This is default featured slide 1 title
This is default featured slide 3 title
This is default featured slide 4 title
This is default featured slide 5 title
 

Monthly Archives: September 2016

Virus Could Fend Off Pimples

Forget over-the-counter acne potions and antibiotics. Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh and University of California, Los Angeles have just identified a type of virus that can infect and kill the bacterium that causes acne.

In a study published in the September 25 issue of mBio, researchers say the findings could help them develop a cream that contains the virus to more effectively ward off those pesky pimples.

There are many prescription antibiotic treatments on the market for acne, but antibiotic-resistant strains of acne-causing bacterium have emerged, highlighting the need for better therapies, the study authors wrote in a press release.

Researchers used over-the-counter pore-cleaning strips to peel off samples of phages — viruses that attack bacteria  from the noses of both pimply and unblemished study participants.

They found the viruses were genetically similar from patient to patient, sharing more than 85 percent of their DNA. The lack of genetic diversity suggests that resistance to phage-based antimicrobial therapy is less likely to develop, study authors said in a press release.

“We believe that these phages display numerous features that would make them ideal candidates for the development of a phage-based therapy for acne,” the authors wrote.

Graham Hatfull, professor of biotechnology and biological sciences at the University of Pittsburgh and one of the study authors, said that the enzymes from the phages might also be useful as a topical anti-acne treatment.

“This work has given us very useful information about the diversity of that set of enzymes and helps pave the way for thinking about potential [acne treatment] applications,” he said in the release.

How to Beat Dry Skin

Dry, itchy skin is no joke. Because skin is the body’s largest organ (weighing about nine pounds), the frustration and discomfort that go along with dehydration can affect your daily existence, from your wardrobe to your social life. And if you happen to have a skin condition like eczema, you know from experience that flaky skin is no laughing matter.

However, you can fight flakiness and itchiness with a few important tips. Here, skin experts share their best advice for keeping your skin soft and supple.

Find the Right Exfoliator

Exfoliating can be beneficial for those who have dry skin because it helps the dead surface layers of skin cells to be shed, layers that can prevent moisturizers from being absorbed, says Doris Day, MD, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center.

The key is to find the exfoliator that works best for your skin. Scrubs and alpha-hydroxy and beta-hydroxy acids are best for those who don’t have sensitive skin. Those with sensitive skin can exfoliate with a home remedy that consists of a paste made from baking soda and water. “It’s great for your face or for rough patches like your heels, and nobody breaks out from it,” says Mona Gohara, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University.

Note that if you have any skin conditions, it’s best to check with a dermatologist before trying anything new. And beware of exfoliating too often because it can cause irritation.

Don’t Wash Too Often

Like exfoliating too much, washing too often can lead to dryness. “I usually tell people to use soap only where they need it — underarms, groin, hands and feet,” says Rebecca Baxt, MD, a dermatologist in Paramus, New Jersey.

Take a Lukewarm Shower

“Hot showers can strip the skin of oil and leave skin dry,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in the department of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Although hot showers are relaxing, fight the urge to parboil yourself and use lukewarm water instead. Also, limit the length of your showers to 10 minutes or less.

Moisturize Every Day

Using a moisturizer daily is crucial to combating dry, flaky skin. “When the skin is dry, it needs to be hydrated from the outside in — drinking eight glasses of water is not enough,” says Dr. Day.

For the most effective moisturizer, look for ingredients, including ceramides, that help support and replenish lipids in the skin. Hyaluronic acid and glycerin, both humectants, help the skin attract water and hold in moisture. Additionally, Dr. Zeichner recommends that, to help seal in moisture, you apply moisturizer to damp skin after showering.

Dry Skin Brushing for a Body Detox

You brush your teeth and hair every day, so why not your skin? Advocates of something called dry skin brushing — literally taking brush bristles to your birthday suit — enthusiastically say you should. “Dry skin brushing is a simple but effective way of not only improving health, but also beauty,” says Tracy Piper, founder and owner of the Piper Center for Internal Wellness, a holistic health care facility in New York City.

Dry skin brushing tones the skin, reduces the appearance of cellulite, opens pores to release toxins, gets rid of dead skin cells, and aids in the circulation of blood, Piper says.

Beyond healthy skin, “dry brushing stimulates the lymphatic system, which is also known as the broom of the body,” explains Jovanka Ciares, a holistic wellness coach and nutrition consultant practicing in New York City. “One of the lymphatic system’s primary functions is to clean toxins and debris out of your blood and help your body run more efficiently. It also helps your body absorb nutrients better, eliminate residues from the outer skin layers, help redistribute fat deposits, and push toxic matter into the colon” — a claim that has not been substantiated by research.

How to Dry Skin Brush

You’ll need a dry natural bristle brush or loofah for dry skin brushing. Make sure you are dry, too. There’s no single way to do it, but you’ll always want to brush toward the heart, says Piper. She uses this technique:

  1. Before using the brush, use your fingertips to pump 3 times on the terminus, which is the indentation between the collarbone and the neck, to start the flow of lymph. Then use your fingertips to pump in your armpits 3 times, then 3 times where your ribcage meets in the center of your body, and 3 times in your groin area.
  2. Step Two: Brush down the neck into the terminus and from each breast outward toward the armpits (avoid the nipples). Brush the arms upward toward the heart.
  3. Step Three: Brush the abdominal area above the navel diagonally up and out toward the armpits.
  4. Step Four: Brush the abdominal area below the navel down toward the groin.
  5. Step Five: Brush the legs up toward the groin. Your palms and the soles of your feet can be brushed in small circles.

When to Do Dry Skin Brushing

To get all the benefits of dry skin brushing, Piper suggests doing it twice daily — in the morning and again in the evening. If you can only do it once a day, do it at night; this will kick-start the lymph system and help your body detox while you’re sleeping, she advises.

On a personal note, Piper says she finds dry brushing “quite calming, especially when I do it before bed,” and “the softness of my skin is very soothing and motivating to continue doing it.”

Dry skin brushing is also a skin and beauty regimen that might benefit the millions who spend hours in front of a computer screen. Stiffness in the shoulders, lower back, and hip area are very common among people who work in offices, says Ciares, and “dry skin brushing once a day for a few weeks will help you increase oxygenated blood flow in those areas and feel energized.”

Dry Skin Brushing: Evaluating the Claims

“I am a big proponent of exfoliation in all its forms, dry brushing included,” says Alicia Zalka, MD, a dermatologist in private practice in Connecticut. “By helping the skin’s built-in mechanism of cell renewal, the act of sloughing spent cells by brushing enhances the process. This is particularly helpful on lower legs, feet, and upper arms and elbows, where dry, dull skin can linger.”

Dennis Gross, MD, a dermatologist and dermatological surgeon practicing in New York City, is less enthusiastic, however. “For exfoliation purposes, one must be careful not to over-exfoliate, and my preference is for chemical exfoliation over mechanical exfoliation, which can be too harsh on the skin.”

So can dry skin brushing detox your body? “The bottom line is that dry skin brushing can improve circulation,” says Dr. Gross. “One could theorize that increased circulation can eliminate toxins, but that is a stretch. Skin does not regularly suffer from a lack of circulation.”

Although Dr. Zalka does not believe that dry skin brushing can eliminate cellulite, she says it could temporarily improve the look of it. If you want to try dry skin brushing, “make sure the brush is cleaned or replaced regularly,” she advises. “Start gently and see how your skin tolerates it. Always apply oil or moisturizing cream to follow, or else the skin could be irritated. Do not do it if you suffer a skin condition such as psoriasis, eczema, or impetigo.”

There are claims on the Internet that dry skin brushing can prevent breast cancer. The American Cancer Society, however, says it has “no opinion” on the technique. “We have no credible evidence or research that concludes this treatment reduces the risk of breast cancer,” says Leonard Lichtenfeld, MD, deputy chief medical officer of the cancer society.

In fact, there are no studies of any kind to support any of the various health claims about dry skin brushing, so it’s important to take the possibility of benefits like detox with a healthy dose of skepticism. If you want to make your outer layer shine, dry skin brushing may be worth a try though. Just make sure you use a gentle touch.

Herbal Meds, Cosmetic Surgery a Bad Mix

About half of patients take herbal and other supplements beforeundergoing cosmetic facial plastic surgery, according to a new study.

Many of these supplements can put patients at risk during surgery and they should stop taking them at least two weeks before their procedure, Dr. Bahman Guyuron and colleagues at Case Western Reserve University advised.

The investigators examined the medication lists of 200 patients scheduled for cosmetic facial plastic surgery — such as a facelift or nose job — and found that 49 percent of the patients were taking at least one type of supplement.

Overall, the patients were taking 53 different types of supplements. The average number of supplements was nearly three per patient, but one patient was taking 28 different supplements, according to the study in the July issue of the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Older patients and women were most likely to be taking supplements, according to a journal news release.

One-quarter of the patients were taking vitamin and mineral supplements only, most commonly multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium and vitamin B. Twenty-two percent were taking animal- and plant-based supplements — most often fish oil — in addition to vitamins and minerals. Just 2.5 percent of patients were taking animal- and plant-based supplements only.

Thirty-five patients were taking supplements linked with an increased risk of bleeding, such as bilberry, bromelain, fish oil, flaxseed oil, garlic, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), selenium and vitamin E.

In addition to the supplements linked to bleeding risk, other popular supplements with potential harmful effects include echinacea, ephedra (ma huang), ginkgo, ginseng, kava, St. John’s wort, valerian, feverfew and ginger.

The patients in the study were told to stop taking supplements two to three weeks before surgery.

“These high-risk supplements are quite commonly used and the surgeon must elicit a complete history in order to avoid the known adverse consequences of supplement use on surgical outcome,” the researchers wrote.