Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Can You Get Rid of Cellulite? October 27, 2010

Is there any comfort in the fact that anyone can get cellulite?    Thin people get cellulite, rich people get cellulite, beautiful people get cellulite.  About 85% of women over the age of 18 have some degree of cellulite on their upper legs, buttocks, and abdomens.  It can affect you regardless of ethnicity, age, race, weight, and lifestyle choices because cellulite is mostly a genetic disorder.   This lumpy appearance on our thighs, some call it the cottage cheese look, is caused by fat cells bulging upwards – a function of the structure of how the fat and skin fit together.  Our epidermis, the top layer of our skin, has fibrous anchors that go down to the fat layer of our skin, and it is these connections that cause the dimpling appearance of cellulite.  While losing weight may help improve the appearance of cellulite on some people there are many other factors involved in the formation of cellulite that make it a huge challenge to treat.  Of course that doesn’t mean that Americans aren’t willing to try – by 2012 it is estimated that Americans will spend more than $215 on anti-cellulite treatments.

 

Myths About Cellulite

There are so many ideas out there about what causes cellulite and how to treat it.  In a piece on her website Paula Begoun debunks a number of  the biggest cellulite myths:

Drinking water helps: If water could change skin structure and reduce fat I assure you no one would have cellulite, or would be overweight for that matter. Drinking water probably is beneficial (although there is really no research showing how much is healthy versus unhealthy) but there is no research showing water consumption will impact fat anywhere on your body, let alone the dimples on your thighs.

Arguments for high water intake are generally based on the assumption that because our bodies consist mostly of wa-ter (50-70% of body weight, about forty-two liters) and our blood, muscles, brain, and bones are made up mainly of wa-ter (85%, 80%, 75%, and 25%, respectively), we therefore need at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. But assumptions aren’t science and this one is a non-sequitur; it is similar to arguing that since our cars run on gasoline, they always need a full tank to run efficiently. (Source: American Journal of Physiology—Regulatory, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology, November 2002, pages 993-1004)

Water retention causes cellulite: It’s ironic that low water intake is considered a possible cause of cellulite, and the polar opposite—retaining too much water—is thought to be a factor as well. There is lots of speculation of how water retention can affect cellulite but there is no actual research supporting this notion. Further, fat cells actually contain only about 10% water, so claiming to eliminate excess water won’t make a difference and any measurable result would be transient at best. It is true that water retention can make you look bloated and feel like you’ve gained weight, but water itself doesn’t impact fat or the appearance of cellulite. (Source: Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, November 2003, pages 817-821)Eating a specialized diet can help: A healthy diet that encourages weight loss may help your entire body look better. How-ever, because weight in and of itself is not a cause of cellulite, dieting won’t change the skin structure of your thighs, which causes the dimpled contours to show. For some people cellulite is made worse by the accumulation of extra fat. In those cases, weight reduction may decrease the total area and depth of cellulite. (Source: Clinical Dermatology, July-August 2004, pages 303-309)

Exercise can help: Exercise helps almost every system in the human body, but it won’t necessarily impact the appearance of cellulite. Exercise doesn’t improve skin structure and it can’t affect localized areas of fat. In other words, you can’t spot reduce fat accumulation in a specific area. (Source: British Journal of Plastic Surgery, April 2004, pages 222-227)

Detoxifying the body reduces the appearance of cellulite: Detoxifying the body for consumers has taken on the meaning of purging it of pollutants or any other problem substances in the environment or in the foods we eat. In terms of the way this concept has been mass marketed, there is little research showing credible efficacy as to whether or not detoxification of the body is even possible. However, “detoxifying” the body as it is used in the scientific community describes the process of reducing cellular damage primarily by antioxidants or enzymes that prevent certain abnormal or undesirable cell func-tions from taking place. There is no doubt this is helpful for the body. Whether or not this reduces cellulite is completely unknown because skin structure and fat accumulation are not caused by toxins in the environment. Furthermore, there are no studies showing toxins of any kind prevent fat from being broken down. (Sources: Journal of Endotoxin Research, April 2005, pages 69-84 and Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, May 2003, pages 258-264)

 

 

Treatment Options

 

Cellulite treatment options fall into two main categories:  topical products and machines.  I’ll also mention mesotherapy which are injections.

 

Topical Products

In my opinion, topical creams that claim to treat cellulite are pretty much a big waste of your money.  I’m certainly not alone in my opinion.  Ellen Marmur, MD in her book Simple Skin Beauty, page 213 writes:

As with most topicals, any visible results wash off or fade away fast.  Again, if any one of these really worked, it would be the hottest product on the market.  …  My advice:  save your money, let the cellulite battle go, and buy yourself a beautiful pair of shoes.  That will have a much better payoff.

Furthermore, Paula Begoun states:

As far as skin-care products for the body are concerned, the litany of options is mesmerizing. Yet there is almost no uniformity between formulas. It would appear, if the claims are to be believed, a wide variety of unrelated plant extracts can deflate or break down fat and/or restructure skin. Looking at the research, however, most articles suggest there is little hope that anything rubbed on the skin can change fat deposits or radically improve the appearance of cellulite.

The hope that botanicals have the answer is odd because not one study points to what concentration of an ingredient needs to be in a formulation, what physiochemical characteristics particular to each active ingredient need to be present, or whether or not these ingredients retain any standardized properties between batches. (Sources: Dermatologic Surgery, July 2005, pages 866-872 and The European Journal of Dermatology, December 2000, pages 596–603)

So as tempting as it is to think that you can solve your cellulite problem with a cream – skip it.   At best these creams and lotions very temporarily reduce the appearance of cellulite.   But there is one thing to keep in mind – a fake tan will make your cellulite less noticeable.  So thinking to invest in a good self-tanner is actually a viable option in order to disguise your cellulite temporarily.  (For a very thorough breakdown of both ingredients and products that claim to treat cellulite see Paula Begoun’s article)

 

What about in office treatments?

 

First let me talk about mesotherapy which I would advise against.  During a mesotherapy treatment caffeine, enzymes, anti-inflammatories, alphahydroxy acids, vitamins, or the drugs phosphatydalcholine and deoxycholate  are injected into the areas of cellulite and fatty deposits.  It is said that these injections help to break up fat cells (fat cells burst and die) and reduce cellulite.  Complications can include ulcers, scarring, deformities, skin infections, and tissue damage.  Mesotherapy is widely practiced in Europe, but highly controversial in the United States.  Currently the FDA has started cracking down on medical spas that offer this treatment, but it has taken the FDA time to look into the practice since it falls outside of FDA regulations.  The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery along with the Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation is conducting a FDA approved study on the safety and efficacy of mesotherapy.  There is a hope that in the future there will be both a FDA approved formula for injection and a standardization of procedures, safety, and protocols.   As I already stated, I would stay away from mesotherapy.  Once the FDA reaches its conclusions about this procedure it might be time to reconsider, but overall I think it will never be a good option for treating cellulite.

 

Machines

 

Perhaps you have heard of Endermologie or VelaSmooth for treating cellulite.  Endermologie uses rollers and suction to massage areas with cellulite, and while the device is FDA approved for cellulite treatment that does not prove that it actually works as claims.  At best these treatments are expensive and offer a temporary improvement in the appearance of cellulite.  So try Endermologie at your own risk, a risk mostly to your bank account.  Velasmooth combines infrared light, radio-frequency, and mechanical suction in an attempt to reduce the appearance of cellulite by heating the fat and liquefying it or reducing its size.  As with Endermologie a series of treatments is needed in order to see results with Velasmooth, and once again, treatments do not come cheap.  Results, as always, are mixed.    Personally I would save my money when it comes to both of these treatments.  While there are few risks to your health with these treatments, they also don’t really work.  The only place you will see a real difference is in your bank account.  Save your money!

There are even more procedures out there that claim to address cellulite including cellulite subscissions that uses a needle to sever the anchors under the skin so that the skin looks smoother.  While this might make theoretical sense, it works successfully on acne scars, safety studies are few and far between and the surgery is expensive.

 

 

Bottom Line

 

I’ll reiterate what Dr. Marmur wrote:

Save your money, let the cellulite battle go, and buy yourself a beautiful pair of shoes.  That will have a much better payoff.

And if you really, really want to try something to reduce the appearance of your cellulite before wearing a bathing suit or short skirt I’ll mention it again – use a self-tanner to temporarily disguise the appearance of cellulite.  Above all – don’t believe the hype or anything for that matter when it comes to cellulite treatments.

 

Sources and Further Reading

 

 

Misconceptions About Skin and Skincare October 25, 2010

 

I just rediscovered a great article from Skin Inc. that was published back in May of 2009.  The article written by Carol and Rob Trow is called 30 Skin Care Misconceptionsand it goes about debunking 30 such misconceptions.

I was debating when I decided to write this post if I should highlight any specific misconceptions and ignore others, but frankly though there are 30 the list is a great one.  Some of the misconceptions I’ve addressed in posts myself like: The higher the skin protection factor (SPF) rating, the better.  I wrote about that fallacy in my post:  Spf 100 is a Joke.  And Chocolate and greasy foods cause acne I addressed in my post entitled Is Your Diet Causing Your Acne?

I recommend reading the article (it’s a quick read) in order to educate yourself.  I’ll highlight a few of the misconceptions here that I think many people think are true:

  • Layering several products with SPF ratings increases protection.  You are only protected to the extent of the higher rating of one product. A foundation with an SPF of 10, moisturizer with an SPF of 15 and a sunscreen with an SPF of 20 does not yield an SPF rating of 45.

  • Topical creams containing collagen can replace collagen.  There is a lack of impartial, empirical evidence that the topical application of collagen or elastin can penetrate the dermis, even when using nanotechnology. They can provide moisturization to the epidermis, but only injections are conclusively effective.

  • Natural and organic products are always better.  Buyer, beware! Many natural and organic products are not as they claim. Plus, many times, active ingredients have to be synthesized to be bioavailable and efficacious. Synthetic compounds can actually be identical to those found in nature and be more effective. Natural vs. laboratory-processed should not lead to an up or down decision about whether a product is good or bad. Not all chemicals are bad, and not all natural or organic ingredients are good.
  • Indoor tanning is safe.  The argument that tanning beds and booths do not cause skin mutations that may cause cancerous lesions to develop is patently false. UVA rays found in indoor tanning lead to deeper, more harmful skin damage. You do not have to have a sunburn to create damage to skin cells.
  • Sun exposure will improve acne.  Yes, sun exposure can hide the appearance of acne for awhile, but will lead to skin damage, pigmentation and drying that signals the skin to produce more oil.
  • Skin care products can last three or more years.  Despite a number of claims to the contrary, most skin care products lose a great deal of their potency within 12 months. It is best to use the entire contents within one year because preservatives do not last forever and ingredients can get contaminated with bacteria, or they can evaporate.
  • There is one antioxidant ingredient that is the best.  Every year, there is a hot, newly discovered antioxidant that is touted as the best, but this is not true. A cocktail of antioxidants provides better results than just one. Seek products containing a plethora of antioxidants.
  •  

    Remember NBC’s public service campaign slogan: “The More You Know“?  Apply that idea to your skincare concerns and product purchases and you won’t be taken in by bogus marketing ploys when it comes to skincare.  Educate yourself when it comes to skincare.  (And by the way, I wrote a post about that in the past too:  How to be a Savvy Skincare Product Consumer)

     

    Nutritional Supplements and Your Skin or Eating Your Way to Better Skin October 20, 2010

    I’ve been debating a long time about how to approach this subject on my blog.  Though I definitely think that the subject needs to addressed I’ve never been quite sure how to approach it mainly because the scope of the subject is so large.   But I finally decided that it is time to take the plunge and write this post.

    There are quite a few things that need to be mentioned here.  One is the issue of a healthy diet and how to affects your skin.  Another entirely separate issue is that of supplements, in pill form or drink form, that claim to address all sorts of skin issues from acne to aging.   I actually already wrote two posts debunking the idea that you can drink collagen in order to get smoother skin (see my posts Can You Drink Your Way to Firmer Skin?  and Taste Test) and have even addressed the issue of diet and acne in an earlier post, but I felt it was time to delve a bit deeper into the issue.

     

    Healthy Diet = Healthy Skin?

     

    Everyone of us already knows that in order to stay healthy we should, ideally follow, a healthy diet.  At the very least we should reduce our intake of fast food, fatty foods, and excessive amounts of sugar and processed foods.  So if we follow a healthy diet will this be reflected in our skin?  Many experts would say yes.  But just what are we supposed to eat in order to maintain a youthful glow?  Well that opens up a lot of room for debate.   One of the biggest advocates for eating a certain diet in order to get and then maintain beautiful skin is Dr. Perricone.  His books are widely available if you want to check out his ideas and food plans. 

    In an article for her Beauty Bulletin – The Best Foods for Beautiful Skin – Paula Begoun recommends eating berries, salmon, walnuts, whole grains, and yogurt (among other foods) in order to maintain healthy skin.  Much of that advice is reflected in Chapter 4: Beauty and The Buffet of celebrity esthetician Kate Somerville’s book Complexion Perfection!.  Somerville, like Begoun, tells her readers to eat salmon, whole grains, and berries.  Additionally, Somerville also recommends eating black beans, almonds, flaxseed, and sweet potatoes (plus other foods).  A one day sample menu for healthy eating is even provided in her book.

    But my favorite advice about diet and your skin comes from Dr. Amy Wechsler’s wonderful book The Mind Beauty Connection.  (I highly recommend this book if you want to better understand how stress and lifestyle choices affect your skin)  Chapter 7 of the book is entitled The Beauty Buffet and Bar: Optimum Diet Choices for Beautiful Skin, and the chapter does an excellent job in explaining why certain foods may positively impact the appearance of your skin and how a healthy diet can help the health of your skin.  While rereading this chapter of Wechsler’s book for the writing of this post I was struck by both the logic and insight of what she wrote time and again.   I think it is a good idea to share some quotes from the above mentioned chapter (pages 167-169): 

    There is no magic pill, potion, formula for beauty.  Too many things coalesce in our bodies to produce either the results we want or don’t want. … There is … plenty of scientific proof about eating certain foods to support your skin and health, while avoiding others that can sabotage your beauty goals.  Don’t panic:  The point is not for you to do anything too unrealistic, such as suddenly savor wheatgrass juice or spoon flaxseed oil in your mouth every morning.  …  Remember, this isn’t about going on a specific diet.  It’s ultimately up to you to make modifications in how you eat so you can move over to a lifetime of healthy eating – and limitless beauty.  As with any healthy eating guidelines, the goal here is to supply your cells and systems with the raw materials they need to function efficiently and optimally, inside and out.  You don’t want to give your body any excuse to age prematurely, so you need to be sure that at any given time it has all the resources it requires to stay alive, hydrated, and nourished to the max. 

    Nutritional medicine is a rapidly growing area of research that will continue to gain momentum as we learn more and more about the connections between nutrition and health – not just in relation to skin health, but all kinds of health concerns.  In fact, the link between nutrition and diseases like obesity, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease are well documented.  I expect us to learn more and more about the powerful influences diet can have on our skin health and ability to slow down the inevitable decline we call aging and its appearance on our bodies.  Because we know that oxidative stress, inflammation, and, to a lesser extent, genetics, are the chief agers in our bodies, and because they spur chronic conditions that wear us down physically, gaining the upper hand on these as best we can is key.  And if diet can help this in any way, then we should be paying attention.

    I also want to note that there is no single approach to optimizing health and beauty, and that diet alone is not the answer.  …  The combination of proven skin-care techniques, relaxation therapies to dampen stress, exercise, restful sleep, and diet are all important and play a part in your looks on the inside and the outside.  It would be impossible to say which of these factors is more important than the other.  They all bear weight, and perhaps which one carries the most depends on the individual, especially as they relate to a person’s genetics and other lifestyle choices.

     

    Like Begoun and Somerville, Dr. Wechsler also recommends eating berries, nuts, and salmon, among other foods.  (I am starting to sense a theme here)  Furthermore, Dr. Wechsler is a big advocate of drinking lots of green tea throughout the day and taking a multivitamin.

     

    What About Nutritional Supplements?

     

    More than one well-known skincare expert/source sells nutritional supplements than claim, as already mentioned, to clear your skin or prevent aging.  To name just a few, you can buy supplements from Perricone MD , Murad, and Kate Somerville.  (As an esthetician I do not recommend a certain diet or any supplements to my clients.  That is an area that is well outside my expertise.  If a client does ask me about such issues I recommend that they look at Dr. Perricone’s books or Dr. Wechsler’s book and leave the final decision on what to do up to the individual.)  It definitely is alluring to think that all you need to do is pop a few pills a day, recommended by a skincare expert no less, in order to look beautiful.  Yet let me debunk that idea.  Once again I’ll quote from The Mind Beauty Connection (page 194):

     The Truth About Vitamin C and E Supplements and Skin Vitamins:

    What about individual nutrients or special skin-health formulas that claim to improve skin?  These grab-bag concoctions, which are mostly a mix of antioxidants, are hugely popular.  However, there’s minimal proof of payoff, at least right now.  Oodles of isolated antioxidants like vitamins C and E and phyto-chemicals like those found in green tea have been dazzling in the test tube.  When fed to lab animals, they have been marvelous at protecting against sun damage, wrinkles, and cancer; making skin softer, moister, and smoother; and halting inflammation and signs of agin.  Those effects almost disappear when single-nutrient pills are tested in people.  Green tea polyphenol pills, for example, protect mice skin from UV damage and skin cancer but do nada for human skin.  In a topic form, however green tea is anti-inflammatory and photoprotective.

    In fact, studies of isolated antioxidant pills in humans have overall been not only disappointing but actually worrisome.  Disappointing because the supplements haven’t staved off health trouble.  Worrisome because studies have shown that people with various diseases, from heart problems to liver aliments, who took vitamins A, E, and/or beta-carotene supplements, either to try and stop the disease or keep it from coming back, had a greater risk of dying than those who didn’t.

    Punch line: The more research we do on antioxidants, the more it looks like the work best in our bodies when they are consumed with other vitamins, minerals, and probably other components we haven’t even discovered yet.  All of the antioxidants nutrients you need come packaged together whenever you eat a stalk of broccoli or a juicy plum or a slice of multigrain walnut- raisin bread.  Put simply:  Eat whole foods.

     

    Need further proof?  During the months I was contemplating how to write this post I came across a great article in the The New York Times by Alex Kuczynski called The Beauty-From-Within MarketKuczynski concisely addresses just these issues:  how Americans love the idea of nutritional supplements and if they really work:

    Americans take pills to scrub our arteries, to relax us for airplane flights, to deforest our nasal passages of mucus and to remoisten our tear ducts. We take pills to sharpen our memory, to forget the awful things that have happened to us, to revitalize our libidos and to fall into a stuporous, amnesiac, refrigerator-clearing sleep.

    Like children wishing for magical results in a fairy tale, we can now also take pills to make us pretty. These are supplements sold at yoga studios, department stores, hair salons, some dermatology offices and even on QVC; they promise to even skin tone, reduce lines and wrinkles, shrink pores and offer protection from the sun. Along with food and drink that promote external beauty, these are part of what is known as the beauty-from-within industry, and it’s growing fast.  …

    The global beauty-from-within market – comprising beauty foods, beverages and oral beauty supplements – totaled $5.9 billion in 2008 and $6.3 billion in 2009, and is projected to be up to $6.8 billion in 2010, according to Datamonitor, a market research company that studies the skin care market. (To compare, the global skin care market – which includes cleaners, moisturizers and anything you apply to the surface of your skin — is projected to reach $65.7 billion in 2010.)

     

    Kuczynski tried the supplement Glisodin and didn’t see much of result with her skin.  She also interviewed two experts for her article (of course when I saw that one of the experts interviewed was Dr. Wechsler I was very happy):

    Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University… is the queen of skepticism on the purported beauty benefits of supplements. “Lecture time,” Nestle said. “If you eat any kind of reasonable diet you will not have deficiencies that can be addressed by vitamins. All you are going to do is pee them out.”

    The irony, she said, is that people who have little need for supplementary vitamins and minerals are the ones most predisposed to take them. “People with disposable income to spend on vitamins, who are interested in their health and well-being, these are the people who need them the least,” she said. And people who care about their skin enough to take beauty vitamins are also probably wearing sunscreen and using moisturizer. “It is very hard to demonstrate health in people who are already healthy,” she said. And it is also difficult to gauge improved dermatological health in people who already practice good skin habits.

    The chief problem with beauty supplements,  said [Dr. Amy Wechsler, a dermatologist in Manhattan], is that no matter how effective the delivery system, very little nutrients can reach the skin from a pill. In other words, my skin wasn’t going to look as poreless and pure … Lady Gaga’s, just from popping a pill.

    “It is very American to put hope in a bottle,” Wechsler said. “And it is also very American to try to sell that hope.”

     

    Bottom Line:  Eat a healthy diet, destress, and practice good skincare habits and routines.   Don’t expect great changes from a pill. 

    Further reading:  Though I did not incorporate this article into my above post it does tie in perfectly with the theme:  The Truth About Beauty Beverages:  Do Certain Drinks Deliver Beauty Benefits – Or Is That Wishful Thinking?  Experts Weigh In  –  Web MD

     

    Toasted Skin Syndrome October 18, 2010

    Isn’t it always the case that once you see an article about something in one place all of a sudden you see articles about it everywhere?  For me such is the case about toasted skin syndrome.  All of a sudden I am seeing articles about this medical condition everywhere.

    So what exactly is toasted skin syndrome?  According to an article on Web MD this is a condition that is actually called erythema ab igne and affects those who rest a laptop computer on their thighs for a prolonged amount of time – usually 6 to 8 hours a day over a period of weeks or months.  The affected skin becomes discolored, sometimes permanently, and mottled looking.   Under a microscope the affected skin resembles skin that was severely sun damaged from long-term sun exposure.  Some researchers even warn that this syndrome can potentially lead to skin cancer because of the excessive amount of inflammation that the skin is exposed to.

    This same condition can actually be observed in individuals who use a heating pad or blanket for prolonged periods of time or in people who pursue professions that expose them to high heat for long periods of time – such as bakers and glass blowers.

    Preventing such a condition is actually relatively simple.  If you must rest your laptop on your thighs while using it simply place a heat shield or carrying case between the computer and your upper legs.  It has been suggested that laptop manufacturers put a label on their products warning of this danger, and some manufacturers have actually already done so.

     

    Sources and Further Reading:

     

    New Information about Accutane October 14, 2010

    Filed under: Acne — askanesthetician @ 8:37 am
    Tags: , , , , , , ,

    One of the first posts I ever wrote for my blog was called Why was Accutane Taken Off the Market?  in which I explained that while generic versions of the anti-acne drug were still available the original, non-generic version of Accutane had been taken off the market by its manufacturer for “business reasons”.  Speculation was rife at the time that while it was true that the Swiss drug maker Roche could not compete with generics on the market they were also busy fighting off lawsuits from users who blamed their severe stomach problems or depression on Accutane.

    Certainly Accutane has been controversial for a number of reasons including the fact that taking the drug while pregnant will cause terrible birth defects.  Another controversy about the drug has been that it can cause depression.  But Norwegian researchers have recently concluded that the depressive side effects long thought to be associated with Accutane are actually a side effect of having acne.  According to the research, which included 3,775 18 and 19 year olds in Oslo, young people with acne have levels of depression and suicidal thoughts that are two to three times higher than those without acne.  Subjects of the study had those thoughts regardless of what type of anti-acne medication they were on.  While not all researchers agree with the findings in the Norwegian study I think it is a very interesting bit of research to share.  I think it makes it abundantly clear that the psychological effects of acne should never be forgotten or dismissed. 

    Source and further reading:  Is Accutane as Dangerous as Initially Believed?   Skin Inc. 

     

    Another Reason to Love Tim Gunn: He Helps Those with Psoriasis October 11, 2010

    I’m a huge Project Runway fan.  I realized that I’ve actually seen every episode of every season except for the very first episode of the first season of the show.  I think this season of the show has turned out to be one of the best, and my favorite contestant is definitely Mondo (who I really hope wins it all).  Anyhow, any fan of Project Runway must have an opinion about Tim Gunn who functions as a mentor to the fashion designers on the show.  Personally I think Tim Gunn is great.  I even read his new book which was interesting to say the least (I mean how many people describe themselves as “asexual”?  If you like Tim Gunn read this book; you can read it in a day or two.  Gunn definitely has some mother issues to work out, but I do appreciate his honesty and integrity.)

    But back to skincare issues.  I read a Skin Inc. online article about how Tim Gunn and Dr. Susan C. Taylor (who wrote the book Rx for Brown Skin) are helping people with psoriasis ( Tim Gunn Hosts Online Style Resource for Clients with Psoriasis).  Amgen and Pfizer have launched an online resource center called Address Your Psoriasis! for people suffering from psoriasis with an emphasis on style:  making good fabric choices and finding clothes that are comfortable and breathable.  By teaming up with Tim Gunn and making these tips available online the creators of the website hope to help psoriasis sufferers look good and feel confident about their appearance.

    Why is looking good such an issue for psoriasis sufferers?  Let me explain (I’ll quote from the website):

     

    Psoriasis is a noncontagious chronic disease in which the immune system causes the skin cells to grow at an accelerated rate. 

    Approximately 7.5 million American adults suffer from psoriasis. Although there are several types of psoriasis, approximately 80 percent of patients have plaque psoriasis.

    Psoriasis is commonly diagnosed in early adulthood. Certain people may be genetically predisposed to develop psoriasis. A “trigger” often seems to cause symptoms to appear. These triggers may include emotional stress, injury to the skin, some types of infection, or reaction to certain drugs.

    While there are several types of psoriasis, the most common form is plaque psoriasis. Approximately 80 percent of patients suffer from plaque psoriasis, which is characterized by skin lesions that appear as patches of thick, red, or inflamed skin covered with silvery scales. Instead of being shed, skin cells pile up, causing painful and itchy patches, which are also referred to as plaques.

    While the exact cause of plaque psoriasis is unknown, we know that it is a disease involving the immune system. Certain cells in the immune system become overactive and release proteins called cytokines. Overproduction of these cytokines plays a large role in causing inflammation that leads to development of often painful and sometimes debilitating skin plaques.

    In addition to the skin symptoms, plaque psoriasis can also negatively impact people’s lives in other ways. It can:

    • Interfere with basic functions, such as sleeping, using hands, and walking, as well as sitting or standing for long periods of time.
    • Impact a person’s job performance, with many patients reporting missed time from work due to their condition.
    • Cause people to feel helpless, embarrassed, angry, frustrated, and/or self-conscious. This distress may lead to feelings of social isolation.

     

    The better you look, the better you feel, right?  I’ve always believed that was true.  Since psoriasis can affect self-esteem so severely I was very happy to see these free online tips that can really help anyone with the condition feel much better about their appearance.   And now I have even more reasons to love Tim Gunn.

     

    Rosacea: Causes, Triggers, and Treatment Options October 7, 2010

    Rosacea poses a vexing problem for estheticians and physicians.  It is a fairly common skin condition since it affects around 16 million people a year yet a poll found that 78% of Americans have no knowledge of this condition and do not know how to recognize or treat it.  Perhaps what is most frustrating about rosacea is that there is both no known cause* or cure (though there is ongoing research to determine the cause of this disorder).  Correct diagnosis can be difficult since there is no test for rosacea and symptoms can sometimes mimic those of acne or other skin problems and diseases.  Be sure that you trust the source of your rosacea diagnosis.  I should point out here that we estheticians cannot legally diagnosis health problems and rosacea is classified as a skin disorder.  So while an esthetician may be sure you have rosacea because of her experience be sure to get a physician’s opinion as well.  Plus as you will read below there are treatment options for rosacea that can only be dispensed by physician.

     

    What is Rosacea?

     

    Rosacea is a genetic inflammatory skin disorder that usually affects the face but can also affect other parts of the body as well such as areas as the chest and ears.  It is particularly common in people with fair skin and light-colored eyes.  Normally the symptoms of rosacea appear after the age of 30, and rosacea is more commonly found in women than men.  But interestingly rosacea is usually worse in men than in women.  Rosacea shows a range of symptoms from mild to severe (see the illustration below).

    According to The National Rosacea Society:

     

    Rosacea (pronounced “roh-ZAY-sha”) is a chronic and potentially life-disruptive disorder primarily of the facial skin, often characterized by flare-ups and remissions. Many have observed that it typically begins any time after age 30 as a redness on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead that may come and go. In some cases, rosacea may also occur on the neck, chest, scalp or ears. Over time, the redness tends to become ruddier and more persistent, and visible blood vessels may appear. Left untreated, bumps and pimples often develop, and in severe cases the nose may grow swollen and bumpy from excess tissue. This is the condition, called rhinophyma (pronounced “rhi-no-FY-muh”), that gave the late comedian W.C. Fields his trademark bulbous nose. In many rosacea patients, the eyes are also affected, feeling irritated and appearing watery or bloodshot.

     

     

    Sun exposure and other rosacea triggers, more on triggers in a moment, cause blood vessels near the surface of the skin to dilate.  As this occurs the complexion appears red.  This causes the body to send inflammatory cells to the area of the dilated blood vessels and even triggers the growth of more blood vessels in the area.  The body tries to stop this process by creating more veins so that the inflammatory cells can fix the problem but all this does is create more of a problem. 

     

    Rosacea Triggers

     

    If you have been diagnosed with rosacea you need to take the time to figure out your triggers.  Managing your triggers will help keep your symptoms under control as much as possible.  UV (aka sun) exposure is one of the biggest rosacea triggers.  Using sunscreen and staying out of the sun (wearing a hat as well) are key to controlling rosacea.  Heat, stress, hormones, hot tubs, fragrance, allergies, spicy food, alcohol, exercise, and topical products can all trigger rosacea flare-up or make symptoms worse.

     

    Rosacea Treatment Options

     

     First and foremost use your sunscreen everyday if you have rosacea.  Do not forget to reapply throughout the day even if the only time you are “outdoors” is when you are only driving to and from work.  Figure out your personal rosacea triggers and avoid them.  Use gentle skincare products (recommendations below) that contain anti-inflammatory ingredients.

    A doctor can prescribe Metrogel (metronidazole) which is a powerful anti-inflammatory.  Some doctors prefer to prescribe Finacea which is azaleic acid, another strong anti-inflammatory ingredient.  Lotions and creams with sulfur, yet another anti-inflammatory ingredient, may also be prescribed.  If those steps are not enough than oral antibiotics such as Oracea may be prescribed.  Hydrocortisone is only sporadically prescribed today to patients, but a low dose of a beta-blocker like propranolol may be prescribed to prevent vasodilation and redness.

    In terms of in-office treatments for rosacea IPL (intense pulse light) and laser treatments are available.  IPL is a very effective way to get rid of extra blood vessels and to calm redness.  In the case of severe rosacea a doctor may opt to treat with a laser such as the Vbeam instead of using IPL.

    Rosacea patients need to be patient since it usually takes 12 to 16 weeks to see improvement when treating rosacea.  Additionally, as with acne you must be diligent and persistent in treating rosacea since, as of yet, there is no cure for this disorder.

     

    Products:

    • Obagi Medical, which is a great physician dispensed skincare line, as set of products for rosacea:  Rosaclear
    • I have also seen that Avene has a rosacea line though I don’t know anything about it specifically.

     

    Sources and Further Reading 

     

    *  There is a theory that rosacea is caused by microscopic skin mites but as with all theories about the causes of rosacea this has not been conclusively proved.

     

     
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