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.

High-Risk Pregnancy: What Does It Mean?


When a medical professional deems a pregnancy “high-risk”, this means that the chances of the mother and/or baby developing health problems are significantly increased in comparison to pregnancies that are not considered to be high-risk.

High-Risk PregnancyWhile being told you that have a high-risk pregnancy can certainly sound scary and seem overwhelming, it doesn’t always necessarily mean that you will run into problems. It’s simply a way for doctors to ensure that you get special attention, and that any problems that might develop during your pregnancy are taken care of early on.

There are a number of factors that can come into place when physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary, as well as other medical specialists, such as OB/GYN’s, make this determination. For example, a pregnancy may be considered high-risk if you’ve ever had problems with past pregnancies, such as preterm labour, or are pregnant with twins/triplets. You may also be considered high-risk if you have health problems such as endometriosis, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, epilepsy, and HIV or Hepatitis C. Age can also determine whether or not a pregnancy is considered high-risk – for example, teenagers who become pregnant are more likely to develop anemia or high blood pressure, and are also less likely to seek prenatal care. On the contrary, women over the age of 35 are at an increased risk of developing pregnancy complications, such as excessive bleeding or prolonged labour. Those who smoke, use illegal drugs, drink alcohol and/or lead otherwise unhealthy and unsafe lifestyles are also more likely to have a high-risk pregnancy. All of these aforementioned factors (and more) are taken into consideration when dealing with the health of the mother and baby.

To avoid a high-risk pregnancy, there are certain (and very important!) steps that Dr. Ali Ghahary says every expectant mother should take…

The first step would be to ensure that you are leading a healthy lifestyle. If you smoke, quit! If you drink, stop! These are risky substances that can have a detrimental impact on the health of your child. The second would be to ensure that you have sought out regular prenatal care. By having regular prenatal check-ups, you not only monitor your own health, but the health of your unborn child as well. It’s also crucial to make sure you’re eating a healthy diet when pregnant. You may need to satisfy those random pregnancy cravings from time to time, but it’s also important to get essential nutrients like calcium, iron and folic acid. Many expectant mothers will opt to take a prenatal vitamin to help with the intake of these and other nutrients.

If you have any concerns about your pregnancy or about becoming pregnant, do not hesitate to discuss those concerns with your primary health practitioner.