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Monthly Archives: January 2017

Why Some Get Zits and Others Don’t

The bacteria that causes acne lives on everyone’s skin, yet 20 percent of people will never have to deal with a pimple.

Why? There are three strains of the acne-causing bacteria — two linked to pimples and a third strain linked to healthy skin, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, and Washington University in St. Louis report in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. Harnessing the healthy kind could lead to bacteria-targeting probiotic treatments to fight acne formation and promote skin health, researchers say.

Currently, probiotics are not used to treat acne, says Mark Kaufmann, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist who did not work on the study.

“At this point, there are four main categories to treat acne: antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide, retinoids, and anti-inflammatories,” Kaufmann says. “Because there’s not one good regime that treats everyone, dermatologists mix and match to find what each patient can tolerate, and what is best for the type of acne they have.”

Using over-the-counter pore strips, researchers in the study extracted the acne bacteria Propionibacterium acnes from both pimply and clear-skinned volunteers. They then sequenced the genomes of 66 P. acnes strains, zeroing in on genes unique to each strain.

“We were interested to learn that the bacterial strains looked very different when taken from diseased skin, compared to healthy skin,” said co-author Noah Craft, MD, lead investigator at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, in a release. “Two unique strains of P. acnes appeared in one out of five volunteers with acne but rarely occurred in clear-skinned people.”

Most importantly, there was also a third strain of P. acnes that’s common to healthy skin only — leading researchers to believe that this strain contains a natural defense mechanism that enables it to fight off acne-causing bacteria. Offering new hope to acne sufferers, researchers believe that increasing the body’s friendly strain of P. acnes through a simple cream or lotion may help calm pimples.

Kaufmann cautions that acne has multiple causes, so treating bacteria alone might not be enough for most patients. “Acne is multi-factorial,” he explains. “Many dermatologists believe the hormonal component is the most overriding factor.” Genetics and clogged pores also play major roles, he says.

When it comes to treating acne over the counter now, Kaufmann recommends atopical benzoyl peroxide cream. For more severe acne treatment, Kaufmann says more research is needed, “but only because there’s not one good regime that treats everybody,” he says.

The Best Foods for Your Skin

If you want a smoother, clearer complexion, Jessica Wu, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at USC Medical School and a dermatologist in Los Angeles, encourages you to toss all six of these fortifying Feed Your Face foods into your grocery cart.

Tomatoes

Definitely one of your skin’s best defenses, tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene. While studies have not yet been entirely conclusive, many suggest that lycopene may be responsible for helping to protect the skin against sun damage.

Lycopene is best absorbed by the body when it has been cooked or processed, so eating tomato sauce, tomato paste, and ketchup is likely to be more effective than just eating raw tomatoes when trying to safeguard your skin against harmful UV rays. Lycopene is also fat soluble, which means that it is absorbed more easily when consumed with fat, such as eggs, avocado, and olive oil.

Red Meat

Sometimes it gets a bad rap, and even though red meat does contain saturated fat and cholesterol, lean red meat is one of Dr. Wu’s favorite Feed Your Face foods because it’s so high in protein and zinc. In fact, recent studies suggest that red meat may be even better at treating acne than antibiotics.

To produce collagen, your skin needs the amino acids glycine and proline, and theprotein in red meat has the highest concentration of these two amino acids. Themineral zinc is also crucial for collagen production. “It’s an essential cofactor,”says Dr. Wu. “Without enough zinc, it’s difficult for the skin to make collagen. Plus, zinc is a natural anti-inflammatory.” And vegetarians don’t need to miss out. Dr. Wu adds that high concentrations of glycine can also be found in seafood, proline in cottage cheese and cabbage, and zinc in lentils, kidney beans, and raw oysters.

Green Tea

It’s no secret that green tea is an antioxidant powerhouse. Its strong anti-inflammatory and anti-aging effects are attributed to its high concentration of catechin compounds. Studies have shown that green tea can be used both orally and topically to help protect the skin from sunburns and UV-associated skin cancers. Research also suggests that drinking one cup of green tea twice a day over the course of six months may actually reverse sun damage and significantly improve any problems you have with redness and broken capillary veins.

Green Beans

As long as we’re going green, let’s talk about how these low-calorie beans can help you grow thicker hair and healthier nails. Green beans are a star Feed Your Face food because they’re one of the richest sources of silicon — not to be confused withsilicone,which is found in bad lip jobs and breast implants! The USDA has not yet established recommended daily intakes (RDIs) of silicon, but 10 mg per day seems to be adequate for strengthening hair and nails, according to recent studies. Dr. Wu recommends choosing organic green beans, since they retain more silicon from the soil. Don’t like green beans? You can also get your silicon fix from volcanic mineral waters such as Volvic, which contains 14.5 mg per liter.

Walnuts

Usually it’s salmon that’s synonymous with omega-3 fatty acids, but did you know that walnuts are also incredibly high in omega-3s? If you’re concerned with redness,swelling, blotchiness, acne breakouts, or wrinkles, walnuts may be your new best friend. Plant-based omega-3s, such as the ones found in walnuts, are naturally anti-inflammatory; they can help seal moisture into your skin and protect it from chemicals and other toxins. In particular, the alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in these omega-3s can work to combat the dryness associated with aging that leads to wrinkles. But don’t stop with walnuts; you can also increase the amount of plant-based omega-3s in your diet by eating almonds,olive oil, and flaxseed, too.

Yogurt

Not only is it the main ingredient in the best smoothies, yogurt is a natural probiotic, which means that it helps replenish the “good” bacteria in your body and keeps yeast in check. This can come in handy if you have gastrointestinal issues or you’re prone toyeast infections, but what does it have to do with feeding your face? Well, according to Dr. Wu, yogurt is an excellent Feed Your Face food for dealing with acne breakouts, eczema, and even dandruff. Just be sure to choose a low-fat and low-sugar yogurt, since sugar can aggravate inflammation. And if you think your breakouts are related to dairy, Dr. Wu suggests skipping the yogurt and going straight for a probiotic supplement instead.

6 Amazing Reasons to Sleep for Skin Health

A good night’s sleep can mean good skin health because when you’re sleep-deprived, your body makes more of the stress hormone cortisol. Elevated levels of cortisol can lead to increased stress and inflammation in the body, hurting your skin’s quality.

But the relationship between skin health and lack of quality sleep can be a vicious cycle, especially with conditions like atopic dermatitis or eczema, which can lead to scratching even through the night, recent research published in the journal Clinics in Dermatologyshowed.

“Poor sleep can lead to increased stress hormones in the body that increase the severity of inflammatory skin conditions such as acne or psoriasis,” explains Jessica Krant, MD, MPH, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and founder of Art of Dermatology in New York. This can result in increased itching, which can disrupt sleep. As the vicious cycle continues, skin conditions and sleep quality can increasingly worsen together. In contrast, skin conditions and sleep quality can also improve together. Getting a good night’s sleep will help to clear up skin, which allows sleep to improve and, in turn, will improve skin health.”

Need more convincing? Here are six reasons why not getting enough sleep detracts from skin health and your health in general:

  1. Not enough sleep worsens existing skin conditions. Increased inflammatory response shows up as increased acne breakouts, increased skin sensitivity, increased allergic contact dermatitis reactions, and increased irritant dermatitis — and more severe conditions mean more treatment and skin care.
  2. Not enough sleep detracts from your skin’s natural beauty. Increased inflammatory cells in the body lead to an increase in the breakdown of collagen and hyaluronic acid, the molecules that give the skin its glow, bounce, and translucency.
  3. Not enough sleep makes immune-related skin problems worse. Increased inflammation in the body throws off the body’s ability to regulate the immune system, which leads not only to getting sick more often, but also to flares of immune-related skin diseases such as psoriasis and eczema. Psoriasis is not just a skin disease; it’s also an indicator of body inflammation. “Many people with severe psoriasis actually have an increased risk for heart attacks, which is even more reason to keep stress low and get good quality sleep,” Dr. Krant says.
  4. Not enough sleep results in less beauty. While you’re sleeping, the body’s hydration rebalances. Skin is able to recover moisture, while excess water in general in the body is processed for removal. Not getting enough sleep results in poor water balance, leading to puffy bags under your eyes and under-eye circles, as well as dryness and more visible wrinkles.
  5. Not enough sleep accelerates the aging process. During deep sleep, the rise in growth hormones allows damaged cells to become repaired. Without the deeper phases of sleep, this won’t occur, allowing daily small breakdowns to accumulate instead of being reversed overnight. This results in more noticeable signs of aging.
  6. Not enough sleep contributes to weight gain. Sleep also helps with weight management, which is good for your skin. Sleep makes you feel less hungry, Krant explains — recent studies have linked sleep deprivation to excess snacking and calorie consumption.

Getting a Good Night’s Rest

Here are tips from Krant for getting good sleep and better skin health:

  • Don’t eat a big meal too late in the day.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day, but not late at night.
  • Sleep under a warm blanket in a cool, dark, quiet room.
  • Keep electronics out of the bedroom.
  • Use breathable cotton sheets and wash them regularly, so they don’t collect dust mites and bacteria.
  • Use laundry detergents that don’t have strong fragrances, which can be irritating to skin.

8 Cellulite Treatments

Even in a down economy, women are willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars to conquer their arch-nemesis: cellulite. Cellulite tips and remedies constitute a booming multimillion-dollar business catered to the nearly 90 percent of women who are afflicted by the classic “orange peel” or “grape bunch” texture on their hips, legs, or buttocks. But weeding out the truth between the beauty tips and overhyped cellulite treatments can be a challenge.

The classic appearance of cellulite is caused by changes in fat cells that live in between collagen fibers – the latticework of your skin. Fat cells rupture and sag between collagen supports, causing that distinctive dimpling effect.

One known reason that women get cellulite is genetics – it’s essentially written into your genes. But beyond genetics, understanding why some women get it more than others is a challenge. “Speculation ranges on a wide set of issues including inflammation and edema fluid,” says dermatologist David McDaniel, MD, an assistant professor of clinical dermatology at Eastern Virginia Medical School and founder of McDaniel Laser Cosmetic Center of Virginia in Virginia Beach.

Other possible causes of cellulite include:

  • Diet. Experts note a correlation between a diet high in processed foods and the development of cellulite. Populations that eat more whole foods (fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean meats) seem to have less cellulite.
  • Hormones. Cellulite is found most often in women and almost never in men — probably because of the hormone estrogen. And for women, cellulite increases as estrogen levels drop.
  • Sedentary lifestyle. Granted, some athletes develop cellulite, but since circulation plays at least a small role in the biology of cellulite, many women develop cellulite in part because they habitually keep the blood pumping slowly.
  • Underwear. Quirky, maybe, but many women develop dimpling and cellulite in a classic pattern that mirrors their panty lines. Underwear that’s too tight could be a contributing factor because it interferes with the fluids circulating through your skin, so loosen up a bit or opt for thongs.

Cellulite Treatments That Don’t Work

“Nobody talks about the social and emotional impact of cellulite on women,” says Lionel Bissoon, MD, a cellulite specialist and author of The Cellulite Cure. Some patients tell him that cellulite can be “emotionally devastating,” and despite a challenging economy and costly out-of-pocket expense for treatments, he sees several new clients at his New York City practice every week.

Given the expense, some of the following treatments should be avoided altogether — others may be worth a small try.

  • Creams. Dozens of over-the-counter beauty creams are promoted ascellulite treatments. Though some may temporarily tighten or brighten skin, be skeptical. “When you look at cellulite, there are three treatable aspects: the fat, dense collagen, and circulation,” says Bissoon. There is no topical product that successfully addresses all three, he adds.
  • Brushes. Cellulite does seem to be affected by circulation concerns, but skin brushing increases circulation only at the surface and not in a way that will repair the damage that leads to cellulite. Massages, wraps, and similar therapeutic touch remedies aren’t effective beauty tips either, although they could help you feel better in your body.
  • Cellulite garments. Specialized garments, often called “massage garments” or “compression garments,” have been developed and promoted as ways to manage cellulite. How long these effects last may depend on individual use of the garments.
  • Roller-suction treatments. The devices often go by a name like “cellulite massagers” — they roll or suck the skin and, at least in theory, increase circulation. “The roller-suction devices seem to give some — I think usually temporary — improvement, but it depends on the device, settings, technique, patient,” cautions Dr. McDaniel.
  • Liposuction. It might seem that simply removing the troublesome fat would fix the problem, but that’s not the case with cellulite. “Liposuction is intended for body sculpting or contouring,” points out Bissoon. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of lipo is increased dimpling.
  • Weight loss. Weight loss is a worthwhile health goal, but it can actually make cellulite look worse. If your weight loss is significant, you could end up with “redundant” skin — loose skin that can make cellulite seem more severe than it is.
  • Lifestyle changes. Overall it’s a good idea to start eating more healthfully(more fruits and veggies, please!) and exercising, but these changes alone can’t cure cellulite completely, although its appearance may improve.
  • Hydration.Staying hydrated won’t conquer cellulite, but you should do it anyway, says Bissoon. “Take your body weight and divide it by 2.2 to give you the number of ounces you need to drink per day,” he advises. This will help you look and feel better, even with cellulite.

The good news for cellulite sufferers is that researchers are working to find a solution to the problem. Some approaches, such as radio-frequency treatments, low-level LED light treatments, and mesotherapy (injecting proprietary compounds directly into the cellulite-afflicted areas), show some promise, but they still need larger and more controlled clinical studies to support their effectiveness and safety, says McDaniel. The challenge for researchers is to distinguish between treatments that provide some temporary improvement and those that can change cellulite at the structural level.