How to Take Care Of Your Skin With Activated Charcoal

Skincare is an especially important part of life because, without adequate care, you’re going to encounter a plethora of potential issues. For example, having flaky skin is problematic, and so is too much oil.

The truth is, these are issues that are troublesome only if they happen on your face – although you’ll want to fix them elsewhere too. The reason behind this is that people usually see the skin of your face quite clearly and easily, while other locations aren’t that noticeable. If you have oily skin on your head beneath your hair it’s not that simple.

If you have any of the issues we’re going to mention, choosing activated charcoal as a solution is recommended. It all stems from the fact that charcoal is amazing at cleaning and detoxifying. So, here’s why activated charcoal is used as a facial skin treatment for a couple of the following issues.

Clear Pores

Pores can get blocked regularly, and you’ll start itching and sweating more. There’s usually no simple way to clear out the pores, but in this case, there is. All you need is some activated charcoal powder, and that’s it.

Put the powder on your face, let it sit for a while, and wash your face with water. Voila! Pores cleared and the skin can breathe again. Other methods deal with this but they’re usually more expensive, and you’ll need to constantly keep coming back if your pores get clogged up again. This way, you can clean everything yourself!

Control Oil Production

Human skin is naturally a bit oily, but this doesn’t mean that every level of oil is acceptable. If you feel it getting too oily, it’s best if you start doing something about it right away. Generally, you’ll want a product that will reduce oil production completely while also clearing it out right now, and that’s exactly where activated charcoal comes into play. Charcoal magic – that’s what it is!

Again, this type of charcoal is exceptional when it comes to getting rid of toxins and cleaning your skin, which is why it’s recommended as a way of treating too much oil production. Not only will it help your skin at the moment, but it’ll also have long-term effects, potentially reducing the amount of oil in your skin in the future.

Brighten Your Skin

Skin blemishes appear out of a variety of reasons which is why they’re so annoying. You never know why your skin started to lose its pigment and shine, so you can’t exactly know what to fix. People always say that this will help out, and that will help out, but unless you have a universal product which deals with such a problem, you’ll have to figure out the root of it.

In this case, you don’t have to think too much. Activated charcoal is more than capable at getting rid of skin blemishes, discoloration, and even staining. Plus, one pack of activated charcoal facial cream will last you for quite some time, so if you get discoloration again, grab some charcoal and spread it all over!

Detoxify Skin

Today’s world is fast paced, stressful, and dirty. You can never know if you picked up a disease or exposed yourself to dangerous toxins. Your skin, although it sounds weird, can also suffer from toxins. Toxin build-up is mainly due to poor hygiene, but some people have medical conditions which prevent their skin from being, let’s say “normal” – as in, not being so exposed to toxins.

If you’re having issues with this and want to clean your skin completely – which is also fine – then activated charcoal is for you.

Treat Acne

We all were teenagers once, and most of us suffered from acne and pimples throughout puberty. Your entire body starts to change, your skin starts to change, and the end result before the process is complete is that you have acne.

Now, there are some great commercial products which deal with acne quite effectively, but they’re usually expensive and don’t last very long. You don’t have to go searching for those because activated charcoal is there to help! Get rid of acne quickly by using activated charcoal on your skin.

Eczema And Skin Defects In The News

Research – published in a recent issue of the journal JCI Insight – has discovered a cause of the dry, inflamed and itchy skin that plagues eczema patients. A team led by Donald Leung, MD, Ph.D. at National Jewish Health learned that an immune system skewed toward allergy alters the lipids in the skin. The altered lipids allow the skin to crack, water to leave and irritants to enter, setting the stage for eczematous lesions to develop.

“We have long known that an activated immune system and a defective skin barrier are both important factors in eczema, but not how they are related and which one drives the disease,” says Dr. Leung. “We have now shown that the allergic immune response shortens lipids in the skin, making them less effective at maintaining moisture and more susceptible to irritants.”

The researchers first examined skin from eczema patients and found lipids that were shorter than lipids in the skin of participants with no disease. Lipids are waxy substances vital to healthy skin. They help keep allergens, irritants and infections out, while keeping moisture in. Lipids with longer carbon chains are stronger and more water repellent. The shorter lipids prevalent on eczema patients’ skin protect the skin less effectively. Patients’ skin cells also produced fewer of the enzymes that lengthen lipid chains. When they added cytokines IL-4 and IL-13 to cultured human skin cells, the allergic immune response kicked into high gear and lipids became shorter.

Treatment with those pro-allergic enzymes also reduced expression of lipid-lengthening enzymes. Blocking the activity of IL-4 and IL-13 in the cultured skin cells resulted in an abundance of long-chain lipids. “Our findings demonstrate how the pro-allergic, type 2 immune response alters lipid formation in the skin, leading to a defective skin barrier and the dry, cracked and itchy skin in eczema,” said Dr. Leung.

New Study Identifies A Natural Brake In Allergic Attacks

Eczema – known as atopic dermatitis – is a chronic skin disease that afflicts an estimated 35 million Americans. It is characterized by patches of itchy, dry and cracked skin, which can profoundly impact patients’ lives. Although symptoms mostly involve the skin, an allergic immune response has long been recognized as an important component of the disease. Eczema affects about 17 percent of children in developed countries and is often the gateway to food allergy and asthma, initiating an “atopic march” toward broader allergic sensitization. There are treatments such as steroid creams and a recently approved biologic, but they are expensive or have side effects.

A recent study in Science Immunology suggests a different approach to eczema, one that stimulates a natural brake on the allergic attack. The skin inflammation of eczema is known to be driven by “type 2” immune responses. These are led by activated T helper 2 (TH2) cells and type 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s), together known as effector cells. Another group of T cells, known as regulatory T cells or Tregs, are known to temper type 2 responses, thereby suppressing the allergic response. If you examine an eczema lesion, the numbers of Tregs are unchanged.

Tregs comprise only about five percent of the body’s T cells, but up to 50 percent of T cells in the skin. “Our question was, is there something special about the Tregs that reside in the skin?” says Raif Geha, MD, chief of the Division of Immunology at Boston Children’s Hospital and the senior author of the study. Geha led an investigation using two separate mouse models of eczema, each recreating a separate pathway leading to allergic skin inflammation. The team purified Tregs from the animals’ skin and blood and compared the genes they express.

The Double Whammy

Several genes were especially likely to be turned on in the skin Tregs. One encodes retinoid-related orphan receptor alpha (ROR?), a transcription factor that itself regulates multiple other genes. “We then used a genetic trick to remove ROR? only from Tregs,” says Geha. “Without ROR?, allergic inflammation went crazy in both our mouse models.” The team saw a three-fold increase in the influx of inflammatory cells, and ILC2s and TH2 cells were at the center of the action.”

Why did the Tregs stop working when ROR? was removed? Geha and colleagues discovered that the cells made less of a receptor for a cytokine called TNF ligand-related molecule 1, or TL1A. TL1A is released by skin cells known as keratinocytes, and activates not only Tregs but also ILC2 and TH2 effector cells. “The two kinds of immune cells are competing for TL1A,” Geha explains. “If Tregs don’t have this receptor, they can’t ‘see’ TL1A. Not only are they not activated, but more TL1A is available to activate the effector cells. So you have a double whammy.”

Testing human samples, the team documented higher expression of ROR? in skin Tregs compared with those in blood, similar to mice. Geha now wants to see if ROR? is expressed less in human eczema and whether it’s important in the atopic march. If so, he sees several possible treatment approaches. One is to boost ROR?’s level or activity with compounds that act as ROR? agonists, perhaps given in a topical cream. Geha’s lab also plans to look for factors in the skin that drive ROR? activity, which could present other targets for intervention. Finally, the study showed that ROR? regulates the expression of several genes important for Treg cell migration and function; those pathways could be potential targets too.

Reasons For Eczema Susceptibility

Scientists have uncovered evidence that a deficiency in the skin’s barrier is key to triggering eczema. The team at Newcastle University, in collaboration with scientists at Stiefel, have identified how a key skin barrier protein called filaggrin impacts on other proteins and pathways in the skin, which in turn drive the development of eczema. This also lead them to identify potential targets for future drug development which could treat the underlying cause rather than treating the symptoms.

The research builds on the discovery by scientists in Dundee which showed that lack of the protein filaggrin in the skin caused an inherited dry skin condition known as ichthyosis vulgaris that is strongly linked to the development of atopic eczema, as well as other allergic diseases such as hayfever and asthma. Nick Reynolds, Professor of Dermatology at Newcastle University and who works within the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is the lead investigator of the study. “We have shown for the first time that loss of the filaggrin protein alone is sufficient to alter key proteins and pathways involved in triggering eczema,” Reynolds said. “This research reinforces the importance of filaggrin deficiency leading to problems with the barrier function in the skin and predisposing someone to eczema.”

More Pivotal Research

Publishing in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology(JACI), researchers at Newcastle University, in collaboration with scientists at Stiefel, reported on their development of a human model system. In this, the upper layer of skin (epidermis) was modified, using molecular techniques, to become filaggrin-deficient, directly mimicking the situation observed in the skin of patients with atopic eczema.

This model enabled the team to discover proteins and signaling pathways directly down-stream of filaggrin, and most importantly, identified a number of key regulatory mechanisms. These included regulators of inflammatory signaling, cell structure, barrier function and stress response. These pathways were found to map to those networks observed in the skin of people with active eczema. This mapping provides researchers with new understanding of the mechanisms involved and suggests targets for future drug development.

“This latest research from Newcastle is crucial as it expands on our knowledge of how filaggrin impacts on other proteins and pathways in the skin, which in turn trigger the disease,” says Nina Goad of the British Association of Dermatologists. “This type of research allows scientists to develop treatments that target the actual root cause of the disease, rather than just managing its symptoms. Given the level of suffering eczema causes, this is a pivotal piece of research.”

Can You Improve Children’s Eczema With Silk Clothing?

No significant differences were observed in eczema severity for children with moderate to severe eczema who wore silk garments compared with those who wore their usual clothing, according to a randomized controlled study published in PLOS Medicine by Kim Thomas from University of Nottingham, UK, and colleagues. Clothing may play a role in either exacerbating or soothing eczema, and patients often avoid wool garments and turn to cotton and other fine weave fabrics, including silk.

In the study, 300 children ages one to 15 years with moderate to severe eczema were recruited from five United Kingdom centers covering a range of rural and urban settings. The participants were randomly divided into two groups. Half the children received the standard of care and the other half received the standard of care plus silk garments that are claimed to be beneficial for eczema.

After six months, there was no significant difference in eczema severity based on the Eczema Area and Severity Index. There was also no difference in quality of life or medication use between the groups. The researchers report that the garments are unlikely to be cost-effective even if the small differences between groups were genuine, with a computed cost per quality. A limitation of the study is that the use of an objective outcome measure – an eczema severity score assessed by research nurses – may underestimate changes in symptoms. “The results of this trial suggest that silk garments are unlikely to provide additional clinical or economic benefits over standard care for children with moderate to severe eczema,” the authors added.

The Benefits Of Nature Oils For Your Skin

If you’re worried about the parabens and synthetic colors that may be lurking in your moisturizer, you’ll be happy to know that there are alternatives that may be even better for your skin.

Our bodies know exactly what they need, and in most cases, they produce it. That’s why our bodies produce a natural oil to help keep the skin hydrated. But with changing weather and an increasingly toxic environment, our natural oils aren’t always enough to do the trick. But have no fear because there are plenty of natural oil alternatives that work just as well.

The following oils are great choices to add to your body care routine.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is naturally antibacterial, antifungal and ultra-moisturizing. It’s a great treatment for atopic dermatitis and as a general moisturizer. Some women swear by coconut oil for moisturizing and cleaning the face while others find that it clogs their pores. If you’re using coconut oil for the face, keep an eye on how your face reacts. Coconut oil is a very hydrating moisturizer for the body and lips. It can also be great to help you remove eye makeup too.

Almond Oil

Almond oil is a great source of nutrients that will give your skin a healthy glow. It’s packed with moisturizing vitamin E and is a great source of magnesium, phosphorus, copper and omega-3 fatty acids. This ancient oil has been used for centuries to soothe skin and treat minor cuts and wounds. Almond oil can also improve the skin’s texture and tone by helping the skin retain moisture. Use almond oil on its own or use with holistic treatments to boost its power.

Tea Tree Oil

Unlike the others on this list, tea tree oil is a concentrated essential oil. This means that it is extremely potent and should not be applied directly to the skin. However, it provides potent healing qualities when combined with other oils in a nourishing oil blend. Tea tree oil is known for its antiseptic properties that may help combat oily and combination skin. At the same time, its healing mechanisms can help treat eczema and dry skin.

Avocado Oil

If you think of guacamole when you hear the word avocado, you need to get to know this fruit a bit better. Avocado oil is an amazing beauty (and food) product that works wonders on the skin. It’s loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A, D and E. Vitamin E is extremely moisturizing on its own, but in avocado oil, it’s combined with potassium, lecithin and other moisturizing nutrients for optimal effect. This oil is also loaded with antioxidants, so it’s great for treating inflamed skin or acne scarring.

When it comes to getting that healthy glow that everyone is after, natural is always best. Mother nature provides everything we need to nourish our bodies and achieve optimal health. That’s probably why we’re starting to see warnings about the common ingredients found in commercially-made beauty products. Whenever possible, go natural.

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How To Care For Your Skin In Your 60s, 70s And 80s

Skincare is an important part of your daily routine for many reasons. Not only does it help you stay looking your best, but having healthy skin is important for staying healthy overall. As you get older, the type of skincare you need to stay looking and feeling great changes. This is because your skin changes naturally as you get older. The stress of transitioning into senior communities can be overwhelming for many people, and this stress can have negative impacts on your skin. Here are some tips to help you take care of your skin in later life.

Drink Plenty Of Water

As the skin ages, it naturally becomes dehydrated, which can result in uncomfortable, dry, flaky patches as well as wrinkling. To prevent dehydration, it’s important to drink water throughout the day. Water is very nourishing and gives your skin cells a little extra boost. If you up your water intake significantly, you’ll likely notice a visual difference fairly quickly. If you struggle to remember to drink water, try carrying a thermos with you throughout the day, and start ordering water when you would normally order a coffee or soda at restaurants.

Use Sun Protection

Sun damage is another very common problem for senior skin, which is naturally more vulnerable than younger skin. Too much sun exposure for seniors can result in serious sunburns, moles, or even skin cancer in some cases. It’s very important that seniors use sunscreen when going outside, even if it’s just for a few minutes. It’s also helpful to wear hats, long sleeves, and sunglasses to give your body an extra layer of protection against the sun.

Use Mild, Unscented Soap Products

Since the skin is more prone to dehydration in old age, it’s important to use skincare products that are light and don’t contain a strong scent or too many chemicals. These chemicals and scents can dry your skin out or even irritate it, which can be very uncomfortable. Instead, look for products that are designed to be gentle and don’t have added scents. Many drugstores carry product ranges that are specifically designed for sensitive skin.

Incorporate Moisturizer Into Your Routine

In addition to using very gentle products, you should start using moisturizer in your skincare routine if you do not already. Moisturizer can give aging skin the added boost it needs to stay feeling good and looking healthy. You should use two different types of moisturizer for your face and body, since the skin in these two areas is so different. You should apply body moisturizer after you take a shower, and you can apply a small amount of face moisturizer once or twice a day, ideally when you’re getting ready in the morning and then right before you go to bed. If you’re not sure what’s appropriate for your needs, consult with a dermatologist or even ask your primary care doctor.

Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Vitamins

The nutrients you eat can have a big impact on the way your skin looks and feels, so it’s important to make sure you’re eating a balanced diet and getting enough vitamins. In particular, vitamins A, C, and E are all very important for healthy skin. These vitamins can be found in several fruits and vegetables, and you can also find them in supplements. If you don’t get these vitamins in your diet naturally, taking a supplement is usually the easiest way to ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs to function properly.

Turn Down Your Water Temperature

Although hot baths and showers feel good, they can actually be very detrimental to aging skin. This is because the warm water actually dries the skin out, and since older skin is prone to dehydration, the results can be very uncomfortable. Too much hot water can result in dry or flaky patches of skin, as well as redness or irritation. Turning down your water temperature just a small amount can make a big difference in your skin’s overall quality. Using moisturizer after the shower is also quite helpful.

Taking care of your skin in your later years is so important for many reasons. Not only does it look aesthetically pleasing to have nice skin, but it also helps you feel healthy. Taking these steps to care for your skin will help you feel your best and develop a radiant glow. Ask your doctor for more personalized tips on senior skincare and other senior living help.

Study: Why Does Psoriasis Recur?

Psoriasis is a disease of the immune system in which inflammation causes skin cells to multiply faster than normal. They cause raised, red patches covered by silvery scales when they reach the surface of the skin and die. It occurs most commonly on the scalp, knees, elbows, hands, and feet, but can also appear on the lower back, face, genitals, nails, and other places. The American Academy of Dermatology estimates psoriasis affects about 7.5 million Americans.

Research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Rockefeller University is helping to address a longstanding question about this inflammatory skin condition: Why do skin lesions that have resolved with therapy recur in the same locations after a patient stops using topical steroids? Researchers have been searching for years for a cell population that continues to smolder after psoriasis appears to resolve. It’s been challenging to zoom in on the population of T cells driving the disease in part because when psoriasis is active, lesions are flooded with diverse T cells.

BWH physician scientist Rachael Clark, MD, Ph.D. of the Department of Dermatology and her colleagues have taken a new approach. Instead of looking during the height of activity, they examined lesion sites after treatment. They identified T cell receptors of cells at these sites that were shared across psoriatic patients but not found in healthy individuals or those with other skin conditions. The team’s findings are reported in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. “When psoriasis is treated, T cells that flooded in during inflammation recede like the tide,” Clark said. “They leave behind a population of cells that stand out.”

The population of T cells that remains are tissue resident memory cells, which live long term in skin and, when functioning properly, should be fighting infection. But for patients with psoriasis, these cells may be the source of the misguided immune response that leads to red, inflamed patches on the skin. To identify this T cell population, the researchers took biopsies at the sites of active lesions before treatment and biopsies of the same skin areas after the lesions had cleared on therapy. Using high-throughput sequencing and immunostaining, the research team found that resolved lesions contained populations of T cells derived from just a few cells – known as oligoclonal populations – that produced IL-17, a telltale marker of inflammation.

These cells also shared stretches of genetic sequence that code for the same antigen receptors. These shared T cell antigen receptors were found only among cells from psoriatic patients – not in cells from healthy controls or people with skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis. This work highlights the fact that most psoriasis treatments do not kill these disease causing T cells but instead temporarily suppress their activation. Now that they have identified the long lived, skin resident T cell population that appears to be driving recurrence, the team plans to search for new therapies that can deplete these resident T cells, potentially driving the disease into long-term remission.

“We believe these resident memory T cells are the root of the problem,” Clark added. “Imagine these cells are teenagers throwing a party. They invite lots of other cells to the site of the party, making it hard to identify them while the party is in full swing. It’s only after inflammation dies down and everyone else goes home that we can see these culprits. A small number of cells can cause so much trouble. But depleting this population of cells may be the key to slowing down this disease or preventing its recurrence.”

Psoriasis Severity Linked To Increased Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

People with psoriasis are also at a higher risk to develop type-2 diabetes than those without psoriasis, and the risk increases dramatically based on the severity of the disease. Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found people with psoriasis that covers 10 percent of their body or more are 64 percent more likely to develop diabetes than those without psoriasis, independent of traditional risk factors such as body weight. Applying the study’s findings – published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology – to the number of people who have psoriasis worldwide would equate to 125,650 new cases of diabetes attributable to psoriasis per year.

“The type of inflammation seen in psoriasis is known to promote insulin resistance, and psoriasis and diabetes share similar genetic mutations suggesting a biological basis for the connection between the two conditions we found in our study,” says the study’s senior author Joel M. Gelfand, MD MSCE, a professor of Dermatology and Epidemiology at Penn. “We know psoriasis is linked to higher rates of diabetes, but this is the first study to specifically examine how the severity of the disease affects a patient’s risk.”

Understanding Additional Risks

In order to measure psoriasis severity, the researchers used body surface area (BSA), which measures the percentage of the body covered by psoriasis. Using a United Kingdom database, they surveyed general practitioners about BSA affected by psoriasis and looked at data on 8,124 adults with psoriasis and 76,599 adults without psoriasis over the course of four years. They adjusted the samples to account for any differences in age, sex, and body mass index and other diabetes risk factors.

They found patients with a BSA of two percent or less had a relative risk of 1.21 for developing diabetes, meaning their risk is 21 percent higher than those without psoriasis. This risk increased dramatically in patients with a BSA of 10 percent or more. On average, 5.97 out of every 1,000 people will get diabetes in a given year. In the population of patients with a BSA greater than 10 percent, that number jumps to 12.22 per 1,000 people. That group had a relative risk of 1.64, or 64 percent higher than patients with no psoriasis at all. Further, they found that for every 10 percent increase in BSA beyond the initial 10 percent, the relative risk increased by another 20 percent. In other words, patients with 20 percent BSA were at almost an 84 percent higher risk of developing type-2 diabetes, patients with 30 percent BSA were at a 104 percent higher risk, and so on.

“These findings are independent of traditional risk factors for diabetes and still show a strong connection between the increasing severity of psoriasis and the increasing risk of developing diabetes, which makes a strong argument for a causal relationship between the two,” Gelfand said. He added that psoriasis BSA should be routinely measured, and patients targeted for diabetes prevention, especially in those with a BSA of 10 percent or higher. These results add to the growing understanding of the additional risks associated with severe psoriasis, which his other studies have shown can include major cardiovascular events, liver disease and death.

Link Between Severe Psoriasis And Increased Risk Of Death

The more the surface area of the body is covered by psoriasis, the greater the risk of death for the patient suffering from the condition, according to another study by the same researchers. The study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, is the first to link psoriasis severity to an increased risk of death using an objective measure of disease severity – called Body Surface Area (BSA) – rather than treatment patterns, such as whether or not a patient was receiving oral, injectable or phototherapy treatment for the condition. It finds patients with psoriasis on 10 percent or more of their body are at almost double the risk of death.

“It’s well established that psoriasis is associated with an increased risk for other comorbidities like chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, but we don’t yet understand how the severity of psoriasis impacts future risk of major health problems,” Gelfand said.

For this study, Gelfand and his team again used the Body Surface Area metric. Using a database from the United Kingdom, they looked at 8,760 patients with psoriasis and 87,600 people without it. They sent surveys to the patient’s general practitioners to determine the body surface area affected by psoriasis as this information is not routinely available in medical records. They then looked at the number of deaths in each group by person-years, a measure that combines the number of people with the amount of years of data on them in the database.

The team used an average follow-up time of about four years. In that time, there was an average of 6.39 deaths per 1,000 person years in patients with psoriasis on more than 10 percent of their bodies, compared to 3.24 deaths in patients without psoriasis. Even when researchers adjusted for other demographic factors, patients with a BSA greater than 10 percent were 1.79 times more likely to have died – almost double – than other people their age and gender who do not have the condition. This risk persisted even when controlling for other risk factors like smoking, obesity, and other major medical conditions.

Severe Psoriasis Predominantly Affects Men

The fact that men are overrepresented in psoriasis registers and consume more psoriasis care have long led researchers to believe that the common skin disease disproportionally affects men. A unique study with 5,438 Swedish psoriasis patients revealed that women have a statistically significant lower incidence of severe psoriasis compared to men. The study, conducted by researchers at Umeå University and Karolinska Institutet, was published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology.

“Our results tell us that the well-established gender differences in the utilization of psoriasis care can at least partially be explained by a higher prevalence of more severe disease in men,” says Marcus Schmitt-Egenolf, researcher at the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine at Umeå University and senior author of the study.

The study of gender differences in severe psoriasis cases was based on the Swedish quality register for systemic treatment of psoriasis, PsoReg, which contains detailed disease measurement data on all patients measured with the standard method Psoriasis Area Severity Index (PASI). In the analysis, the researchers found that women had significantly lower median PASI values than men – 5.4 for women versus 7.3 for men. The findings of more severe psoriasis in men were consistent across all ages and in all areas of the body except for the head. “These findings should motivate a gender perspective in the management of severe psoriasis and its comorbidities, such as cardiovascular and metabolic disease,” says Marcus Schmitt-Egenolf.

The researchers point out that the study found no differences between women and men in the use of medications before enrolment in the PsoReg register that may explain the observed sex difference. Instead, the researchers argue, the finding that women have less severe psoriasis can explain the well-known male dominance in systemic treatment of psoriasis. “For over 70 years, psoriasis researchers have speculated that women have less severe psoriasis compared to men,” Schmitt-Egenolf said. “Our study is the first to investigate sex differences in psoriasis severity using the golden standard of severity measurement, the PASI score. Furthermore, we have also looked more in-depth at distinct elements of the PASI score. The results allow us to verify this thesis in a nationwide population. However, further research is needed to substantiate our findings in different populations.”

Research Suggests New Strategy To Target Skin Diseases Like Psoriasis

Research at UT Southwestern has shown that targeting metabolism in growing cells holds promise for the treatment of skin diseases like psoriasis that are characterized by skin overgrowth resulting from excess cell division, known as hyperproliferation. A research team led by Dr. Richard Wang, Assistant Professor of Dermatology, demonstrated in mice that inhibit glucose transport may be a safe and effective treatment for these diseases. Actively dividing cells – like those underlying psoriasis – are more dependent on glucose for their growth. By inhibiting glucose transport in those cells, disease-associated skin overgrowth and inflammation were reduced. Their findings were recently published in Nature Medicine.

“This study provides a window for the treatment of various diseases by specifically targeting the metabolic requirements of hyperproliferative skin diseases,” Wang said. “It also broadens our understanding of changes in skin metabolism in response to physiological stressors. Most psoriasis therapies inhibit the immune cells that underlie the disease. They have been limited somewhat by side effects caused by broadly targeting the immune system.”

The study results, if proved effective in humans, may lead to development of new treatments for those with incurable skin conditions like psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune disease that affects more than seven million people in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition manifests as patches of red skin with silvery scales typically found on the elbows, knees, scalp, lower back, face, palms, and soles of feet. Recent studies have shown that people with psoriasis are at an increased risk for other inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis, heart disease/hypertension, diabetes, Crohn’s syndrome, lupus, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, and obesity.

Psoriasis Disease Links

This trickle-down threat resulted in the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizing psoriasis under its umbrella of these four primary noncommunicable diseases: cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes. Affecting more than 125 million people worldwide, psoriasis has a direct causal linkage to several of these diseases. Although psoriasis alone rarely results in death, those with it run a greater risk of various co-occurring diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Glucose transport in skin cells called keratinocytes takes place through Glut1. In the study, investigators successfully decreased skin overgrowth in mouse models of psoriasis-like disease by inactivating the transporter protein Glut1, either genetically or with drug-based inhibitors. These experiments did not compromise the skin’s development or functionality.

Researchers also were able to decrease inflammation with topical application of a Glut1 inhibitor. This inhibitor also had a remarkable effect on psoriatic human skin grown in a dish, suppressing both inflammation and the expression of disease-associated genes. “Although I would still consider our findings preliminary, they have the potential to provide novel therapeutic approaches for inflammatory and neoplastic skin diseases,” Wang said.

Easing The Itch Of Poison Ivy And Poison Oak

Troublesome plants such as poison ivy and poison oak can cause mild to severe allergic reactions. The signature leaves of three of the poison ivy plants carry an oil called urushiol that can be an irritant if touched, broken or burned. Poison ivy’s less-common cousin, poison oak, can be identified by leaves that look like hairy oak fronds. While some people are not sensitive to the urushiol oil, others develop a red, itchy or painful rash, swelling or blisters where the irritant comes in contact with the skin. The reaction doesn’t happen right away though. It typically takes at least 24 hours to develop, happening faster each time you are exposed.

What many people don’t know is that poison ivy and poison oak can also become airborne and can be spread by burning piles of wood or brush that includes the leaves. “Sometimes people wake up days later and their eyes are puffy and swelled up so much that they can’t see but they don’t know why,” says Dr. Claire Hollins, a dermatologist at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Hollins has also heard of cases where people chop firewood in the summer and the urushiol oil from poison ivy on it is reactivated by burning that wood in the winter months.

Black dot dermatitis – a condition where black dots develop on parts of the skin sprinkled with the oil from the poison ivy plant – is less common, but usually comes from whacking weeds, brush or vines that include the plant. The best prevention is to avoid contact with poison ivy altogether by covering up and wearing long pants, socks and gardening gloves. If you suspect that you have come into contact with a poisonous plant wash your hands immediately with warm, soapy water and dry them on a disposable towel rather than cloth towel to avoid spreading the harmful oils.

If irritation does develop, it can be treated with over-the-counter hydrocortisone ointments. More serious cases may require a course of oral prednisone and stronger topical steroids from a dermatologist or primary care provider. Poison ivy is not typically passed from one person to another unless the oil is still present on clothing or skin. It is also not spread by scratching areas that itch, as the urushiol is not present in blister fluid. Hollins said Hershey Medical Center’s Department of Dermatology is conducting research to look for a vaccine for poison ivy, and researchers are currently testing an urushiol patch to see how effective it is.

The Language Of Skin Care Labels

When it comes to skin care product labels, people shouldn’t necessarily believe everything they read. “The language on the label is not always an accurate description of the product inside the bottle or its potential effects on your skin,” says board-certified dermatologist Rajani Katta, MD, FAAD, a clinical assistant professor of medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “Manufacturers may use certain language for marketing purposes, and the same terms may mean different things on different products – and that makes it difficult to determine what they mean for our skin.”

Patients may choose products labeled “for sensitive skin” or “hypoallergenic” because they believe these products will be gentle on their skin and less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Because these terms are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, however, there is no guarantee that these products won’t irritate the skin or cause a reaction. Also, be wary of the term “all-natural,” since products containing natural ingredients are not necessarily good for the skin. “Remember, poison ivy is ‘all-natural,’” Katta says. “And even if a natural ingredient is good for your skin, some products may combine that ingredient with additives or preservatives that could be harmful.”

Language related to fragrances also may be misleading. Under current labeling laws, manufacturers are permitted to use the term “fragrance-free” on products that include fragrance chemicals if those chemicals are used for another purpose – such as moisturizing – rather than changing the product’s scent. The term “unscented” may be used on products that use fragrances to mask a strong existing odor instead of creating a new scent. “Unfortunately, there isn’t any labeling language that guarantees a product is hypoallergenic and suitable for sensitive skin,” Katta says. “However, there are steps you can take to avoid adverse reactions to new products, and a board-certified dermatologist can help you if you do experience a reaction.”

Patients with sensitive skin should test a small amount of a product on their forearm for a week to see if it causes a reaction, and make sure to follow all product directions. Patients who are experiencing skin inflammation should avoid new products altogether, since their skin’s protective barrier is already compromised, making it susceptible to further irritation. If a skin care product does cause an adverse reaction, it may not always be easy to identify the culprit.

“There’s a common misconception that allergic reactions happen instantaneously,” Katta says, “but they may take a couple of days to show up, and some people may develop an allergy to a skin care ingredient after using it for months or years. If you’re not sure what’s causing a reaction on your skin, visit a dermatologist, who can help determine the cause. Dermatologists also can help you navigate the confusing world of skin care product labels. If you’re not sure how to select the right products for your skin, visit your dermatologist. We can answer your questions about ingredients, and help you identify the products that will work best for your skin type and address your skin care concerns.”

New Treatment Option Shows Promise For Skin And Hair Conditions

Alopecia areata, atopic dermatitis and vitiligo are highly visible dermatologic conditions that can have a negative effect on patients’ quality of life and overall health. An emerging treatment option, however, could provide effective therapy for patients with these conditions. Board-certified dermatologist Brett King, MD, MPH, FAAD, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., is at the forefront of research into new uses for a class of drugs known as Janus kinase inhibitors, or JAK inhibitors. Recent studies suggest that these medications can disrupt the immune response that fuels alopecia areata, which can cause patchy or total hair loss; atopic dermatitis, which causes severe itch and red rash; and vitiligo, which causes the skin to lose its color.

“While alopecia areata, atopic dermatitis and vitiligo may not seem alike on the surface, they are all fueled by the body’s immune system,” King says. “JAK inhibitors seem to address immune system dysfunction in all three diseases. I believe that this class of medicines is going to redefine how dermatologists approach these diseases and provide a revolutionary new therapy for patients.”

A relatively new class of drug, JAK inhibitors were approved about five years ago by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat rheumatoid arthritis and bone marrow disorders. After researchers at Columbia University in New York used these medications to successfully treat alopecia areata in mice, King used a JAK inhibitor off label in a human patient with the condition. After observing hair regrowth in this patient and others, he turned to patients with atopic dermatitis and vitiligo, who experienced significant improvement in their symptoms after taking JAK inhibitors.

While these results are promising, King says that JAK inhibitors are not currently FDA-approved for the treatment of alopecia areata, atopic dermatitis or vitiligo. The next step toward that end would be for pharmaceutical companies to conduct large-scale clinical trials, which are already in progress for atopic dermatitis and alopecia areata. “If JAK inhibitors are approved for dermatologic use, these medications would provide dermatologists with a powerful tool for treating multiple common diseases that have a profound negative impact on patients,” King says. “We need new and innovative treatments to help our patients, and for those with alopecia areata, atopic dermatitis and vitiligo, JAK inhibitors could be a life-changing therapy.”

What Is Croton Oil?

The earth is a magical place. When we think about the plethora of plants, seeds and natural components that it bares for free and how they have healing powers, it’s pretty remarkable that more people aren’t more holistically geared in how they live and treat illnesses. But not all plants or oils are created equal. Even some of the most popular remedies in traditional scenes have lost their appeal and luster in modern day healing. There are reasons for this.

Croton oil is an oil that used to be used for stomach issues, digestive interruptions and constipation. Due to its very acrid nature, it’s no longer used in such a matter as it would clean out a person’s intestines almost violently, leaving them grappling with diarrhea after an hour.

However, despite not being an oil that is readily suggested for what it used to be used for, it’s still used in very small doses for skin care purposes. It is the active ingredient in a phenol-based facial which is a peel that can be professionally administered. It helps to even the skin tone and eliminate the top layer of skin that is often uneven and suffering from various types of damage.

The amount of croton oil that the skin can safely handle is very specific for peeling, and then the necessary amount of healing after the facial, is required. Due to its incredibly strong and toxic compositional makeup, only a drop or two of oil should be used at a time. If you happen to have very sensitive skin, try using a tiny drop on the inside of your wrist and see if you have any sort of harsh or negative reactions to it.

Exfoliate Regularly

It is classified as an irritant of the skin, yet also an exfoliant. If you are familiar with the inner workings of skin care, then you know just how crucial it is to exfoliate your skin on a regular basis. So much of the gunk that makes skin look old, weighs it down or causes imperfections, exists on the very top layer of the skin.

In order to get to the healthier, more even skin, you have to effectively buff off the dead skin cells and first layer of skin. It’s so important that you take extra precautions when dealing with an oil as potent and toxic as this one. This is not an oil you want to use too much of because it could end very badly.

The outer most layer of the skin is called epidermis. This is specifically what this oil targets when it is used sparingly in skin-care regimens. After the skin takes its time to heal after the initial exposure, it heals stronger with elastin fibers and renewed collagen at the forefront of the skin. This helps to eliminate the signs of aging as well as any scarring you may be suffering from.

Chemical peels are very serious so make sure you do the proper research if you consider doing a deeply invasive one with croton oil because your skin will need to heal immediately after. But once it does, the results are truly amazing.

You can purchase croton oil online from several companies at


Ingredient Adds Wettability To Skin

Researchers from Binghamton University, State University of New York may have discovered the future of healthy skin. An anionic surfactant known as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) – an ingredient often found in cosmetic cleaners – may play a role in protecting our skin from chemicals and the effects of the environment. “Skin acts as the first line of defense to the outside world and the wettability plays an important role in contact inhibition of microorganisms,” says Guy German, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering. “We can alter the wettability of the human skin.”

The teams of researchers are led to believe that their discovery could not only have a big impact of controlling microorganisms finding their way into our skin, but also have an influence of our sensory area.


Also known as C12H25SO4Na, SLS can be frequently found in numerous hygienic, cosmetic, and cleaning products. The material is mostly used to remove everyday residue and stains. However, German and his team of researchers seem to have cracked the code to explore the changes in the mechanics and functionality of healthy skin tissue.

Basically, the wettability of the top layer of our skin can be controlled by continuous treatment of C12H25SO4Na at various pH levels. Then, the surfactants, which are amphiphilic chemicals, are able to both attract and repeal water simultaneously. In harmful environments, your skin will be able to have both a positive and negative charge that can repel water as necessary. In other environments with high alkaline, the process will attract more water. “We can change the surface wettability of skin, it’s quite neat,” says German. “We can actually flip these little molecules upside down.”

German and his team continue to utilize their resources to explore the various fluctuations this ingredient has to treat disordered skin from natural processes such as aging and infections. While we continue to use this common ingredient in our homes and sometimes use them to alter the wettability of hair, it seems that its potential extends onto our skin. This would mark the first time that anyone has been able to alter any kind of bacterial growth on the human skin.

Hydrophobic Skin

The next step of this discovery would be to translate the results of German’s research to everyday use. The hope of this innovative sulfate discovery is to exploit the results that have the potential to help improve drug delivery, deter bacterial growth on human skin, and even progress biointegrated electronics and sensor systems. “If you think about what that could  be good for, well, if you say you had an environment where you didn’t want droplets of water in contact with your skin, we are able to make your skin hydrophobic, which means the water wouldn’t spread itself,” says German.

This discovery means that we could potentially control the water coming into contact on our skin and avoid it at all costs. On the other hand, for those who use cosmetic products on an everyday basis, and may or may not have trouble with its usage, because of German’s discovery, you could allow the product to become hydrophilic to enhance spreading.

German and his team hope to put their discovery to practical use in the near future. Who knows, maybe the material could extend its use onto our leather shoes. It would be nice if they were hydrophobic on those cold, rainy days.

Stay Sun Safe This Summer

Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States.  One in every three cancers diagnosed is a skin cancer, and one in every five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.  With summer here and as we spend greater time outdoors throughout the year, we place ourselves at risk for over-exposure and cumulative, toxic effects of the sun that can eventually promote the growth of skin cancers.

Common risk factors for developing skin cancer include blue, green or hazel eyes, many moles, history of severe sunburns, and a family history of skin cancer.  People of color can get sunburned, and the effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation can damage their skin leading to the development of skin cancer. Adopting a common-sense approach to prevention through lifestyle choices that include sun-protective measures and limiting time outdoors will reduce your risk of developing skin cancer.

Our lifestyle choices contribute greatly to our chances of getting skin cancer. The most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers is sun exposure. According to Tamar Zapolanski, M.D., FAAD, Dermatologist, Valley Medical Group – Park Ridge, “Repeated overexposure to the sun can lead to premature aging and skin cancers called basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer.”

Slow The Signs Of Aging With Sun Protection

Environmental factors can damage the skin in multiple ways, from UVB rays causing sunburns and uneven pigmentation to UVA and infrared radiation penetrating more deeply into the skin to damage existing collagen and reduce collagen production, resulting in wrinkles and sagging skin. Habitual UV exposure can cause blood vessels to become more prominent, causing skin redness while visible light and pollution can cause uneven skin tone, especially in darker skin types. “Although there have been some impressive strides in anti-aging treatments, no one product or procedure can completely reverse the long-term effects of poor skin care decisions, and protective measures are the cornerstone of good skin care,” says Arianne Shadi Kourosh, MD, MPH, FAAD, director of community health and co-director of the multiethnic skin clinic in the department of dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston

As we’ve just discussed, too much time in the sun can lead to skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Summer offers plenty of opportunities to be out basking in the sun and enjoying the outdoors at the beach, park or in your own back yard. But with sun exposure being the largest factor for development of skin cancer later in life, it’s important to take some simple precautions to ensure you’re doing your best to protect your skin from sun damage. Each day in the sun adds to the risk of developing skin cancer.

Since both types of UV rays can damage the skin, Dr. Kourosh says, it’s important to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that provides both UVA and UVB protection, with an SPF of 30 or higher. She recommends sunscreens containing the active ingredients zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as a good source of broad-spectrum protection suitable for sensitive skin. She also says formulations containing antioxidants may provide some protection against uneven skin tone and aging caused by free radical damage from infrared light, visible light and pollution.

Sunscreen Tips

Sunscreen should be applied at least 20 minutes before going outdoors and reapplied every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating. “Sunscreen protects against harmful radiation from the sun by absorbing, reflecting or scattering the sun’s rays on the skin,” explains Dr. Zapolanski. They are available in many forms including creams, lotions, gels, ointments, wax sticks, sprays or in cosmetic products like make-up and lipstick.

Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, when possible. For road trips, gardening, and walking or hiking, consider a travel kit that contains a small bottle of sunscreen, wrap-around sunglasses (ANSI UV), and a hat – with a three-inch brim or greater all around. UV-protective clothing is also a great sun-protective option.

Seek shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand, as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn. Sunburns cause long-lasting damage from UV rays.  Set a timer on your phone to avoid losing track of the time you spend in the sun.  If you do get burned, cool your skin with water or cool compresses, cover up, moisturize and replenish with fluids. Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that may include vitamin supplements.

Avoid Tanning Beds

In addition to practicing sun protection, it’s important to avoid indoor tanning, which exposes users to harmful UV rays that can increase skin cancer risk and accelerate skin aging. Those who wish to look tan may want to consider a self-tanning product but should continue using sunscreen with it. “Whether you’re on a beach vacation or your daily commute, it’s crucial to protect yourself from exposure to harmful UV rays on a regular basis,” Kourosh says. “If you want healthy, younger-looking skin, it’s better to prevent now than try to correct later. If you have questions about sun protection, talk to a board-certified dermatologist.”

Avoid tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. The risk for skin cancer increases 75 percent for people who use a tanning bed before age 35. Tanning lamps give out UVA and UVB rays, which can damage the skin and increase the risk of skin cancer. “Ultraviolet radiation from the sun and indoor tanning beds not only can increase your risk of skin cancer but also can contribute to skin aging,” Kourosh said. “Moreover, other forms of radiation, such as heat and visible light, can negatively impact the skin, as can pollution, so protecting your skin from the environment can benefit both your health and appearance.”

Any time you notice anything changing, growing or bleeding on your skin, see a dermatologist. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early. Regular dermatologic exams, and self-skin exams will help with early recognition of skin cancer.  When performing self-exams, use the ABCDE method of mole/spot skin; A = asymmetry, B = border – irregular; C = color – not uniform, D = diameter – greater than 6mm, E = evolving – change in size, shape or elevation.  “Whether you’re on a beach vacation or your daily commute, it’s crucial to protect yourself from exposure to harmful UV rays on a regular basis,” Kourosh added. “If you want healthy, younger-looking skin, it’s better to prevent now than try to correct later. If you have questions about sun protection, talk to a board-certified dermatologist.”

Skin Disease Awareness In The News

Indoor tanning even one time increases the risk for skin cancer greatly. For example, one study found the risk for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, to be 74 percent greater among indoor tanners than non-tanners. Despite this, we know very little about skin cancer screening behavior among indoor tanners. Skin cancer screening can detect tumors when they are smaller, which is associated with better survival than later detection.

Previous research has shown that those who take part in indoor tanning are at a higher risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancers.  With that, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends those who take part in this activity be screened for skin cancer at regular intervals. Carolyn J. Heckman, Ph.D., a researcher in the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey explored if indoor tanners are getting themselves checked and taking other preventative measures as well. The research was recently published in the online edition of JAMA Dermatology.

Indoor Tanning And Skin Cancer

The team analyzed data from the National Health Interview Survey conducted with more than 30,000 U.S. adults. They looked at rates of skin cancer screening by a physician among people who had indoor tanned and those who had not. About 16.5 percent of the sample had indoor tanned, most of them more than a year ago. About 19.5 percent of non-indoor tanners had been screened for skin cancer, and a little more than 30 percent of indoor tanners had.

The team also explored which other sociodemographic, healthcare, as well as skin cancer risk and protective variables were associated with skin cancer screening and found many similar ones among the two groups – and some different ones. A key limitation is that data were collected at only one time-point, so they don’t know exactly when the screening occurred in relation to the indoor tanning.

The FDA recommends that indoor tanners be screened for skin cancer, but 70 percent of those who reported indoor tanning in this analysis have not done this. We need to develop ways to help providers and patients conduct this screening. For example, people with lower household incomes – less than $100,000 per year – were less likely to be screened, suggesting that making screening more accessible to this population might increase screening rates.

Men With Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer History Less Likely To Die Of Melanoma

Skin cancer survivors know firsthand that the disease is most treatable when detected early, so they’re more likely to be vigilant about skin exams. New research shows that such vigilance pays off. After studying more than 900 cases of melanoma reported through the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, researchers found that men with a history of nonmelanoma skin cancer were less likely to die of melanoma than those without an NMSC history. The research, led by Jiali Han, Ph.D., a professor and chair of epidemiology at the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health in Indianapolis, was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 

“Our results highlight the impact of early detection on skin cancer survival,” says board-certified dermatologist Steven T. Chen, MD, MPH, FAAD, an assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School in Boston and a co-author of the JAAD study. “Because people who have been diagnosed with skin cancer are more likely to see a dermatologist for regular skin exams, any future skin cancers they may develop are more likely to be caught early, when they’re most treatable.”

“Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, killing one person every hour, so it’s great that NMSC survivors understand the importance of early detection,” says board-certified dermatologist Suzanne M. Olbricht, MD, FAAD, president of the American Academy of Dermatology. “However, regular skin self-exams are a habit that everyone, regardless of medical history, should adopt. While the five-year survival rate for people whose melanoma is detected and treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes is 99 percent, the five-year survival rates for regional and distant stage melanomas are only 63 percent and 20 percent, respectively. Men over 50 have an increased risk of developing melanoma, so we hope this PSA reminds them to keep a close eye on their skin, Furthermore, we encourage everyone, regardless of age, race or gender, to perform regular skin self-exams and see a board-certified dermatologist if they notice any new or suspicious spots, or any spots that are changing, itching or bleeding.”

Research Highlights Importance Of Melanoma Prevention, Early Detection

Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, can affect anyone. Everyone should take steps to reduce their risk and catch melanoma in its earliest stages, when it’s most treatable. Research presented by the American Academy of Dermatology emphasizes the importance of skin cancer prevention and detection. Researchers examined data collected from 118,085 individuals who received a free skin cancer screening. Approximately one-third of those surveyed indicated that they had recently observed a change in the size, shape or color of a mole – one of the major warning signs of melanoma.

“This result is encouraging, because it shows us that patients are keeping an eye out for suspicious spots on their skin, and that they know to see a board-certified dermatologist to evaluate those spots,” says board-certified dermatologist Hensin Tsao, MD, PhD, FAAD, a professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School. Melanoma is most treatable when detected early, so the AAD recommends performing regular skin self-exams to look for new or suspicious spots. The AAD also recommends seeing a board-certified dermatologist to evaluate anything changing, itching or bleeding on the skin. Because unprotected exposure to ultraviolet light is the most preventable skin cancer risk factor, the AAD advises everyone to stay out of indoor tanning beds and protect themselves from the sun’s harmful rays by seeking shade, wearing protective clothing and using a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

Measuring Melanoma Risks

In compiling the survey data, researchers found that infrequent sunscreen use, high numbers of blistering childhood sunburns and chronic indoor tanning bed use were all associated with a recently changing mole. “These results indicate that although people know how to spot skin cancer, they aren’t taking action to prevent this disease from developing in the first place,” Dr. Tsao says. “While some individuals have a higher risk of developing melanoma than others, everyone increases their risk when they don’t protect their skin from harmful UV rays.”

The risk of developing melanoma is elevated among certain groups, including Caucasians, men over 50, people with a personal or family history of skin cancer, and those with many moles, atypical moles or large moles. Among the screening participants studied, however, the factors associated with a changing mole included not only a high mole count and a history of melanoma, but also being female and having skin of color. “While Caucasian men over 50 are at greatest risk for developing melanoma, skin cancer can affect anyone, so prevention and detection should be a priority for everyone,” Dr. Tsao says. “No matter your age, race or gender, it’s important to avoid harmful UV exposure from the sun and indoor tanning beds, and to perform regular skin self-exams so you can detect this disease early, when it’s most treatable. If you notice any new, unusual or changing spots on your skin, see a board-certified dermatologist. If you’re in any of the groups that are predisposed to melanoma, including those with many moles and those with a family history of skin cancer, talk to your dermatologist about how often you should receive a skin exam.”

How Much Sun Is Good For Our Health?

Spanish researchers have estimated the duration of solar radiation exposure required in order to obtain the recommended doses of vitamin D. While in spring and summer 10 to 20 minutes in the sun is enough, in the winter months almost two hours would be needed. For the vast majority of the population it is difficult to achieve the optimal values.

Every year, studies on the benefits of sunbathing in moderate doses are interspersed with those that confirm the risks of doing it excessively. Although ultraviolet solar radiation contributes to the development of sun erythema, cancer and aging of the skin, it also reduces blood pressure, synthesizes vitamin D and improves the treatment of several diseases. The Solar Radiation Research Group at the Polytechnic University of Valencia has analyzed the exposure time needed to obtain the recommended doses of vitamin D without damaging our health. The results have been published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

As María Antonia Serrano, a scientist at the UPV and main author of the study, explains: “In Spain, despite being a country with many hours of sunlight, several articles have reported a high percentage of vitamin D deficiency among various strata of the Spanish population.” Vitamin D deficiency is linked in adults to a higher risk of suffering from various diseases. Since very few foods contain this vitamin, its synthesis in the skin as a result of sun exposure is the main natural source that exists.

Serrano and her colleagues estimated the time needed to obtain the recommended doses – equivalent to a daily intake of 1,000 international units of vitamin D – in an area such as the city of Valencia, which receives a large dose of UV radiation throughout the year.

Burning In 30 Minutes

The study analyzed ultraviolet solar irradiance around midday for four months of the year – one in each season – from 2003 to 2010. With these figures the time taken to cause erythema – reddening of the skin caused by burns – was calculated. The facts show that in July, an individual with skin type III – the most common among the population of Spain – must not spend more than 29 minutes in the sun if they wish to avoid erythema. However, in January, the same individual can remain in the sun for 150 minutes.

The minimum exposure time to obtain the recommended daily dose of vitamin D was obtained the same way. The problem can appear in winter due to low levels of UV radiation and because people cover most of their bodies. It was found that around midday in January, with 10 percent of the body exposed, around 130 minutes are needed to obtain the recommended daily dose of vitamin D.

As this time is shorter than the time taken to get erythema, there is no risk of sunburn. By contrast, in April and July, with 25 percent of the body exposed, around 10 minutes is sufficient to acquire the vitamin. And in October, for example, 30 minutes would be enough. “These calculations were made for skin type III, but the figures would change for those who are lighter or darker in complexion,” Serrano points out. “It is also essential to bear in mind that we have considered the usual percentage of the body exposed for the season. If more skin is exposed, exposure time can be reduced.”

Similarly, the time obtained for erythema to occur was calculated for average days. “It should be taken with caution. On extreme days, permissible exposure times would be much shorter,” she stresses.

Maintaining Vitamin D In Winter

The results show that, although there is sufficient radiation in countries like Spain, it is difficult to attain recommended doses of vitamin D in winter – from November to February at a northern mid-latitude, since the exposure time required is excessive – 130 minutes. “Radiation received also depends on posture, body shape and clothing. It should also be remembered that not all areas of the body synthesize vitamin D with the same efficiency,” Serrano added. “An individual’s age also plays an important role in synthesizing vitamin D from UV radiation, because the older one gets the less able one is able to produce vitamin D. Middle-aged adults have 66 percent of the potential that children have to do this. These results can help to adopt the right measures to make up for any deficiency, such as informing the medical profession about the utility of increasing vitamin D intake in the diet or through supplements.”

Key Benefits Of Hazelnut Oil

Hazelnut is not just a flavor you enjoy in your coffee or frozen beverage. It’s a nut that actually has tremendous benefits that can be applied to many areas of your body. A very impressive nut that has copious amounts of healthy fats, proteins and vitamins, this is a nut that goes much further than being a great snack or a tasty flavor enhancer. There are many ways that hazelnut oil can be used to improve your health, skin and hair. Here are a few key ways that the oil can be used.

Fighting Aging Signs

If you’ve been paying attention to the exploration and dissection of many oils and their various advantages then you know just how crucial vitamin E oil is to the skin. It’s often even referred to as the skin vitamin because of how impactful it is. Well, this nut doesn’t disappoint on that front because an entire cup of hazelnuts is roughly 86% of the daily requirement of the vitamin. It packs a big punch and as such helps to prevent wrinkles and other signs of aging. If you are worried how your skin is beginning to appear, try adding a bit of hazelnut oil to your daily skin care products.

Oily Skin

Many people don’t understand why or how to properly use oils to help combat oily skin. They believe that oil should be kept away from skin that has the propensity to be naturally oily for fear that it will make it worse instead of improve it. Hazelnut oil is both incredibly hydrating and moisturizing while also helping to balance out the oils that naturally occur on the face. Oil isn’t going to make your skin more oily by default. In many cases, skin that suffers from an overproduction of oil is often lacking the proper moisture which is why excess oil is occurring.

Color-Treated Tresses

For those who regularly color their hair, it can be hard to find specific items that aren’t harsh and don’t strip the hair of its various coloring agents. Hazelnut oil is so soft and gentle that it won’t cause undue strain or damage to the color of your hair. In fact, its protein and fat content will help to protect the color and additionally condition it further. You can use a couple of drops in your shampoo regularly or use it in a deep conditioning mixture that you add to your hair once a week.

Heart Health

It’s not just beauty boosts that hazelnut oil provides. It can also do some important and necessary work within the body as well. Due to the unsaturated fat content within the nuts, consumption of this oil can help to boost healthy cholesterol levels while diminishing harmful cholesterol levels. Hazelnuts are also high in magnesium, which is a component that plays a major role in heart health. Magnesium helps to safeguard your heart from being overworked and overtaxed by ensuring it rest so that it isn’t under massive amounts of strain.

You can purchase hazelnut oil online from several companies at


Avoid Sunscreen Mistakes With These Tips

With summer quickly approaching, sunscreen is a valuable tool for skin cancer prevention – but only if it’s used correctly.  When applying sunscreen, many people make mistakes that could compromise their protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, which may increase their risk of skin cancer.

Some of those mistakes are highlighted in research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Researchers observed 2,187 people using sunscreen over the course of 93 hours. Only one-third – 33 percent – of people applied sunscreen to all exposed skin, and just 38 percent were wearing sun-protective clothing, hats or sunglasses. Additionally, use of the free sunscreen dispensers decreased significantly on cloudy days.

“These results highlight some of the ways people use sunscreen incorrectly,” says study author and board-certified dermatologist Ingrid Polcari, MD, FAAD, an assistant professor in the department of dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis. “To get the best possible sun protection, it’s important to wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts and pants, and to apply sunscreen to all exposed skin, not just your face and arms. Everyone should apply sunscreen every time they go outside. Even on cloudy days, up to 80 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays can reach your skin.”

“Research has shown that women are more likely than men to use sunscreen, but it’s vital that men use it too,” says board-certified dermatologist Darrell S. Rigel, MD, FAAD, a clinical professor in the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at New York University. “Men over 50 have a higher risk than the general population of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, and UV exposure is the most preventable skin cancer risk factor, so it’s important for men of all ages to protect themselves from the sun’s harmful rays by seeking shade, wearing protective clothing and applying sunscreen.”

Tips For Choosing A Sunscreen

Choose a sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher. While no sunscreen can filter out all of the sun’s UVB rays, SPF 30 sunscreens block 97 percent of the sun’s UVB rays. Look for the words “broad spectrum.” This means the sunscreen will protect against both UVA rays – which cause premature skin aging – and UVB rays – which cause sunburn. Both types of UV rays can lead to skin cancer.

Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outside. Most sunscreen takes time to be absorbed for it to work. Reapply sunscreen every few hours and especially after swimming and toweling off. It wears off, even if the label says “waterproof.”

UVA light penetrates glass, so apply sunscreen before a car ride, even if you’re going garage to garage. For children between six months and two years, use a sunscreen that works as a physical blocker. Check the label. Older children can use the same sunscreen that adults use.

Regardless of sunscreen use, the best protection is to avoid the sun as much as possible by wearing wide-brimmed hats, sun-protective clothing, and staying in the shade whenever possible, he says.

Look for the words “water resistant.” No sunscreen is completely waterproof, but water-resistant sunscreens can provide protection for wet or sweaty skin for 40 or 80 minutes, as indicated on the label. All sunscreens should be reapplied every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.

For sensitive skin, choose a sunscreen with the active ingredients zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Those with sensitive skin also should avoid sunscreens that contain fragrance, oils and para-aminobenzoic acid, also known as PABA. “The best type of sunscreen is one you’ll use,” Dr. Rigel says, “so find one you like and apply it to all exposed skin before heading outside.”

Spread On The Sunscreen

No matter what the color of your skin, UT Southwestern cancer experts recommend wearing sunscreen. “Anyone and everyone who is going to be outside for any period of time should be wearing sunscreen to protect against skin cancer,” adds Dr. Rajiv Nijhawan, a dermatologist with the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “While skin cancer is less common in people of color, when it is found, it is often diagnosed at later stages and can be more serious.”

It’s also important to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen. “The SPF grading system only covers UVB light, but UVA light also causes skin cancer, including melanoma,” says Dr. Nijhawan, Assistant Professor of Dermatology. The words “broad spectrum” indicate that protection is provided for both UVB and UVA light.

Is Cyanobacteria The Future Of Sunscreen?

Sunscreens and moisturizers derived from biological sources such as cyanobacteria could represent a safer alternative to current, synthetically produced cosmetics, research published recently in the European Journal of Phycology suggests.

Using organic matter to develop sunscreens could lessen the risk of adverse side effects, such as contact sensitivity and estrogen mimicking, and help prevent potentially harmful chemicals from entering the environment, say lead author Peyman Derikvand of the University of Isfahan, Iran, and colleagues from Swansea and London.

The use of biological compounds has many potential advantages for the cosmetics industry, one of which is the organism’s ability to self-renew and reproduce, ensuring that supplies are sustainable. This is especially true for photosynthetic organisms that require only light energy, carbon dioxide and basic nutrients.

Natural Alternatives

One group of such organisms, cyanobacteria, could have great potential as a source of cosmetic products for sunscreens and moisturizers because some of its species live in extremely arid habitats and thus produce compounds that give them the ability to cope with both high UV radiation and extreme desiccation. These compounds include mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs) and scytonemin, which provide strong screening protection from longwave and shortwave UV radiation respectively. Such natural photoprotectants could be good candidates as alternatives to synthetic UV filters.

In addition, extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) derived from cyanobacteria appear to be much more effective at retaining moisture than EPS from conventional moisture-preserving materials, such as urea, glycerin and propylene glycol, currently used in cosmetics.

Cyanobacteria have higher photosynthetic and growth rates than more complex plants, simple nutritional requirements, and the ability to grow under closed cultivation systems that do not compete with agriculture. However, economic and sustainable production of these bio-compounds at the large scales required by the cosmetic industry is a key challenge.

“As we move into an era where we are turning to nature to replace synthetic chemicals, industry is being driven to look to natural product alternatives,” says author Carole Llewellyn, Associate Professor in Applied Aquatic Bioscience. “Cyanobacteria, tiny photosynthetic microbes, offer new potential. One suite of compounds are synthesized to protect against damaging ultraviolet and intense sunlight. These compounds offer many advantages over current synthetically derived sunscreens.”

“On-going research into the intensive cultivation of photosynthetic microorganisms in photobioreactors is bringing new understanding in terms of design, operation and scale-up, and will steadily improve both the economics and feasibility of industrial production of cyanobacteria,” says Llewellyn.

Technical improvements coupled to market demand should see the increasing application of cyanobacterial metabolites in the cosmetics sector, the authors conclude.

What About The New DNA Sunscreen?

Researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York have developed a coating made out of DNA that gets better at protecting skin from ultraviolet light the more you expose it to the sun, and it also keeps your skin hydrated.

“Ultraviolet (UV) light can actually damage DNA, and that’s not good for the skin,” says Guy German, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Binghamton University. “We thought, let’s flip it. What happens instead if we actually used DNA as a sacrificial layer? So instead of damaging DNA within the skin, we damage a layer on top of the skin.”

German and a team of researchers developed thin and optically-transparent crystalline DNA films and irradiated them with UV light. They found that the more they exposed the film to UV light, the better the film got at absorbing it. “If you translate that, it means to me that if you use this as a topical cream or sunscreen, the longer that you stay out on the beach, the better it gets at being a sunscreen,” German said.

Slowing Water Evaporation

As an added bonus, the DNA coatings are also hygroscopic, meaning that skin coated with the DNA films can store and hold water much more than uncoated skin. When applied to human skin, they are capable of slowing water evaporation and keeping the tissue hydrated for extended periods of time.

German intends to see next if these materials might be good as a wound covering for hostile environments where you want to be able to see the wound healing without removing the dressing, you want to protect the wound from the sun, and you want to keep the wound in a moist environment that is known to promote faster wound healing rates.

“Not only do we think this might have applications for sunscreen and moisturizers directly, but if it’s optically transparent and prevents tissue damage from the sun and it’s good at keeping the skin hydrated, we think this might be potentially exploitable as a wound covering for extreme environments,” he said.

Could Seaweed Hold Key To Environmentally-Friendly Sunscreen?

A compound found in seaweed could protect human skin from the damaging impact of the sun without causing harm to marine ecosystems. The use of sunscreens is advocated to prevent sun damage, but most formulations contain synthetic UV radiation filters that can make their way in to water systems. Many of these are not ecocompatible and may harm fragile marine life including coral, fish and microorganisms.

Scientists at King’s College London extracted a mycosporine-like amino acid (MAA), known as palythine, from seaweed to test its ability to protect against UV radiation in human skin cells. MAAs are natural compounds produced in organisms that live in sunlight-rich, shallow-water environments.

Using human skin cells in a lab, researchers showed that even at very low concentrations MAA could effectively absorb harmful rays from the sun and protect the cells against UVR-induced damage. They also showed that palythine is a powerful antioxidant that could offer skin protection against oxidative stress, linked to cellular damage and photoaging.

The paper – published in the British Journal of Dermatology – represents a breakthrough that could help move towards the development of an ecocompatible, non-toxic, natural sunscreen that protects human skin without negative environmental effects. Further research is required in order to prove that the compound has the same properties outside of the lab environment. The European Chemicals Agency and The Environmental Effects Assessment Panel (EEAP), part of the United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP), have expressed concern about the eco-toxic effects of eight out of the 16 commonly used sunscreen filters in Europe.

Marine-Derived Sunscreens

“MAAs, in addition to their environmental benefits, appear to be multifunctional photoprotective compounds,” says lead author Dr. Karl Lawrence from St John’s Institute of Dermatology at King’s. “They work through the direct absorption of UVR photons, much like the synthetic filters. They also act as potent antioxidants, which is an important property as exposure to solar radiation induces high levels of oxidative stress and this is something not seen in synthetic filters.”

“There are significant concerns that conventional sun protection products are having a negative impact on the environment,” added Professor Antony Young, senior author of the paper and member of the EEAP. “Our data show that, with further research and development, marine-derived sunscreens may be a possible solution that could have a significant positive impact on the health of our marine habitats and wildlife, whilst still providing the essential sun protection that human skin requires to guard against damage that causes diseases such as skin cancer.”

Sapote Oil: A Hair And Skin Must Have

When it comes to fruit oils, they run the gamut as many fruits and their seeds have been successfully used as oils. Sapote is no different. This oil is derived via a natural process in parts of Mexico and Central America. Due to the high levels of vitamin A and C, as well as the calcium, proteins and other beneficial components, this oil is one of the best kept hair and skin secrets. Here’s exactly how this oil can be used effectively on both the skin and hair to maximum benefit.


Certain types of hair can be more difficult to detangle and manage than others. When this is the case, it’s imperative to find a product or oil that has properties which will increase the successful management of the hair. Sapote oil is a natural hair softener and can help in the detangling process. It is a direct antidote for the ways in which the hair can link up and get easily tangled.

Hair Loss

One of the biggest hair concerns that one may experience in their lives is that of balding. To lose your hair prematurely, or at all, is something that is often very difficult to deal with for some. Thankfully, this oil can provide the cure to that very real and debilitating fear. This oil can be used as a hot oil scalp treatment which will then penetrate the scalp and hair follicles, making them stronger and stimulate the overall growth of the hair. This means that not only does it help to prevent your current hair from falling out but it also fortifies future strands to grow stronger and better.

Calms Dry Skin

Because this oil is so great at penetrating the skin and is quickly absorbed, it’s the perfect oil to use to moisturize your skin. It can be used on the entire body. It is not an oil that leaves residue or makes skin appear unnecessarily oily. One of the reasons people like to use this oil is because it doesn’t leave that slick sheen on the face that can look very strange.

Keeps Skin Healthy

Not only is this a great oil to have on hand for the daily moisturizing needs you may have, it’s also great for improving the skin. Due to all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that are within, sapote oil it will leave your skin looking younger, more supple and smooth. If you are interested in a moisturizer that will have your face looking youthful and glowing, this is an oil that you should definitely try out.

What’s better than an oil that serves multiple purposes? That is definitely this oil. So if you are in need of something that will greatly improve your hair and face, look no further as sapote oil should be your next oil purchase.

You can purchase sapote oil online from several companies at

Key Tips To Prevent Bug Bites

Bug bites aren’t just little nuisances that cause itching and irritation. For those with very sensitive skin, they can be a real cause for concern as the bites can cause inflamed skin that grows into large welts, promotes itching, scarring, and even infections if you aren’t careful. Whether it is ticks, mosquitoes or bees, the presence of bugs and their proclivity to bite can be downright maddening sometimes. According to dermatologists from the American Academy of Dermatology, the best way to prevent these bites, and ward off any insect-related diseases that may come with them, is to follow very specific steps.

Use Insect Repellent

The first tip is to use insect repellent. While this may sound obvious, not all insect repellents are created equal. Make sure you get the kind that has DEET in it – at least 30 percent, preferably more. Spray your outer clothing as well as your exposed skin. This is a tip that some people don’t use. While spraying your skin may prevent bugs for a time, also spraying your clothes ensures that the scent will stay put for hours.

If you’re the type of person that doesn’t like the scent of DEET, understand that most lotions and perfumes that smell good actually have a way of attracting bugs to you. Only certain scents are considered repelling to them. Keep this in mind. Would you rather smell alluring or be covered in bug bites after returning from a hike or a camping trip? The choice is yours.

Select The Right Clothing

Be mindful of the clothing you wear. This is sometimes hard in the summer, when bugs are more plentiful, because the hot weather makes it difficult to cover up. When you are traveling in areas that are known for mosquitoes or bugs in general, make sure to wear long pants and long sleeves whenever possible. This helps to not only cover the surface area of your body that is susceptible to bug bites, but it also allows for more space to spray insect repellent on, which will help to compound the effect of the spray to begin with. It’s especially crucial to be mindful of what you wear at night.

Sleep In A Bed Net

Get a bed net. This is generally best for when you are traveling, especially in places and countries that are known for their pesky mosquitoes and creepy crawlers – and for insect carrying diseases, such as Zika. It’s important to pick a bed net that has mesh already treated with a pyrethroid insecticide.

If even, despite your best efforts, you still end up getting bit, understand that it does happen. The good thing though is that most bug bites can be safely and effectively treated at home. You can clean the bite with certain essential oils, such as clove and tea tree, which have natural antibacterial properties. What’s great about cleaning bites or stings with these essential oils is that they also help to eliminate the need to itch. This can be one of the most annoying and troublesome aspects of being bit. Needing to scratch the bite can make it worse than if you clean it and allow it to heal on its own.

Key Benefits Of Argan Oil

Found in the gorgeous lands of Morocco, argan oil has been around for eons. It just so happens that despite its availability, it has only enjoyed much deserved popularity in recent years. There are a number of reasons why argan oil is a top-tier oil that has a plethora of benefits. Derived from a tree nut, this oil has impressive amounts of vitamin A, vitamin E, omega 6 fatty acids, linoleic acid and trocopherol. This makes it a fantastic oil for both the skin and hair. Here are specific ways in which argan oil can be very effective.

Nighttime Moisturizer

It’s very imperative for the health of your skin to ensure it is properly moisturized. While many people clean their skin properly, they sometimes skimp on the moisturizing process. Especially if they happen to have oily skin, as some are under the false idea that hydrating and moisturizing your skin causes oily skin or makes it worse. It’s actually the complete opposite. Oily skin needs moisturizing just as much if not more! Argan oil is light and absorbs quickly, which makes it a great oil to use as a moisturizer at night. It won’t rub off on your sheets or clothes and a couple of drops go a long way. It’s imperative to properly moisturize no matter the skin type you may have.


If you struggle with acne you are one of the millions of people who deal with blemishes and the scars that they so often leave behind. The good news about argan oil is that it has been shown to help mitigate the levels of sebum oil that cause oily skin, which is the breeding ground for acne in the first place. Taking just a drop of oil on your fingertips and dabbing it onto problem areas will help to reduce the inflammation when acne flares up.

Stretch Marks

The dreaded marks that are typically seen on stomachs, hips, thighs and even arms can be prevented with the addition of argan oil as a body moisturizer. A couple of drops of the oil goes a long way and the vitamin A and vitamin E help to properly improve the elasticity of the skin. It’s important to properly exfoliate the skin when trying to improve the elasticity or lighten already present stretch marks. Add a bit of brown sugar to your oil and rub it into your trouble spots.

Leave In Conditioner

The same attributes that make argan oil so impressive and worthwhile on the skin also lend themselves to being great for the hair. Some research even suggests that argan oil can promote hair growth. A few drops of argan oil massaged into the scalp and the ends of the hair helps to manage flyaways and frizz – especially if you tend to use a lot of heat on your hair. This is a great oil to keep on hand as it acts as a heat protectant while also making the hair softer and more manageable.

You can purchase argan oil online from several companies at