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Archive for September, 2012

HOW TO MANAGE DRY SKIN

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Dry skin results from the loss of lipids (oils) and water in the outermost layer of skin. This barrier layer is largely made up of lipids. These lipids regulate the water content of the skin so as lipids diminish in the skin, water loss increases, eventually resulting in dry skin.

DRY SKIN

Healthy structure and function of the outer barrier layer requires a water concentration of 10-20%. When water loss occurs, cell volume decreases and skin cells curl upward, shrink, and become scaly. As cells become increasingly inelastic, fissures or cracks occur, which further compromises the skin. This can lead to inflammation and the entry of agents that can produce an allergic or irritant reaction. In this condition, exposure of your skin to additional irritants will cause further damage and lead to increased dryness.

Here are some things to consider in your efforts to maintain adequate oil and water in the outer skin layer:

Skin pH

The normal pH of the skin is 5-6. Higher pH levels, such as those found in most bar soaps, damage the skin by harming proteins. You should use creamier cleansers instead of soaps and pH adjusted oils and moisturizers for added hydration.

Evaporation

Shower or bathe with lukewarm water, as it does not allow water to evaporate from the skin barrier as quickly as hot water. After bathing, towel dry and, while still damp, apply an oil or moisturizer to replenish the oil lost in your skin.

Body Products

Products that use de-greasing agents, fragrances, preservatives, dyes, etc., which remove oil, as well as rough scrubs that further deplete sebum, should be avoided. Body products that are made to enhance oil-retention should be used instead. Fatty acids found in virgin coconut oil have the added benefit that they are native to skin so they replace lost lipids. It is important to use a regimen that is consistent. At a minimum, use a hydrating cream cleanser for the face and an intensive moisturizer. A non-drying, anti-aging toner may be added if your skin is not already very dry.

Medical Conditions, Diet, & Sun Exposure

It is also important to consider whether your health status is contributing to your dry skin. Diabetics or those who take medications such as diuretics are more likely to have really dry skin especially if the medications used are not well controlled. A poor diet, sudden weight loss, or inadequate nutrition can make the skin extra dry. The production of less oil in the skin of the elderly often leads to chronic dryness. Extended periods of unprotected sun exposure will lead to sunburns which adds to water loss and will initiate or worsen dry skin. Allergens and irritants in your makeup, skin care, and hair care products and even in your clothing can be intensified when your skin is dry.

In the next blog, skin care products that we recommend for dry skin will be discussed.

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BODY DYSMORPHIC DISORDER

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

Body dysmorphic disorder is a condition in which there is an intense obsession over appearance and body image, often for many hours a day. People with this condition believe their appearance is so shameful that they don’t want to be seen by anyone. It can result in a combination of personal anguish, occupational failure, and social isolation. Numerous cosmetic procedures are frequently sought to try to “fix” the perceived flaws, but a satisfying outcome is never achieved. Body dysmorphic disorder is also known as dysmorphophobia, the fear of having a deformity. Here we will discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatment.

BODY DYSMORPHIC DISORDER

Symptoms
An obsession over any aspect of the body is possible in body dysmorphic disorder but common areas involved are the nose, hair, skin, complexion, wrinkles, acne and blemishes, baldness, breast size, muscle size, and genitalia. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Strong belief that an abnormality or defect is present that creates an ugly appearance
  • Belief that others take special notice of your appearance in a negative way
  • The need to seek reassurance about your appearance from others
  • Frequent cosmetic procedures with little satisfaction
  • Excessive grooming, such as hair plucking
  • Extreme self-consciousness
  • Comparison of your appearance with that of others
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • The belief that excessive makeup or clothing must be used to camouflage perceived flaws

The body feature that is focused on may change over time. It is possible to become so convinced about perceived flaws that someone with this disorder becomes delusional about their appearance regardless of objective evidence to the contrary.

Causes

Body dysmorphic disorder may result from a combination of causes such as:

  • Brain chemical differencesnaturally occurring brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, which are linked to mood can play a role
  • Structural brain differencescertain areas of the brain may not have developed properly
  • Genescommon in people whose biological family members also have the condition
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder- increased frequency of body dysmorphic disorder in those with OCD
  • Environment life experiences, society, and culture may contribute if they involve negative experiences about the body or self-image

Treatment

Shame and embarrassment about perceived appearance flaws may keep someone from seeking treatment for body dysmorphic disorder. Poor insight into the underlying nature of the illness often results in refusal of a psychiatric referral. However, it is imperative to realize that evidence of any signs or symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder requires the attention of a healthcare professional. Improvement has been achieved with the use of serotonin uptake inhibitor medication and cognitive behavior therapy to encourage self-esteem, modify distorted thoughts, and develop coping strategies. Body dysmorphic disorder usually doesn’t get better on its own and, if untreated, it may get worse over time and lead to self-destructive thoughts and behavior.

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AGING: EPIGENETICS & IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF LIFE

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

The aging process is a reflection of the changes resulting from both genetic and environmental factors that we are each subject to over the course of time. But why does disease and disability take a toll that varies so significantly from person to person? Is it simply a combination of good genes, a healthy diet, regular exercise, low stress, and not smoking? Scientists believe there is a more complex array of forces that affects our longevity and quality of life than can be readily understood by a simple checklist of do’s and don’ts. The triggers for aging in the cells and tissues of our body, the reason aging occurs, and the mechanism that produces the changes of aging remains an active source of scientific enquiry. Gaining a deeper understanding of these aspects of aging will help us not only to live longer but potentially, to live better.

AGING: EPIGENETICS & IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF LIFE

Epigenetics

Current research is directed at the emerging field of epigenetics, which investigates how genes are affected by the environment to influence the aging process. The merging of nature and nurture in the study of epigenetics has led to a new way of interpreting the aging process.  Epigenomes are chemical tags or markers present in our DNA that help to control gene activity. Epigenomes, however, can be affected by exposures to toxins in our diet or environment that may result in a change in genetic functioning. Most of these changes are felt to be harmless but some could lead to genetic signals that result in a disease or age related condition that otherwise might lie dormant or not appear till later in life.

Unanswered Questions

The direction of investigation in this intriguing field of research is looking at whether epigenome changes may contribute to the long-term differences in the health and aging of each of us. The issue of a single event being sufficient to alter the course of an epigenome versus a series of events being necessary to produce a change remains unknown. The body’s age at which such an event occurs is also being questioned to see if the stage in life may affect the consequences, or lack thereof, for the epigenome.

If differences between individuals can be linked to the epigenetic switch found on the genome, we may be able to improve the quality of life as we age. Stay tuned!

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