Skin Irritation


Millions of Canadians live with or have had a skin condition in their lifetime. 20% of Canadians live with acne, while 3 million Canadians have been diagnosed with rosacea and/or psoriasis. Another common condition of the skin is skin dryness, flakiness and/or itching. While eczema is something that is often characterized by these same symptoms, they can also be the result of a change in weather and temperature – particularly in the fall and winter months.

When there is a decrease in temperature, there is also a decrease in the skin’s moisture content. This can then lead to the skin becoming dry, irritated and itchy, flaky, and you can even develop a rash. Even individuals with otherwise healthy skin are at risk. You are also more prone to developing dry, irritated skin if you have any of the pre-existing conditions mentioned above.

While we can’t always predict nor can we change the weather, there are certain steps that Vancouver physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary, says we can all take to ensure that our skin remains healthy – and to also decrease some of those annoying, irritating symptoms that come along with skin dryness.

Since the change in weather and temperature can have a huge impact on our skin, it is important to try not to stay outdoors for extended periods of time. If you find that you will be outdoors for longer periods, make sure you are wearing layered clothing to keep the skin protected (i.e. gloves, scarves, sweater.) People also often think that taking hot showers is good for the skin – but just like cooler temperatures, hot temperatures can also damage the skin and cause it to lose its moisture and natural oils, leading to dryness, irritation and rash.

In order to replenish the skin’s moisture, using a moisturizer is beneficial. There are plenty of moisturizers on the market – it all depends on the type you are looking for. For example, if you have sensitive skin, then you may want to choose a moisturizer that is fragrance-free. Moisturizers can be found at drug stores, cosmetic stores, or online. If you have any questions about which moisturizer is best suited for your skin type, your pharmacist or physician may also be able to answer any questions you have – and, in fact, may even be able to make a recommendation.

Changes in weather and temperature aside, skin problems can also develop due to a number of other reasons, including sensitivity to soap, laundry detergent or other chemicals, an allergy to latex, fatigue, stress, and even bacterial or viral infections.

If you have any concerns about your skin or notice any abnormalities, speak with your physician today. If you do not have a family physician but would still like to speak with a medical professional about your concerns, Dr. Ali Ghahary is available to see walk-in patients at Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby.


The Sinuses and Sinus Infections

Sinus anatomy

The sinuses make up the upper part of our respiratory tract – from the nose all the way down to the throat. They consist of the frontal sinuses, which are located in your forehead, the maxillary sinuses, which are located inside of your cheekbones, and both the ethmoid and sphenoid sinuses, located just behind the nose.

Aside from being responsible for helping us breathe and inhale oxygen, the sinuses are also responsible for our ability to smell and taste, as well as immune system defence. The sinuses also help to keep our noses protected from dust, dirt, micro-organisms and other pollutants.

The sinuses, however, can be a very complex part of the body and there are many health concerns that can arise as a direct result of the sinuses. Some of these problems include having a poor sense of smell, nasal congestion or nasal obstruction, difficulty breathing, allergies, nasal polyps and sinus infections.

Generally, nasal mucus is usually clear. However, when the sinuses become infected, this mucus can change to green or yellow in colour, which is usually indicative that the body is fighting a viral or bacterial infection. Sinus infections can occur on their own or as a complication of the common cold or flu. They are also a top cause for temporary loss of smell and taste. Aside from a change in mucus colour, symptoms of sinus infections also include nasal congestion, facial pain and/or pressure, headache, and even tooth pain.

In order to determine whether or not a sinus infection is truly present, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family doctor from Vancouver, will usually refer patients for a medical imaging test known as an X-ray. This will take a clear picture of your sinuses and the radiologist responsible for writing the report will then let your physician known if an infection is found. If it is determined that you do, indeed, have a sinus infection, Dr. Ali Ghahary will prescribe the patient with antibiotics. One of the most common antibiotics used to treat sinus infections is Amoxicillin; it is usually a first-choice for physicians due to its high success rate as well as the fact that it has fewer side effects reported in comparison to other antibiotics. For patients who are allergic or sensitive to Amoxicillin, or if it does not clear your sinus infection, other antibiotics that can be used include Clarithromycin (also known as Biaxin) and Clindamycin. It is important to treat sinus infections early to avoid any complications.

If you have persisting sinus infections or sinus problems, talk to your doctor about the possibility of being referred to an ENT – also known as an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist.

Blood Transfusions: Who Needs Them and Why?

Dr. Ali Ghahary - Blood TransfusionsBlood is a vital part of the human body. It is responsible for the transportation, protection and regulation of different substances; from supplying the body with essential substances and nutrients such as oxygen, sugar and hormones, as well as the removal of waste, in addition to acting as a clotting agent. Without it, our bodies would not be able to properly function.

A large percentage of Canadians have required blood transfusions, and many hospitalized Canadians need blood transfusions every day. Canada has one of the safest blood systems in the world. To ensure that blood donation is safe for the intended recipient, the Canadian Blood Services requires that donors meet certain criteria prior to making their donation. This criteria includes being over the age of 17, meeting certain height and weight requirements, as well as having good overall health. However, it is also important to note that not everyone is eligible to donate blood. To find out whether or not you are eligible, the Canadian Blood Services has a list of the ABC’s of Eligibility on their website at

A blood transfusion can be necessary for a number of reasons, with the most common one being anemia. Anemia can be caused as a result of a severe injury (i.e. from a traumatic event such as a car accident), being iron deficient, having kidney disease, liver disease, having an infection or infections that stop the blood from producing properly, and even certain cancers that cause the blood cells to produce at a decreased rate, such as lymphoma or leukemia. A patient may also require a blood transfusion after surgery due to blood loss.

There are certain risks and complications that can occur as a result of giving blood. For those who are donors, it is not uncommon to notice some local bruising around the area in which the needle was placed. Typically this bruising will go away on its own after a few days. If you are having localized pain, over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen can provide you with some relief. It’s also not uncommon to feel faint/lightheaded after donating blood. To avoid fainting, you will be asked to stay at the blood donor clinic for at least 15 minutes before you are allowed to leave, and may also be asked to eat a light snack. It’s also important to drink additional fluids (at least 16 oz.) for up to 2 days after donating blood.

Similarly, blood recipients are also faced with complications and risks – including allergic reactions, fever, iron overload, and a rare but serious condition known as acute immune hemolytic reaction that causes your body to attack new red blood cells and produce substances that are harmful to your kidneys. When receiving blood, your doctor has weighed the risks and benefits.

If you have any further questions about blood donation, Vancouver physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary, recommends contacting the Canadian Blood Services by calling 1-888-2-DONATE.

Understanding Fibromyalgia

Until recently, Fibromyalgia, a disorder that is characterized by chronic pain, was not always recognized as a legitimate health problem. To date, approximately 3% of Canadians suffer from fibromyalgia, with up to 90% of those cases being women between the ages of 30 and 60.

Certain things, such as car accidents or infections, have been long thought to be a cause of fibromyalgia. Several studies have also suggested that fibromyalgia may be hereditary, meaning you are more likely to develop it if someone in your immediate family also suffers from it. However, many causes of fibromyalgia are spontaneous, thus making it a complex condition for doctors to diagnose.

The chief complaint in patients with fibromyalgia is widespread pain – meaning they cannot pinpoint one specific location where their pain is located. Instead, it affects various parts of their body. However, others may have specific points on their body where the pain is located – such as the arms or legs. Other health conditions, such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), chronic headaches and insomnia, are also linked to fibromyalgia.

As there is no known cure for fibromyalgia, it is Dr. Ali Ghahary’s main goal as a family physician to treat the symptoms that the patient is experiencing.

In lieu of prescribing different pain medications, doctors will commonly prescribe antidepressants or anticonvulsants. As fibromyalgia pain is also thought to be neuropathic related, these types of medications work by targeting the brain’s pain signals and nerves. In 2007, Lyrica (also known as Pregablin) became one of the first FDA-approved drugs to treat fibromyalgia pain, followed by Cymbalta in 2008, and have seen high success rates. Some patients also opt for trying natural treatment methods to help ease the pain associated with fibromyalgia, such as low-impact exercise, and having a diet that is rich in leafy, green vegetables as well as omega-3 fats – both of which are great for reducing inflammation, pain, and provide your body with essential nutrients.

It’s also not uncommon for fibromyalgia to also result in the patient experiencing bouts of depression and anxiety, which is why Dr. Ali Ghahary also stresses the importance of taking care of your mental health and being able to recognize the signs of mental illness. Always remember to speak out about how you’re feeling and have good support system around you.