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Birth Control Acne Improvement
Acne affects more than 40 million people in the world half of whom are adult women over the age of 25. Acne can be improved with the use of hormonal birth control. Yes, hormonal therapy which includes oral contraceptives (birth control pill) can help to improve acne. For many patients topical treatmentsare not enough. Birth control pills help because they affect the hormones that play a large role in acne. It may take up to 3 months before seeing results after starting to use birth control for acne.There are 4 oral contraceptives that have been approved by The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of acne. All of these types of birth control contain estrogen in the form of ethinyl estradiol plus a form of progesterone. Multiple studies conducted over the span of 6 period cycles (about 6 months) show a reduction in inflammation and acne in study participants taking these oral contraceptives. Pills that only contain progesterone, also known as the “mini pill,” can actually make acne worse (1).Studies showed subjects treated with Estrostep to havestatistically significant reductions in inflammatory and total lesion count and improvements in acne. Estrostep is approved for use in women over 15. The progesterone in Yaz, drospirenone, has diuretic properties beneficial for reducing weight gain due to fluid retention that can be caused by estrogen. It is approved for use in persons above 14, and also can be used for the treatment of PMDD (premenstrual dysmorphic disorder).Studies showed reductions in inflammatory and total lesion countsand is approved for use in women over 15.Beyaz is approved for moderate acne for women at least 14 years. It is a combination pill that also contains folate. Folate supplementation reduces the risk of neural tube defects in future pregnancies. Like Yaz, it can treat symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) for women. It contains drospirenone (DRSP), ethinyl estradiol and levomefolate.When excess sebum is produced by your body, it mixes with dead skin cells and other particles which can plug follicles, resulting in acne. Androgens are a group of hormones that increase sebum production thereby increasing the potential for acne. Reducing the production of androgens can control sebum production and in turn treat acne. Birth control pills are considered an ovarian androgen blocker (3). They have the hormone estrogen that inhibits the activity of LH and FSH. LH and FSH are hormones that increase the production of androgens. Birth control reduces the effect of androgen on sebaceous glands and, therefore, reduces the production of sebum and acne (1).The use of birth control, specifically oral contraceptives, improves acne in many people. The 4 FDA approved oral contraceptives for acne treatment are Estrostep, Yaz, Beyaz, and Ortho Tri-Cyclen. It is generally the estrogen component of the oral birth control pill that assists with hormonal regulation and acne control. Persons on progesterone only oral contraception may actually experience an increase in acne. Chat with a doctor about your options for using birth control for acne improvement. Sources
3 min read
How To Deal With Hair Loss From Stress
Many people wonder if their hair loss is related to their stress levels. The truth is that, yes! Hair loss can be caused by stress. Keep reading to understand why and what you can do to stop the shed!Stress affects the immune system, and this can interfere with the body's natural ability to fight infection. Under normal circumstances, a person's immune system responds as needed to help the body heal and recover from illness or trauma. However, it is possible for the body to overreact to changes and conditions that are not actually harmful.Cortisol, a hormone that your body releases when you're stressed, is likely the culprit that is causing hair loss. Your adrenal glands, which are located on top of your kidneys, react to stress by releasing too much cortisol. The stress hormone imbalance causes thinning hair all over the scalp, or in some cases, complete hair loss on the head. Stress can also cause an increase in other hormones that cause hair loss, like testosterone and dihydrotestosterone.Although it may seem like a complicated process, stress-related hair loss is actually quite common and is called telogen effluvium. While stress is a common cause of telogen effluvium, other causes include the post-partum state, starting a new medication, and infections, like COVID-19. The key is recognizing whether stress has been a factor in your own hair loss and understanding what causes it.The confusing thing about stress related hair loss is that hair shedding typically does not become apparent until three months after the stress has occurred. That is because the hair follicle has a shedding phase that takes three months to complete. So while cortisol levels may signal the hair to enter the shedding phase, the hair loss does not become apparent until much later. Luckily, stress-related hair loss is temporary and will reverse itself once the person stops being stressed out, usually within 3-6 months. For example, if you're experiencing hair loss due to stress in your job then you should take steps to reduce your stress level at work if possible before your hair starts growing back on its own again.If stress-related hair loss persists for more than six months then you should be seen by a physician to make sure other causes of hair loss have been ruled out. If a rare condition called chronic telogen effluvium, is made, then you may benefit from minoxidil available over the counter. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to reduce your stress levels and help prevent hair shedding. First, try to reduce your stress levels. There are many ways to do this like meditation and yoga. Other people find that exercise helps them to reduce stress. Regular exercise can help reduce stress levels as well as promote heart health and lower blood pressure—both of which may contribute to an increase in cortisol production over time.Also, be sure to get enough sleep! It's important to get plenty of rest each night so that your body has time to recover from the day's events and repair itself. If you are having trouble getting restful sleep, talk to a doctor about treatment options like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You may also want to talk to a mental health professional about your stress symptoms which may be hindering quality sleep.Of course, what you put into your body also matters. Eating right will help you feel better overall and keep your cortisol levels in check. Add more vegetables and fruits into your diet while cutting down on sugar and processed foods like white bread or chips if possible.Of course, there is a normal amount of hair loss that occurs in nearly every person. It may be hard to believe, but on average losing 100 hairs a day is considered normal. You may not notice this as many of these hairs may come out when you wash your hair, while you’re sleeping, or just during the day while you are not paying attention. Additionally, as we age, it is normal to experience a slight increase your rate of daily hair shedding. Typically, a fistful of hair loss per day is considered consistent with levels seen in telogen effluvium.The good news is, yes, stress related hair loss typically grows back on its own, without any medical intervention. However, while hair shedding typically improves within 3-6 months, it may take up to 12 months before your normal hair density is restored to its baseline.Resources: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/insider/sheddinghttps://www.americanhairresearchsociety.org/telogen-effluvium/
4 min read
Itchy Red Spots On Skin - 7 Causes You Need To Know About
Itchy red spots may occur on your skin for a variety of reasons. When these bumps arise, they can cause unwanted stress or anxiety. Some types of itchy red bumps may resolve spontaneously, while others may require evaluation and management by a board-certified dermatologist. This article lists some of the most common conditions of itchy red bumps and key points to consider.What you may see: Hives are raised, red, itchy bumps that often arise in association with an allergic reaction to things like certain chemicals in food, medication, insect bites and sunlight. They can also be triggered by pressure on the skin, vibration, cold temperature, water or other causes. Urticaria is characterized as acute or chronic. Acute urticaria are hives that last less than six weeks and are most often associated with food allergies, medications, infection, insect bites or other disease. Chronic urticaria are hives that last longer than six weeks. The cause is often harder to determine. Thyroid disease, liver disease and cancer have been associated with hives and symptoms can affect the gastrointestinal tract, lung and muscles presenting as shortness of breath, muscle soreness, vomiting and diarrhea.How to treat? Hives typically appear and resolve within a few hours and may never recur though it’s possible to have many flare-ups. If you experience hives daily or nearly every day for six weeks or more, this is chronic urticaria and getting relief often requires getting medical support. Seeking support from a board-certified dermatologist can help you determine whether you have hives or another condition and how best to manage it.What you may see: Keratosis pilaris (KP) is a common skin condition often mistaken for tiny pimples and thought to resemble goosebumps or “plucked chicken skin”. KP appears as tiny bumps commonly found on the upper arms, fronts of thighs, back, buttocks and children may have them on their cheeks. They feel rough to the touch and may appear reddish or brown depending on skin tone. They can become itchy and uncomfortable if the surrounding skin gets too dry or irritated.How to treat? KP typically thought of as harmless, is often treated with moisturizer or exfoliating ingredients like urea and lactic acid to reduce the appearance of the bumps. KP has been associated with vitamin A deficiency and genetics predisposition. What you may see: Hours to days after contact with something that irritates your skin or causes an allergic reaction, you can develop an itchy, red, bumpy, scaly rash. Contributing factors could include chemicals in personal care products, plants, and fabrics. Because so many everyday things can contribute to this condition, it can take some time and the expertise of a dermatologist to help sort out the causes.How to treat? Relief requires avoidance of the cause, which means it could take time and/or the support of a board certified dermatologist who recommends treatment and who can help you:What you may see: Typically multiple little pink to flesh-colored bumps with a central white plug can be seen commonly on the extremities, torso and genitalia, although they can also occur on the eyelids. Often these bumps can be confused with pimples. Unlike pimples however, these bumps are caused by a virus and are highly contagious. This means that scratching, picking or rubbing the bumps can spread the virus to other parts of your skin and the germs on your hands and nails can infect the bumps with bacteria making them feel painful and/or contribute to developing a fever. It also requires that affected individuals do not share towels or personal items that touch affected areas. Of note, while this condition is commonly seen in children and referred to as “swimmer’s warts,” in adults MC is considered a sexually transmitted infection. If a person is immunocompromised for any reason, the virus may spread readily and can be difficult to control and treat. Moreover, if an individual develops recurrent MC infection, it might be a sign that they are immunodeficient. How to treat? First and foremost, avoid picking, rubbing, or scratching the bumps. In many instances, the virus may clear on its own, the timing of which can be unpredictable depending on the health of an individual’s immune system. New bumps may continue to appear over several months, while other bumps disappear. It can take six to eighteen months for the skin to clear completely and can be facilitated with the support of a board-certified dermatologist.What you may see: Small red or pus-filled bumps on the palms, soles, wrists, around the belly button, and genitalia. Sometimes scabies can be widespread, especially in immunocompromised individuals, so the bumps may cover the majority of the body. How to treat? Not only does the person diagnosed need treatment, but everyone who has had close contact with that person needs to be treated. Due to the contagious nature of this condition, seeking treatment from a board-certified dermatologist is necessary because the medicine needed to treat scabies is only available with a doctor’s prescription. Moreover, all the bedding, clothing and all items that have been in contact with infected individuals should be treated as well. Resources for treatment recommendations can be found at aad.org. What you may see: Tiny, itchy, occasionally painful bumps with or without white pus inside. These bumps typically form on skin that’s irritated by friction from being covered by clothing especially on the buttocks or thighs or as a result of a thin layer of skin growing over newly shaved or waxed skin trapping the underlying hair follicles.The friction and irritation by clothing or from picking can introduce bacteria, resulting in pustules that create a localized infection around the hair follicle. How to treat? Typically these bumps will resolve within a few days as long as they remain clean and free from manipulation. If the bumps persist, are painful or appear infected, seeking medical advice from a board certified dermatologist is recommended.What you may see: Common things being common, most itchy red bumps are not going to be pre-cancerous or cancer. That being said, skin cancer is the most prevalent cancer in the United States and in countries around the world. There are more new cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year than all other cancers combined. In fact, one in five people in the US will be diagnosed with skin cancer during their lifetime, so it’s important to know what to look for. There are a variety of different cancer types that can present as red bumps on the skin including primary skin cancers including non melanoma skin cancer like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and it’s precursor, actinic keratosis as well as variants of melanoma.Of note, metastases from systemic cancers like renal cell carcinoma, breast carcinoma and lung carcinoma can present on the skin as wellHow to treat? If a bump appears and does not resolve quickly, enlarges or changes over time, or bleeds spontaneously, seek support from a board-certified dermatologist who can evaluate the bump for an accurate diagnosis.
6 min read
Does Stress Affect My Skin?
The short answer? Yes! The skin is the body’s largest organ, serving a wide range of important functions. The skin is the body’s wrapper; the barrier between a person and the outside environment (1) that protects from external hazards, regulates body temperature and substances that enter or leave the body, and produces hormones like vitamin D, among many other functions (2). Beyond the defensive and regulatory functions, the skin also interprets, sends, and receives sensory information from the central nervous system (which includes the brain and spinal cord) via chemical messengers that evoke a variety of responses. Because of this, the skin is sometimes regarded as an “external brain” (1). Hence, the relationship between the brain and skin health is becoming increasingly popular as an area of research in dermatology.One of the factors that the skin responds to is stress. Stress can be defined as the reactions the body activates when it encounters something it perceives as a potential threat. These can be real or imaginary, and subsequently affect physical, mental and emotional balance, leading to physical changes in the body with the intention of responding and attempting to counter this change (1). Stressors vary from person to person depending on personal physiology, age, and genetics. Also, there are external factors related to lifestyle that bombard the body every day, such as irregular sleep, consumption of a diet with an abundance of processed food, exposure to pollution, UV rays, and toxins such as alcohol and drugs that play a role. Internal stressors including emotional stress from work pressure, low self-esteem, and financial difficulties (among many other psychological situations) can also contribute (1)(3). Essentially, it is anything that puts strain on the body and makes it harder to maintain homeostasis.Encounters with stress are perceived by the central nervous system, activating pathways within the body known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathetic- adrenal medullary (SAM) axis (3). This is how the skin and the brain communicate through neuroendocrine activity - that is, chemical messengers traveling in the bloodstream. When the body detects stress, the HPA and SAM axes are activated, releasing a series of stress hormones, notably corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), glucocorticoids, adrenaline and cortisol (2)(1). Many cells involved in the body’s immune responses are influenced by the HPA axis and its secreted hormones, which is why stress has such a variety of far-reaching effects throughout the body (4).CRH release stimulates the anterior pituitary to release another hormone, Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). This acts on the adrenal cortex and adrenal medulla to release cortisol and other catecholamines (a specific type of neurotransmitter) to activate the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), the branch of the nervous system associated with the fight-or-flight response (5). The SNS is central in coordinating the body’s behavioral and chemical responses to stress (6). In fact, the skin also has fully functional peripheral HPA and SAM systems, where skin cells are able to produce CRH, ACTH, and catecholamines, and their receptors to detect and respond to the hormones (5). When the sympathetic nervous system is activated, it triggers the adrenal glands to release the catecholamines epinephrine and norepinephrine, causing changes in blood flow, immune function, and skin cell function in order to prepare the body for activity (6). The fight-or-flight reaction in the skin also sets off a series of behavioral and bodily changes to adapt the body to dealing with the pressure of stress which causes inflammation, itching sensations, and aging (1). One of the main hormones secreted and found everywhere as a result of stress is cortisol, which has a major impact on the body when there is an imbalance in conditions - when the body encounters a stressor. It is a member of the corticosteroids family and can be detected by glucocorticoid receptors - there are a very large number of these receptors on the surface of skin cells, which means the skin readily responds to stress. Research has shown that in addition to physical stressors that affect the body, UV exposure and emotional stress also increase the amount of cortisol in the skin (7). Prolonged exposure to stress-induced increases in cortisol and other corticosteroids are shown to impair processes that maintain health of the skin, including a decrease in collagen production which is essential in maintaining its elasticity and structure (4)(7). This also directly impacts skin barrier recovery with delayed wound healing, quicker aging of the skin, and a weakened immune response (7) which can trigger new conditions or make preexisting skin conditions worse (3).With the wide range of cells that are able to respond to a variety of stress hormones, there is a large number of responses in the body and skin that affect skin health. The diseases affected by this include, but are not limited to: acne, eczema, psoriasis, and pruritus (severe itching of the skin). Stress can also make the body more susceptible to infection (1)(2). These can appear in stressful periods, such as with a breakout, or can be amplified by stress, such as worsened eczema and itching.Mind-body therapies (MBT) are shifting the way people think about health and well-being. It includes a range of holistic practices and treatments that take advantage of the two-way relationship between the brain and the body (6). Some easy strategies to implement when feeling stressed, or to prevent stress, include: meditation, exercise (in moderation - too much intense exercise can be a source of stress), and maintaining a healthy diet rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds (2)(7).This type of treatment has been extended to “healthy aging” or “well-aging” (7). With the lifestyle that accompanies these therapies, the body is able to release another set of chemicals involved in the HPA axis, known for their association with a “feel-good” factor that has pain-relieving properties. Two of these chemicals the body produces, beta-endorphin and encephalin, are found in skin cells and have the ability to restore balance to the skin, thus allowing the re-introduction of regulation of immune responses, maintenance of tissue structure, and general healing (7). Therefore, engaging in such MBT activities that contribute to a healthier brain and body are shown to contribute to healthier aging, which improves overall skin health and can help in tackling skin conditions. Authors: Keira Barr, MD, Ashley WongSources:
6 min read
What is Hormonal Acne? Everything You Need to Know
Acne is common, it occurs in most people to some degree at some point in their lives. However, you may notice that it happens mostly during puberty and times of stress or other changes, such as before periods, during pregnancy or during or after menopause. This is likely to be hormonal acne. Hormonal acne happens because your hormone levels are rising or fluctuating, which affects your skin health and cell activity. But what is hormonal acne and how can you treat it properly? Read on to find out! Hormonal acne is exactly what it sounds like, which is acne connected to hormone fluctuations. It’s usually associated with hormone fluctuations in puberty, though it can affect adults throughout any age, especially in women. Various factors contribute to hormonal acne, particularly menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. There may also be underlying medical conditions that affect your hormone levels as well, thus causing acne. During puberty, hormonal acne might appear around your forehead, nose, and/or chin. In hormonal adult acne, it usually forms on the lower area of your face, such as around your jawline or cheeks. The symptoms of hormonal acne include seeing whiteheads, blackheads, cysts, nodules, papule, or pustules around your face. There may also be lesions on your face other parts of your body, such as the neck, back, chest, and shoulders. The hormonal acne can be mild, moderate, or severe, with the intensity depending on various factors such as genetics, diet, environment, as well as the way you care for your skin. • Menstruation • Menopause • Increased androgen levels • Polycystic ovarian syndrome When hormone levels fluctuate, it aggravates acne issues as it increases skin inflammation, oil/sebum production in your pores, clog skin cells around the hair follicles and even increases the production of acne-causing bacteria. Hormonal acne IS treatable and can be prevented with the right tips and products. Here are some ways you can manage hormonal acne regardless of your age: Wrapping It UpHormonal acne is irritating, but treatable with the right knowledge and tips. The timeline differs from person to person, but if you use the right treatments, it can take 8-10 weeks to lessen acne and prevent it from coming back.If your hormonal acne persists and worsens, do talk with your doctor for a long-term treatment plan for better results.
4 min read
Sun Spot Removal: The Helpful Methods to Try
No one likes seeing sunspots, which are also called solar lentigines or liver spots. They are quite common though, with anyone able to get them due to sun exposure. However, they are much more common in those with fair skin, as well as those who are 40 years old and older. 1. Intense Pulsed Light TherapyAlso known as IPL or photofacial, this utilizes laser technology, targeting one’s pigmented cells. It works with different wavelengths, focusing on removing the dark spots by heating up the cells and clearing it from your body. Once cleared from the body, new skin cells appear and develop, replacing the dark spots. This method doesn't only remove dark spots, but it also removes unwanted tattoos or improve acne scars, too. Some clinics offer IPL with radio frequency, which evens out sunspots while giving a smoother and glowing skin. 2. Chemical PeelWith chemical peels, it would encourage the skin to shed the top layer, including any damaged skin cells. This would help reveal the new and healthy skin underneath. Chemical peel would stimulate the body's collagen production, which is a protein giving skin structure, preventing any fine lines and wrinkles. During this procedure, a gentle acid solution will be applied on the face, and over the next few days, damaged skin cells begin to fall, so your skin gets a fresh start! There are different intensity levels for chemical peels, and your dermatologist will be the one to determine what you need based on your individual skin type. Besides removing sun spots, chemical peels can also help give you firmer and healthier skin, looking more vibrant with even skin texture and fewer acne scars. 3. MicroneedlingThis is another treatment that helps in stimulating the body’s natural healing response, improving various skin conditions, like sunspots. This method uses a handheld roller that has fine needles, gently penetrating into the skin at a safe depth. The penetration will help stimulate skin cells, encouraging it to produce collagen while repairing any affected areas from UV rays, among other factors or triggers. A lot of people prefer microneedling, which is said to be one of the most effective skincare solutions. It can also help fight against acne scars, aging, fine lines, stretch marks, among other skin issues. 4. Microdermabrasion/DermabrasionThis treatment exfoliates the skin professionally. Using a handheld device, it will spray your face with fine crystals, polishing away your sun-damaged skin. It’s similar to a chemical peel, as it removes your skin's top dermal layer, getting rid of skin cells that have sunspots or show signs of aging. Throughout the process, it will encourage new tissue production, as well as the improved presence of collagen. I recommend using microdermabrasion, which is the gentlest option, as it’s the lighter version of dermabrasion. But if you need a more intense method of removing sunspots, dermabrasion is a good option. With that said, it isn't suitable for all skin types and not necessary in most people. This will require a consult from your dermatologist to determine which method is safe and suitable for your current condition. Wrapping It UpI hope that this list of methods and treatments for sunspot removal can help you find the most suitable one. Head to your dermatologist for them to make the right recommendations and weigh the pros and cons of each.
3 min read
Is Nail Polish Safe? Understanding Labels and Ingredients
Many of us have become avid label readers, or more aware of what our labels are actually saying. You may like to know what we put into and onto your body and are concerned about safety. When it comes to beauty products, many have asked: is nail polish safe?Organic is a term used frequently on labels but unfortunately is not regulated by any government entity for control. The term "natural" is also commonly used but many substances found in nature are not good for us and can actually be toxic. While some may be benign, when in combination, these things can become harmful, and are oftentimes found on nail polish labels. There are typically three substances that you will find in nail polish products.This is a chemical that makes products flexible and is often called a plasticizer. Tests have been performed with this substance but no human testing has been published. The studies have been on animal exposure. So far, there seems to be no significant long or short term toxicity. There may be some side effects like nausea and irritation in the facial area. In animals there seems to be indicators that male reproduction can be affected.Toluene is a colorless product used to even out color. It is also an element used in making glue, and is the toxic element that some sniff for a high. Because of its use in sniffing, it has been the subject of many studies. Side effects are dizziness, numbness, dry skin, and irritation in the nasal and throat passages. Toluene in its liquid form is more dangerous than the gas but most nail polish uses levels well below the danger level.You may remember formaldehyde from high school biology. That is what the frog you may have experimented on was preserved in before your dissection. It is also used as a hardening agent in nail polish and is well known carcinogen that can lead to cancer in humans. This is one of those “natural products” that is found in very low levels in some fruits and are basically harmless. However, in nail polish the limit can still be well above safe limits.Also found in some types of polish, triphenyl phosphate (TPHP) is a chemical that disrupts hormones in the body. The most frightening part of this substance is that it is absorbed into the body every time nail polish is applied.Even more alarming is that sometimes these chemicals are not listed on the product label. If they are listed, it is likely that they are concealed among the other harmless materials. If that weren’t enough, side effects are not listed on the tiny labels necessary on a bottle of nail polish.Another important thing to remember is that any of these ingredients can be included in not only the colored polish, but top coats, thinners, nail art, and combination products.Before you buy your next supply, you might want to check out reliable sources for a list of safe manufacturers. Then you can bring your own choices into the salon or for use at home.
3 min read
Foods that Cause Acne - According to Dermatologists
Acne vulgaris is a very common dermatologic condition that affects about 9.4% of the population worldwide. Acne is most common in adolescents and young adults, affecting 75-98% of 16-18 year olds. Acne is a serious condition which may cause permanent scarring of the skin if severe. Acne can also negatively affect mental health, social relationships and wellbeing. In the teenage years, acne is more common in males but as acne persists into adulthood, it becomes more common in women. Approximately half of women experience acne in their 20s with one quarter of women remaining affected in their 40s. A variety of factors influence the tendency to develop acne including our genetics, environment, hormones and diet. Before we get to the specific food categories, let’s talk about what happens to the skin before acne occurs. There are four key factors that occur in the skin that lead to acne: excess sebum or oil production, plugging of hair follicles by excess sebum and dead skin cells, bacteria proliferation and inflammation. Diet has been shown to influence acne formation through the action of hormones, increasing inflammation in the skin and changes in the bacteria on our skin. Some foods, like high glycemic load foods, may contribute to getting more acne, while some other foods, like those rich in omega 6 may help with reducing acne. Let’s take a closer look. Carbohydrates in our foods are broken down into sugars by our bodies. Carbohydrate containing foods differ in how the sugars they produce affect blood sugar levels. The glycemic load (GL) is a measure of a food’s ability to raise blood sugar levels. High GL foods increase hormones circulating in the body that promote oil production in the skin and follicular plugging leading to acne. What are high glycemic load foods? Think white bread, pasta, baked goods, potatoes, rice, certain fruits, sugary foods and processed foods. Studies suggest that diets low in GL may reduce acne. Examples of low GL foods are nuts, vegetables, certain fruits, fish, eggs and meat. Omega acids are types of fat found in foods. Western diets tend to have high omega- 6 levels and low omega-3 levels which favors acne by increasing oil production and inflammation in the skin. By increasing omega-3 and reducing omega -6 in the diet, oil production and skin inflammation can be reduced and acne improved. Improvement in acne has been seen with omega-3 supplementation and increasing omega-3 containing foods in the diet such as seeds and oils made from chia, hemp, flax and walnut as well as fish. Milk increases hormones which stimulate oil production and follicle plugging. In particular, skim milk has a strong correlation with acne possibly due to other components that more drastically increase certain hormones compared to whole milk. Whole milk also contains more estrogen hormone which tends to reduce acne. This could also explain the difference between skim versus whole milk on acne. Milk also contains leucine, an amino acid that promotes oil production and follicle plugging. Whey protein, which is a common protein source in protein bars, shakes and powders, is one of the protein components of dairy and contributes to acne through the same mechanisms as milk. Interestingly, cheese intake has not been associated with acne. This is likely because cheese has a lower glycemic load. Meat also contains leucine that promotes sebum production and follicular plugging, which in theory would increase the likelihood of acne. However, the studies evaluating the effect of a vegan diet on acne have had mixed results. Study of the microbiome and how it relates to acne is an active area of research. Early studies on consuming probiotics show benefit to reducing acne. There are many potential mechanisms to explain how probiotics improve acne, however further research is needed. In addition to supplements containing probiotics, adding probiotic rich foods to the diet such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt with live cultures may lead to improvement of acne. There are many theories out there claiming that eating chocolate makes your skin worse. In reality, the effect of chocolate on acne has been widely discussed but remains unproven and controversial. Many say that drinking extra water can improve acne. While it is important to keep our body hydrated, there is no clear evidence of reduced acne with increased water intake. The relationship between diet and acne has been discussed for years but only recently become more widely accepted and remains an area of active research. The answer is yes and no. There is strong support for avoiding dairy, in particular skim milk and whey protein, and focusing on low glycemic index foods to improve acne. Adding probiotic and omega-3 rich foods as well as decreasing omega 6 and meat consumption can be considered as well to gain control of acne. Authors: Brooke Grant Jeffy, MD, Aarushi Jain Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Brooke Grant Jeffy, Board Certified Dermatologist
5 min read
Is Nail Polish Safe?
For most of us we have become avid label readers. We like to know what we put into and onto our bodies and are concerned about safety. Organic is a term used frequently but unfortunately there is not a lot of governmental regulation to control it. The term natural is also used but many substances found in nature are not good for us and can actually be toxic. While some others may be benign, in combination, they become harmful. This post will deal with nail polish. There are three substances that you will frequently find in nail products. This is a chemical that makes products flexible and is often called a plasticizer. Tests have been performed with this substance but no human testing has been published. The studies have been on animal exposure. So far, there seems to be no significant long or short term toxicity. There may be some side effects like nausea and irritation in the facial area. In animals studies there seems to be indicators that male reproduction can be affected. This is a colorless product used to even out color. It is also an element used in making glue and is the inhalant in glue sniffing. Because of its use in sniffing, it has been the subject of studies. Side effects are dizziness, numbness, dry skin, and irritation in the nasal and throat passages. Toluene in its liquid form is more dangerous than the gas but most nail polish uses levels below the danger level. You may remember this substance from high school biology. That is what the frog was preserved in before your dissection. It is also used as a hardening agent in nail polish and is well known as a carcinogen that can lead to cancer in humans. This is one of those “natural products” that is found in very low levels in some fruits and are basically harmless. However, in nail polish the limit can still be well above safe limits. Also found in some types of polish, triphenyl phosphate (TPHP) is a chemical that can disrupt hormones in the body. The most frightening part of this substance is that it is absorbed into the body every time nail polish is applied.In general, staying away from chemicals on your skin and hair during pregnancy is probably best. There may be less toxic nail polishes but none have been studied in pregnant women. Even more alarming is that sometimes these chemicals are not listed on the product label. If they are listed, it is likely that they are concealed among the other harmless materials. Also, side effects are not listed on the tiny labels necessary on a bottle of nail polish. Another important thing to remember is that any of these ingredients can be included in not only the colored polish, but top coats, thinners, nail art, and combination products. Before you buy your next supply, you might want to check out reliable sources for a list of safe manufacturers. Then you can bring your own choices into the salon or for use at home. And always ask your dermatologist before using any new products!
3 min read
What are stretch marks?
Stretch marks are lines that appear on the skin in parallel to each other and look different than the surrounding skin. Usually they can be purple to pink or a light gray. The texture is different and you might feel a ridge or indentation. They can be itchy or sore. These lines appear after a sudden change in weight like during pregnancy or during growth spurts in adolescence. They are not dangerous and frequently disappear over time. They can be anywhere but usually on the stomach, thighs and buttocks. Sometimes on breasts and upper arms. Like their name suggests, they are the skin stretching and are generally accompanied by an increase in cortisone. Too much cortisone will cause the skin to lose elasticity. They can be caused when a pregnant woman's skin is stretching to accommodate a growing baby. Rapid weight gain or loss can cause the skin to change. Sudden growth spurts can result in marks. Overuse of corticosteriod creams, lotions and pills. Medically there are some disorders like Cushing's syndrome, Marfan's syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome that can result in stretch marks. Stretch marks are most prevalent in Caucasian (especially pale skinned) women, or a family history of stretch marks.Stretch marks generally fade over time. However, if you want to improve your appearance sooner you can try some of these remedies. Just realize they will never disappear completely.• Collagen restoring cream like Retin-A or Renova. This is a fibrous protein that helps with skin elasticity and works best on recent marks that are red or pink. Pregnant women should not use this product.• Pulsed dye laser treatments will encourage the production of collagen and elastin and it works best on newer marks. People with darker skin color may notice a discoloration.• Fractional photothermolysis is very much like dye laser. The laser is used to target smaller areas of skin and will result in less damage.• Microdermabrasion polishes the skin with tiny crystals. This exposes skin that under the marks. This is used for older stretch marks.• Excimer laser stimulates melanin production, which is the element that produces skin color. This process will make the marks look more like the surrounding skin. These can be quite expensive and there is no guarantee of a cure. Most procedures are considered cosmetic and not covered by insurance. Check with a dermatologist to see if they would be beneficial for you. There are some less expensive options.• Vitamin A found in many over-the-counter cosmetics especially creams• Sugar scrubs• Aloe Vera as a skin softener applied after a shower. Use pure aloe vera from a plant.• Coconut oil has been shown to reduce the healing time in wounds. Unless you have an allergy to coconuts, use virgin oil to remove the red appearance. As in so many other situations, prevention is the best treatment. Keep your skin hydrated to prevent loss of elastin. Use topical creams to keep your skin moisturized. Over time most stretch marks fade and will be less prominent.
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How do Retinoids help my Skin?
Retinoids are a class of medications derived from vitamin A that are used to treat numerous skin conditions. Retinoids can be used topically on the skin as well as ingested orally. Topical retinoids are most commonly used to treat psoriasis, acne, melasma, hyperpigmentation from chronic sun exposure and fine wrinkles. Retinoids work by regulating skin cell growth, promoting collagen development and minimizing inflammation in the skin.1 There are many topical retinoids available in the United States including tretinoin, adapalene, retinol, trifarotene and tazarotene that come in gel, liquid, and cream forms.1 The oral retinoid, isotretinoin, is used to treat severe, scarring acne.2 Acitretin is an oral retinoid used to treat psoriasis.3 Most retinoids require a prescription, however retinol and adapalene containing products are available over the counter. This article focuses on topical retinoids.Tretinoin is the most studied retinoid used to treat age related changes. Numerous studies confirm tretinoin to improve fine lines, texture changes, elasticity, hyperpigmentation and sallowness through its positive effects on collagen and regulation of skin cell turnover.1 Topical retinoids improve comedonal acne (blackheads and whiteheads) through effects on skin cell turnover by unclogging pores. Topical retinoids can help more inflammatory types of acne (pimples, cysts) by minimizing inflammation.4 In patients with psoriasis, retinoids reduce excessive skin cell production to reduce the thickness of psoriatic plaques and also reduce the overall chronic inflammation in the skin caused by this disease.1Topical retinoids can be applied to the skin once daily. All topical retinoids, with the exception of adapalene, are degraded by light exposure so are generally applied at night. Often it is recommended to start by using just twice per week and increasing as tolerated. Studies show that the beneficial effects on the skin happen even with just twice weekly use. The most common side effects are redness, peeling, burning and itching of the treated skin. These side effects are more common with tretinoin and tazarotene than the other topical forms. To minimize these effects, retinoids should be applied in the recommended amount and either mixed with moisturizer or followed immediately by a moisturizer. Application on dry skin also may minimize potential for irritation.5 For acne treatment, early improvement may be visible after six weeks of usage but most studies document improvement at 12 weeks. When used to treat age and sun related changes, improvement can be seen at 3 months.5 Retinoids in any form should not be used during pregnancy due to the risk of birth defects. During the initial months of using a topical retinoid, the skin will be more sensitive to sun exposure and more prone to sunburn. Patients using retinoids should avoid excessive sun exposure during initial treatment because of this increased risk. However, sun protection should really be used indefinitely to optimize the potential benefits of the retinoid on sun induced changes and of course to reduce the risk of skin cancer.5 Authors: Brooke Jeffy, MD, Aarushi JainMedically Reviewed By Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Brooke Jeffy 1. Retinoids, topical - American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD). https://www.aocd.org/page/Retinoidstopical.2. Isotretinoin: Overview. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/derm-treat/isotretinoin.3. Psoriasis treatment: Oral retinoids. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/psoriasis/treatment/medications/oral-retinoids.4. Leyden, J., Stein-Gold, L. & Weiss, J. Why Topical Retinoids Are Mainstay of Therapy for Acne. Dermatol. Ther. 7, 293–304 (2017).5. Mukherjee, S. et al. Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety. Clin. Interv. Aging 1, 327–348 (2006).
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Skin Care: How Long for Scars to Fade
Tumbling off a bike, surgery, acne, or burn will all leave scaring. In fact, each of these scars presents itself differently. How long for scars to fade depends on a number of factors. First, we need to discuss what a scar is and how it forms. When there is a break in the skin, it is perceived as a likely target for infection. The body immediately starts to produce collagen to close up the gap. Over time, that collagen will remain, so the scarred area will never be pristine again. Small abrasions will probably never be noticeable, but the remnants of surgeries can be more visible.Areas of the body that are muscular will scar more deeply than those areas with thin skin like around the eyes. Also, some people are simply predisposed to replacing scarred skin with smooth. While they may never completely go away, the appearance of scars can certainly be diminished.To help aid this process, it is important that you stay away and protect yourself from ultraviolet (UV) rays. A scar is more likely to become sunburned and when that happens it will appear more prominent and often with a brownish tinge.Major elements toward scar recovery is maximum blood supply and oxygen. If you are a smoker, you will be depriving the body of both.There are some over-the-counter creams that help reduce the excess collagen and help. Mederma is probably one of the most well known. The process is to gently rub the scar repairing cream over the scar about twice a day. The combination of the ingredients in the cream and the gentle massage will help the collagen remain smooth and soft. Less thickening of this collagen will help diminish the visual appearance of your scar.Particularly dreadful scars can be treated by a dermatologist. Using a pulsed dye laser, the doctor will treat the area to reduce the redness and encourage the production of normal collagen instead of scar collagen. Another laser treatment is the use of a Fraxel laser. This is used for an indented scar like the remainder of a surgical procedure.To reduce the appearance of scars:The initial phase of healing will take place within the first twelve hours and will last less than a week. The bottom line is a scar will take from a few months to two years to fade. A lot will depend upon the cause of the scar, its severity, hygiene, and treatment.If you have specific questions consult with a qualified dermatologist.
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Skin Elasticity: Reducing the Onset of Elastosis
The human skin has an elastic quality to it. This skin elasticity allows it to stretch out and then bounce back to its original condition. Over time, this elasticity will falter as part of the natural aging process. This loss is called elastosis and will make the skin sag, wrinkle, and appear leathery.Collagen is a protein that is produced naturally in the body. It helps keep the skin plump and youthful looking. Elastin is another protein found in the dermis (the middle and thickest layer of skin), inter-connective tissues, and other parts of the body. This gives the tissue a rebound or snap back into position. As the body ages, cells die and over time the collagen and elastin are simply not produced in sufficient quantity to maintain the elasticity we would like.Besides the aging process, there are some other factors that will accelerate the loss of elasticity. These include sun exposure, smoking, rapid and extensive weight loss, air pollution, and poor nutrition.There are some things that you can do to help reduce the onset of elastosis.There are ways to help your skin look better. Some of these are:There are other treatments like hyaluronic acid, genistein isoflavones, hormone replacement treatments, creams, chemical peels, and laser treatments. However, before embarking on any changes or treatments, it is best to consult with your primary care physician and dermatologist. These are qualified professionals who can make recommendations based on your skin type and condition as well as overall health and any genetic or medical issues that may be present.
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Dry Hair: Causes and Treatments
Dry hair affects both men and women and can happen at any age, but is most likely to develop with age and damage from products and chemicals/dyes. When your hair and scalp don’t get enough moisture through the oil it naturally produces, you will notice that your hair is not as shiny and is frizzy and dull. Hair is comprised of three layers. The scalp produces oil to protect the outer layers. Because it is oil, it will reflect light so healthy hair will look glossy and shiny. As hair becomes dry, the outer layer breaks down and you will notice that it has lost its sheen.There are two main causes of dry hair: environmental and hair care practices.EnvironmentalHair CareSince hair relies on the oil that is made at the roots under the scalp, both dry hair and dry scalp go hand in hand. As the scalp dries, it flakes off and sheds creating what we term dandruff. Giving your hair some protection from sun and wind, like wearing a hat, can help retain the moisture both need.Age is also a major factor. As we age, the hair follicles make less oil. Hormone changes can also affect the production of oil. If your scalp is oily but ends are dry, it is best to apply conditioner and treatments to the ends of the hair only. There are some pretty simple things you can do to help with dry hair. Washing your hair less frequently is one of them. Consider shampooing every other day or even as little as twice a week. With fewer washings, should come less frequent blow drying and styling with heated curlers or relaxers.When you do shampoo choose a product made for dry hair and finish with a moisturizing conditioner. Check with your hair stylist about deep conditioning and keeping your split ends trimmed.Eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly. There are also vitamins and minerals that will help keep your hair in good condition like iron, vitamins D and B12, selenium and others.Especially if the dry hair persists and is accompanied by fatigue, mention it to your primary care physician. There are some medical conditions that manifest themselves in the hair’s inability to retain moisture. Issues with your thyroid can also be a factor. If your thyroid production is too low (hypothyroidism), hair will become dry and brittle. This can be discovered through a simple blood test and corrected with medication. More serious conditions are eating disorders like anorexia nervosa or bulimia. These may take work through personal and professional interventions, but can be controlled. At that point, hair will start to return to its healthy condition.
3 min read
What Causes Dark Circles Under Eyes? What to Watch Out For!
There are common and various reasons why dark circles develop, and finding out why can help you know what solution to follow. So, what causes dark circles under eyes?This is the most common reason why people have dark circles under their eyes. A lack of sleep and too much sleep can cause dark circles. Oversleeping or extreme fatigue, as well as even just staying a couple of hours past your typical bedtime, may end up with you waking up with dark circles.This is because sleep deprivation causes the skin to become dull and/or pale, which allows dark tissues and blood vessels underneath the skin to show. Furthermore, lack of sleep may cause fluid build-up under the eyes, which is why they sometimes look puffy. The dark circles may be shadows from puffy eyelids.Another common cause of those dark circles under your eyes is aging. When you turn older, the skin becomes thinner and you begin losing fat and collagen, which are required to maintain skin elasticity. As a result, the dark blood vessels under your skin will become more visible, which causes the areas under the eyes to darken.If you are in front of a computer or television screen for hours on end, without any breaks, that can be straining on your eyes. This strain would result in enlarged blood vessels around the eyes. This may cause the surrounding skin of the eyes to darken.Both allergic reactions and dry eyes may trigger dark circles.If you experience an allergic reaction, the body will release histamines, responding to the harmful bacteria. As this occurs, you’ll experience a few symptoms, such as itchiness redness, and/or puffy eyes. Histamines may also cause the blood vessels to dilate, making them look more visible from under the skin.Also, because allergies may increase the urge to scratch and rub your eyes, it can worsen the symptoms and cause inflammation, swelling, and even broken blood vessels. This is what causes dark shadows under the eyes. This is another common reason why people have dark circles under their eyes. When the body doesn’t receive the right amount of water, the skin under your eyes will begin to dull, with your eyes looking sunken. Sun overexposure may cause the body to produce too much melanin, which is a pigment providing the body with color. Too much sun around the eyes might cause the pigmentation in the surrounding skin to darken further.Your family history can play a part in the dark circles developing under the eyes. It might be an inherited trait that shows in childhood, which might worsen or disappear with age. Inheritable medical conditions may also result in dark circles under the eyes.Wrapping It UpHopefully, this list of the reasons why you might have dark circles under your eyes helped you out. Identify the root cause of the dark circles under your eyes and see what you can do to help them disappear now!
3 min read
Vaginal Skin Tags - What are they and how to treat them
Vaginal skin tags are benign growths of skin made of loose fibers of collagen. These can be quite uncomfortable and embarrassing when they appear in and around the sensitive area of the vagina. Skin tags can also contain blood vessels and usually can look like a mole, wart, or a piece of skin that is hanging loosely.The proper diagnosis of any unusual skin lesions in the genital or vaginal area is a must. This is because the appearance of vaginal skin tags often gets confused with genital warts or other things which can be infectious or cancerous. Also, the places where vaginal skin tags grow are quite sensitive and need a proper diagnosis. Causes of Vaginal Skin Tags· There is no certainty of why do skin tags appear, but some researchers suggest that people with human papillomavirus get skin tags.· The other risk factors which can cause skin tags include being overweight, due to pregnancy, or having diabetes and insulin resistance.· According to a 2010 study, most people with skin tags had insulin resistance. It also suggests that vaginal skin tags can also be related to a high body mass index. · Friction is another cause of vaginal skin tags. Friction from clothing or underwear under legs can favor the growth of skin tags. · During pregnancy, hormonal changes may increase the risk of developing vaginal skin tags in women. Diagnosis Of Skin Tags On the VaginaSkin tags usually have no prior symptoms and are not commonly painful. But if they get caught in clothes or scraped while shaving, then it may cause skin irritation or infection. If you see any bleeding on the skin tag or if it is painful, then you need to consult a doctor.Proper diagnosis of the skin tag includes a quick visual examination. A doctor can ask you to take a test for HPV if there are quite a number of skin tags near your genital area and they are concerned about genital warts. The doctor may perform a pelvic exam and may take a biopsy or culture of the tissue to check the growth out further.How to Get Rid of Vaginal Skin TagsVagina skin tags are loose and can be found in an area where the skin is folded or an area with dry skin. As they are usually harmless, if you don't feel any irritation and having it on your body doesn't bother you, there is no need for treatment if your doctors deems it harmless. But if it does bother you, you should consult a doctor for its treatment or removal. There are several ways to remove it safely from your skin. Do not try to remove a skin tag at home as it can be dangerous and can cause infection, scarring, or bleeding. ConclusionVaginal skin tags may occur in any woman of any age. Most of the time, these are harmless, but if you are concerned or it is bothering you, do consult your doctor immediately. Do not wait for the problem to grow or to turn into something serious.
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