The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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This week: Skin care

ugly Mole

I have a big black mole on my right cheek that I want to get rid of. But I donít want to go for plastic surgery. Is there any other way out'

A black mole, which is like a swelling, could be a seborrhoeic wart. This usually occurs in elderly persons. As you have it on the face, you may opt for excision surgery, electro-surgery or laser surgery. Plastic surgery is needed only when the mole is big in size. In India, malignant moles are rare. So do not panic. Until surgery is done, use a sunscreen to protect the skin. Application of tretinoin cream and glycolic acid may also help. Contact a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment. Donít go to any cosmetologist or beautician, as they are not competent to treat skin diseases.

hair loss

I am a 16-year-old boy. Almost 20 per cent of my hair has turned grey. I also suffer from constant hair loss.

Premature greying is a genetic problem. Hair fall at this tender age could also be due to baldness. This again could be a hereditary problem. However, proper treatment can minimise hair loss. Loss of hair could also be due to internal factors like anaemia, bowel disorder, liver disease, cancer or hormonal disorder. It is also very common after typhoid or childbirth. External factors like dandruff could also be responsible. Consult a dermatologist.


I am a 40-year-old woman. I have been suffering from melasma (dark pigmentation) on the face and forehead for the last two years. Prescribed medicines have not brought the desired result. What could be the reasons behind such a disease'

Melasma usually occurs during pregnancy after oral contraceptive therapy. It can also be due to hormonal imbalance or a side effect of certain drugs. But genetic inheritance is a major factor. In most cases, the exact cause is not known. External factors like sensitivity to UV rays and frequent friction on the skin may also cause melasma. Lime and lemon used in beautification regimes should be strictly avoided as they contain furocoumarin compounds responsible for pigmentation. Persistence of the problem depends on the location of melanin in the skin. The deeper it is, the more difficult it will be to treat. Use a sunscreen. Besides, tretinoin, hydroquinon, kozic acid, arbutin and glycolic acid or any locally-made mild steroid cream can be used for local application under a dermatologistís supervision. In case of melasma with pimples, avoid greasy creams and ointments.

Facial tumour

My six-year-old son has developed small tumour-like growths on his face. They are spreading in number. What should I do'

These could be congenital tumours or part of a syndrome. They may also be soft tissue tumours called neurofibroma or small cysts. Visualising the lesion can lead to an accurate diagnosis. Biopsy and histopathological examination of the skin should be done for confirmation. Contact a dermatologist for proper diagnosis.

fungal infection

I am 27-year-old man. I had a fungal infection in my groin sometime back. Medicines cured it, but the skin in the region has turned black. Please advise.

Hyper pigmentation after fungal infection in groin area is mainly due to friction, obesity and application of indigenous medicines. You should apply a proper anti-fungal cream regularly and clean the area with soap and water every day. Oral medicines are also available for fungal infection. It will take time to tone down the darkness of the area.

We invite readersí queries on health problems. Eminent doctors will respond to them in this column every week. Mail your letters to:
KnowHOW, The Telegraph, 6, Prafulla Sarkar Street, Calcutta 700 001
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