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IndianSamourai goes to the dermatologist

India,skin specialist,dermatologist,medical tourism,acneFor several weeks, I had been more and more worried about a new mole. To be safe, the first thing to do is of course to consult a dermatologist. Of course. I asked my networks of foreign ladies in Delhi for a recommendation – my white skin (type 1) is not an Indian skin (type 4) so I'd rather show my thing to someone who has a little experience with type 1 skin – but no answer.

So I asked Google, or rather Practo, a Tripadvisor for doctors. I observed a few things. Firstly: there is a plethora of dermatologists in Gurgaon. Secondly: there is a plethora of highly rated dermatologists. And thirdly: there are not many of them who have studied or practiced in Europe/United States – this specialty may not particularly benefit from an experience abroad. And with this story of skin types, dermatology is certainly not the flagship of medical tourism in India...

india,skin specialist,dermatologist,medical tourism,acneTo cut my story short, I did find a nice profile. Quite good looking on the picture. But more importantly he had studied in London. And from the comments I gathered that he was the kind of doctor who digs quite a bit and look for the cause of the problem instead of rushing into the treatment. I had lost the hope these doctors even exist! So I immediately took an appointment. And there is was, at the door, tall, lean, fit, strong shoulders, weight lifting type, with cute cocker eyes that makes you melt, an type 4 Apollo! Which broke the spell almost as soon as he spoke – though luckily it was not quick well done charm - not by attacking cash on my not juvenile acne bothering me for several months, but in the following way:

- Him: Tell me, what can I do for you?

- Me: I have a mole that worries me.

- Him: Ok. And do you have a picture?

-Me (flabbergasted): uh... no... But if you want I can show you!

India,skin specialist,dermatologist,medical tourism,acneHe looked at the ‘thing’ from a distance (it wasn’t even between my thighs but above my navel), without any light or magnifying glass. Without touching of course – I was far from being in a scene of Savita Bhabi visiting the doctor. And he concluded by saying that I should check with his boss. I thus had to drive another 30 minutes more to finally land in the exact type of skin clinic I had been trying to avoid!! Very Indian, creepy, specialising in laser and hair (Indians can simply not deal with baldness, hair is just too important and in India hair growth and implants is a huge business since with fast changing lifestyle, this misery seems to touch more and more people). It must be my karma!

As for my acne – I had decided to ask the question, since I was finally visiting a skin specialist – the handsome doctor did exactly the opposite of what I was hoping. He started by telling me it wasn't much; and he must know what he was speaking of since he had a lot of acne scar. Flattering but not really helpful. If he had wanted to get the how and why before treatment, he could have questioned me about my hormone levels, the quality of my digestion, whatever, at least for how long this had been going on. Well no, he decreed that it was because of the sun and prescribed me... sunscreen! The sun! Not only my spots have begun their dance in January when the weather was all cold and foggy but even in summer, the sun is so strong that my vitamin D level actually plummets: we hide from the sun here! Anyway, I found a real winner...


War of the zits (End)

india,zit,spot,skin,acne,pollution,weather,hone remedies,turmeric,lemon,ayurvedaRegarding food, if my nanny thinks it’s butter and chocolate that are responsible for my acne (1), Dr. Google has a different opinion and suggests to stop white rice and milk (both sacrosanct elements of my nanny’s diet; you should have seen her face when I told her they were the culprits (she just thought I was making fun of her)) and pasta and bread (ayurveda adds sugar and coffee). I was just left with salad. And it was fortunate, since it was the leafy vegetable season!

I refused my mom’s offer to use the radical treatment I took in my young years (Roacutane); I checked my thyroid (normal); I applied a mask (lemon juice and honey after washing the face with a hot towel) after scrubbing (with the above mentioned recipe) twice a week; I threw away the face solution of L’Occitane (I anyway never really understood how this foam could do anything against Indian dust) and ordered Marseille soap to my mother; I reduced the quantities of rice, stopped Nutella and coffee (replaced for a time by decaf) and started eating granola almost every morning; the weather changed with the summer taking over from the winter; I took a holiday in Europe. And after three months, I was (almost) saying goodbye – until next time at least! – to my (not so) juvenile acne and I still have no idea about what worked!

Except that obviously, a little while later, everybody had gotten back to their old habits, including my pimples.

Out of sheer despair, I decided to try ayurveda again. I had to drink a horrendous potion twice a day, and it didn’t even work the magic way it had the first time I had tried it, a few months after we moved to Gurgaon. It was a bit better but nothing to be happy about. Every other day I had to apply a smelly paste on my face why terrorized my son – he was yelling to everybody that I had become a gorilla! The treatment got ended by a formidable liver attack which required another ayurvedic medicine, much more drinkable this time. At that point of time, I couldn’t even be bothered about my face anymore…

For mother’s day, my husband got me… ayurvedic soap and oil… for acne. No useless gifts in our family!!

And then, slowly slowly, things started getting better, after seven months of ordeal. They definitely got better when I stayed a couple of weeks in France. I am not far from declaring that my skin is allergic to Gurgaon! Well, life goes on…


(1) In the same vein, I began to ‘check’ the popular theories of my nanny. And she has a lot of them!

Do not mix milk and fish. Beyond the fact that this association seems strange to me, I had never heard of this interdiction. Thinking of it, I actually have never heard about any food you could not combine with one another (except Baileys and Coke). Is this to say that this ‘science’ got lost somewhere (at least as far as I am concerned)? Or is it different in France? I found a recipe for cod with milk. And then I also found that Jewish ‘science’ says no to fish and milk. And finally that there is no risk of allergy or toxic reaction but rather digestive.

Do not mix meat and fish. “Because one lives in water and the other on the ground” according to my nanny. But she allows to mix fish and chicken because “chicken fly, it doesn’t really lives on the ground”. She had to justify fried rice with chicken and prawns! But then what about paella? Here again I find Jewish references on the issue, funny isn’t it?

Sources : ;  ; ;  ;  ; ;   


War of the zits (Beginning)

India,zit,spot,skin,acne,pollution,weather,hone remedies,turmeric,lemonMid-January, I started getting pimples on the face. I chose not to panic: one or two spots when you get your period is quite normal. Except that the bastards multiplied really fast and soon it (I) became quite ugly. Not knowing what to do, I continued washing my skin thoroughly and applying a bit of Kailash Jeevan (a magic Ayurvedic cream one can found in Mumbai and which heals any kind of injury; you can even eat it to cure indigestion!). But it just got worse. So when my nanny told me about her magical cure for the third time, I finally paid attention. According to her, I just need to use a home-made scrub: coarse sugar, salt and lemon juice. Not convinced and anyway enjoying a respite of the blooming, I let go, until new pustules appeared and she puts the ingredients in my hands, hereby stopping any kind of discussion. After all, I thought, maybe I should listen to the good old ‘folk wisdom’ (or knowledge? belief? common sense?) that has (almost) been lost in Western societies? So, I applied the scrub two to three days in a row, feeling my skin getting clearer. But a trip to Mumbai forced me to interrupt my ‘treatment’ for 3 days.

I enjoyed this short stay to go and say hello to my old nanny I had not seen for a year. She greeted me without any preamble:

- But Madam, what is this on your face? But it’s ugly, you must do something!

- Hello to you too! Yes, I know, I'm trying a scrub with sugar, salt, lemon.

- Lemon? Are you mad? No No, you must make a paste with turmeric and Chickpea flour and it will dry the infected parts very fast. Saffran is known for its antiseptic properties: when we get an injury we immediately put saffron, even you know it. But do it, huh, because this is really awful.

All that in front of her new employer, a girl I was meeting for the first time. Fortunately I’ve not been ashamed of anything in a very long time! Which comes handy when you are in your thirties and have the face of an adolescent with unleashed raging hormones.

I used my time in the taxi driving me to the airport to ‘check’ on the Internet what ‘science’ has to say about mIndia,zit,spot,skin,acne,pollution,weather,hone remedies,turmeric,lemony nanny’s popular wisdom. Nothing about her scrub in particular but a clear message: ‘avoid scrubs’ because they attack the skin which is already traumatized enough (more precisely, when the skin is attacked it produces sebum as protection, and sebum is already produced in excess which is what clogs the pores, leading to infections). I could have checked earlier... What my nanny had also conveniently avoided to tell me it is that when this happened to her, the calci face, she scrubbed it with so much energy – what am I saying? With so much violence – that she is ripped half of her skin off. So of course the pimples left as well. Sometimes, I think she gets me concerned.

And then, at the airport, the army lady who checked me spurted a “but what do have you on the face? Is it chicken pox?? ”. But what is wrong with Indians that they always comment on your physical looks like that?

On that note, I tested the second recipe. ‘Improving it’ by adding lemon juice to bind the turmeric and the flour – upon the insistence of my nanny who really wants me to put lemon on my face (about this I read an interesting article with varied opinions on the use of lemon on the skin, which apparently, science rejects). What I can say for sure is that it had a great impact. On the bedsheets at least. When Baby Samourai grabbed the cup and spilled the powder all over: saffron is magic, you can hardly remove it. Other than that, I continued to apply the paste every night, for three days, until I forgot.

I had already tried an Ayurvedic medicine which had had terrific results, working as a blood purifier or something like that. But this doctor, just like all the dermatologists I’ve met before, treated the symptoms without trying to understand where the problem comes from. Food and digestion? Lack of sleep with baby Samurai waking up two or three times every night? Hormonal imbalance? Pollution? Weather? Dust? Stress? Anything else?

(To be continued)