Saturday, November 15, 2008

Age Spots (Freckles)

Freckles is a general term used for circular spots that develop randomly on the skin, especially common in those with a fair complexion. They can appear anywhere on the body and can occur from very young ages.

Age Spots

Age spots are also knows as liver spots and is a term describing the type of freckles seen on adults, usually on the backs of hands. They are not necessarily a sign of old age, but usually appear on areas that have been exposed to the sun, so are more common in adults with a history of sun-exposure.

Older people may also have raised, crusty lesions known as seborrheic keratoses in the same areas, which are benign growths of the skin. The colour ranges from tan to black and can be up to an inch in diameter. These types of lesions are common in most adults after a certain age (40+).

Treatment of Freckles

There are treatments for freckles that can lighten them or reduce their appearance. These include bleaching creams which can be purchased without prescription and can lighten freckles after being applied over the period of a few months. They should also be used in combination with avoidance from and protection against the sun.

Cryosurgery may also be used as a treatment for freckles, where the freckles are freezed or burned. However, not all freckles will respond to this. Lasers may also be used, as these can lighten freckles effectively. Both methods are safe and have low associated risks.

Lightening freckles can also be done using retinoids which are often used in conjunction with bleaching creams, or pulsed light treatments.

Prevention of Freckles

The best prevention is to avoid exposure to the sun as well as using adequate sun protection. You should also wear protective clothing, hats and stay indoors during the strongest sun hours. However, different people are more likely to develop freckles than others and they may not be avoided completely.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Melanin Resolution Experts,Research on skin lightening

When it comes to hyperpigmentation, skin lightening creams are many peoples favorite solution. However, some skin lightening products can be harmful. You might come across some skin brightening creams with harmful ingredients even steroids like clobetasol propionate and hydroxyquinone that are akin to paint stripper chemicals.
Dark skinned women are familiar with skin lightening. Having brighter looking skin is important to them. Nevertheless, skin lighteners are highly sought after by many individuals, no matter what color their skin may be. I am one of those many women as I really hate it when my skin starts to produce too much melanin. Many women believe these pigment reducing products can correct their pigmentation problems. Furthermore, it does wonders to their self esteem.
I do not wish to blemish skin lightening products. Unless you do a little bit of digging, there is no surety that it will make your hyperpigmentation go away. I hope this quells some of the concerns youve been reading about skin lightening creams. Maybe its a good idea to worry less and enjoy life more.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Melasma

Definition:-

Melasma is a dark skin discoloration found on sun-exposed areas of the face.
Melasma (also known as chloasma or the mask of pregnancy when present in pregnant women) is a tan or dark facial skin discoloration. Although it can affect anyone, melasma is particularly common in women, especially pregnant women and those who are taking oral or patch contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) medications. It is also prevalent in men and women of Native American descent (on the forearms) and in men and women of German/Russian Jewish descent (on the face)

Symptoms:-

Melasma doesn’t cause any other symptoms besides skin discoloration but may be of great cosmetic concern.A uniform brown color is usually seen over the cheeks, forehead, nose, or upper lip. It is most often symmetrical (matching on both sides of the face).
The symptoms of melasma are dark, irregular patches commonly found on the upper cheek, nose, lips, upper lip, and forehead. These patches often develop gradually over time. Melasma does not cause any other symptoms beyond the cosmetic discoloration.

Cause:-

Melasma is a very common skin disorder. Though it can affect anyone, young women with brownish skin tones are at greatest risk.

Melasma is often associated with the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. It is especially common in pregnant women, women who are taking oral contraceptives (”the pill”), and women taking hormone replacement therapy during menopause.

Sun exposure is also a strong risk factor for melasma. It is particularly common in tropical climates.
Melasma is thought to be the stimulation of melanocytes or pigment-producing cells by the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone to produce more melanin pigments when the skin is exposed to sun. Women with a light brown skin type who are living in regions with intense sun exposure are particularly susceptible to developing this condition.

Genetic predisposition is also a major factor in determining whether someone will develop melasma.

The incidence of melasma also increases in patients with thyroid disease. It is thought that the overproduction of melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) brought on by stress can cause outbreaks of this condition. Other rare causes of melasma include allergic reaction to medications and cosmetics.

Melasma Suprarenale (Latin - of the adrenals) is a symptom of Addison’s disease, particularly when caused by pressure or minor injury to the skin, as discovered by Dr. FJJ Schmidt of Rotterdam in 1859.

Diagnosis:-
Your health care provider can usually diagnose melasma based upon the appearance of your skin. A closer examination using a Wood’s lamp may help guide your treatment.Melasma is usually diagnosed visually or with assistance of a Wood’s lamp (340 - 400 nm wavelength). Under Wood’s lamp, excess melanin in the epidermis can be distinguished from that of the dermis.

Treatment:-
The discoloration usually disappears spontaneously over a period of several months after giving birth or stopping the oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy.

Treatments to hasten the fading of the discolored patches include:

*Topical depigmenting agents, such as hydroquinone (HQ) either in over-the-counter (2%) or prescription (4%) strength. HQ is a chemical that inhibits tyrosinase, an enzyme involved in the production of melanin.

*Tretinoin, an acid that increases skin cell (keratinocyte) turnover. This treatment cannot be used during pregnancy.
Azelaic acid (20%), thought to decrease the activity of melanocytes.

*Facial peel with alpha hydroxyacids or chemical peels with glycolic acid.

*Laser treatment. A Wood’s lamp test should be used to determine whether the melasma is epidermal or dermal. If the melasma is dermal, laser (or “IPL”) will acually DARKEN and worsen the appearance of the spots. Dermal melasma is generally unresponsive to most treaments, and has only been found to lighten with products containing mandelic acid.

In all of these treatments the effects are gradual and a strict avoidance of sunlight is required. The use of broad-spectrum sunscreens with physical blockers, such as titanium dioxide and zinc dioxide is preferred over that with only chemical blockers. This is because UV-A, UV-B and visible lights are all capable of stimulating pigment production.

Cosmetic cover-ups can also be used to reduce the appearance of melasma.

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Prognosis:
Melasma often fades over several months after stopping oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy or after delivering a child. It may return with additional pregnancies or use of these medications.

Prevention :
Daily sunscreen use not only helps prevent melasma but is crucial in the prevention of skin cancer and wrinkles.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Vitamin D levels drop as winter's gloom nears

If living a long and healthy life is a priority, it is imperative to know that simply having a low level of Vitamin D is associated with an amazing 26 percent increased rate of death, from all causes, according to an August, 2008 Archives of Internal Medicine study.

A plethora of studies in the last decade also have demonstrated that low Vitamin D levels are a major factor in the pathology of: at least 17 varieties of cancer; heart disease; stroke; high blood pressure; autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, which is uncommon at the equator; diabetes; depression; chronic pain; osteoarthritis; osteoporosis; muscle weakness and wasting; birth defects; periodontal disease; weakened immunity, such as the flu and the common cold; inflammatory bowel disease.. the list goes on and on.

If cancer is a concern, a 2007 research team from the University of California, San Diego reported that up to 50 percent of all breast and colon cancer cases could be prevented by consuming more vitamin D. Only 29 percent of the American population is estimated to have adequate vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D deficiency is more common in: the elderly, wintertime residents of Northern California; people with darker skin who get little direct sun exposure or use sunscreens above SPF8, people who live in smoggy, foggy or cloudy areas.

After exposure to the same amount of sunlight, the elderly make only about 25 percent as much vitamin D as 20-year-olds.
Despite the abundant Vitamin D-fortified summer sunshine in Davis, as winter approaches, Vitamin D levels drop precipitously creating the perfect internal environment for wintertime flues and other nasty immune challenges.

Research from around the world has clearly demonstrated that people do less well in the winter because Vitamin D levels drop as the winter progresses.

Vitamin D has profound and multiple effects on human immunity. Influenza occurrence parallels vitamin D deficiency in time and space. Norwegians, who get less sun exposure than any other Europeans, have less flu epidemics and a smaller wintertime spike in mortality because their diet includes fish oil and the highest wintertime vitamin D levels.

Due to increased skin melanin, African-Americans generally have lower vitamin D levels than Caucasians and may explain why African-American children get pneumonia twice as often as Caucasian children, and why African-American adults often have higher blood pressure.
Children with rickets, the classic vitamin D deficiency illness are 11 times more likely to have lower respiratory infections than matched controls without rickets.

Flu shots in the elderly and immuno-compromised may even be unnecessary if Vitamin D were at optimal levels by stimulating innate immunity.

It's November! Are your vitamin D 25 OH levels at the optimal 60-80 ng/mL? If you are not sure, talk to your doctor or a healthcare practitioner for a simple blood test. Ask for the vitamin D 25 Hydroxy test.