Friday, March 27, 2015

Exfoliation might not be for everyone

What is exfoliation? Basically it means rubbing off your top layer of skin. Supposedly these are the dead skin cells--leaving fresh new skin underneath, all glowy and fantastic. This also allows topical ointments to penetrate better.

The problem--according to Mary P. Lupo, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane--is that that this approach is not optimal for all skin types.

You may benefit if you have damage from excessive sun exposure or have or had non-inflammatory acne.

But you need to proceed with caution. Individuals with inflammatory acne (cysts and pustules) need to talk to a board-certified dermatologist before scraping away. The more aggressive chemical or mechanical treatments can make you skin worse.

Also, if you get dark spots after burns or bug bites, aggressive forms may not be for you.

Exfoliation can also aggravate herpes simplex or molluscum contagiosum and warts.

--If you have dry or sensitive skin, stick with milder chemical options, such as salicylic acid peels in a doctor's office. Those with thicker, oilier skin may be able to use strong things--such as 2% salicylic acid wash or a motorized brush.

--How often? Thicker oilier skin types may do it once a day. More sensitive--maybe once a week.

--Be careful buying your own products. No higher than 10% glycolic acid or 2% salcylic acid.

In other words, you can definitely overdo a good thing.

Remember that apricot pit sand people used to scrape their faces with? Do they still make that? I also remember Buff Puffs--barbed wire in a sponge.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Want or need to be in a medical study?

Apple has a new app called ResearchKit.

Studies can take a long time to put together--this can work against participants who might benefit from the medication being tested.

Now, Apple has a way for iPhone and iPad users to swipe--and participate if appropriate.

Using this, people can search and sign up for studies on everything from asthma to Parkinson's.

In the latter case--Parkinson's--for example, applicants may be asked to tap the screen with alternating fingers for 20 seconds. Other studies may ask people to speak or send researchers physical data such as heart rate.

Still another use will be to follow up on breast cancer surgery patients--they will report in on fatigue, cognitive difficulties, sleep problems, and so on.

MyHeart--developed at Stanford, will ID people at risk for heart disease.

Users will be allowed to see their data before it's sent to research teams. This has led to the worry that people may skew their own data--if they consider themselves super fit, for example, and the data does not show it, they may decide not to be in the study.

The researchers think they can winnow these people out.

Fewer sufferers are entering tests...Maybe this will help. Worth a shot.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The kitchen towel--help or villain?

Researchers at Kansas State are on the trail of a household villain--the kitchen towel.

They published their findings in the J of Food Protection Trends.

The first thing they noticed is that participants handled the kitchen towels a lot, including paper towels.

Often they would grab the towel before washing their hands. (Duh--sometimes don't they use the towel to DRY their hands--we do.)

Salmonella can grow on cloth, even if rinsed out in the sink.

Others used their disease-coated cells while in the kitchen.

The big danger is cross-contamination--meat juices on a counter, that sort of thing.

Some tips:

--Wash hands--don't just splash and dash. Do it when you enter the kitchen.  Also after handling meat, eggs, or meat packaging.

--Wash cloth towels...Use them only for certain tasks, such as drying dishes. Use paper for drying hands.

--The docs say not to use sponges, but even their spouses do. Disinfect often in the dishwasher or 30 secs in the microwave.

--Use a food thermometer--ground beef should be cooked to 160, poultry to 165.

--Have separate cutting boards for veggies/fruit, raw meat, and poultry.

--Put a little bleach and the rest water in a spray bottle and use for counters and other surfaces.

To me, some of this is "nasty neat." I suppose I could change my mind if I got food poisoning.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How to deal with vitiligo

Vitiligo is blotchy loss of skin color--I think Michael Jackson suffered from it. Anyone can get it, but it is more noticeable with darker skin tone.

It is not contagious or harmful but can affect appearance and sense of well-being.

It starts with small areas of light or white skin--often in areas exposed to the sun. Sometimes this does not spread and sometimes it does. Hair and eye changes can also occur.

This occurs when melanocytes--the cells that produce melanin pigment--die or stop producing melanin.

This is thought to be an autoimmune thing--the body turning on itself.

It can run in families and may be set off by a severe sunburn.

According to Alicia Cool, MD, Advanced Dermatology in Albertson NY, vitiligo is treated by several methods.

--Topical steroid creams--best when used early on.

--Topical immunosuppressant ointments--best for small areas of it.

--Ultraviolet A (UVA) in combination with a med call psoralen. This is used when depigmentation is over 20% of the body.

--Narrow-band ultraviolet B (UVB)--No psoralen.

--Eximer laser--for small areas.

--Depigmentation--Used when the disorder is very widespread or if other things fail. A med is applied to the skin over a long period--lightening all the skin.

There are other methods, too... Consult your dermatologist.

Bottom line--It may be unsightly or disturbing but does not threaten your health.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Babies and stuffy noses

Babies can't blow their noses, so they express their discomfort guess how--fussing and crying.

Yet, says Andrew Hotaling, MD, a pediatric otolaryngologist at Loyola, infants and toddlers get six to eight upper resp infections a year. That's a lot of crying.

Some tips:

Use a cool air humidifier in the child's room. Be sure to clean it properly so you are not blowing mold or mildrew into the little one's face. You may need to open the door.

You can suck mucus out with a bulb syringe--maybe even put in a few drops of saline solution first to loosen congestion.

Check to make sure the tot has not blocked the nasal passage with a bean or foreign object.

Be sure the child gets lots of fluids.

If the baby is coughing like a barking seal, it could be something more serious than sniffles. Check with your doctor.

Also watch for chronic snoring. It could be enlarged adenoids.

Avoid exposing the child to smoke. Even if you do not smoke in the same room, the irritants can get into fibers and upset the baby's system.

Once, when my daughter was clogged, we sat for hours in the bathroom steamed up with the shower. Also a thought.