Springtime is a Great Time to Review Your Skin Health
Like the rest of the body, our skin is in a continual state of aging. The difference between this organ and others is that we see it. Day in and day out, we can see the effects of aging, environmental factors, and lifestyle habits reflected back at us in the mirror. If you are interested in liking what you see today and years down the line, we suggest a few strategies for optimal skin health and beauty.
Avoid Unnecessary Exposure
There are things that support the skin, and things that degrade it. You may be well aware that you should avoid too much sun exposure, but do you know why? Not only do UVA and UVB rays cause sunburn and skin cancer, but they also break down the collagen that makes your skin firm and soft. Because collagen production declines as we age, starting in our twenties, we are encouraged to take as many steps as possible to support this skin-boosting protein at every age. When you go outdoors, even on cloudy days, apply broad-spectrum sunscreen and, on brighter days, also wear a hat.
Skin can be dry and it can also be generally dehydrated. Dry skin can occur just as easily in winter as it can in the hot summer months. This is because we tend to want to warm up when the temperature drops, and we do so with indoor heat and hot showers and baths. Each of these strategies causes moisture to evaporate from the skin very quickly. The remedy may not be to apply thick lotion. In fact, some of the lovely scented lotions we tend to appreciate are quite drying. One of the best ways to protect your skin from dehydration and dryness is to drink water throughout the day. The eight-glass recommendation is just the average. Studies suggest we could all benefit from a few glasses more than that.
Thinking Long Term
Beauty is not the primary focus of the dermatology services offered in our Coatesville, Kennett Square, and Exton offices. Our providers assist patients with the various dermatologic conditions that present uncomfortable symptoms. We understand that healthy skin is beautiful skin, though, and are here to help you enjoy the long-term benefits of knowing what your skin needs.
Do you have a dermatologic concern? Contact an office near you to schedule a consultation.
Whiteheads and Blackheads: What’s the Difference and Does it even Matter?
A pimple is a pimple, right? Wrong. As much as all breakouts seem to be viewed as equal, they are not. Here, we discuss what whiteheads and blackheads are, why you may have them, and what to do about acne.
Both whiteheads and blackheads indicate that pores have been clogged. They are referred to as comedones and become visible when dirt, dead skin cells, oil, and other debris accumulate in pores on the skin. These lesions are non-inflammatory, which means they are not and should not become infected. They will not provoke an inflammatory response from the immune system and, as long as they are not picked and popped, should not cause scarring.
Whiteheads are clogged pores referred to as closed comedones. This is because there is a seal at the surface of a whitehead. All debris, dirt, and oil are trapped on the inside of that seal. Because of this, there is no oxidization resultant from debris coming into contact with oxygen. This is why a whitehead is white.
It is often presumed that a blackhead is black because of the dirt trapped in the pore. Not exactly. A blackhead is an open comedone. It is referred to as such because it doesn’t have the seal that a whitehead does; the surface of the pore is open and therefore material within the pore comes into contact with oxygen. This leads to the oxidation of trapped debris and the “black” appearance of the lesion.
Treatment for Whiteheads and Blackheads
We cannot mention it enough that neither a whitehead or a blackhead should be popped or picked. Doing so can create the environment for inflammation and infection that results in scarring. As frustrating as it can be to experience these clogged pores, the best treatments are those that are gentle and controlled.
Often, over-the-counter acne products will unclog pores sufficiently to gradually decrease comedones. However, there is a possibility that even mild ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide could create irritation. If this occurs, treatment should be stopped and a dermatologic exam should be scheduled. Your dermatologist can examine acne and determine the best course of treatment for the fastest possible resolution.
Learn more about acne treatments prescribed by a dermatologist. Call 610.594.6660 to schedule a visit to our Coatesville, Exton, or Kennett Square office.
Winter Tips to Avoid Eczema Flare-Up
Weather changes can be unkind to the skin. If you have a condition such as eczema, the transition from one season to the next may bring particular challenges. During the winter months, some people struggle to manage flare-ups of itching, redness, and irritation. The primary reason could be that the drop in temperature that occurs this time of year coincides with a dip in humidity. Dry air doesn’t have to make you hibernate to save your skin. Here, we offer a few tips to maintain dermatologic health throughout the cold-weather months.
- Change up your skincare routine. One of the most common mistakes that all people make with their skin is using the same skincare products all year round. When the air becomes massively dry in the winter, the skin needs much more TLC. Experts suggest switching to an oil-based moisturizer and emollient creams that are thicker than the lotions used during the summer. To avoid a greasy feeling on the face, it may be beneficial to layer products, beginning with a nourishing serum and then moving on to a lightweight moisturizer.
- Layer clothing. There are several advantages to dressing in layers. For the person with eczema, layered clothing allows them to have more control over changing body temperature. Being bundled up outside prevents discomfort, but doesn’t work inside because overheating causes an inflammatory response for eczema patients.
- Add some moisture to the air. Areas in which time is spent should be as comfortable as possible to prevent an eczema flare up, and humidity is a must. Placing a humidifier in the bedroom, living room, and office inhibits cold-weather problems like dry, cracked skin.
- Get some vitamin D. Studies have suggested, and vitamin D helps the skin repair itself. During the winter when the sun shines less often, many people become deficient in this vital nutrient. A doctor may perform a vitamin D test to identify how much supplementation is needed to provide health benefits. A supplement may be prescribed or purchased at a health food store.
Get the help you need to handle wintertime skin woes quickly. Call 610.594.6660 to schedule a visit with an experienced dermatologist in our Coatesville, Exton, or Kennett Square office.
The Change in Weather is Doing Enough Harm, Don’t Make it Worse by Doing This!
We’re far enough removed from summertime now that most who were reveling in their sun-kissed glow are now feeling gloomy. This is because it is about this time when the skin starts to look rough, dull, and splotchy. Dryness can be particularly problematic because patches of dehydrated skin on the face cannot be hidden and dry skin elsewhere on the body can be downright uncomfortable.
We may all struggle with a little dryness and roughness after summer. If your skin tends toward the dry side overall, it is essential to think about skincare differently than other people. Some of the usual ways of caring for the skin may be fine for others, but not for you. Here, we outline what you don’t want to do if you have dry skin.
- Take steaming showers. As the weather progressively cools down, nothing may sound more comforting than a nice, hot shower. The problem is that hot water disrupts the layer of oils that keep the skin moisturized. Without sufficient oils, the skin will dry out very quickly. The same goes for space heaters. If you use one, set it far enough away from your body that the heat doesn’t rob your skin of moisture. After showers, pat the skin dry and immediately apply a thicker body lotion than you used during the summer.
- Use a foaming acne-fighting cleanser. Facewash can be extremely drying, especially if formulated to fight acne. Many of the foaming cleansers that are available deplete that oil layer we talked about. If you have normal or oily skin, this is not a big deal; but for the person with dry skin, this can spell disaster. Oil-based products like Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser are better suited to dry skin.
- Apply skincare products without attention to detail. Skincare products are more complicated today than they were just twenty years ago. However, they are also better at really affecting the dermis – if you put them on in the right order. After washing, dry skin needs moisture to get locked in. This happens with layering. Apply products in this order: serum, then lotion or cream. If your skin is unusually dry, you can add one more layer, coconut oil or rosehip oil, for a protective barrier to hold in all that moisture.
Dry skin may indicate a dermatologic problem that requires medical management. To learn more about your dry skin, schedule a consultation with one of our experienced dermatologists in Exton, Kennett Square, or Coatesville.
Expectant Moms Have Unique Skincare Needs
Usually, what gets the most attention during first-time pregnancies is the growing baby bump. When we consider health and wellness, thoughts may revolve around eating for two and implementing strategies to manage morning sickness. It isn’t very often that the skincare needs of expectant mothers are brought to light. We’d like to do that here.
During pregnancy, the vast majority of medical treatments a woman may have become elective. This is due to the unknown potential for harm to the growing fetus. While there are virtually zero clinical studies that include pregnant women, the FDA has established basic safety ratings for common topical and ingestible medications based on animal studies and human observations. Without rigorous studies and substantial evidence, it is safest to err on the side of caution. Here, we suggest a few everyday skincare products that should be avoided and a few that are suitable for expectant mothers.
- The risks of oral isotretinoin include malformations affecting the central nervous system, heart, and brain. Topical retinoids, which are commonly used for acne and wrinkle management, may also present a risk. More extensive studies seem to refute the risks of topical retinoids, but pregnant women may wish to avoid them altogether by switching products.
- Salicylic acid. Here’s an interesting note. Pregnant women are advised to avoid aspirin due to the associated risk of miscarriage. Well, the chemical makeup of salicylic acid is similar to aspirin. Therefore, any use of this common beta-hydroxy acid should be limited to spot treatments only.
- Oral antibiotics. Sometimes, patients are prescribed oral antibiotics to control acne. Conventional medicines, such as doxycycline, can inhibit fetal bone growth and should, therefore, be avoided. Alternative medications may be prescribed to assist expectant mothers with acne control.
- Vitamin C and E provide antioxidant power as well as the moisture boost expectant mothers may need.
- Benzoyl peroxide contained in commercial face-wash may remain suitable throughout pregnancy. First, because concentration is low and, second, because the body metabolizes benzoyl peroxide into benzoic acid. Benzoic acid can be found in many wheat flours.
- Alpha hydroxy acids are generally safe. Mothers-to-be can even have AHA chemical peels to treat common discoloration during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, skincare is not something to tackle on your own. Schedule a visit with us at 610-594-6660.
Has Retin-A Won You Over Yet?
Aging. We can’t stop it. Humans have been trying for ages, attempting everything from rose petals to milk and honey to urine. Yes. It’s sometimes an ugly business to attain beauty. Today, we’ve got far more sophisticated technologies to manage the signs of aging. Our products are also much more refined in their formulations. Retin-A is a prime example.
What is Retin-A?
Retin-A isn’t a high-tech treatment. It isn’t even all that new. It’s a prescription product that has been studied and used clinically for decades. More than its widespread use, it is the track record of scientifically proven benefits that makes Retin-A, or Tretinoin, depending on the prescription, so popular.
Just what are those benefits? Things like tighter skin softened lines and wrinkles, and a reduction in sun spots are a few worth mentioning. Oh, and we should also mention that collagen degradation slows down when Retin-A is a normal part of the skincare regimen.
The way that these benefits are attained is through regular use. With that, the skin can begin to look better within 6 to 8 weeks. How so? Through cellular turnover. Our skin cells naturally die in time. When they do, they are supposed to fall off (which doesn’t always happen). When these cells fall away from the surface, healthy new cells cover the epidermis. What Retin-A, or Tretinoin, both forms of retinoic acid, does is speed up this process.
What You Need to Know
When you hear the many benefits of this prescription product, you may want your supply right away. Retin-A is appropriate for many people who want to support collagen production and slow down their aging process. However, this is not a miracle-treatment for aging skin. Benefits can be found with routine use, but a 50-year-old will not look 20 again. Fortunately, using Retin-A does not exclude a person from obtaining other skin-supporting treatments such as injectables or even cosmetic surgery, if that is there preference.
At the Dermatology and Skin Surgery Center, our focus is on the provision of friendly, consistent dermatologic care. If you would like to know more about the value of Retin-A as a part of your skin care routine, let’s talk.
Want a Big Impact on your Skin? Make These Three Choices!
Maybe you’ve heard that your skin is the largest organ of your body. Without even being told, you know that your skin is exposed to environmental elements more than any other part of the body. These facts are so common that they easily fall to the wayside. Skin care is not something that gets much attention on a proactive stance. What we typically discuss are ways to minimize aging with injectables and laser treatments; how to reduce acne with appropriate medical care. Here, we want to jump to the preventive side and talk about three simple choices that can make a positive impact on your skin now and for your lifetime.
Keep it Safe
Because the skin is so exposed to ultraviolet light, protection is a top priority. UV radiation from sunlight (and tanning lamps) is a leading cause of premature aging, hyperpigmentation, and skin cancer. There are numerous sunscreen products from which to choose, but many experts agree that a quality zinc oxide sunscreen offers outstanding protection from the sun. It isn’t enough to wear sunscreen during that day at the beach; daily use is vital to ongoing dermatologic health.
Keep it Nourished
What we eat matters. Food nourishes our cells, and our cells accumulate at the surface of the body to create our appearance. Dull, acne-prone and aging skin are somewhat within our power to control when we feed the body well. To nourish the skin from the inside out:
- Consume fresh fruits and vegetables daily. The more fresh foods we eat, the better our skin will look and feel. This is because fruits and vegetables are abundant in phytonutrients that fuel the cells of the body with more energy to support vital function, including the turnover of skin cells.
- Drink more water and herbal tea than coffee and soda. Both water and herbal teas have a detoxifying effect on the body. Water also replenishes hydration that so many are lacking. When the body is dehydrated, no amount of topical lotion can support healthy skin.
- Sleep well. Sleep is vital to ongoing health, and even to the skin. When we sleep, cellular renewal occurs. Whether your ideal is 5 hours or 9, stick to a schedule that allows you to wake up looking and feeling refreshed.
Keep it Vital
Skin care is necessary, and this goes beyond just washing your face in the shower. If the ski goes too long without advanced exfoliation, no skin care product will penetrate the surface of cellular buildup that has formed. An occasional chemical peel or microdermabrasion treatment at a reputable medical spa is an affordable and comfortable way to ensure your skin is absorbing vital ingredients from skincare products.
Our team of nurses and physicians is happy to assist you with dermatologic concerns. Contact us at 610-594-6660.
It’s Cooling Down, but You Still Need that Sunscreen!
Skin care is something that is discussed on a regular basis. Largely, it is the desire that men and women have to age well that gets all the attention. We want to know which solutions will help slow the introduction of lines and wrinkles to the skin, and how to treat problems such as sun spots and laxity. There is a single product that should not be overlooked when the goal is to support healthy skin: sunscreen.
\Sunscreen may be one of the absolute best products for skin of all ages. Proper use inhibits the reactivity of skin cells to UV light. Without this protection, cellular health and activity are diminished. Collagen, which we need for suppleness and tone, degrades relatively quickly when too much UV exposure occurs. In addition to fostering smooth skin by protecting against collagen depletion, a good sunscreen product reduces the risk of skin cancer, and that is undoubtedly a winning situation.
Critical Mistakes Many People Make
Sunscreen only works if you work it. This is where a lot of people go wrong. The first mistake that is commonly made is simply going without any sunscreen at all. With so many products available today, it is easy to find a sunscreen that feels good on your skin, even under makeup. The second mistake is not wearing enough sunscreen. When you’re outdoors, it is necessary to reapply product every few hours and to apply sufficient amounts of sunscreen for true protection. At least a nickel-size drop is needed for each area of the body. A final mistake is one that you may be making right now, and that is to stop wearing sunscreen after the heat of summer has faded.
Ultraviolet light is strong any time of year, even when the sun moves slightly farther away from the earth. The rays of light that shine down on us reflect off of common surfaces, including glass, water, and even snow. This exacerbates the effects of that light, which can be just as damaging as a day spent on the beach or a few minutes spent in a tanning bed. Clouds are not considered coverage, either. Even on a cloudy day, about80% of UV light streams through the atmosphere, and that is enough to put you at risk of premature aging and skin cancer.
When you know how to care for skin, you are better equipped to enjoy youthfulness and better health. We are happy to consult with you about sunscreen during a professional skin cancer screening. To schedule your visit, call 610-594-6660.
Sun Exposure: It’s not all Bad News
If we were to ask you about sun exposure, your immediate response might be that you know you need to stay out of the sun. Most people recognize the need for a quality sunscreen product anytime they are spending the day outdoors. Many take measures such as staying indoors during the mid-day hours and wearing UV protective clothing if they do need to be outside for more than a few minutes. There is no doubt that too much sunshine is a bad thing; but what about the other side of the coin? Sunlight also has some health-giving benefits that we shouldn’t overlook.
The Vitamin D Factor
Science has confirmed that vitamin D provides a valuable service to numerous bodily processes. More than 2,000 genes rely on this vitamin for optimal expression. Deficiency has been associated with some health concerns, ranging from depression to multiple sclerosis to heart disease and certain forms of cancer. When we spend time in the sunshine, we also encourage the proliferation of white blood cells, which boost immune function.
As we move from the darker, colder winter months, there is little that can feel better than turning your face up toward the sun. The warmth of sunlight does more than increasing actual body temperature; it can also be a vital aspect of endorphin synthesis in the brain.
Your dermatologist may be the last person you would expect to condone UV exposure. In reality, the benefits of sunlight cannot be denied, so we wouldn’t think to try. What we can do is encourage sun-safe habits. Every person is different in the makeup of their skin, so must approach UV exposure carefully. The average duration of exposure for beneficial effects is 5 to 15 minutes. Those with lighter skin want to stay in the shorter time frame, and may also want to sit in the sunshine earlier in the morning before the sun reaches full height and intensity. Anything more than 15 minutes outdoors requires sunscreen.
Are you prepared for summer? Contact Dermatology and Skin Surgery Center at 610-594-6660. We are happy to consult with you about the best sunscreen for your skin type or schedule your routine skin cancer screening.
It's time for a Change
Oh, how we love the change in seasons, especially when that means we are leaving the slush and snow of Winter behind for several months. If you didn't notice as we transitioned from Fall to Winter, your skin changed. Without appropriate attention, the skin may become dull and lifeless as a result of environmental factors like cold temperatures and heated air. These factors are now in the rearview mirror, but that does not mean your skin is free and clear. Now is a great time for the change!
Change your Moisturizer
Ideally, you switched up your cleansing and moisturizing routine as the weather grew frigid and dry. Wintertime skin care should involve washing morning and night with a gentle cleanser, and use moisturizing products with emollient ingredients like lanolin. Emollients create a barrier that keeps moisture inside the cells. Now that we are getting into warmer weather, we don't need such a high degree of protection. A quality moisturizer is still a must, don't get us wrong! Just look for lighter formulations with mild emollients such as vitamin E. You also want alpha- or beta-hydroxy acid in the products you use daily.
Change the Surface of your Skin
One of the best things we can do for the skin gives it a little help in the sloughing department. Exfoliation is necessary to prevent dead and damaged cells from accruing on the surface, blocking the absorption of products, as well as your inner glow from shining through. You can and should exfoliate a few times a week using a mild abrasive scrub with sugars or with hydroxy acids. Some ingredients, such as apricot pits, may sound appealing because they are natural. However, these can be too abrasive and ultimately irritate the skin.
Change your Sunscreen
Sunscreen is something that should be used Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter, so hopefully, your skin was protected these past several months! As we move into higher temperatures, you want to look for sunscreen products that meet your needs. It isn't necessarily all about SPF. A product with SPF 30 is sufficient, provided it is applied every few hours. Use a sunscreen that is broad spectrum, as this offers the greatest protection against all harmful UV rays.
Dermatology & Skin Surgery Center offers quality care for your general dermatologic needs. Contact one of our 3 Pennsylvania offices for your visit.