Monday, June 24, 2013

A Low-Calorie Diet May Improve Psoriasis

Putting psoriasis patients on a low-calorie diet may improve quality of life and reduce severity of the disease, according to a recent study.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease characterized by raised, red, scaly patches on the skin. It typically affects the skin outside of the elbows and knees, the scalp, lower back, face, palms and the soles of feet, although it can occur anywhere. Psoriasis varies from person to person, both in severity and how it responds to treatments.

The study, conducted by the Copenhagen University Hospital in Gentofte, Denmark, compared the diets of 60 people with a body mass index (BMI) between 27 and 40 over 16 weeks. Half the participants were randomly assigned to a low-energy diet consisting of 800 to 1,000 calories per day for eight weeks, followed by a 1,200-calorie diet for the following eight weeks. The other half of the participants were instructed to eat normally throughout the study.

The authors discovered a correlation between weight loss and the decrease in severity of psoriasis symptoms, noting the most significant change occurred during the first eight weeks of the study. Participants on the low-calorie diet also experienced a statistically significant reduction in insulin and plasma glucose levels, key obesity indicators, compared to the control group.

Researchers suggest several possible explanations for the improvement in psoriasis symptoms after weight loss. One theory is that both obesity and psoriasis are linked to chronic inflammation, which can cause symptoms such as swelling, body aches and pains and skin outbreaks. Another explanation is that the medication used by some the participants on the low-calorie diet might have become more efficient as they lost weight and achieved a higher, more effective dose.

While previous studies have noted possible association between psoriasis and obesity, this study was the first rigorous trial to evaluate the direct correlation between weight loss and the severity of psoriasis.

Summer is actually a good season for many who suffer from psoriasis because warmth, humidity and sunshine can temporarily heal lesions. Although the sun can be beneficial for psoriatic skin, people with this skin condition should still use sunscreen to defend against UVA and UVB rays. Getting sunburned can trigger skin flare-ups, so Dr. Miller recommends looking for sunscreen products formulated for atopic skin with an SPF of at least 30. If you’re experiencing a flare-up, stay out of the sun completely, as heat and sun can intensify inflammation.

Dr. Miller also recommends avoiding wearing synthetic fibers and Lycra during the summer months. Instead, opt for loose clothing made of soft fibers, such as cotton, to avoid irritating the skin. Shoes and sandals should also be open and roomy.

In 95 percent of cases, healthcare providers can make a psoriasis diagnosis just by visual inspection. If you think you are suffering from this skin condition, call Greenville Dermatology to schedule an appointment today.

Monday, June 17, 2013

When it Comes to Tanning, Women Value Looks More Than Health

Sunless tanning is often promoted as the best way to achieve a “bronze glow” without the damage from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. However, a recent study says that if products don’t provide the perfect tan, young women likely will not use them.

The Baylor University study, published in the current issue of Household and Personal Care Today, was conducted on approximately 200 Caucasian female college students and found that appearance was the primary motivation for getting a tan.

Participants were given a questionnaire with 14 statements about appearance. They were asked to answer them on a five-point scale ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.” Those who strongly agreed with statements such as "I should do whatever I can to always look my best" were more likely to use all of the sunless tanning items mentioned in the study, according to Jay Yoo, Ph.D., an assistant professor of family and consumer sciences in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences.

"The feeling is 'I tan, I feel good, I'll look good tomorrow… What's health?'" Yoo said. "The study confirms that targeting appearance-conscious consumers, in particular young women, will be successful as long as the quality of the tan is promising. Women ages 19 to 22 aren’t worried about wrinkles and premature aging.”

Young women in particular, who are more frequent users of sunless tanning creams, gels and lotions, see sunless tanning as a complement to UV tanning. Yoo said manufacturers should promote sunless tanners as a substitute for UV tanning, rather than just a complement.

Participants’ attitudes toward bronzers (powders and moisturizers) was most positive, followed by tanning lotions, creams, sprays, toilettes, gels and pills. Women were less likely to use sunless tanning products if they thought the product caused streakiness or an unnatural look or color.

The study also revealed that young women are not concerned about skin cancer unless they experience it personally or on a family member or someone else they know, Yoo said.

Sunless tanning products can provide a safe alternative to UV tanning. However, keep in mind: sunless tanners don’t provide protection from UV rays. Even if you have sunless tanner on, sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 should still be used if you are going to be out in the sun.

Greenville Dermatology has an array of sunless tanning and sunscreen products in our retail store. Our skincare experts can help guide you in determining the best products and SPF protection for your skin. Give us a call today at (864) 242-5872.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Daily Sunscreen Reduces Aging

The secret to anti-aging may already be in your beach bag. You probably know by now that sunscreen protects skin from damaging UV rays, but a new study suggests that it also reduces skin aging, even in middle-aged men and women.

According to research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, people instructed to apply sunscreen daily showed 24 percent less skin aging over four years than those told to use sunscreen as they normally would.

The anti-aging properties of sunscreen were witnessed in all daily-use participants, no matter what age they were.

“This is a good news study because for young and middle-aged adults, it’s never too late to take care of your skin,” said Adele Green, PhD, lead study author and lab head at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Australia.

This particular study covered more than 900 adults younger than 55 living in Australia. All study participants were given a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher. Half were told to wear sunscreen daily, while the others were instructed to use it like normal. By the end of the study, 77 percent of those told to use sunscreen daily were using it at least three to four days a week, compared to 33 percent of the control group.

Skin aging was measured by calculating photoaging, which refers to the negative effects on the skin from long-term exposure to sunlight. Photoaging is linked to coarser and looser skin, increased wrinkling and dryness, elevated visible small blood vessels and whiteheads or blackheads on facial skin.

Those who did not use sunscreen daily had a higher risk of actinic keratoses, or thick patches of skin, and skin cancer.

“This is great fodder for us to encourage people to use sunscreen,” said Jeffrey Dover, a dermatologist in Chestnut Hill, Mass. “I will quote this paper every day.”

The results have a double significance since the reduced skin damage from UV rays also translates to a lower risk of skin cancer.

At home, look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Note that even products labeled “waterproof” or “sweatproof” only for 40 minutes while swimming or sweating. Greenville Dermatology’s retail store carries a wide selection of broad-spectrum sunscreens that are ideal for everyday use. Stop by today or call (864) 242-5872 to make an appointment with a dermatologist.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Is Your Lipstick Killing You?

Lipstick may brighten your smile, but according to a recent study, it could also be poisoning your body. The study found that many commonly sold lipsticks and lip glosses contain lead, cadmium, chromium, aluminum and five other toxic metals, some at levels that could raise potential health concerns.

Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health analyzed 32 different lipsticks and lip glosses commonly sold in drugstores and department stores across the U.S. Although scientists had already detected metals in cosmetics in the past, this new report went a step further to estimate the risk of daily intake of the toxic metals. Lipstick and lip glosses are of particular concern since these products are applied to the lips and are gradually ingested.

“Just finding these metals isn’t the issue; it’s the levels that matter. Some of the toxic metals are occurring at levels that could possibly have an effect in the long term,” said S. Katharine Hammond, study author and professor of environmental health sciences. “This study is saying, ‘FDA, wake up and pay attention.’”

The scientists in the study determined that even if you don’t “slather on” lipstick or reapply lip products multiple times per day, you could still be at risk for ingesting a high concentration of toxins. The average user applies lipstick 2.3 times daily and ingests 24 milligrams each day, while a heavy user applies it as many as 14 times per day and ingests an average of 83 milligrams, according to the study.

The study found that even average users are at risk for excessive exposure to toxins. For instance, applying lipstick two times per day could lead to excessive exposure of chromium, a carcinogen associated with stomach tumors.

Individuals who are heavy users are even more at risk. Slathering on lipstick several times per day could lead to an overexposure of cadmium, aluminum and manganese. Exposure to high concentrations of manganese has been associated with toxicity in the nervous system.

Out of the 32 lip products tested, 24 of them contained lead, although at levels that were generally lower than the acceptable daily intake.

There are currently no standards for metal content in cosmetics sold in the U.S. However, cadmium, chromium and lead are all considered unacceptable ingredients, at any level, in cosmetic products sold in Europe, according to the European Union.

So, what’s the deal? Should you choose to forgo lip color and go au naturel? The authors of the study said there’s no reason to throw your lipstick away. Instead, they urge health regulators to have more oversight of lip products to prevent these toxic metals from getting inside your lipstick and into your body.

“I don’t think people should panic,” said Hammond. “But if you use it several times every day, you may want to think about it.” Her basic advice: “Use it less.”