Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dry, Itchy Scalp - 5 ways to sooth it.

Good hair days start with a healthy scalp. Its job, after all, is to grow strong shiny strands. But dry indoor air can zap moisture and dissolve protective oils from the skin on your head, leaving it itchy and flaky--and your mane dull and unmanageable. Help keep the skin you rarely think about (but should) in top condition with this advice from Valerie D. Callender, M.D., clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Howard University College of Medicine.

The basic facts

Like the skin on your body, the scalp renews itself every 28 days by shedding dead cells and allowing new, healthy ones to emerge. Cold temperatures and low humidity, a reaction to harsh chemicals (like those used in permanent hair color), or a buildup from styling products can interrupt this natural exfoliating process--causing cells to pile up and turn into fine flakes. This accumulation can clog hair follicles and block secretion of sebum, further exacerbating dryness.

What to look for

* An itchy, red scalp after coloring hair or using hot tools.

* Small powdery flakes These are telltale signs that your scalp is dry, as opposed to having dandruff, which is triggered by a fungus and results in white, oily clumps.

Simple solutions

These easy steps will help ease the itch, fast:

* Avoid scratching. It's irritating and can cause hair breakage.

* Use a moisturizing shampoo. Look for ingredients that help lock in moisture, such as sea-buckthorn oil, found in Aveda Scalp Benefits Balancing Shampoo ($12;

* Gently massage conditioner into your scalp after every shampoo to hydrate it and lift away some of the flakes.

* Lather up with clarifying shampoo weekly. These deep-cleaning formulas rid hair of product buildup and help loosen dead skin cells on the scalp.

* Turn down the heat. Hot water can zap natural oils from your scalp, making it ultra dry and sensitive; also choose the lowest heat setting on your blowdryer.

EXPERT STRATEGY If these tips don't alleviate the problem in four weeks, see a dermatologist. She'll check your scalp for a fungal infection, such as dandruff or ringworm (ringlike marks on your skin), and will most likely prescribe a topical steroid cream or shampoo, which will calm irritation and itch within a few days.

Courtesy - Mary Rose Almasi

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Acne Treatment - an expert view

What is acne or pimples?

Acne happens when the inside of a hair follicle becomes sticky and forms a plug. Every strand of hair grows from a follicle under your skin.

Oil glands in your skin keep making a greasy substance called sebum (say: see-bum). This sebum gets stuck behind the plug in the hair follicle. Bacteria get inside your hair follicle or oil gland and cause swelling, redness, and pus. Finally, a bump forms on your skin.

Acne is most common on the face, neck, back, and arms. There are three kinds of acne: mild, moderate, and severe.

Why do I have acne?

Almost everyone has acne at some time in life. People who have bad acne often have family members with the same problem. Acne is not caused by greasy foods or poor hygiene.

What kind of acne do I have?

Your acne is mild if you have only whiteheads (white bumps) and blackheads (dark specks) in your skin.

You have moderate acne if you have swelling, red bumps, or pustules, along with the whiteheads and blackheads. A pustule is a large red bump with a white head.

Your acne is severe if you have deep, painful bumps under your skin in addition to the whiteheads and blackheads.

How is acne treated?

The purpose of most acne medicines is to stop plugs from forming in hair follicles and to reduce swelling in your skin. Acne is treated with topical and oral medicines. Your doctor will tell you what kind of medicine is right for your acne.

You put topical medicines on the areas where you have acne. You can buy some of these medicines at a drug store without a prescription from your doctor. If you have mild acne, many of these medicines may help you.

Oral acne medicines come in pill or capsule form. Your doctor must prescribe these medicines. If you have severe acne, you might need to take an oral medicine called isotretinoin (say: i-so-tret-in-oyn).

You also need a doctor's prescription to buy some topical acne medicines. These medicines include topical retinoids and antibiotics. Retinoids work by loosening plugs or stopping plugs from forming. Antibiotics decrease redness and swelling, and they attack the germs that make acne worse.

Some topical acne medicines may irritate your skin, especially in the first few weeks that you use them. Mild moisturizing lotions and soaps (such as Cetaphil Cleanser, Dove, or Purpose) can help stop the irritation.

Washing your face more than twice a day can increase redness and discomfort. Picking at acne can worsen redness and cause scars.

What can I expect from acne treatment?

There is no cure for acne--but your acne can be controlled. Most acne medicines take eight to 12 weeks to work. The best results happen after taking medicine for three months.

Sometimes, acne may seem to get worse in the first few weeks of treatment, because hidden bumps rise to the skin surface. Your acne will get better if you keep using the acne medicine.

When you start using a new acne medicine, you may have mild redness and swelling of your skin. Call your doctor if the redness and swelling continue or become worse.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Skin care - Nutrional Guidelines

The following is the list of recognized foods with powerful natural chemicals that will boost your skin capacity to recover and stay healthy. A rich diet will include:

WHOLE GRAINS FOODS: These are great source of fibers, vitamins and minerals.

SPINACH: Loaded with iron and foloic acid; it helps to reduce blood homocystine levels, s substance that may damage blood vessels. If contains phyto-chemicals that help prevent degeneration and protect your skin.

Contain abundant photo chemicals ( good protective substances found in vegetables and fruits) which may prevent skin cancer and balance the immune response.

PROTEIN: If possible include fish and soy products.

NUTS: ( if not allergic) - Nuts are rich in vitamin E, contain protective phyto-chemicals and good fats, all beneficial for your skin.

OATS: - Helps lower cholesterol and high blood pressure but it also contain vitamin E like compounds (tocotrienols), which protect skin.

GARLIC: This protects the heart and skin, has antibacterial and anti fungal properties.

GREEN TEA: This is an excellent source of vitamin C and phyto-chemicals as polyphenols ( 100 times more oxidant power than vitamin C) plus antibacterial properties and prevention of cancer and heart diseases.

TOMATOES: Tomatoes contain lycopene, the most powerful antioxidant among the carotenoids. Also a great source of Vitamin C.

OLIVE OIL: Is a good protective fat, helps absorb beneficial substances in vegetables.

FRUITS: Fruits contain different combinations of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, phyto-chemicals and antioxidants of great benefit for your body in general and very importantly, for your skin.

ENOUGH FLUIDS: Not less than 8 glasses of water per day, this simple aspect should not be underestimated regarding its impact on the skin protection and recovery.

Healthy eating does not mean less or more. Neither does it mean getting fanatic or cranky about certain foods. It simply means eating correctly and wisely, with understanding. It involves having a positive attitude and holistic approach towards food.

Healthy Skin Everyday

If you follow the below mentioned regimens, you can be rest assured of clear and healthy skin.

Here are very simple routines to follow:

+ You should wash your face once in a day.
+ You should shower or bathe once in a day.
+ When you shower or bathe, don't take a long, hot bath or shower because you will simple end up drying out your skin.
+ Soap less soap, lotions and body cleansers are better for your skin because most soaps actually strip the moisture out of your skin.
+ After one washes the skin, whether you use a traditional soap or a cleanser, the skin is much more susceptible to drying out. When the water evaporates, the skin will dry. So the best time to moisturize is right after bathing.
+ Whether your skin is oily or dry, washing your face frequently, is not going to make better.
+ The best way to keep skin healthy is to avoid sun exposure beginning early in life.
+ Put on a sun screen lotion before going out in the sun to help protect your skin from UV rays. Always use products that are SPF (Sun Protection Factor) 15 or higher.

Any time Skin Care Tips -

Healthy skin is the most important element of a great looking face. It is not only easy to achieve, but also to a great extent you can do it yourself. Simply apply these rules in your life and see the differences:

1. Avoid over exposure to the sun. Sun damage leads to hyper pigmentation (brown spots) which cab develop into serious disease. Excessive exposure can also exaggerate and thicken fine lines.
2. Exercise promotes capillary functioning which can be decrease skin premature aging. It also increases oxygen to the tissues which keeps skin looking young.
3. Eat right.
4. Do everything in moderation. Too much of anything is never a good idea. Stay away from excessive alcohol, smoking, fatigue and decrease facial circulation making you look older.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Your Skin - Nature and Types of Skin

Your skin can be an indication as to whether your health is good or bad. Flushed cheeks will show that there is a fever in the body. If you don't get enough sleep, there may be circles under your eyes. Sometime you can blush when embarrassed and your cheeks will become red. If you are very frightened, your face can become pale. Usually when you are not feeling well, your skin send out that message. Skin has more functions than any other organ in your body. The skin is the body's largest organ, covering the entire body. In addition to serving as a protective shield against heat, light, injury and infection, skin also:
1. regulates body temperature
2. stores water and fat
3. is working as a big sensory organ
4. prevents water loss
5. prevents entry of bacteria.

Know your skin types:

Normal Skin:
i. A skin that does not look shiny or/any oily and does not feel tight.
ii. Normal skin has medium sized pores.

Dry Skin:
i. Dry skin face feels dry after washing.
ii. Dry skin face looks flaky, rough and dull.

Oily Skin:
i. Oily skin feels greasy.
ii. Oily skin looks shiny.
iii. Oily skin pores are clogged.
iv. If make up is applied on oily skin, it ears off after a few hours.

Combined Dry and Oily Skin:

i. The T-zone(forehead, nose and chin) appears oily and the cheeks tighter after washing.
ii. The cheeks look dry and dull.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Heat Exhaution and Heat Stroke

Avoid succumbing to either heat exhaustion or heat stroke by resisting the temptation to lie in the hot sun for hours on end. Keep your body cool by going for a swim at regular intervals.

Don't fall asleep in the sun. If you begin to feel woozy or headache, retreat to the shade immediately and cool yourself sown with cold compresses or a tepid bath and sip liquids. Orange juice is good because it replaces potassium lost through sweating.

Drink at least two liters of water a day and don't rely on thirst as an indicator of dehydration. You could easily be dehydrated and yet not feel thirsty. Don't drink alcohol or caffeinated drinks as these have a diuretic effect, adding to dehydration.

If despite these precautions, you develop symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, take the following steps immediately.

Heat Exhaustion:
There are three types of heat exhaustion, all of which can be fatal: water deficiency, salt deficiency and anhydrotic.

The symptoms of water deficiency heat exhaustion include thirst, lack of appetite, giddiness, a dry mouth and rising temperature. Rest in cool surroundings and drink half a liter of water every fifteen minutes for two hours. Seek medical help if your symptoms continue to worsen.

Salt deficiency heat exhaustion occurs if you have been sweating heavily during the first few days of acclimatization to a very hot climate and have not eaten properly. Fatigue, giddiness and severe muscle cramp are symptoms of this type of heat exhaustion. If you thinks you may be suffering from this condition, see a doctor.

Anhydrotic heat exhaustion is a rare malfunction of the sweat glands, which occurs in people who have been in a hot climate for several months.

Heat Stroke:
The symptoms of heat stroke are that your body temparature rises but you do not sweat as this heat regulating mechanism is not functioning correctly. You develop a severe headache, feel faint or disorientated, stagger or start to convulse. The skin is hot and may feel dry. Sunstroke is an incorrect term you can get heat stroke without being in the sun.

Heat stroke can be extremely dangerous, or even fatal, so call an ambulance or ask someone to drive you to the emergency department of a nearby hospital.

Prickly Heat

The spotty rash occurs as result of blocked sweat glands, mostly appearing on the chest, back and arms and you can take steps to prevent it.

Avoid strong sunlight, especially between eleven in the morning and three in the afternoon when the sun is at its strongest. Wear high-factor sunscreens that screen out both UVA and UVB rays. Take cool showers or bathe frequently, patting the skin dry afterwards. Also avoid activities that make you sweat a lot. Application freshly ground sandal paste with rose water also yield good soothing result.

If you do develop prickly heat, stay in the cool, apply calamine lotion or talcum powder and wear loose cotton clothing. Prickly heat is often confused with polymorphic light eruption.

Sunburn - How to tackle the sunburn?

Sunburn has long term detrimental effects on the skin and should be avoided. Contrary to the popular belief, you do not have to burn to set a tan. And, just in case your are still wondering, you can still get a tan using high protection factors. If you do burn, however, keep your skin cool and clean and soothe it with calamine lotion or natural yogurt. Aloe Vera is another good sunburn calmer, as is the essential oil from the bark of the tea tree. Simple add 2-3 drops of it to 10ml of a carrier oil, such as wheatgerm or avocado, available in most health stores and chemists.

If you burn badly over most of your body you may need to rest in bed and drink plenty of fluids. You must not sunbathe the following day, or until the redness has gone. Seek medical advice for severe burns.


Most useful Summer Skin Care Tips

It is the time of year when we show more skin than ever, so of course we want it looking great.... But somehow we always manage to run into a few problems!! Whether it be our sweat glands over reacting and causing us to break out or soaking in too much sun and looking like a lobster there is help! Below are 5 problems many of us battle in the summer, and great, easy, quick fixes to go with them!

Breakouts The Problem - You're breaking out on your back, shoulders, and chest, and your regular soap isn't helping.

The Fix - Wash with a body cleanser that contains benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, ingredients that unblock pores and dry up excess oil. (Don't scrub; it may inflame skin.) Try Neutrogena Body Clear Body Scrub ($6; drugstores). To prevent breakouts, dust talcum powder on your back and chest to help absorb perspiration, and look for oil-free products that are labeled noncomedogenic, which means they won't clog pores. Avoid form-fitting clothes that hold heat and moisture close to your skin, and change into fresh gear ASAP after perspiring heavily.

Sunburn The Problem - You got caught up in the excitement of your kid's Little League tournament and forgot to reapply sunscreen. Now your skin is beet red.

The Fix - Avoid the sun until the skin has healed completely. "Sunburned skin temporarily loses its protective barrier, so it's more susceptible to subsequent burns," says Fran Cook-Bolden, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
To reduce inflammation and pain, pop an aspirin and take as directed until the burn fades. Soaking in a bath of cool or lukewarm water laced with a handful of baking soda will also ease the burn. Afterward, gently pat on a topical over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to help reduce swelling. Try not to pick or peel skin that's beginning to flake; those dry patches protect forming skin from the environment. Next time, wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and reapply every 2 hours.

Ingrown Hairs The Problem - Your quest for an ultraclose shave left you with ingrown hairs around your bikini line.

The Fix - Wash with an anti-bacterial soap to quell inflammation. Gentle use of a loofah or washcloth every other day will help dislodge trapped hairs and prevent their return. For a chronic case, try Bliss Ingrown Hair Eliminating Peeling Pads ($35; Bliss) or Tend Skin ($20; Sephora); both contain salicylic acid, an exfoliant that keeps ingrowns at bay. In the future, shave in the bath or shower; the water plumps up hair, making it easier to cut. Change blades as soon as you feel any pull or drag--a dull blade is more likely to cause ingrown hairs, says David Bank, MD, director of the Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery in Mount Kisco, NY.

Poison Ivy The Problem - That "grass" you rested in after your hike was poison ivy, and now you can't stop itching.

The Fix - Treat mild rashes with hydrocortisone cream. Bathing in tepid water with 1 cup of oatmeal may also alleviate the misery. If that's not enough, take an antihistamine such as Benadryl. Because heat and sweating can aggravate the itch, stay as cool as possible. See your doctor if the rash is on your face or genitals, is blistering or oozing, or doesn't improve after a week of self-treatment. On future outdoor adventures, steer clear of plants that have three shiny leaves coming from a central stem. If you act quickly to wash the plant's oily resin off your skin (it becomes irreversibly bound within 15 minutes of exposure), you can prevent or minimize a reaction.

Dry Skin The Problem - A beach vacation left your skin looking and feeling drier than a desert.

The Fix - After swimming, rinse with fresh water to remove any salt or chlorine buildup, which can further dry out and irritate skin. Keep subsequent baths and showers short (no longer than 5 minutes) and use a mild cleanser and warm water. Gently use a loofah, washcloth, or exfoliating scrub to slough off dead cells. After bathing, towel-dry and moisturize immediately with a rich lotion. "You need to seal in the moisture while you're still slightly damp," says Bank.

These are the most common skin problems that occur during summer. We will see a little more in the next session.