Ask Dr. Rachna Pande

Dear Doctor, I have been using lotion for the past five years and want to switch to Vaseline. Will this have any effect on my skin?

Will Vaseline affect my skin?



I have been using lotion for the past five years and want to switch to Vaseline. Will this have any effect on my skin?





Dear Donah,

Lotion and Vaseline are different things though both are used for moisturising. Vaseline is a petroleum-based product. It serves more as a protective barrier to keep the moisture locked. It creates a sealing between cells in damaged skin and helps in its repair It is useful in cracked heels and lips because it keeps the moisture and protects these parts from elements like dust, heat which cause the cracking.

Vaseline is also useful in healing minor cuts and burns and prevents formation of fine lines. However it is very greasy and would be messy to use all over the body. The skin over the face is very soft and has many pores. These allow sebum (oily substance produced from sebaceous glands) to reach the surface easily, making it somewhat greasy. Using Vaseline over the face shall make it look very greasy and shiny.

Lotion by contrast is water-based and is useful for moisturising the skin. Bath body lotions seal moisture in the skin and prevent dryness, whereas body lotions help in keeping parts like elbows and knees soft. A good quality body lotion can rejuvenate dry skin and keep it soft all time, if used regularly.

To use Vaseline or lotion depends on the type of skin of a person and the daily routine, that is, how much someone is exposed to elements causing dry/damaged skin like dust and heat.

Drinking much water and consuming fresh vegetables and fruits is also useful to keep skin supple and prevent dryness.


What causes patches on the tongue?


A few days ago, I saw whitish patches on my tongue. Although they didn’t cause any pain, I felt a bit of discomfort. Could I be sick?



Dear Brian,

White patches or plaques on the tongue are overgrowth of the tongue papillae or filaments. Dead and destroyed cells and accumulation of bacteria give it a whitish look. It could be simply due to poor hygiene. Chronic constipation can also cause coating over tongue which may look like white patches. Use of low roughage diet regularly can also cause it. It can occur due to cigarette smoking, use of alcohol. Loose tooth or denture can constantly irritate the tongue leading to chronic inflammation and red/ white patches. One can have those patches due to dehydration. Fungal infection can cause white curd like patches, which cause pain during swallowing food or even liquids. Viral infections like herpes can cause whitish patches which are associated with vesiculo-papular eruptions. It can be due to prolonged use of antibiotics. Fever and sepsis can be associated with white patches on the tongue. Among sinister conditions, sometimes these patches can turn into cancerous lesions (leukoplakia) and are indicative of pre-cancerous stage.

If there are no features of any sickness like fever or no loose tooth, swallowing is not painful, no painful sores or blisters, then sickness is unlikely.

Avoid taking tobacco and alcohol. Try taking fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains or nuts, healthy food and drink more water. Improve hygiene of mouth by brushing or rinsing mouth regularly after food. The white patches should

Improve. If not, then necessary tests are needed to know the nature of illness.


What causes memory loss in aging people?


What causes memory loss as one grows older? How can this trend be prevented?



Dear Bizimungu,

As the different body parts and systems degenerate with aging, brain cells also degenerate causing memory loss as one grows older. Mild memory loss is part of aging. Like one may forget where he has put keys or not remember names of new acquaintances.. But if he forgets the use of those keys or name of some family member it indicates serious memory loss.

This problem is multifactorial. Reduced blood supply to the brain due to thickening of blood vessels, degeneration of brain cells, shrinkage of brain substance are various reasons which cause memory loss due to aging. Lacunar infarcts(mini strokes that cut off blood supply in small blood vessels, deep in the brain substance) also contribute to it.

Prevention consists in keeping the brain stimulated. Learning new skills or language as one ages, indulging in mind stimulating games like cross word puzzles, quizzes, helps to keep the brain stimulated and prevents decay and degeneration of brain cells. One can try maintaining a diary. In the morning one should note down the things, he/she plans to do for the day. In evening, one should try to recall the things he has done and note them down.

Keeping updated on developments in his field, on current national and international affairs is also useful. It is advised to be in company of young active persons, to keep the mind cheerful and activated.

Regular exercises like walking, yoga or light jogging are useful to keep all body parts including brain activated. Diet is important for prevention of age related memory loss. The diet should be rich in antioxidants, i.e. substances which prevent wear and tear of body tissues and help in regeneration of cells. Carrots, onions, cabbage, beans, berries, nuts are some of such substances. Diet should also include vitamins E, C, B1, B12 and folate. Whole grains, nuts, fresh leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, provide these.

Alcohol and smoking cause direct damage to the brain substance, hence should be quit as soon as the habit is started.

By following above measures, one can avoid memory loss of old age.


My chest pains when I jog or stretch


I experience a sharp pain in the upper part of my chest whenever I try to stretch or whenever I jog. What causes this and how do I deal with it?



Dear Junior,

What is your age? In a young person most common cause of pain in upper part of chest while stretching or jogging is musculoskeletal. This can occur due to a muscle being pulled excessively or some muscle fibers getting torn due to excess exercise. Rarely irritation of the diaphragm due to muscular movements may also cause pain. It also can be due to doing excess exercise at one time or lack of sufficient warming up before exercising.

The prevention lies in adequate warming up before any exercise, increasing the quantity of exercise gradually. Consult a professional expert for advice on the type and quantity of exercise to be done. Treatment consists of taking pain killers. Exercising immediately after a heavy meal can also cause pain in upper chest, hence should be avoided. One can get a burning chest pain due to acid reflux. This may be due to dyspepsia, peptic ulcer disease or taking alcohol or excess of tea or coffee.

Costochondritis is yet another condition which causes pain in upper chest, in young adults. It is said to be due to mental stress. Being relaxed mentally can prevent it, whereas mild tranquilizers can help relieve the pain.

Angina pectoris is a serious condition, which causes chest pain after exertion. Though common in middle age and after, the prevalence in young adults is also increasing due to urban life style factors. Here the blood vessels supplying blood to the heart develop blocks. While doing any exercise, the demand for oxygen is increased in the heart, which is not fulfilled due to the blocks. This manifests as stabbing or pressure like chest pain on exertion, which commonly occurs at left side but can be in upper part as well. High blood pressure, diabetes, high blood lipid levels, obesity, smoking, alcohol use stress and hereditary factors are some of the risk factors causing angina. It can be diagnosed by electrocardiogram, cardiac echo and coronary angiography and is treated by suitable antianginal drugs.

Taking a fat free diet, exercising regularly, reducing extra body weight ,avoiding alcohol and smoking, learning to relax, are some measures which can help prevent this condition. Those with high blood pressure, diabetes or high levels of bad lipids should keep it controlled with suitable diet and regular medication.

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