When Fareeda failed to respond to treatment, she was taken to SMHS hospital, where she found many patients like her. Most of them used the heater fans frequently.
YEARS After associating prolonged use of Kashmiri’s traditional hot pot with malice, medical professionals have now gagged modern heaters for their immediate winter use.
The increasing cold in the valley has led to a form of medical advice that has created significant market demand for electric blankets, heaters, blowers, electric water bottles, heating rods, space heaters and other devices. In fact, some people even install electric hammams in their homes to keep cold at bay.
However, the medical experts warn to take precautions and avoid the immediate use of heating devices.
“Using heaters close to the body can lead to many skin problems, including erythema ab igne (Naar Tuet) and even skin cancer,” said Dr. Imran Majid, Director of the Cutis Institute of Dermatology Srinagar Kashmir Observer.
To beat the common cold, the medic says, many people hold heaters close to their bodies, unaware of the damage caused by immediate use.
“Another problem with heaters is that they cause skin dryness, itching and allergies,” continued Dr. Imran gone. “Elderly people, particularly diabetics, who use hot water bottles in close proximity to the skin may suffer burns from the heaters.”
Previously, some medical professionals had banned the prolonged use of Kanger to prevent skin cancer. The traditional winter fire pot is tucked between the thighs and legs or held in contact with the abdomen to provide warmth during the winter months.
However, with the advent of technology, people adopted a number of modern heating devices, especially in urban areas. But now these modern heaters in Kashmir are threatened with the traditional Dutch Oven fate.
Recently, Fareeda, a 48-year-old housewife from Srinagar, felt a sudden itching on her legs and feet. When the “pins and needles” didn’t stop for three days, she was taken to the city’s Noora Hospital, where doctors treated her immediately and told her not to use electronic heaters.
Apart from itching, there were rashes all over her legs. When she scratched them earlier, she could feel skin tears. “I was very concerned,” she said.
When Fareeda failed to respond to treatment, she was taken to the dermatology department at SMHS hospital, where she found many patients like her.
“Most of them used the heater fans a lot,” she said. “I wasn’t alone with the skin torment from the heaters.”
Kashmiri people have sensitive skin that reacts quickly to any allergy, said Dr. Sajjad Ahmad, a dermatologist at Jawahar Lal Nehru Memorial Hospital, Rainawari, Srinagar.
“There are four basic types of healthy skin – normal, dry, oily and combination skin,” said Dr. Sayyad. “Kashmiris fall into the fourth category as we have seen that people with dry skin, eyes and lips are more likely to get skin diseases.”
In winter, the dermatologist said, people leave their warm homes and develop cracks and become susceptible to infection. “Even though people have had to use the heaters in the winter, they should use them wisely,” said Dr. Sayyad.
“People should open their bodies to direct heat and keep the heater away from children whose skin is soft and sensitive.”
But while people argue they can’t afford to spend winters without their heaters, many medical professionals are demanding monthly equipment checks.
“A few years ago,” said Dr. Nisar ul Hassan, President of the Kashmir Doctors’ Association (DAK), “an associate professor of SKIMS was charred to death during the night due to a short circuit in his electric blanket.”
But although it’s better to buy branded items to avoid unwanted incidents, the doctor said, the heaters should be repaired in time and the room should be ventilated to avoid the rise of carbon monoxide in the room.
“People should only use these devices when they are most needed,” said Dr. Nisar.
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