Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Sun Protection 101 June 21, 2011

 

Today is June 21st, officially the first day of summer, so it is only appropriate that I write about proper sun protection today.  Over the past few months I’ve actually been gathering online articles and information about sun protection to share with my readers so that everyone can have a sun safe summer.

Below is a list of great resources (online articles and videos) to teach you everything you need to know about proper sun protection:

 

Here’s to sun safe summer everyone!

 

In Your Face: See What Skin Cancer Looks Like May 9, 2011

Filed under: skin cancer — askanesthetician @ 6:11 am
Tags: , , , ,

 

Since May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month I wanted to devote another post to the subject of skin cancer.  I urge everyone, especially those who have never had one, to go get a skin cancer check.  You can even get one for free.  And if there isn’t a free screening in your area you can certainly do a self-examination.

Remember that being aware of what is going on with your skin involves much more than paying attention to if you need a moisturizer or not or if your skincare products are doing what they should.  Though those things are important being aware of what is going on with your skin also means being very aware of any changes that might be going with your skin and/or  appearance of new growths and spots on your skin.

I’ll explain using an example.  The other day a regular client came to see me for a chemical peel.  Before we got started she asked if I could look at a small, white dot that had appeared seemingly overnight by the side of her nose.  I told her truthfully that I wasn’t sure what it was and that perhaps it was a clogged pore.  Since I work for a doctor we were able to get the doctor to come in and give it a look as well.  Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, the doctor disagreed with my assessment and thought that it could be a precancerous lesion.  My client, on the advice of the doctor, agreed to monitor the area for about a month.  If it hadn’t disappeared in a month she would come back to have it biopsied.

Though I am, of course, hoping for the best for my client and keeping my fingers crossed that this white lesion is nothing, I did tell her that it was great that she was so aware of what was going on with her skin.  If the mark turns out to be something serious we will be able to take care of it before it turns into something even more scary.  Paying attention to your skin could be life saving.

Now if you are wondering what sorts of things to look out for when it comes to your skin here is a slide show of photos of suspicious lesions.  The photos aren’t gross.  Believe me – I get very squeamish very easily so I wouldn’t recommend that people look at photos that would make me cringe or feel sick.

So give this slide show from WebMD a look.  A little knowledge could be lifesaving:

 

Online Sources for Skincare Information April 25, 2011

Knowledge is power and though I would love my readers to look to my blog first for all their skincare concerns and questions even I have to admit that sometimes you might find the information you are looking for via another online source.  Lately I’ve been noticing a lot of good online resources for information about skin and skincare.  So in no particular order here are some online resources:

  • As I have mentioned too many times to count in my blog, Allure magazine is one of my favorite glossy magazines.  The magazine recently retooled their website and the “skin” section is definitely worth checking out.  Allure always has lots of up-to-date skincare and beauty information which they convey in a very easy to understand way.
  • WebMD has quite a few resources for information about skincare and skin issues.  One section is all about skin conditions and another is all about skincare concerns, skincare products, cosmetic surgery, anti-aging, etc.  They even have a whole video channel for information about skincare.
  • If you are interested and concerned about the ingredients and safety of your cosmetics you might want to check out the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database which contains tons and tons of information about product safety.  Just be aware that not all experts agree with the EWG’s findings and advice.
  • Paula Begoun’s Beautypedia is now free.  You’ll find all of Begoun’s product reviews on this site. 
  • Check out Dr. Leslie Baumann’s online Skin Type Solution Library which is collection of her articles about skincare, ingredients, skin science, and skin typing.

If you have a favorite online resource for skincare information please let everyone know by posting a comment below.

 

Bumps on Your Arms: Solutions for Keratosis Pilaris April 18, 2011

So many people suffer from the following problem yet have no idea what it is.  Red, rough bumps on the back of your upper arms, face (especially in children), thighs, and even backside are actually a skin condition called keratosis pilaris.  According to Paula Begoun:

Keratosis pilaris has a few different forms: It can range from pink to red bumps on the cheeks to small red bumps that aren’t irritated, to pimple-like bumps that are inflamed and red. Overall, regardless of the type, these bumpy rough spots are clogged pores where skin cells have become hardened inside the pore and inflammation occurs.

So how do you treat keratosis pilaris?  In her book Simple Skin Beauty Dr. Ellen Marmur offers quite a number of solutions for keratosis pilaris, which is a form of eczema, along with some interesting insights into this condition (pages 219-220):

Instead of round bumps, dry skin can make triangular, pyramid-shaped bumps, or accuminate papules.  The keratin on top is shaped like a sharp spike which is why the skin is so rough.  There’s no good reason why these bumps are triangular while others elsewhere are round.  …  Like most eczema, the genetic condition stems from dry, sensitive skin and tends to get worse in the winter, when it’s cold and dry.  Ironically, most people with KP tend to do just the opposite of what they should to treat the condition.  They avoid moisturizing the area (thinking it’s a form of acne), when what’s really needed is the thickest cream possible.

The best prevention is slathering on a rich cream or ointment (one that contains occlusive emollients such as petrolatum, lanolin, and mineral oil) regularly to moisturize and protect the skin.  You can’t apply too much.  It will help keep the condition in check and may help it go away. …  When skin is chronically dehydrated, it tries to heal itself and the natural pattern of exfoliation is disrupted.  For this reason, you can use a loofah or body brush to gently scrub off the dead skin cells.  I also recommend over-the-counter lotions such as Lac-Hydrin or AmLactin to be applied once or twice a day.  They contain lactic acid (a great gentle exfoliant for sensitive skin) in a moisturizing base.  Another effective treatment is retinoid lotion, which regulates keratinocyte turnover and helps slough off the heaped-up, pointy dead skin cells.  To accelerate the exfoliation process, a dermatologist can do microdermabrasion and a light chemical peel followed by a deep moisturizing mask.  Once the area is smooth, a field of tiny red dots will be left behind.  They will fade somewhat though probably not completely on their own.  A pulsed dye laser treatment can make the redness go away faster.

Paula Begoun has a different solution for this problem:

Exfoliation to unclog pores is at the top of the list of treatments. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs, active ingredients would be lactic or glycolic acid) can help exfoliate skin cells, but these only work on the surface. AHAs can’t get inside the pore to dislodge the plug of skin and sebum.

To get to the root of the problem you need a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) product with the active ingredient salicylic acid and a pH low enough for exfoliation to occur. One other interesting aspect of BHA is that it has antimicrobial properties so it kills the bacteria that may be making matters worse. Plus, because salicylic acid is related to aspirin (aspirin is acetyl salicylic acid) it also has anti-inflammatory properties. Salicylic acid is a brilliant answer to eliminating these red bumps.

 And here is even more advice, this time from the May 2011 issue of Allure:

It’s better to use a chemical exfoliant than a physical one.  That means washes and lotions with alpha hydroxy acids.  Then use a hydrocortisone cream to reduce the redness, and the bumps should clear up in three weeks.

 

In the end, no matter whose advice you follow there are plenty of solution available for treating this common skin issue.

 

Further reading and products:

 

Ridiculous iPhone App? February 17, 2010

Filed under: Acne — askanesthetician @ 4:45 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I don’t have an iPhone.  I don’t have any kind of smart phone even though my husband and numerous friends have repeatedly recommended that I get one.  I don’t have one not because I am opposed to smart phones; I don’t have because I am afraid if I have one I’ll never put it down.  I fear that my time sucking habit of internet surfing will simply over take my life if I have a smart phone so in lieu of just gaining some much needed self-control I  decided to just have a simple cellphone instead.  For now all I can do with my phone is make and receive phone calls and texts.

Having said all of that, of course I am still well aware of all the different apps that are available to smart phone users.  When the app craze began I even tried to recruit my husband, a former computer programmer, to write an app so we would make lots of money and live without financial worries ever again.  Alas that never happened because of my lack of a cool app idea, not for lack of will.  Nevertheless I still am interested in new apps and was very intrigued when I saw the following article today on WebMD:  Can You Treat Acne with an iPhone App? AcneApp Promises to Clear Skin With Light Therapy; Dermatologists Express DoubtsMy first thought was – is this a joke?  Really – treat your acne with your phone??!! 

The idea behind this app is that your phone gives off blue light (which fights acne) and then red light as well (which helps heal the skin).  The use of light therapy to treat acne is not a new idea, and there are even numerous hand-held devices that you can use at home that claim to help heal acne.  Light therapy, when administered at a physician’s office using medical grade machines, can be part of a treatment option to help alleviate acne.  The home devices are an expensive option that rarely works.  The main reason these home gadgets don’t work is that the light intensity in these devices isn’t strong enough to do anything.  The light intensity must be kept low because these devices are sold for home use and as such must be consumer safe.

I think this iPhone app is nothing but a gimmick full of false hope.  This level of blue light will not heal your acne.  Get on a good anti-acne home care regime that is tailored to your specific type of breakouts and see a professional for light therapy if you choose that option.   Use your smart phone for calls, texts, the internet, etc., etc. but leave caring for your acne to a professional.

Sources and More Information:

 

 

 
%d bloggers like this: