Monthly Archives: May 2017

Know More About Ageing Skin

Ageing Skin – does diet play a role?

The simple answer is yes. Environmental factors, nutritional status and dietary intake more than genes can add years to a person’s appearance. While topical applications make a difference, a healthy glow is more often a sign of internal health than anything else. There is a growing body of evidence to show that what we eat certainly influences skin aging and not surprisingly, the dietary correlations that relate to reduced skin aging also relate to reduced aging in general.

Apart from dietary interventions, research is showing that supplementation with specific nutrients and antioxidants supports the use of topical anti-aging products and that in fact the combination is more effective than either treatment alone. Below is a review of the most significant dietary and nutritional influences on aging.

An Australian study at Monash University looked at the effects of food and nutrient intake on skin wrinkling in areas exposed to the sun. The participants were from Melbourne, Greece and Sweden.

Food intake questionnaires were used to measure diet and microphotography of the skin was used to measure skin wrinkling. The study showed that Swedish had the least skin wrinkling, followed by Greeks and Australians had the most. The types of foods consumed did have an effect on the degree of skin wrinkling with more damage seen in those with a higher intake of meat, dairy and butter.

Foods that had a protective effect against skin wrinkling included vegetables, legumes, olive oil, tea, prunes and apples (see full list below). Overall, positive dietary habits trended towards a low-GI diet.

Another study supports the above food associations showing that skin wrinkling in a sun-exposed site in older people of various ethnic backgrounds may be influenced reducing intakes of fats and carbohydrates and increasing antioxidants and beneficial fats, dietary measures which are associated with better skin-aging appearance.

It is worth noting that research linking skin aging and dietary habits should not be taken out of context. Overall dietary trends produce these effects rather than any single food group in isolation. However, the dietary trends in both studies show that high GI and saturated fats seem to have the most significant pro-wrinkling effect. Due to their higher saturated fat content meat, dairy and butter can increase skin inflammation and lead to faster skin aging. In addition a high sugar intake is also associated with greater skin wrinkling. Simple sugar has a pro-inflammatory effect but it also promotes the production of advanced glycosylation end products (AGE). AGEs are closely associated with oxidative stress.

A combination of a high antioxidant diet and low sugar reduces inflammation, free radical damage and AGE production in the body. Again the trend shows that the protective foods are low or have no saturated fats and are low GI and rich in phytochemicals which support skin collagen and reduce inflammation.

The Monash study indicated that these foods associated with less wrinkling:

Mono-unsaturated fat including those from olive oil and olives
Nuts and legumes
Vegetables
Fish (particularly those rich in essential fatty acids)
Low fat milk and milk products, such as yogurt
Wholegrain cereals
Fruit and fruit products (especially prunes, cherries and apples)
Eggs
Tea and Water

More wrinkling was associated with diets that included higher intakes of:

Saturated fat (including butter)
Trans fats (including margarine)
Meat (especially fatty processed meats)
Full fat dairy products
Refined carbohydrates and sugars such as cakes, pastries and desserts
Soft drinks and cordials
Confectionary of any kind
Many packaged and processed foods contain hidden sugars
Packaged cereals

Apart from dietary trends, certain nutrients also show promising effects on skin aging.

Studies have shown that antioxidant nutrients, specifically vitamins C and E, as well as lipoic acid and flavonoids, exert protective effect against oxidative stress in the skin, in particular photoprotective effects. That is they help protect the skin from the oxidative damage caused by the sun. Lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin as a specific subset of carotenoids may also be used as oral sun protectants and contribute to the maintenance of skin health. In fact, taking carotenoids prior to sun exposure will increase the depth and lasting effect of a sun tan (not that extended tanning is advised).

In other research, a daily dosage of soy isoflavones (40mg per day) resulted in the improvement of fine wrinkles and increased skin elasticity after 12 weeks of supplementation in middle-aged women with aged skin. Interestingly, a common arthritis supplement glucosamine also improved the appearance of visible wrinkles and fine lines. Glucosamine is incorporated into glucosaminoglycans (GAGs) in the body. GAGs work to increase epidermal thickness and elasticity of the skin although they have no effect on skin hydration.

Research into oral proanthocyanidins flavanoids from grapeseed extract or pycnogenol has shown they both have a significant protective effect on the collagen matrix of the skin and capillaries. They work by reducing capillary fragility and inhibiting collagen, hyaluronic acid and elastin breakdown. Both substances also have an anti-inflammatory effect and can improve peripheral circulation.

Again it is important to note that while supplemental nutrition can support skin health in a number of ways, if concurrent dietary changes aren’t made, the supplements will be combating the constant inflammatory cascade from high GI foods and saturated fats. Removing these dietary items will ensure that inflammation, AGEs and oxidation are all reduced allowing the supplements to work to their optimal level and effect real changes in skin health

Know The Best Care for Your Skin Type

Makeup experts and skin care specialists refer often to various skin types — dry, oily, combination — assuming you know which category you fall under. Your skin care regimen depends on your skin type, but not everyone has a good understanding of their skin. As a result, their skin care plan is more of the hit-or-miss variety.

Know Your Skin Type

Unsure of what skin type you have? See which description fits you best:

  • Dry skin. “Dry skin can be flaky and easily irritated. It’s more sensitive,” says Linda Franks, MD, director of Gramercy Park Dermatology and clinical assistant professor in the department of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine in New York. She says if your skin has these qualities and also tends to react to some (or all) of the skin products you have tried, you have dry skin. The extreme version of dry skin is sensitive skin.
  • Oily skin. The primary test for determining if you have oily skin is when you start to feel some oil on your face. Most people can feel a little oil by late afternoon, but if you feel oil around midday, you have oily skin. Oily skin rarely reacts negatively to skin products like dry, sensitive skin types do. It has slightly better natural sun protection, but is also prone to acne.
  • Combination skin. If the description of dry skin matches your cheeks, but the description of oily skin matches your “T-zone” (nose and brow area primarily), you have combination skin.

Matching skin care to skin type is important. Dr. Franks notes that there are two commonly used skin care products that just about everyone can steer clear of: toner and too-frequent exfoliation, both of which can strip away the protective layers of your skin. If you have a good skin care regimen, you don’t need either one, although you could plan for a semi-annual exfoliation as seasons change.

Caring for Dry Skin

 Skin Cancer: Melanoma Warning Signs
Dr. Wu defines melanoma as a malignant tumor of the skin pigment producing cells, so individuals with lots of moles or fair skin should examine themselves regularly.

Dry skin needs babying and lots of tender, loving care. Here are the key components of dry skin care:

  • Cleanse. Use a gentle cleanser. You should be able to cleanse at night and not have to cleanse again in the morning. “Mild cleansers are best for all skin types,” says Franks, who recommends Purpose, Dove bar soap, or Cetaphil cleanser. These cleansers should easily remove makeup as well as dirt.
  • Apply retinol. “Stick to a retinol for anti-aging. Retinol can be very good for dry skin,” says Franks. However, not everyone with dry skin can use retinol products due to sensitivity. If irritation appears, the frequency of use can be decreased.
  • Apply products with hyaluronic acid. “The other thing that can go on underneath a moisturizer is a hyaluronic acid product. That molecule is very hydroscopic — it pulls water in around it. That would be a great augmenting moisturizer for someone with dry skin,” says Franks.
  • Moisturize. “The stratum corneum, which is the dead skin cell layer that protects the surface of the skin, tends to get easily interrupted with dry skin. You want to try to repair that,” advises Dr. Franks. Look for moisturizers that contain phospholipids, cholesterol, and essential fatty acids. She recommends CeraVe Moisturize in the morning (with an SPF of 30) and more moisturizer before bed, using a thicker cream, such as Olay’s Regenerist.
  • Proceed with caution. It helps to take your time adding new products to your skin care routine, says Franks. Try them one at a time and wait to see if you get a reaction before adding another new product.

Caring for Oily Skin

If you have oily skin, you’ll have an easier time finding skin care products that won’t irritate, but your challenge is managing the oil:

  • Cleanse. People with oily skin or acne should wash with a gentle cleanser morning and evening. Franks offers this tip for cleansing properly: Use your fingertips and rub it in for 30 seconds before rinsing.
  • Use salicylic acid. Apply an alcohol-free salicylic acid product, such as a Stridex pad, or a salicylic acid medicated cleanser on the oily areas of your skin. Do this two or three times a week.
  • Apply retinol. Retinol products also cut down on oil production and reduce the appearance of large pores. They are a good anti-aging choice for those with oily skin, who are less likely to find them irritating than those with dry skin.
  • Moisturize. Use an oil-free moisturizer with SPF 30. “One of my favorites is Complete Defense in the Olay line,” says Franks.

Caring for Combination Skin

People with combination skin will follow the same basic routine, but have to make it a balancing act, drawing from skin care routines for both oily and dry skin:

  • Cleanse. Stick to gentle cleansers. “Do not use a medicated cleanser at all — keep it mild,” says Franks. Once a day should be fine unless you have significant oil in some parts of your face.
  • Spot-treat with salicylic acid. Apply this to the oilier areas of your face every other day.
  • Moisturize. Go for oil-free products with SPF 30 and spot-treat the drier areas of your face with richer moisturizer.

Take some time to develop the skin care routine that’s right for your skin type. If you are still unsure of how to care for your complexion, talk to a dermatologist about the products you are using and how they affect your skin. With a little work, you can achieve a healthy glow, no matter what your skin type

Simple Ways to Protect Your Skin

Your skin plays a vital role in protecting your body, so it’s important to take steps to promote skin health. Caring for your skin doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming, and can quickly become second nature, like brushing your teeth.

You can keep your skin looking and feeling great by guarding against a slew of skin woes, from chapped skin to premature aging to skin cancer. “We’re talking about things that happen over decades,” says dermatologist Samantha Conrad, MD, in practice at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

That’s why it is important to develop healthy skin habits —and it’s never too late to start. Here are five skin protection tips you can incorporate into your routine right away.

Limit Sun Exposure

You’ve heard the message a zillion times, but there’s good reason — ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun cause many types of skin damage, including:

  • Skin cancer
  • Wrinkles
  • Freckles
  • Age spots
  • Discolorations
  • Benign growths

Using skin care products that offer ultraviolet protection is one of the best ways to help keep your skin looking fresh and youthful. Try these tips to help protect your skin from the sun:

  • Use sunscreen every day and reapply regularly whenever you’re outdoors for extended periods. “I encourage people to use sunblock that is more mineral- or physical-based,” says Dr. Conrad. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
  • Cover up. “It’s really about protection — that means wearing hats and protective sun clothing,” says Conrad. Long sleeves and pants or long skirts give you more coverage.
  • Stay indoors when the sun is at its most intense, usually between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., according to the AAD.
  • Combine sun protection strategies. A study published in January 2017 in JAMA Dermatology found that beachgoers using an umbrella alone for sun protection were more likely to get sunburn than those using sunscreen alone — but neither strategy completely prevented sunburn. The researchers concluded that combining multiple strategies offers the most protection from the sun’s harmful rays.

Keep in mind that tanning beds are just as harmful as direct sunlight, as they also emit ultraviolet rays, according to the AAD.

Stay Hydrated

“Drinking enough water/fluids is important for your general health,” says Karyn Grossman, MD, a dermatologist in private practice with Grossman Dermatology in Santa Monica, California, and spokesperson for the AAD. She recommends starting the day with a cup of green tea for hydration, caffeine, and antioxidants.

In addition to drinking enough fluids, keeping your skin moist is essential to skin protection.

“Dry skin can have small gaps in the skin barrier that allow entry of bacteria and fungus,” says dermatologist Michael Lin, MD, medical director of the Advanced Dermatology and Skin Cancer Institute in Beverly Hills, California.

Skin that is properly hydrated retains pliability and is less likely to become chapped, scaly, or flaky. Try these tips to keep your skin hydrated:

  • Use the right moisturizing cream or lotion for your skin. “Look for moisturizers with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, or coconut oil,” says Dr. Grossman. “Always apply on damp skin. This keeps the moisture in the skin.”
  • Take warm (not hot) showers or baths and limit them to between five and 10 minutes. It seems counterintuitive, but exposure to water actually dries out your skin, Grossman explains. If dry skin persists, consider cutting back on the number of baths you take.
  • Invest in a humidifier. “If your skin tends to be on the dry side, using a humidifier in your bedroom at night and in your work space during the day can help keep the air hydrated, which can prevent the air from zapping moisture from your skin,” says Grossman.

Take Health Precautions

Cold sores are caused by a viral infection of the skin bordering the lips, while bacteria can contribute to acne and other skin conditions. Paying close attention to what touches your skin can help lower your chances of exposure to germs. Start with these tips:

  • Don’t share any personal items, such as lip balms or toothbrushes, with others.
  • Don’t share drinks with other people.
  • Avoid touching your face with your fingers, and avoid facial contact with objects that have been used by other people, such as telephone receivers.
  • Don’t pick at cysts or splinters. Instead, ask your doctor to help you with these skin conditions, says Grossman.

Being prompt with first aid is also important, she says. If you get a bug bite or a scratch, “get on it right away.” Grossman recommends cleaning the site, applying antibiotic ointment if there is a break in the skin, using a clean bandage, and cleaning the site twice daily as it heals.

Use Gentle Skin Care Products

Washing your face is important to remove dirt, oils, germs, and dead cells from your skin. However, scrubbing your face can cause irritation and lead to chapped skin that can become vulnerable. “I find that people often over-rub, over-scrub, and over-peel,” says Grossman, who recommends avoiding abrasive exfoliation skin care products.

The AAD recommends:

  • Washing your face twice daily with warm water and a mild cleanser.
  • Gently massaging your face with your fingers, using a circular motion.
  • Rinsing thoroughly after washing to remove all soap and debris.
  • Patting — not rubbing — your skin dry, then applying moisturizer.

Know Your Skin

“Check your skin regularly for changing moles and other signs of possible skin cancer,” says Grossman.  Talk to your dermatologist about what kinds of changes should concern you.

Certain skin conditions merit a visit to the dermatologist, including frequent acne, inflamed or irritated dry skin, and skin rashes and irritations that don’t go away, as these could be signs of one of the many types of dermatitis, or skin inflammation.

However, should you ever notice any other skin problems, it’s important to get medical attention to resolve them quickly and avoid putting your skin at risk

Know More About Dry Skin Care Essentials

We all want healthy, hydrated skin, but the reality is that skin can become dry, flaky, and rough. Why? The outer layers of your skin are put together in a type of brick-and-mortar system. Healthy skin cells are stacked with oils and other substances that keep skin moist. When those substances are lost, skin cells can crumble away, which leads to dry skin.

Itching is the No. 1 symptom of dry skin, says Angela Lamb, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. Dry skin tends to be flaky, red, and irritated. Your skin may also look dull or ashy (if you have dark skin), which can progress to skin being scaly or cracked. In the worst-case scenario, skin can become thick and leathery.

What Causes Dry Skin?

Dry skin often results when the skin loses water or oil, particularly in climates with low humidity, or during winter months when low humidity and indoor heat affect the natural balance of healthy skin. “Your skin is the primary barrier to the environment and prevents water from evaporating off the surface,” Dr. Lamb says. When humidity is low, more moisture is lost from the skin’s surface and it dries out.

On top of that, certain medical conditions can make you more prone to developing dry skin, including:

  • Keratosis pilaris. As many as 40 percent of adults and up to 80 percent of teens have an inherited dry skin condition called keratosis pilaris, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. The condition causes tiny red or flesh-colored bumps on the skin, particularly on their upper arms and thighs or on the cheeks in children. The bumps are dead skin cells and make skin feel rough, like sandpaper. Skin may also itch during the winter or in low humidity.
  • Atopic dermatitis. Up to 20 percent of children and 3 percent of adults around the world have atopic dermatitis, according to a 2015 study published in Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism. This is a common type of eczema in which itchy patches of skin form. When the skin is scratched, it may become red and swollen and could crack, weep fluid, or scale. This type of eczema often occurs in people who also have asthma or hay fever.
  • Hormonal changes. When your body is going through hormonal changes, you may notice dry or flaky skin cropping up. It’s something that happens even in babies. Newborns commonly develop cradle cap — flaky, scaly skin on the scalp — as a result of being exposed to mother’s hormones in the uterus, according to The Nemours Foundation. Hormonal changes after menopause can also lead to dry skin.
  • Thyroid disease. One of the early symptoms of hypothyroidism, a condition where the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone, is dry skin.
  • Diabetes or kidney disease. People with diabetes or kidney disease may notice dry, itchy skin on their legs due to poor circulation. This happens when the skin is not getting the proper amount of blood flow. In fat, very dry skin is a warning sign of diabetes, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

How to Go From Dry Skin to Healthy Skin

The main step you can take to heal dry skin: Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Apply moisturizer to your body and face at least once a day, when your skin is still damp from the shower, recommends Alisha Plotner, MD, a dermatologist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. In the summer, a thinner lotion will do the job, but in the winter when skin becomes drier, a thicker cream or ointment is a better choice, she says.

Good ingredients to look for in a moisturizer are lactic acid, glycerin, petrolatum, and hyaluronic acid, says Nazanin Saedi, MD, a dermatologist,  director of Jefferson Laser Surgery and Cosmetic Dermatology Center, and an assistant professor at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals in Philadelphia. Persistently dry areas can also benefit from petroleum jelly, she says.

If over-the-counter moisturizers aren’t enough for your skin, your doctor may prescribe an ointment that contains ceramides, or proteins that help rebuild the skin barrier, Lamb says. Prescription-strength products are especially helpful for eczema and other severe skin conditions. People who have eczema may also get relief from applying cold compresses on itchy skin. Over-the-counter or prescription corticosteroid creams may also be needed to heal the skin barrier and calm inflammation, Dr. Saedi says, but prolonged use can thin your skin, so carefully follow your doctor’s directions about using them. Your doctor may also prescribe oral corticosteroids, but they’re not intended for long-term use.

Another over-the-counter or prescription option is a barrier cream. Barrier creams penetrate a little deeper than standard moisturizers. “Anyone prone to dryness with repeated exposures to detergents, soaps, water, and other irritants would benefit from a barrier cream,” Dr. Plotner says.

For those with keratosis pilaris, moisturizing with creams that have urea or lactic acid helps the itch, but doesn’t necessarily smooth the skin. However, mild chemical peels or topical retinoids may soften the skin.

Other dry skin remedies include:

  • Taking short, warm (instead of hot) showers
  • Using moisturizing soaps
  • Placing a humidifier in your home to add moisture to the air

Although it hasn’t been studied, some doctors believe that polyunsaturated fats, found in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel and soybean and safflower oil,  can help keep the skin healthy, Lamb says.

With the right tender, loving care — and a good moisturizer — you can restore a healthy luster to dry skin