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Monthly Archives: June 2018

The Best Care Tips for Your Skin Type

Makeup experts and skin care specialists refer often to various skin types — dry, oily, combination — assuming you know which category you fall under. Your skin care regimen depends on your skin type, but not everyone has a good understanding of their skin. As a result, their skin care plan is more of the hit-or-miss variety.

Know Your Skin Type

Unsure of what skin type you have? See which description fits you best:

  • Dry skin. “Dry skin can be flaky and easily irritated. It’s more sensitive,” says Linda Franks, MD, director of Gramercy Park Dermatology and clinical assistant professor in the department of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine in New York. She says if your skin has these qualities and also tends to react to some (or all) of the skin products you have tried, you have dry skin. The extreme version of dry skin is sensitive skin.
  • Oily skin. The primary test for determining if you have oily skin is when you start to feel some oil on your face. Most people can feel a little oil by late afternoon, but if you feel oil around midday, you have oily skin. Oily skin rarely reacts negatively to skin products like dry, sensitive skin types do. It has slightly better natural sun protection, but is also prone to acne.
  • Combination skin. If the description of dry skin matches your cheeks, but the description of oily skin matches your “T-zone” (nose and brow area primarily), you have combination skin.

Matching skin care to skin type is important. Dr. Franks notes that there are two commonly used skin care products that just about everyone can steer clear of: toner and too-frequent exfoliation, both of which can strip away the protective layers of your skin. If you have a good skin care regimen, you don’t need either one, although you could plan for a semi-annual exfoliation as seasons change.

Caring for Dry Skin

Dry skin needs babying and lots of tender, loving care. Here are the key components of dry skin care:

  • Cleanse. Use a gentle cleanser. You should be able to cleanse at night and not have to cleanse again in the morning. “Mild cleansers are best for all skin types,” says Franks, who recommends Purpose, Dove bar soap, or Cetaphil cleanser. These cleansers should easily remove makeup as well as dirt.
  • Apply retinol. “Stick to a retinol for anti-aging. Retinol can be very good for dry skin,” says Franks. However, not everyone with dry skin can use retinol products due to sensitivity. If irritation appears, the frequency of use can be decreased.
  • Apply products with hyaluronic acid. “The other thing that can go on underneath a moisturizer is a hyaluronic acid product. That molecule is very hydroscopic — it pulls water in around it. That would be a great augmenting moisturizer for someone with dry skin,” says Franks.
  • Moisturize. “The stratum corneum, which is the dead skin cell layer that protects the surface of the skin, tends to get easily interrupted with dry skin. You want to try to repair that,” advises Dr. Franks. Look for moisturizers that contain phospholipids, cholesterol, and essential fatty acids. She recommends CeraVe Moisturize in the morning (with an SPF of 30) and more moisturizer before bed, using a thicker cream, such as Olay’s Regenerist.
  • Proceed with caution. It helps to take your time adding new products to your skin care routine, says Franks. Try them one at a time and wait to see if you get a reaction before adding another new product.

Caring for Oily Skin

If you have oily skin, you’ll have an easier time finding skin care products that won’t irritate, but your challenge is managing the oil:

  • Cleanse. People with oily skin or acne should wash with a gentle cleanser morning and evening. Franks offers this tip for cleansing properly: Use your fingertips and rub it in for 30 seconds before rinsing.
  • Use salicylic acid. Apply an alcohol-free salicylic acid product, such as a Stridex pad, or a salicylic acid medicated cleanser on the oily areas of your skin. Do this two or three times a week.
  • Apply retinol. Retinol products also cut down on oil production and reduce the appearance of large pores. They are a good anti-aging choice for those with oily skin, who are less likely to find them irritating than those with dry skin.
  • Moisturize. Use an oil-free moisturizer with SPF 30. “One of my favorites is Complete Defense in the Olay line,” says Franks.

Caring for Combination Skin

People with combination skin will follow the same basic routine, but have to make it a balancing act, drawing from skin care routines for both oily and dry skin:

  • Cleanse. Stick to gentle cleansers. “Do not use a medicated cleanser at all — keep it mild,” says Franks. Once a day should be fine unless you have significant oil in some parts of your face.
  • Spot-treat with salicylic acid. Apply this to the oilier areas of your face every other day.
  • Moisturize. Go for oil-free products with SPF 30 and spot-treat the drier areas of your face with richer moisturizer.

Two Varicose Veins Treatments

Although laser treatment and surgery are both effective in treating varicose veins, it appears that recurrence of one form of the problem is more common with the laser treatment, German researchers report.

Varicose veins are twisted and enlarged veins that usually occur in the legs. As many as 35 percent of adults suffer complications from varicose veins, usually when the leg’s so-called great saphenous vein becomes blocked, affecting blood flow. Standard treatments include removing the vein either with surgery or a laser procedure, which can prevent complications and improve quality of life, researchers say.

“Our opinion is that both procedures can be equally offered to the patients with great saphenous vein insufficiency,” said lead researcher Dr. Knuth Rass, from Saarland University Hospital in Homburg.

However, patients should be informed that there might be a risk for a higher rate of clinical recurrences beyond two years after the laser treatment, he said.

Bulging varicose veins — often purple and dark blue — are usually seen in the legs or feet because standing puts more pressure on them. In some people, the problem may simply be cosmetic, but in others it can cause aching and pain, muscle cramping, itching and other symptoms. When accompanied by skin ulcers near the ankle, varicose veins can even signal a serious vascular disease.

The report was published in the Sept. 19 online edition of the Archives of Dermatology.

For the study, Rass and colleagues randomly assigned 346 patients to undergo either a surgical procedure called high ligation and stripping, or a laser treatment called endovenous laser treatment.

The surgical procedure involves tying off the vein, which runs between the hip and the foot, through a small incision at the hip. In the laser procedure, a catheter is inserted into the vein and the laser’s burst of light causes the vein to disappear.

During two years of follow-up after the procedure, the researchers looked for recurrence of the condition, severity of the condition, blood flow in the vein and other side effects. They also evaluated how satisfied patients were with each procedure.

Overall, recurrence was 16.2 percent for those who had the laser treatment and 23.1 percent of those who had surgery. But ultrasound revealed that many more patients who had the laser treatment developed one form of the condition called duplex-detected saphenofemoral reflux, where blood flows backward through the vein (17.8 percent of laser treatment patients versus 1.3 percent of surgical patients).

Both treatments equally improved the severity of the disease and the patient’s quality of life, and patients were satisfied with both treatments, the researchers noted. “Ninety-eight percent of the study population would undergo each treatment once again, when asked two years after treatment,” Rass said.

Although there were more minor side effects with the laser treatment, including pain, it did produce better blood flow in the legs and was associated with faster recovery and a better cosmetic outcome, compared with surgery, the investigators found.

Commenting on the study, Dr. Enrique Ginzburg, a professor of surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said that “it makes sense that the two procedures have similar results.”

Ginzburg noted there are other treatments, including radiofrequency-powered segmental thermal ablation and another laser treatment called radial laser fiber, which uses less power, thus reducing pain. There is also a technique that involves a spinning catheter that destroys the inside of the vein causing it to clot off, he said.

For people who have mild cases of varicose veins, experts note, doctors may instead recommend self-care (exercising, losing weight and avoiding tight clothes) or wearing compression stockings to help the blood flow more efficiently.

But there are often medical reasons, not only cosmetic reasons, for having procedures to treat varicose veins, Ginzburg noted. “In reality, it’s a combination of both. Varicose veins are painful as they get bigger. At the same time they are unsightly, so it’s not just a cosmetic procedure, it’s a therapeutic procedure,” he said.

Patients are charged about the same for each of these procedures, Ginzburg said. The average cost is about $2,000 whichever procedure a patient opts for, he noted.

As with all surgeries, vein stripping poses some risks, including that of blood clots, infection and nerve damage. Laser procedures for varicose veins also carry a small risk of infection, nerve inflammation and/or damage and blood clots.

Some patients, including pregnant women, should not undergo vein stripping. And as with any surgery, it is also crucial to check the background of the varicose vein specialist beforehand. Experts recommend using a board-certified vascular surgeon.

Simple Tips for Acne Treatment

If you have acne, you’re among more than 70 million people in the United States who have suffered from this skin condition at some time in their lives. It is so common that acne affects about 80 percent of Americans 20 to 30 years old. During the teenage years, acne is more common in boys than in girls, but in adults it’s more common in women.

Despite the fact that it’s so commonplace, there are many misconceptions about acne, says Guy Webster, MD, PhD, a clinical professor of dermatology at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and founder of the American Acne and Rosacea Society.

Getting to the Root of Acne

Whether you call it acne, pimples, or zits, in order to treat the condition, it’s important to understand the causes:

  • Clogged pores and bacteria: In your teens, the glands in the skin begin secreting sebum, an oily substance. This normally comes out through the pores, but in some people, sebum clogs up in the pores, allowing a bacterium, called P. acnes, to begin to grow.
  • Hormones: In your teen years, hormones start changing and affecting your body, including causing acne. This also happens during pregnancy, which explains why pregnant women or women having their periods often have acne breakouts. Hormones released during stressful times can also cause acne.
  • Genetics: You may be more likely to develop acne if your parents had acne when they were younger.

The Right Acne Treatment

There are many ways to take care of acne, depending on what causes it and how bad it is. Moderate and severe acne usually needs acne treatment recommended by a doctor, but mild acne, blackheads, whiteheads, and a few pimples can usually be treated at home.

Dr. Webster says one big misconception is that acne is caused by dirty skin. “The goal is not to scrub acne away,” he says. “If you scrub, you’re taking off skin, and there’s a reason for the skin being there.” Skin is a protective barrier.

Here are some tips that Webster shares with people who have acne:

  • Wash gently; don’t scrub.
  • Use a gentle soap to wash your face.
  • Wash with your hands, not a washcloth or “scrubby.”
  • Use a 5 percent benzoyl peroxide product.
  • Treat your whole face — don’t “spot treat.” This way, you’re treating pimples still under the skin but not yet visible.

And what should you stay away from?

  • Facial scrubs of any kind.
  • “Face puffs” or abrasive pads.
  • Expensive cosmetic regimens that people try to sell you.

Acne Treatment: Other Tips

Other tips to keep acne from getting worse:

  • If you’re a male, be careful shaving.
  • Don’t pick or scratch at pimples.
  • Avoid the sun. While many people feel that sun exposure makes their acne better, this is not always so. The rays can also cause other unwanted issues, such as premature aging and skin cancer.

Skin Care for Teen Skin

Acne, blackheads, and oily skin top the list of teen skin complaints, says Jessica Wu, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Los Angeles who specializes in medical and cosmetic dermatology. But by following her skin advice, you can keep your skin healthy and glowing.

The challenges of teen skin are sizable, says Dr. Wu. “Hormonal surges lead to enlargement of the oil glands, making teen skin oily and creating large pores and blackheads,” she explains.

Even though you and your friends are going through puberty together, chances are your skin is looking and feeling a bit different from your BFF’s. That means the skin tip that works for her might not work for you. Fortunately, you can easily find the right skin advice to choose from to keep your skin clear.

Here are the top skin tips for teen skin care:

  • Cleanse carefully. If your skin is oily, you’ll probably do well with a foaming or gel cleanser for daily skin care. Cleanse once a day, or twice if your skin gets very oily or dirty throughout the day. “If a teen girl wears makeup, it’s best to remove eye makeup first, then cleanse with your fingertips and a gel or foaming cleanser,” Wu says. If you play sports or work hard in PE class, wash your face (if you can) before you exercise. At the very least, she says, carry facial tissues to blot your skin. For teens who have dry rather than oily skin, try a milky cleanser and moisturizer.
  • Wash off makeup before bed. Even if your best friend can sleep with hermakeup on and look great, it’s not a great idea. “If you’re simply too exhausted to tie your hair back, take off makeup, and wash your face, at least use a pre-moistened cleansing wipe to take off makeup, dirt, and oil,” Wu says. If you make a regular habit of sleeping in makeup, you can have an acne breakout or develop a bumpy rash called perioral or periocular dermatitis.
  • Control oil. You want to keep down the shine without being harsh on your skin. According to Wu, there’s a basic three-step process to oil control: (1) choose a salicylic acid cleanser, (2) use an oil-free primer to control shine, and (3) blot oil during the day using specialized cloths or tissues.
  • Exfoliate. You need to exfoliate only once or twice a week, using a relatively gentle product. Don’t scrub (it won’t help with acne or blackheads) and don’t over-exfoliate.
  • Get the right acne products. If you have breakouts, try this approach: Wash your skin, use a toner, and then apply a medicated acne gel.
  • Don’t share makeup. “Do you want to share your friend’s germs?” Wu asks. “It’s an especially bad idea to share eye and lip products.” So, as tempting as it is to try your friend’s perfect new eye liner, get your own instead.
  • Keep hands clean. One way to help your skin stay healthy is to protect it from dirt and too many germs. Wash your hands before you touch your face or touch up your makeup and regularly clean other surfaces that touch your skin, such as your phone.
  • Choose spray hair products. If you notice that your acne breakouts cluster around your hairline or places where your hair often brushes your skin, consider that your hair product might be to blame. Make a switch to spray products, which, Wu says, “are less likely to cause breakouts.”
  • Skip the toothpaste and other old wives’ tales. You might hear about many odd remedies to control acne, like putting toothpaste on your skin. In fact, this could just make skin worse if you are allergic to the ingredients. There’s a ton of great skin care products on the market that can help you look your best.
  • Wear sunscreen. You want your skin to look healthy now and for decades to come. Using sunblock also helps keep your acne breakouts from turning dark, Wu says. Pick an oil-free product, and look for cosmetics, like liquid foundation, that contain sunscreen.
  • Avoid tanning beds. Get a healthy bronze glow with a self-tanner. Tanning beds and sun tanning can set you up for early wrinkles and increased skin cancer risk later on.
  • Talk to a doctor. Seeing a dermatologist about acne can make a huge difference, especially if you have red, pus-filled pimples or large lumps under the skin that are painful or leaving scars. “Those can stay with you for a lifetime,” Wu says. You might benefit from prescription cleansers and acne medication that can clear skin faster and more effectively than over-the-counter products.

5 Tips to Protect Your Skin

These five skin protection tips can keep your skin looking and feeling great, by guarding against a slew of skin woes, from chapped skin to prematurely aging to skin cancer.

1. Limit Sun Exposure

You’ve heard the message a zillion times, and there’s good reason for that unrelenting repetition. Ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun cause many types of skin damage:

  • Skin cancer
  • Wrinkles
  • Freckles
  • Age spots
  • Discolorations
  • Benign growths

Using skin care products that offer ultraviolet protection is one of the best ways to help keep your skin looking fresh and youthful:

  • Use sunscreen every day and reapply regularly whenever you’re outdoors for extended periods.
  • Cover skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, and wide-brimmed hats.
  • Stay indoors when the sun is at its most intense, usually between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Keep in mind that tanning beds are just as harmful as direct sunlight, as they also emit ultraviolet rays.

2. Stay Hydrated

Keeping your skin moist is essential to skin protection. Skin that is properly hydrated retains pliability and prevents chapped skin or scaly, flaky skin:

  • Drink lots of water. This is key to hydrating your skin.
  • Use the right moisturizing cream or lotion for your skin type and apply it right after drying off from your bath or shower. Avoid products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate, as this ingredient removes natural oils needed by your skin.
  • Take warm (not hot) showers or baths, and limit them to between 5 and 10 minutes. It seems counterintuitive, but exposure to water actually dries out your skin. If dry skin persists, consider cutting back on the number of baths you take.

3. Take Health Precautions

Cold sores are caused by a viral infection of the skin bordering the lips, while bacteria can contribute to acne and other skin conditions. Practicing skin protection means paying close attention to what touches your skin, to lower your chances of exposure to germs:

  • Don’t share any personal items, such as lip balms or toothbrushes.
  • Don’t share drinks with other people.
  • Avoid touching your face with your fingers or with objects like telephone receivers that have been used by others.

4. Use Gentle Skin Care

Washing your face is important to remove dirt, oils, germs, and dead cells. However, scrubbing your face causes irritation that can lead to chapped skin that, in turn, can leave skin vulnerable. For best results, you should:

  • Wash your face twice daily with warm water and a mild cleanser.
  • Gently massage your face with a washcloth, using a circular motion.
  • Rinse thoroughly after washing to remove all soap and debris.
  • Pat your skin dry — don’t rub — then apply your facial moisturizer.

5. Know Your Skin

Pay attention to odd freckles, moles, and growths on your skin, and consult your doctor if you notice any changes. For example, a change in a mole can indicate potential skin cancer. Be sure to treat any cuts that may occur to prevent infection. Other skin conditions that merit a dermatologist visit include frequent acne, inflamed or irritated dry skin, and skin rashes and irritations that don’t go away, as these could be signs of one of the many types of dermatitis, or skin inflammation.

With proper skin care to pamper skin from the outside and with a good diet to nourish from within, skin protection comes down to a few simple steps. But should you ever notice any problems, get medical attention to resolve them quickly and avoid putting your skin at risk.