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Monthly Archives: December 2016

5 Daily Skin Habits to Start Now

You may spoil your skin silly with facials, fancy products, and a skin care regimen that would make your dermatologist proud. But there are a few important (and surprisingly simple) steps that can make a huge difference in having healthy, glowing skin.Incorporate these five best skin care habits into your routine and you’ll have smoother, clearer skin in no time.

1. Wear sunblock 365 days of the year

In rain or shine, winter or summer, whether you have ivory white skin or a dark complexion, your skin is always susceptible to sun damage. “You’re consistently exposed to the sun’s rays during daylight hours, even when you don’t realize it,” warns Jeanine Downie, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and director of Image Dermatology in Montclair, New Jersey. “You should be wearing an SPF 30 every day, not only to protect against skin cancer but to prevent fine lines, wrinkles, large pores, and uneven skin tone.” In addition, it’s essential that you reapply your sunscreen every couple of hours, especially if you’re out and about — one morning slathering of SPF 100 won’t last you until sundown!

2. Refrigerate your eye cream

You can get more bang from your eye cream simply by storing it in the icebox. “The cold constricts the blood vessels, immediately reducing puffiness,” explains Manhattan-based dermatologist Francesca Fusco, M.D. “It’s best to apply cold eye cream in the morning; at night, the product can migrate into your eyes and create swelling and irritation.” Look for creams containing caffeine, which will further decrease any swelling. To combat fine lines and wrinkles, products that contain peptidesor retinol will do the trick.

3. Add antioxidants to your skin care and your diet

Here’s a two-point plan to rid your skin of environmental pollutants: Attack the problem from the inside and out. Use topical products containing vitamin A (in the form of retinol), vitamin E, vitamin C, and coffeeberry directly on your skin, and eat brightly colored fruits, vegetables, and other good-for-you foods like blueberries, pomegranates, and olive oil. “Both will help to combat free radical damage, reducing fine lines, wrinkles, and inflammation,” says Jessica Wu, M.D., a Los Angeles–based dermatologist and the author of Feed Your Face. She also recommends eating a balanced breakfast that combines protein, fiber, and healthy fats to regulate blood sugar throughout the day. Studies have shown that when blood sugar rises too quickly, it can cause acne, wrinkles, and rashes.

4. Lightly exfoliate regularly

While you might think anti-aging creams and high-end moisturizers are the key to youthful skin,experts agree that exfoliation is one of the best ways to achieve and maintain a gorgeous complexion. “A good exfoliating agent will slough off the dull top layers, minimizing wrinkles, acne, and dry spots to reveal new, healthy,glowing skin,” explains Fusco. Of course, if you have a sensitive or acne-prone complexion, you don’t want to use a harsh scrub too often. Instead, try a cleanser that contains smooth microbeads just two or three times a week. An even gentler solution for every day: Use a textured cleansing pad, which will very lightly scrub the skin without irritation.

5. Exercise often

Sure, you know you should be hitting the gym, not only for a toned physique but because it’s better for your overall health. Well, here’s another reason to work up a sweat: Exercise tightens the skin on your entire body. “Strength training and cardio boost circulation and improve muscle tone, which results in younger-looking, toned skin,” Downie says. “Not only that, but it also reduces wrinkle-causing,skin-damaging stress.” Just make sure to wash your face post-workout. What good is a hot body if you’ve got clogged pores all over your T-zone?

Abuse as Child May Lower Skin Cancer Immunity

Among basal cell carcinoma (BCC)patients who dealt with a severely stressful life event in the previous year, those who had experienced childhood emotional abuse were more likely to have poorer immune responses to the disease, researchers found.

In a study of 91 patients with a previous basal cell lesion, those who had been emotionally maltreated by their parents, and who had experienced a recent severe life event, had an interaction between those two factors that predicted the local immune response to their tumors, reported Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, of the Ohio State University Medical College in Columbus, and co-authors in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Kiecolt-Glaser and colleagues reported that the BCC patients who been mistreated early in life by a mother or father, and had suffered an extremely stressful life event within the past year, had poorer immune responses to their BCC tumors.

At the same time, emotional maltreatment was unrelated to BCC responses among those who had not experienced a stressful life event, the researchers added.

Kiecolt-Glaser noted that stressful events and the negative emotions generated by them, especially early in life, can dysregulate immunity enough to produce clinically significant changes, such as impaired responses to vaccines, slowed wound healing, promotion of inflammation, and dampened markers in both innate and adaptive immune function.

They explained further that childhood maltreatment has been associated with elevated inflammation and higher antibody titers to the herpes simplex virus type 1, and to multiple diseases including cancer. The immune system plays a prominent role in BCC tumor appearance and progression.

The team studied 48 men and 43 women, ages 23 to 92, who had a previous BCC tumor, collecting information about early parent-child experiences, recent severe life events, depression. They also looked at messenger RNA (mRNA) coding for immune markers associated with BCC tumor progression and regression.

The participants was interviewed using the Childhood Experience of Care and Abuse Questionnaire (CECA.Q). A 1-unit increase or decrease in maltreatment reflects a unit increase on the 1-5 point CECA scale. The neglect subscale in these patients was highly correlated with the antipathy subscale for both parents.

The mean number of months before a BCC lesion was biopsied, measured by the Life Events and Difficulties Schedule (LEDS), was 5.5. Among the group, 19 percent had more than one LEDS events and 4 percent had ≥2 events.

“Compared with those who had healthy parent-child relationships, those with adverse parent-child relationships are more likely to have emotional difficulties when they encounter subsequent stressors,” the investigators wrote.

In fact, 33 percent of the study cohort reported a history of major depression.

In their population, maternal or paternal emotional maltreatment as children were more likely to have poorer immune responses.

There was a similar interaction between paternal maltreatment and severe life events in predicting mRNA z score in the adjusted model, with a 1-unit increase in a emotional abuse by a father significantly associated with a 0.063-point decrease in mRNA z score, indicating a dampened immune response to BCC.

“This is the first study, to our knowledge, to show that troubled early parental experiences, in combination with a severe life event in the past year, predict local immune responses to a BCC tumor,” the authors wrote, pointing out that the consequences of early parental experiences extend well beyond childhood,” and their findings could have implications for other cancers.

Summer’s Heat May Enflame Hives

Nearly one in four people developshives at some time or another, and they can be triggered by hot summer weather.

Hives are itchy, red or white bumps, welts or patches on the skin. The condition can be acute or chronic, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Acute hives, which can last less than a day or up to six weeks, are likely a reaction caused by contact with an allergen such as food, animal dander, insect bite, pollen or latex.

Other possible triggers included medications, heat, stress, exercise, chemicals or viral infection.

The academy says you should consult with your doctor to identify the cause of acute hives.

Most people with chronic hives have symptoms that last longer than a year. Allergies cause only a small percentage of chronic hives. In most cases of chronic hives, the exact cause can’t be identified. This means that routine testing such as general blood counts or screens are not cost-effective and don’t help in planning treatments to relieve symptoms, according to an academy news release.

Hives are not contagious, and most cases get better on their own. Doctors may advise patients to avoid hot baths and showers, wear loose-fitting clothing, or take antihistamines to reduce itching and swelling.

Corticosteroids are prescribed for people with severe flare-ups of hives. In rare cases, hives can be a symptom of a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Call 911 if you or someone else experiences hives along with any of these symptoms: fainting, shortness of breath, tightness in the throat, tongue/face swelling, or wheezing, the academy said.

Skin Cell Transplant May Offer New Hope to Vitiligo Patients

Skin cell transplants can restore pigment to the skin of some patients with the disorder known as vitiligo, new research finds.

Vitiligo is a skin condition in which melanocytes, or the cells in skin that produce pigment, are destroyed. The result is the skin loses color, often in patches. Vitiligo affects about one in every 200 people in the United States.

In the study, researchers from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit removed a postage stamp-sized sample of skin from the upper thighs of 23 patients. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 60 and included whites, blacks, Asians and Hispanics.

Researchers then isolated melanocytes and keratinocytes, another type of skin cell, into a liquid solution.

Next, researchers used a device called a dermabrader to scrape off the white patches of skin, and sprayed the liquid containing the skin cells onto the skin, allowing it to disperse over the entire white patch. The area was then covered in dressings for about a week.

Gradually, the transplant, including the melanocytes, took hold and began to grow. Over the course of one to six months, color gradually returned to the white patches.

On average, the skin regained about 45 percent of its original color, although some patients saw better results than others.

The technique worked best in people who have what’s known as “focal” or “segmental” vitiligo, in which color is lost only on one portion or side of the face or body, while the other is normally pigmented. On average, they had about 68 percent of their natural color return.

The treatment didn’t work as well in people with “symmetrical” vitiligo, or pigment loss on both sides of the body or face, said senior study author Dr. Iltefat Hamzavi, a senior staff physician in Henry Ford’s department of dermatology.

Researchers believe the immune system is more active in those patients, and continues to destroy color-producing cells, including the transplanted ones.

“This is a step forward but it’s not a solution for everybody,” Hamzavi said.

There were few complications. No patients developed an infection, and only one patient developed mild scarring, he said.

The study was published in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Although this is among the first published studies on using skin cell transplants to treat vitiligo in the United States, a similar technique has been used in India and Saudi Arabia, Hamzavi said.

Vitiligo can occur at any age, but it often strikes when people are in their teens and 20s, Hamzavi said. It can be an especially difficult time for people to deal with the cosmetic issues of the disease, he added.

Among the patients who had the procedure done, one admitted he would wear bandages on his face in public to avoid stares; others avoided socializing, Hamzavi said. After their pigment was restored, the patients no longer practiced these behaviors, he said.

It’s unknown how long the color remains intact. Researchers followed patients until about six months and none had lost color, while initial reports from Saudi Arabia and India have also not described color loss over time, Hamzavi said.

The researchers are continuing to offer the procedure at their hospital, and Hamzavi said they handle several cases per month.

Dr. Michele Green, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said the technique would be welcomed by many patients and dermatologists. Currently, there isn’t much in the way of treatments for vitiligo, Green noted.

“It’s amazing, if it’s really as good as they say it is,” Green said. “There are some laser [procedures] that are mildly effective, but short of that there is no treatment for vitiligo. And it’s cosmetically extremely disfiguring for these patients. It’s really big news.”

But, Green cautioned, more research needs to be done. Only 23 patients were treated this way, and not all were helped, she said.

In addition, more needs to be learned about who has the best chances of success with the treatment, including whether it works better on new-onset vitiligo or if it works as well if people have had the disease for many years.

“It’s a great preliminary study and very promising, but more investigation needs to be done,” Green said.