Ask the Doctor: What can I do to get rid of pimples?

Pimples can disfigure the places where they are found and occurring in teenagers who mind most about their looks, this can be very stressful. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • Pimples can disfigure the places where they are found and occurring in teenagers who mind most about their looks, this can be very stressful.

I have so many pimples and black heads on my face and chest which are ugly to look at. What can I do? Locket

Dear Locket,

What you have are likely to be pimples (acne vulgaris) that usually affect teenager’s faces, shoulders, external ears, chests, upper backs and the anogenital areas (the areas of the body with the most oil (sebaceous) glands).

Pimples can disfigure the places where they are found and occurring in teenagers who mind most about their looks, this can be very stressful.

Acne mainly results from skin pores getting clogged by excess skin oil, debris and dead skin cells with skin bacterial infection resulting in more severe acne.

When the acne pores are closed, the pimples are referred to as white heads but when they are open, oxygen from the air can oxidise the contents (skin debris and oil) to form black areas (black heads).

The best solution for pimples is to avoid squeezing them open which causes them to turn "disfiguringly" black. Also, seek the help of a doctor’s so that drugs to unclog the pimples and remove dark areas are given.

Why are my legs swollen?

I am seven months pregnant with my seventh child but unlike the other pregnancies, this time around, my legs are swollen and when I press, it stays indented. I am yet to start my antenatal visits. What could be the cause of these signs? Teddy

Dear Teddy,

The body mostly contains about two thirds of fluids in the cells (intracellular fluids) with a third only outside the cells (extracellular), in the tissues (interstitial) and blood (plasma).

Oedema is the swelling of the body or parts of the body due to excessive amounts of fluids in the body tissues and swelling of the feet with pitting, which is referred to as pedal oedema, one of the most common.

During pregnancy, women may experience swelling, especially of the feet, ankles, face or even fingers. This swelling may happen due to increased amounts of hormones causing salt and water retention.

This, however, usually happens in the last three months of pregnancy when the pregnant womb puts pressure on the veins that return blood from the legs to the heart.

Much as the swelling is a necessary evil, happening in a single leg might indicate blood clots in the same leg and suddenly, might indicate preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a seriously raised blood pressure and urine protein loss condition that happens after five months of pregnancy, putting both the baby and mother at risk of death.

Although you are late for your antenatal visits, you need to see your antenatal doctor immediately so that the doctor checks your pressure, protein in urine, kidney disease, anaemia and blood clots in your legs, among other conditions.

Meanwhile, elevate your legs, wear compression socks, sleep on your left side, take lots of fluids to dilute salt, exercise more, take pineapple to flush the body of excess fluids and wear loose clothing.

A massage, much as it is said to help, requires a doctor’s advice to avoid dislodging a blood clot to the lungs, especially if the swelling is due to deep vein thrombosis, a medical condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein.

Can the large intestine be removed?

I am 67 years old and have a chronic disease of the big intestines. My doctor recommended surgery to remove the big intestine. Can I really live without my intestine? Lulenti

Dear Lulenti,

Humans have two types of intestines. One is the small intestine which is helpful in digesting food and absorbing the life giving and life maintaining nutrients from the digested food. And as such, much as it is the smaller type in width, it is four times one’s height in length and, therefore, long enough to effect the life-giving processes it carries out.

The other is the large intestine or colon which is larger in width and 1.5 metres long in men but 10cms longer in women.

The large intestine helps absorb water and salts from the material that has not been digested as food, eventually forming stool to be expelled through the anus.

The nutrients from food that are essential for survival of a human being are mainly absorbed by the small intestine so that if one has a disease condition such as cancer of the colon or severe inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis), the colon can be removed by surgery and the victim will be able to live a normal life. 

However, waste from food has to be collected and removed by what is called a colostomy.

In a colostomy, an opening is made in the abdomen so that feaces can be collected outside the body in a colostomy bag.

Another is the use of a J-Pouch, in which the last part of the small intestine (ileum) is made into a bag-like pouch and connected to the anus by surgery so that stool can be voided just as before the big intestine was removed. 

The J-pouch eliminates the need for a troublesome and repugnant colostomy. So please, go for it and good luck.