Hair dye best kept off moustache, eyebrows
Dr Calabresi is a GP and editor of Medical Observer. Send your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org I amdyeing my greying hair with Grecian 2000. I noticed that both it and another similar product, Restoria, contain lead acetate as a major ingredient. I worry whether the lead can be absorbed by the skin and enter the bloodstream? LEAD acetate is the additive used in progressive dye products, which are repeatedly used to gradually build up the colour. Studies done on humans have shown that when these products are used as per the instructions there are no significant increases in the blood lead levels and the lead acetate is not absorbed through the skin. Having said that, this product does contain lead and should be treated with care. You can’t use it on moustaches or eyelashes or eyebrows — anywhere near the mucous membrane, that thin, moist layer that lines the inside of the mouth or nose, for example. The mucous membrane absorbs substances much more readily than the tougher outer skin. Anywhere where the skin is broken should be avoided too. Also ensure these progressive dyes are kept out of the reach of young children. There has been at least one occurrence of a toddler swallowing one of these products and having to be treated for lead poisoning. I am52 and still take a low-dose oral contraceptive pill. My doctor is recommending that I come off it to see if I’mgoing through menopause, and because of the risk of side effects from the pill at my age. But then she said I would still have to do something about not getting pregnant. I would rather stay on the pill until through menopause, and I don’t like to think what will happen to my hormones if I come off it. What do you think? AT 52 it is probably time to have a trial off the pill and see where your body is up to in terms of menopause. Your chance of falling pregnant is practically negligible, but if you’re really nervous you can use condoms for a month or so to see if your periods come back. If they don’t, you have probably gone through menopause (although the true definition of menopause is having no periods for 12 months). If your periods do return, there are a number of options you can consider, one of which is going back on the pill for perhaps another 12 months before checking again. While it is true you need to consider the risks associated with taking the pill at this age — in particular, the increased risk of clotting — it is important to look at the big picture. For example, your risk will be greater if you’re a smoker, and if you’re overweight and don’t exercise, in which case it is likely your doctor will be offering you an alternative to the pill. Finally, if you find you have intolerable menopausal symptoms, there are treatments available for that too. My father had coronary artery bypass surgery three months ago. Physically he recovered quickly, but mentally he got very depressed and actually needed treatment. He has no history of mental illness. Did the operation cause the problem? THE research does tend to suggest depression is two to five times more common following cardiac surgery. It is good your father has had this depression treated, as depression itself can be a risk factor for heart problems and therefore could affect his recovery. The usual treatment in these cases is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), rather than the older-style tricyclic antidepressants which are not recommended in patients with cardiac disease. Studies have shown that depressed cardiac patients treated with SSRIs generally have very good outcomes.