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Healthy Living



  • Head Lice
  • Dandruff
  • Bad Breath
  • Ear Wax
  • Body Odour
  • Perspiration
  • Urinary Infection
  • Pinworms
  • Athletes Foot

  • Head Lice

    Lice are tiny insects that live on the human scalp and suck blood to nourish themselves. Lice make a pinprick like puncture on the scalp, emit an anti clotting substance and feed on the blood

    Lice thrive on unclean hair. Children are especially prone to lice infestation. Lice spread from one head to another when there is close contact as in school environments. Lice eggs are wrapped in a shiny white sheath and these show up on the upper layers of hair as the infestation increases. They make the scalp itchy and are a cause of annoyance and embarrassment. In infants they may cause disturbed sleep and bouts of crying. Unchecked, they can produce scalp infection.

    Anti lice lotions are available in the market, but in persistent cases a doctor's advice can be sought. Nit picking is painstaking and requires patience. A fine toothed comb and regular monitoring can get rid of the problem. Usually when a child in given an anti lice shampoo, all members of the family are advised to use it too.


    Dead skin on the scalp comes off in tiny flakes.

    This is associated with some disturbance in the tiny glands of the skin called the sebaceous glands. They excrete oil, or sebum. When there is too little oil the skin becomes flaky and dry. When there is too much oil also dandruff is possible. It may have a slight yellow colour.

    Hair wash twice or thrice a week might be necessary. Combs and brushes must be washed as well. Hair should be brushed regularly. A wholesome diet and overall cleanliness will help. Massage the scalp everyday to improve circulation.

    A shampoo with selenium sulfide or salicylic acid helps.

    Bad Breath

    Poor oral hygiene and infection of gums often results in a bad odour emanating from the mouth. This is called halitosis. Smoking can make this worse. Proper brushing of the teeth and oral care can get rid of bad breath.

    There can be other reasons for bad breath. Colds, sinuses, throat infections or tonsils can cause bad breath.

    Diseases of the stomach, liver, intestines or uncontrolled diabetes are also possible causes. Therefore, if bad breath persists despite good dental care, you need to see a doctor.

    Ear wax

    Cerumen or ear wax accumulates in the ear canal that leads from the outer ear to the ear drum. As the secretion comes out of the ear it collects dust particles which might have got in from outside. Daily wash with soap and water is enough to keep the outer ear clean. Do not reach farther than you can with your little finger into your ear. Nature has not provided for it. Putting in hairpins, safety pins or blunt edged things for cleaning purposes might harm the ear. If you feel wax has accumulated and is plugging your ears and interfering with hearing, consult your doctor.

    Body odour

    The body has nearly two million sweat glands. These glands produce three quarts to one pint of sweat in a day. In tropical countries, naturally, more sweat is produced. The perspiration level increases with an increase in physical exertion or nervous tension.

    Fresh perspiration, when allowed to evaporate does not cause body odour. An offensive smell is caused when bacteria that are present on the skin get to work on the sweat and decompose it. This is specially so in the groin, underarms, feet or in clothing that has absorbed sweat. Diet influences the odour too.

    Two baths a day, with liberal lathering and change of clothes in close contact with the body should take care of the problem. Talcum powders, of the non medicated kind, can be used under the armpits. Deodorants or antiperspirants can be used. Most commercial skin deodorants contain an antiperspirant, such as aluminum chloride, which reduces sweating by forming a hydroxide gel in the sweat ducts. But sweat suppressed in one area, comes out in another. The addition of perfumes masks the odour.

    Deodorant soaps do not interfere with sweat secretion, but contain hexachlorophene which destroys the bacteria that causes body odour.

    If daily cleanliness routines do not reduce body odour, check with a doctor.


    The body perspires to keep the body temperature from rising. Sweat is 99% water. It has a small quantity of urea, salt and some other compounds. If the body perspires more, in hot weather, a slight increase in the intake of common salt is advised, to make good what is lost through perspiration.

    Excessive perspiration can lead to the scaling of the skin or inflammation (Dermatitis). Usually this is no cause for worry. Some people sweat more, some less due to hereditary and body composition factors. Excessive perspiration is also a symptom of diabetes, anaemia and hyperthyroidism.

    Urinary infection

    Women are especially prone to this infection. This happens when bacteria travel up the urethra and start breeding there. Chances of urinary infection are higher during pregnancy and after major surgery. This infection causes pain or a burning sensation during urination. Sometimes the urine is discoloured. Itching, frequent urination, fever and chills can also result from urinary infection. Though not a serious problem it can be rather an irritating and an awkward one. It is easy to catch this infection when toilets are not clean or when too many people share toilet facilities.

    To avoid this infection improve overall standards of hygiene: both, regarding toilets and personal parts. Wash or wipe front to back after urinating or defecating. Remember this when wiping or washing babies too, as a general rule. Do not wear tight fitting synthetic underwear.

    Drink plenty of water. Do not hold back when you have the tendency to urinate. If the condition persists consult a doctor.


    Pinworms are about a quarter of an inch long. And they can cause plenty of discomfort. The worms come out of the anal opening to lay eggs at night. This leads to intense itching in the area. Disturbed sleep, mild pain and diarrhoea are possible consequences.

    Children are especially prone to this complaint. The urge is to scratch this area. When scratching, eggs stick to the hand, and under the nails and infect anything the person touches. The eggs can pass through air, or by contact with infected food or bed linen to others who share the premises. The eggs are not affected by disinfectants and remain active in the dust for a long period.

    A doctor has to be consulted to rid the worm infestation. Bed clothes, undergarments and nightwear of the infected person must be washed thoroughly, if possible in hot water. Sometimes all member of the family are advised to take deworming medication when one member is affected. Scrubbing hands well with soap before eating should check the problem.

    Athletes Foot

    The skin becomes scaly. There are sores or blisters between toes. Often it spreads to the soles.

    This infection is caused by a fungus. This breeds in warm wet places. This is a minor irritation and often disappears by itself. But sometimes these cracks and sores become the site for other infections.

    Proper foot care can alleviate the condition. Rub off peelings gently. Wash feet well and apply powder. A mild fungicidal ointment at bedtime will help. Keep feet exposed. If you have to wear shoes, wear cotton socks.

    Sometimes the blisters begin to ooze. Then soak feet in a potassium permanganate solution of recommended strength. Soak your feet in a warm bath for 10 minutes and then apply calamine lotion.

    If the problem persists consult a doctor.

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