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Category Archives: Beauty

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.

Daily Glow Releases Best And Worst Skin Cities

In terms of skin in the game, where you live has a big impact on your skin health. Just in time for the summer, beauty and skin care Web site Daily Glow released a list of the best and worst American cities for your skin.

“Skin health is a combination of environmental, lifestyle and genetic factors,” says Daily Glow skin and beauty expert Jessica Wu, MD. “It’s important for Americans to understand that it is never too late to protect their skin and reverse sun damage – and that even the smallest changes have the power to save and protect their skin for years to come.”

If your town isn’t ranked, here are some of the key factors in your environment that are affecting your skin’s health.

UV exposure: Sunshine year-round might sound like tons of fun, but it can also harm your skin. UV radiation is the main factor responsible for skin cancer, as well as sunburns and premature aging. Some of the most highly ranked cities have long winters and plenty of cloudy protection. Of course, weather isn’t the only factor. For example, cities in higher elevations tend to have more exposure to UV rays because of less cloud cover.

Pollution levels: Free radicals from pollution can damage the skin’s DNA and actually worsen the effects of ultraviolet rays on skin, so try to stay inside on those high-ozone days.

Smoking rates among adults: Smoking damages blood vessels that transport nutrients to skin tissue. With high taxes and bans, some cities have drastically reduced cigarette use.

Skin care doctors per capita: Some cities are flush with skin doctors while others, like Memphis, are under-served by dermatologists.

Physical activity: Exercise helps to boost oxygen and blood flow to the skin, makes you sweat to purge toxins from your pores and eases stress, among other benefits.

Number of tanning beds: No matter how many health warnings you’ve heard about indoor tanning, it’s still a trend that’s not going away any time soon. But it’s more popular in some cities than others. San Francisco scores low on number of tanning beds; Fort Worth scores high on number of tanning beds.

Incidences of melanoma:  The most dangerous type of skin cancer is prevalent in certain cities, such as San Diego.

Adults who’ve experienced a sunburn: Even in spite of constant sun, some cities are more vigilant than others about sun protection. Sunscreens need to protect against both UVA and UVB rays, according to a dermatologist cited in the report. Zinc-oxide sunscreen, for example, is a physical block that doesn’t have chemicals that degrade over time. Hats are also a great way to prevent sun exposure.

Here are some other fun facts Daily Glow’s study turned up:

The Best Cities For Your Skin

  • Portland, Ore., ranks as the best city for the skin because its long rainy season keeps people out of the sun, in addition to its low pollution and healthy lifestyle.
  • San Francisco has the lowest number of tanning beds per capita in the United States.
  • Baltimore has one of the lowest incidences of melanoma in the country, possibly because of local world-class healthcare resources.
  • Hawaii might enjoy its time in the sun, but the state is also known for the lowest rate of air-particle pollution in the country. The city has zero high-ozone days.
  • Boston contains the highest number of dermatologists per capita.
  • Austin has the most physically active population in the country, with 36.5 percent of adults engaging in vigorous physical activity for more than 20 minutes three times a week, according to the Census Bureau. That’s good news for their bodies as well as their skin.

The Worst Cities For Your Skin

  • Las Vegas ranks worst for skin health. More than a fifth of its residents smoke. Its sunny, parched weather also leads to stressed out skin.
  • Los Angeles has the highest number of high ozone days (about a quarter of the year). The mountains around the city trap its abundant traffic pollution.
  • San Diego has 29.1 melanoma-incident cases per 100,000 people, making it the city with the most melanoma cases in the country.
  • Memphis’ residents exercise less than the people of any other city in the United States, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Fort Worth has a huge number of tanning beds. One dermatologist quips that there’s practically one on every block. The city passed a law banning minors 16 and younger from tanning beds.
  • Tulsa has the highest skin-cancer death rate in the country, with 4.1 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the National Cancer Institute.

‘Fish Pedicure’ a Recipe for Bacterial Infection

“Fish pedicures” in health spas can expose recipients to a host of pathogens and bacterial infections, a team of researchers warns.

The practice of exposing your feet to live freshwater fish that eat away dead ordamaged skin for mainly cosmetic reasons has been banned in many (but not all) American states, but it is apparently a hot trend in Britain.

So much so that the British researchers sent their warning in a letter published in the June issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, a publication from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Officially known as “ichthyotherapy,” the procedure typically involves the importation of what are called “doctor fish,” a Eurasian river basin species known as “Garra rufa.” The fish are placed in a spa tub, the foot (or even whole body) joins it, and the nautical feeding on dead or unwanted skin begins.

The problem: such fish may play host to a wide array of organisms and disease, some of which can provoke invasive soft-tissue infection in exposed humans and many of which are antibiotic-resistant, according to the scientists from the Center for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) in Weymouth.

In the letter, CEFAS team leader David W. Verner-Jeffreys referenced a 2011 survey that suggested the U.K. is now home to 279-plus “fish spas,” with an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 fish coming into the country every week from a host of Asian countries.

Verner-Jeffreys noted that in April 2011, 6,000 fish imported from Indonesia for U.K. fish spas were affected by a disease outbreak that caused hemorrhaging of their gills, mouth and abdomen, resulting in the death of nearly all the specimens.

In turn, U.K. scientists uncovered signs of bacterial infection (caused by a pathogen called “S agalactiae”) in the fishes’ livers, kidneys and spleen.

Following this discovery, Verner-Jeffreys said, his team conducted five raids on imported fish batches coming through Heathrow Airport, which uncovered further signs of infection with a number of additional pathogens. Many of those were found to be resistant to such standard antimicrobial drugs as tetracycline, fluoroquinolone and aminoglycoside.

“To date, there are only a limited number of reports of patients who might have been infected by this exposure route,” Verner-Jeffreys said in his letter. “However, our study raises some concerns over the extent that these fish, or their transport water, might harbor potential zoonotic disease pathogens of clinical relevance.”

At particularly high risk, the scientists said, were people already struggling withdiabetes, liver disease and/or immune disorders.

Verner-Jeffreys suggested that spas offering fish pedicures use disease-free fish raised in controlled environments.

George A. O’Toole, a professor in the department of microbiology and immunology at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H., added his own concern.

“I would stay away from this experience,” he said. “It’s probably not feasible to sterilize these fish. And as for the water itself, even if you dump it between patients, these organisms will form rings of biofilm communities attached to the surface of the tubs themselves. It’s like a contact lens case that you never disinfect. Simply wiping them down is not good enough. Unless you’re incredibly responsible about sterilizing those tubs you’re not going to kill them, and they will reseed the next batch of water. The whole thing is a bad idea.”

Dr. Philip Tierno, director of clinical microbiology and pathology at New York University Medical Center in New York City, agreed.

“It’s a bad idea in several ways,” he said. “Because these pathogens can give you a serious wound infection. Or blood-borne infection. Or diarrhea. Or even pose a threat to a pregnant woman’s fetus or newborn.”

“Really, you have the potential for multiple types of infection,” Tierno added. “Because theoretically when you’re touching the area that has been nibbled on by these fish, you can still have the organisms there. And then you can inadvertently touch your mouth and introduce them into your system.”

The Best Relief for Cold-Induced Hives

For most people, hives are a temporary allergic reaction to an avoidable trigger, such as shellfish or laundry detergent. But for some others, they may come on without warning or explanation and reappear regularly for months or even years. If you have cold urticaria, or cold-induced hives, for example, you may experience an allergic response anytime you’re exposed to low temperatures. This response could range from itchy to life-threatening.

With cold urticaria, the body’s response is similar to some other types of allergic reactions. Instead of being caused by contact with a specific material or substance, however — for example, the latex in surgical gloves and bandages — the hives are triggered by exposure to cold, or even by your skin temperature returning to normal after a sudden drop in temperature, such as jumping into and then getting out of icy water. It’s as if you’re allergic to cold.

“The cells that create hives are called mast cells,” says dermatologist Carolyn Jacob, MD, director of Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology. “They release histamine. But we don’t quite understand why the mast cells respond to temperature changes.”

Symptoms of Cold Urticaria

Symptoms of cold hives can be mild to severe. They include:

  • Itchy skin
  • Redness
  • Large welts
  • Swollen lips and mouth after exposure to cold drinks
  • Anaphylaxis, the most severe allergic reaction, which can cause difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, and even death

Diagnosing Chronic Hives vs. Cold Urticaria

Cold urticaria can happen without a known cause, but it often runs in families, explains Dr. Jacob. It is diagnosed, in part, by observing the events that trigger it, such as:

  • Exposure to low seasonal temperatures
  • Swimming in or falling into cold water
  • Eating cold foods
  • Drinking cold drinks
  • Handling cold objects
  • Water evaporating off the skin

Your doctor will typically use a cold stimulation time test (CSTT) to confirm the diagnosis. This involves placing an ice pack on an area of skin. If you have cold urticaria, the skin under and around the ice will become itchy and inflamed.

Hives Relief Treatment

The best approach to manage cold urticaria is to avoid trigger situations, such as jumping into an icy lake or, for some people, even just gulping very cold liquids.

Other strategies your doctor might advise for hives treatment include:

  • Staying warm. Avoid long walks in wintery weather, and if you must go outside, cover up as much exposed skin as possible.
  • Identifying and avoiding other triggers. Cold might be one trigger, but if your skin is irritated throughout the winter, consider that dryness, the clothes you wear (for example, wool), and even your fabric softener or soap could aggravate your skin, too.
  • Taking medication. Your doctor might recommend a daily nondrowsy antihistamine to control your allergic response. Glucocorticoid steroids are also sometimes used to provide hives relief.
  • Carrying an EpiPen. If you could have a severe, life-threatening response, you will need to carry an epinephrine pen to self-administer in an emergency, says Jacob.

Working with your medical team will help you manage your chronic hives and keep them from limiting your activities.

Can Facial Flaws Cost You the Job?

Birthmarks, scars and other facialblemishes may make it harder for people to land a job, new research suggests.

This is because interviewers can be distracted by unusual facial features and recall less information about job candidates, according to the investigators at Rice University and the University of Houston.

“When evaluating applicants in an interview setting, it’s important to remember what they are saying,” Mikki Hebl, a psychology professor at Rice University, said in a university news release. “Our research shows if you recall less information about competent candidates because you are distracted by characteristics on their face, it decreases your overall evaluations of them.”

One experiment involved about 170 undergraduate students who conducted mock interviews via a computer while their eye activity was tracked. The more the interviewers’ attention was distracted by facial blemishes, the less they remembered about the job candidate and the lower they rated them.

In a second experiment, 38 full-time managers conducted face-to-face interviews with job candidates who had a facial birthmark. All the managers had experience interviewing people for jobs but were still distracted by the birthmarks.

“The bottom line is that how your face looks can significantly influence the success of an interview,” Hebl said. “There have been many studies showing that specific groups of people are discriminated against in the workplace, but this study takes it a step further, showing why it happens. The allocation of attention away from memory for the interview content explains this.”

The findings were recently published online in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

The investigators said they hoped their research would help raise awareness about this type of workplace discrimination.

Illegal Silicone Injections Can Be Deadly

The 30-year-old woman arrived at the Henry Ford Hospital emergency room in Detroit out of breath and coughing blood.

It didn’t take long for doctors to figure out why: The woman admitted to having been at a party at a hotel five days prior at which she — and others — received injections of liquid silicone to “enhance” the buttocks and various body parts.

The silicone was not the medical silicone that is sometimes used for implants, but the type easily procured at hardware stores like Home Depot. The fat solvent used to make the silicone had quickly traveled to her lungs and gotten stuck in the airways, resulting in “silicone embolism syndrome,” or clots, in this case, in the smaller vessels in her lungs.

The syndrome, admittedly rare, was first seen in transsexual men wanting to augment their breasts in the 1970s.

“There are two types of side effects [that can result from silicone injections],” said Dr. Angel Coz, the pulmonary and critical care specialist who treated the woman. “Lungs is one of them. The other goes to the brain. The mortality in lungs is close to 20 percent but in the brain it’s close to 100 percent.”

This woman, who was attempting to augment her buttocks, was one of the lucky ones. She survived after receiving steroids, said Coz, who is slated to present information on the case Monday at the American College of Chest Physicians’ annual meeting in Honolulu.

Others have died.

“We’ve been hearing about this,” said Dr. Malcolm Z. Roth, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. “There are ‘pumping parties,’ involving high-volume injections to fill up the face, lips, cheekbones, chin or breast. Often it’s buttock enhancement and often it’s not sterile.”

And these illicit procedures may be on the rise, thanks to a slow economy and pocketbooks that aren’t full enough to afford licensed plastic surgeons, said Roth, who is also chief of plastic surgery at the Albany Medical Center in New York.

“It’s really a white-coat deception,” Roth said. “Sometimes the person doing the injections claims to be a physician from another country and in some cases the patient knows very well it’s not a physician but, feeling they can’t afford to go to a legitimate board-certified plastic surgeon, they find a short cut.”

Two other, similar cases of patients developing complications after silicone injections are also being presented at the meeting this week.

One involved a 22-year-old woman who showed up at the UCLA Medical Center emergency room, also with shortness of breath. This quickly progressed to right ventricular failure of the heart and the patient died despite the physicians’ best efforts.

Most likely, the silicone and solvent had damaged the lungs, leading to collapse of the heart.

This patient had had injections in her buttocks from “a doctor in Mexico” earlier that day, a friend told doctors.

The researchers presenting the case said this is the first documented case of right ventricular failure from silicone injections.

The third case was a 23-year-old woman with the familiar symptoms, shortness of breath and cough, who had had several silicone injections in her buttocks.

She was diagnosed with silicone embolism syndrome but, after receiving oxygen and steroids and spending five days in the hospital, recovered and went home.

According to Roth, patients should “run away from these procedures.”

“You don’t do medical procedures in a hotel room or garage. This procedure is illegal,” he said. “Patients need to do their homework and check the credentials of the professional they’re considering for their cosmetic procedure.”

“This is something that is not done by doctors,” added Coz. “It’s completely out of the realm of what any physician would do.”

Tips to Hide a Cold Sore

 Cold sores have a habit of breaking out when you have a cold, but they can be also caused by stress. That’s why you might discover a cold sore on your lip or around your mouth when you least want to deal with it.

Whether you’re going to a wedding or a big job interview, it’s hard to feel your best with a cold sore on your face. Using makeup such as concealer may help, but the timing can be tricky. “I wouldn’t recommend trying to cover a cold sore if it is not partially healed or scabbed over,” says Denise Gevaras, a professional makeup artist in Toms River, N.J. “Most cold sores will ooze in the beginning, and trying to put makeup on them will not only draw attention to them but can probably prevent them from healing properly.”

“It’s hard to conceal a cold sore when it has blistered and is still weeping,” agrees Danielle M. Miller, MD, a dermatologist at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Mass. “But you might be able to use a concealer safely when cold sores are in the healing stage. You also might be able to use an antiviral medication to prevent a cold sore from breaking out or to make it heal more quickly.”

Concealer to Hide a Cold Sore

Once your cold sore has begun healing, you can use makeup to lessen its appearance. “To cover a healing cold sore, I would recommend using a highly concentrated heavy concealer,” says Gevaras. “I have done this often in the past with clients having a breakout right before their wedding.”

Gevaras recommends these steps to best conceal a cold sore:

  • Use a concealer with a creamy texture, not a liquid. These concealers are usually sold in small jars, tubes, or compacts, and are very concentrated.
  • Only a small amount of a heavy concealer is needed — a little goes a very long way.
  • If you have a lot of redness, you may benefit from using concealer in two different shades: a yellow-based concealer to neutralize redness and a concealer that matches your skin tone.
  • Dab on the yellow concealer using a disposable makeup sponge. Start with a very small amount and build it up, if necessary, to avoid cakiness.
  • After the yellow concealer is applied, top it with a very light dusting of finishing powder. Pat it on lightly to avoid disturbing the concealer.
  • Next, gently dab on the concealer color that matches your skin tone and use a stipple motion to blend.
  • Apply another light dusting of finishing powder to set.

“Because cold sores are contagious, to avoid contaminating makeup products, use only disposable sponges and brushes, even if the cold sore is scabbed over,” warns Gevaras. “Never ‘double dip’ in the concealer or powder with the same makeup sponge or brush.”

Getting Rid of Cold Sores Sooner

While there is nothing you can do about an active, oozing cold sore, you might be able to shorten the life of the cold sore or even keep it from showing up.

“In many cases, symptoms of numbness and burning around your mouth or lip are early warning signs of a cold sore,” explains Dr. Miller. “Taking medication at this stage may suppress the blistering phase and shorten the duration of cold sores.”

If you commonly get cold sores or you have the early warning symptoms of a cold sore, ask your doctor if a prescription antiviral medication can help you.

Could Divorce Trigger Hair Loss in Women?

 As if the heartache of divorce wasn’t hardship enough, it appears that women enduring marital break-up may also have to deal with hair loss.

New research reveals that, genetics aside, the next strongest predictor of midline (central) hair loss among women is their marital status, with the loss of a spouse (through either divorce or death) raising the risk for thinning hair above that of married or single women.

“Most likely, stress is the aspect of a troubling divorce that appears to lead to hair loss among women,” noted study author Dr. Bahman Guyuron, chairman of the department of plastic surgery at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine.

Excessive drinking and/or smoking also appear to boost the risk for hair loss among women, the study found.

Smoking and heavy drinking also contributed to thinning locks among men, the study found. But in other respects the two genders were affected differently, with various patterns of male hair loss sparked by overexposure to the sun, cancer history and having a “couch potato” lifestyle, among others.

“What we can say is that we identified factors that appear to both raise risk and lower risk, for both men and women, independent of genetic disposition,” Guyuron said.

He is slated to present the findings from two related studies on Sunday at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ annual meeting, in Denver.

In the first study, the authors focused exclusively on a pool of 84 female identical twins, all of whom completed lifestyle questionnaires, followed by hormone blood level testing and an extensive photo analysis of their hair. Studies of identical twins can be useful because each twin carries the same genes as the other, ruling out genetic differences as a potential cause for a trait or illness.

Across the temporal area (near temples) of the head, the team found that the more years a woman had smoked the greater the hair loss. A history of skin conditions also contributed to hair loss in that area, while having just a couple drinks per week actually seemed to reduce the risk.

Hair loss in the coronal area (nearer the top) of the head among women was linked to being diabetic, having some form of skin disease and being a current smoker, while being overweight or obese was associated with lower risk of hair loss.

Guyuron said the findings indicate that female hair loss can also be sparked by excessive sleeping patterns, as well as situations commonly associated with stress such as having multiple children and/or getting married.

Women who drank coffee, used sun protection (such as a hat) and were happily married all faced a lower overall risk for hair loss, he added.

The team’s second study similarly looked at hair loss among 66 male identical twins.

The results: in addition to smoking and sun exposure, having a history of dandruff also boosted midline hair loss risk, while cumulative sun exposure and a history of cancer elevated risk for both temporal and coronal hair loss.

Men who didn’t exercise regularly and had high blood pressure also had a higher risk for coronal hair loss.

Men who exercised outdoors a lot also face a higher risk for hair loss, and Guyuron believes sun exposure could play a role there.

Dr. Doris Day, an attending physician in dermatology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, expressed little surprise at the findings relating divorce to hair loss in women.

“It’s complicated,” she noted, “but it’s not a shock to suggest that various kinds of stress can lead to hair loss. Or that men and women don’t experience stress in the same way, so that their hair loss patterns may be different.”

“And in the end, I am a big proponent of the idea that it’s how you handle the stress that can make a difference,” she added. “The mind-and-body connection is incredibly powerful. It helps to try and keep perspective, put the big things that happen in life, the major milestones, in their place and keep an open mind.”

“Of course, you can still get treatment,” said Day. “You can still go for Rogaine drops or laser hair treatment, for example. There are always medical things that can be done, and one does not preclude the other. But patients also need to try and control what they can control in terms of the way they approach stress and handle situations.”

Top 7 Tips for Healthy Winter Skin

 Dry winter air can wreak havoc on your skin — leaving it dry, itchy, and irritated; but there are many simple ways to combat dry skin causes and help keep your skin feeling moist and supple all winter long. Here are 7 ways to get started.

Top 7 Tips for Healthy Winter Skin

1. Invest in a humidifier. Using a humidifier in your home or office will add moisture to dry winter air and help keep your skin hydrated. Run a humidifier in the rooms you spend the most time in, including your bedroom.

2. Lower the thermostat. When it’s chilly outside, what’s the first thing you want to do? Crank up the heat! But central heat can make the air in your house even drier. Try setting the thermostat at a cool, yet comfortable setting — 68°F to 72°F — to maintain healthy skin.

3. Skip hot showers. Although it may be tempting to warm up with a long, steamy shower, hot water dries out your skin by stripping it of its natural oils. Instead, take a 5- to 10-minute lukewarm shower (or bath). You should also avoid using excessively hot water when washing your hands — if the water causes your skin to turn red, it’s too hot.

4. Choose cleanser wisely. The wrong soap can worsen itchy, dry skin. For instance, steer clear of regular bar soaps, since they tend to contain irritating ingredients and fragrances. Instead, start washing with a fragrance-free, moisturizing cleanser or gel. You can also prevent winter skin problems by using less soap, so limit your lathering to necessary areas, such as your hands, armpits, genitals, and feet.

5. Modify your facial skin care regimen for the season. During the winter months, choose cream-based cleansers, and apply toners and astringents sparingly, if at all. Many astringents contain alcohol, which can further dry your skin. Look for products that contain little or no alcohol — unless your skin is excessively oily. At night, use a richer moisturizer on your face.

6. Moisturize frequently. Maintain healthy skin by moisturizing after washing up. “Blot skin dry and apply a thick moisturizer within a few minutes after bathing to seal the water into the skin,” says Linda Stein Gold, MD, director of dermatology clinical research and division head of dermatology at Henry Ford Hospital, West Bloomfield, MI. “It’s best to use a cream or ointment in the winter. Lotions are better in warmer, humid climates. And don’t forget your hands,” says Dr. Stein Gold. “Constant washing will cause the hands to take a beating. Apply hand cream after each washing, and wear waterproof gloves when washing dishes or cleaning around the house.”

7. Apply sunscreen — even in winter. It is still important to protect your skin from harmful UV rays on cold, dreary days in winter. Before going outside, apply a moisturizing, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher to all exposed areas of your body.