The sham in shampoos

Q I was told that shampoos contain dangerous chemicals called parabens.

  • Published 1.11.17

Q I was told that shampoos contain dangerous chemicals called parabens.

Parabens prevent growth of bacteria and mould in cosmetics, shaving creams and shampoos. They are absorbed in small quantities through the skin. Since the body cannot excrete them, prolonged and frequent use can cause the concentration of parabens in the body to build up. There has been some corelation of this with breast and ovarian cancer. Khadi makes paraben-free products such as shampoo, hair conditioner and body wash. Perhaps you could switch to that?

Winter skin

Q My skin is dry. In winter, it cracks and itches like crazy.

The skin can react like this to cold, dry air. Commercially available moisturisers - even the hypoallergic, doctor-recommended ones - can trigger allergies, making the skin inflamed, red and itchy. Try applying a mixture of 250ml coconut oil, 250ml sesame oil and 100ml castor oil. Leave it on for 10 minutes and then take a bath with warm water to which a tablespoon of coconut oil has been added.

No sweat

Q I run 5km on the treadmill. l feel I have had a good workout only if I sweat. My gym is air-conditioned and I don't perspire much.

If you work out intensely, your core temperature will rise. The body tries to cool down by sweating. You will lose fluids this way and should drink water. The intensity of a workout is determined by the calories expended (distance and time), not by the amount of sweat you generate.

What a pain

Q I get recurrent headaches and take painkillers for them. Of late, the medicines just do not work.

Painkillers can be habituating, which means that you start to require higher and more frequent doses for relief. Go to a physician to determine the reason for the headaches. It may be sinusitis, tension, need for spectacles, use of mosquito repellents or even bad posture. Once the cause is found and treated, you may not need painkillers.

Jumping jacks

Q I weighed 54kg in college but now I am 74kg. With school-going children and unreliable domestic help, I find it impossible to fit exercise into my routine.

Many women face this problem. If you to take off as little as 5 per cent of weight gained, you can delay onset of Type 2 diabetes, normalise lipid profile, increase energy levels and elevate mood. Reduce food intake by 10 per cent, always take the stairs instead of the lift, and do 10 jumping jacks every hour wherever you are. That short burst of exercise will jack up your BMR (basal metabolic rate) all day.

The writer is a paediatrician with a family practice at Vellore and author of Staying Healthy in Modern India. If you have any questions on health issues, please write to