As a rule, avoid smoking and sun exposure, as these are the main factors responsible for skin sagging at a younger age.

Q: My husband wants me to have short and funky haircuts. But I know they won't look nice on me. We fight about this a lot. What should I do? Sadia Hameed, Karachi
There is software that shows you different hairstyles on your face and how each cut would look on you. Let him take a look and the take a call. Perhaps you can find one that is mutually agreeable. Hair grows back, so do it once to make him happy and the matter ends there. Perhaps you might love it too. If the look is a disaster, you can always use hair extensions till your hair grow out.

General Physician
Dr Sadqa Gul

Q: Ever since the birth of my second child last August I have had a small lump on my eyelid, and complain of never-ending irritation in my eyes. Can you tell me what it is or at least if I should go to my doctor. Amna, Karachi
I would suggest that you visit your doctor in order to have this lump identified properly. It sounds like a chalazion or meibomian cyst. A meibomian cyst is a painless swelling in the eyelid that has usually been present for many weeks or months. A stye or hordeolum, in contrast, tends to be acutely painful and tends to last for a few days. Meibomian cysts often occur in association with inflammation of the eyelids which may account for the irritation that you are currently feeling. These cysts can persist for a very long period of time and tend not to regress. It is possible to have the cyst removed and this can often be done as a day case, which eliminates the need for hospital admission.

Q: For the last 3 years I have been working on a computer for 8 hours a day. My eyes feel dry and itchy and they are also very sensitive to light. Over the last year I have developed almost permanent pain and pressure above and below my eyes. What could be wrong? Shahid Ali
The symptoms you describe are becoming increasingly common as more workers are now working at screens throughout the day. You should have your eyes examined by an optician and do specifically mention that your work involves the use of a computer. You might have a slight visual defect, which would make it necessary for you to wear glasses while working with the computer. Also make sure that your screen is free of glare from sunlight or overhead lighting in the office. Glare can give rise to strain in the small muscles around the eyes giving rise to pain and tension in those muscles. It might be worth using some artificial tears to moisten your eyes because they can dry out when you are working at a screen for long periods of time. Try to vary your office routine so that you are away from the screen periodically during the day.

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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