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Understanding Rosacea

 

Rosacea is a common skin condition that affects approximately 14 million Americans. Its symptoms are usually patchy redness and inflammation, especially on the cheeks, nose, forehead and chin. It often starts between the ages of 30 and 50 and affects more women than men. Because symptoms start slowly, rosacea may be at first mistaken for sunburn.

What causes Rosacea?

The exact cause of rosacea is still unknown. The basic process seems to involve dilation of the small blood vessels of the face. Currently, it is believed that rosacea patients have a genetically mediated reduction in the ability to dampen facial inflammation that is incited by environmental factors such a sunburn, demodecosis (Demodexfolliculorumin the hair follicles), flushing and certain medications. Rosacea tends to affect the "blush" areas of the face and is more common in people who flush easily. Additionally, a variety of triggers are known to cause rosacea to flare. Emotional factors (stress, fear, anxiety, embarrassment, etc.) may trigger blushing and aggravate rosacea. A flare-up can be caused by changes in the weather, like strong winds, or a change in the humidity. Sun exposure and sun-damaged skin is associated with rosacea. Exercise, alcohol consumption and spicy food are other well-known triggers that may aggravate rosacea.

Rosacea risk factors include fair skin, English, Irish or Scottish heredity, easy blushing, and having other family members with rosacea (called "positive family history"). Rosacea can affect both men and women, although it’s more common in women. It is also more common in those ages 30 to 50 and during menopause.

Signs and symptoms

Rosacea symptoms tend to come and go. The skin may be clear for weeks, months or years and then erupt again. Rosacea tends to evolve in stages and typically causes inflammation of the skin of the face, particularly the forehead, cheeks, nose and chin.

When rosacea first develops, it may appear, then disappear, and then reappear. However, the skin may fail to return to its normal color, and the enlarged blood vessels and pimples arrive in time. Rosacea rarely resolves spontaneously.

Rosacea generally lasts for years, and if untreated, it tends to gradually worsen. 

Treatment

While rosacea cannot be cured, it can usually be controlled with proper, regular treatments.

Available medical treatments include antibacterial washes, topical creams, oral antibiotics, lasers, pulsed-light therapies, photodynamic therapy, and isotretinoin.

Popular methods of treatment include topical medications applied by the patient once or twice a day. Topical antibiotic medication such as metronidazole applied one to two times a day after cleansing may significantly improve rosacea. Azelaic acid is another effective treatment. Both metronidazole and azelaic acid work to control the redness and bumps in rosacea.

Some patients elect combination therapies and notice an improvement by alternating metronidazole and azelaic acid: using one in the morning and one at night. Other patients find oral antibiotics or laser therapies help more severe cases of rosacea.

Sun protection

Sun exposure is a well-known flare for many rosacea sufferers. Sun protection using a wide-brimmed hat and physical sunscreens (those with zinc or titanium) are generally encouraged. Because rosacea tends to occur in mostly fair-skinned adults, the use of an appropriate daily sunscreen lotion and overall sun avoidance is recommended. 

 

January 14, 2016 by Blue Lizard Staff

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes skin cells to grow too quickly, resulting in thick, white, silvery or red patches of skin.

Normally, skin cells grow gradually and flake off about every four weeks. New skin cells grow to replace the outer layers of the skin as they shed. But in psoriasis, new skin cells move rapidly to the surface of the skin in days rather than weeks. They build up and form thick patches called plaques, ranging in size from small to large, most often appearing on the knees, elbows, scalp, hands, feet or lower back. Psoriasis is most common in adults, but children and teens can get it too.

Experts believe that psoriasis occurs when the immune system overreacts, causing inflammation and flaking of skin. In some cases, psoriasis runs in families. Psoriasis isn't contagious.

However, having psoriasis can be distressing and embarrassing, and many people, especially teens, avoid swimming and other situations where patches can show. But there are many types of treatments that can help keep psoriasis under control.

Symptoms of psoriasis 

Psoriasis can be mild, with small areas of rash. When psoriasis is moderate or severe, the skin gets inflamed with raised red areas topped with loose, silvery, scaling skin. If psoriasis is severe, the skin becomes itchy and tender. And sometimes large patches form and may be uncomfortable. The patches can join together and cover large areas of skin, such as the entire back.

Psoriasis can also affect the fingernails and toenails, causing the nails to pit, change color and separate from the nail bed. In some people, psoriasis causes joints to become swollen, tender, and painful. This is called psoriatic arthritis.

Symptoms often go into remission, even without treatment, and then return or flare up. Things that can cause these flare-ups include a cold and dry climate, infections, stress, dry skin and taking certain medicines.

 

Treatments for psoriasis

Most cases of psoriasis are mild, and treatment begins with skincare. This includes keeping your skin moist with creams and lotions. These are often combined with other treatments including shampoos, ultraviolet light and prescription medications.

Skincare at home can help control psoriasis:

  • Use creams or lotions, baths or soaks to keep your skin moist.
  • Try short exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet (UV) light.
  • Follow instructions for skin products and prescribed medicines.

Things to avoid if you have psoriasis

It's also important to avoid those things that can cause psoriasis symptoms to flare up or make the condition worse. Things to avoid include:

  • Skin injury. An injury to the skin can cause psoriasis patches to form anywhere on the body, including the site of the injury.
  • Stress and anxiety. Stress can cause psoriasis flare or can worsen symptoms.
  • Infection. Infections such as strep throat can cause psoriasis to appear suddenly, especially in children.
  • Certain medicines. Some medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDs), beta-blockers and lithium, have been found to make psoriasis symptoms worse. Talk with your doctor as you may be able to take a different medicine.
  • Overexposure to sunlight. Short periods of sun exposure reduce psoriasis in most people, but too much sun can damage the skin and lead to skin cancer. Sunburns can trigger flares of psoriasis, so it’s very important to always wear a good sunscreen whenever you are outdoors.
  • Alcoholor smoking. Both alcohol and smoking use can cause symptoms to flare up.

 

October 29, 2015 by Blue Lizard Staff

10 Tips to Save Your Skin

Keeping your skin healthy is important in reducing the effects of skin damage and aging. Here are 10 tips that you can easily incorporate into your daily life to keep your skin looking and feeling its best.

Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen!

It can’t be said enough times or with enough emphasis, always use sunscreen.Not only does exposure to the sun cause damage, such as premature aging, it is also known to cause skin cancer. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Use it daily on your face and every time you spend time outside; it’s not just for the beach!

Moisturize your skin

The best time to moisturize your skin is whileit is still damp after bathing or showering because the moisturizer will be absorbed easier. You can choose from either water-or oil-based moisturizers. Oil-based moisturizers provide better protection in the winter.

Remember all of your skin when you moisturize

Feet, legs, arms, back, hands– your skin doesn’t end at your face. Pay special attention to your neck and chest; the skin is especially thin and delicate there. Your skin is the largest organ in your body, so there is a lot to moisturize!

Keep your inside healthy in order to keep your outside healthy

If your eyes are windows to your soul, your skin is the window to your insides.The results of an unhealthy diet can take away the glow from your complexion, a possible visual indication of other health issues. Stay hydrated and enjoy organic greens, vegetables, nuts, fruits and other healthy choices to keep your body and skin in top shape.

Use tobacco and alcohol in moderation

Limit your alcohol intake and don’t smoke. Both habits are dangerous to skin health, causing the skin to loose moisture. Also, smoking causes capillaries to constrict, which leads to more dryness and a dull complexion, as well as premature aging and wrinkles.

Use antioxidants in abundance

These natural substances help to counteract DNA damage that often comes from exposure to the sun’s UV rays. Antioxidants are vitamins and minerals derived from plants. You can eat foods rich in antioxidants, use it in cream form or as a supplement.

Include vitamins and supplements in your diet

Many vitamins and supplements can improve and sustain skin health. Vitamins C and E protect from skin damage and cancer; Coenzyme Q10 enables cell growth, reducing damage from cancer; Retinoic Acid (a form of vitamin A) helps in a whole host of ways – and there are many more. Always consult a doctor before taking any vitamins or supplements as some can interact with medications and certain health conditions.

Your skin needs exercise too

You’ve probably noticed that not only do athletes have lean, fit bodies, they also have beautiful skin. The synthesis of collagen, which helps prevent the appearance of lines and wrinkles on the skin, is stimulated by physical activity.

Read the labels on your skin care products

Read the labels on all skincare products before you buy. Avoid excess chemicals and look for soaps, lotions and moisturizers with ingredients that you are familiar with.

And the best tip of all…eat chocolate!

The cocoa in chocolate is chock full of flavonols, a great antioxidant. Eating a few squares a day of 70 percent cacao chocolate will help keep your skin hydrated and glowing. It is also available in a body cream; rub it directly on your skin to decrease puffiness.

 

Written by Jo Northop

 

October 14, 2015 by Blue Lizard Staff

Eczema - “The Itch that Rashes”

Eczema is a chronic problem for an estimated 35 million Americans. One to 3 percent affected are adults and 10-20 percent affected are children. Seventy percent of cases start in children younger than 5 years old, and about 60 percent of infants who have eczema continue to have one of more symptoms into adulthood. With proper treatment, the disease often can be controlled.

October is National Eczema Awareness Month and the National Eczema Association has launched a campaign to raise awareness of what eczema is and how those that have it suffer.

What is eczema?

Eczema is a general term for a set of chronic skin conditions caused by inflammation. Atopic dermatitis (AD) is the most common type and has been called “the itch that rashes.” The word “atopic” means an allergy that is usually hereditary, and “dermatitis” is defined as inflammation of the skin.

Symptoms of eczema

No matter which part of the skin is affected, eczema is almost always itchy. Sometimes the itching will start before the rash appears, but when it does, the rash most commonly appears on the face, back of the knees, wrists, hands or feet. It may also affect other areas as well.

Affected areas usually appear very dry, thickened, or scaly. In fair-skinned people, these areas may initially appear reddish and then turn brown. Among darker-skinned people, eczema can affect pigmentation, making the affected area lighter or darker.

In infants, the itchy rash can produce an oozing, crusting condition that happens mainly on the face and scalp, but patches may appear anywhere.

What Causes Eczema?

The exact cause of eczema is unknown, but it's thought to be linked to an overactive response by the body's immune system to an irritant.

In addition, eczema is commonly found in families with a history of other allergies or asthma. Also, defects in the skin barrier could allow moisture out and germs in.

Some people may have "flare-ups" of the itchy rash in response to certain substances or conditions. For some, coming into contact with rough or coarse materials may cause the skin to become itchy. For others, feeling too hot or too cold, exposure to certain household products like soap or detergent, or coming into contact with animal dander may cause an outbreak. Upper respiratory infections or colds may also be triggers. Stress may cause the condition to worsen.

Although there is no cure, most people can effectively manage their disease with medical treatment and by avoiding irritants. The condition is not contagious and can't be spread from person to person.

Treatment for eczema

The goal of treatment for eczema is to relieve and prevent itching, which can lead to infection. Since the disease makes skin dry and itchy, lotions and creams are recommended to keep the skin moist. These products are usually applied when the skin is damp, such as after bathing, to help the skin retain moisture. Cold compresses may also be used to relieve itching.

Over-the-counter products, such as hydrocortisone 1% cream, or prescription creams and ointments containing corticosteroids, are often prescribed to lessen inflammation. In addition, if the affected area becomes infected, antibiotics to kill the infection-causing bacteria may be prescribed by your doctor.

Other treatments include antihistamines to lessen severe itching, tar treatments (chemicals designed to reduce itching), phototherapy (therapy using ultraviolet light applied to the skin), and the drugcyclosporine for people whose condition doesn't respond to other treatments.

The FDA has approved two drugs known as topical immunomodulators (TIMs) for the treatment of mild-to-moderate eczema. The drugs, Elideland Protopic, are skin creams that work by altering the immune system response to prevent flare-ups. However, both drugs carry the FDA’s “black box” warning because there is a possible cancer risk associated with their use. The warning advises doctors to prescribe short-term use of Elidel and Protopic only after other available eczema treatments have failed in adults and children over the age of 2. It should not be used in kids under age 2.

Preventing eczema flare-ups

Eczema outbreaks can sometimes be avoided or the severity lessened by following these simple tips.

  • Moisturize every day.
  • Wear cotton or soft fabrics. Avoid rough, scratchy fibers and tight clothing.
  • Take lukewarm baths and showers, using mild soap or non-soap cleanser
  • Gently pat your skin dry with a soft towel – do not rub.
  • Apply a moisturizer within three minutes after bathing to “lock in” moisture.
  • When possible, avoid rapid changes of temperature and activities that make you sweat.
  • Learn your eczema triggers and avoid them.
  • Use a humidifier in dry or cold weather.
  • Keep your fingernails short to help keep scratching from breaking the skin.
  • Some people with allergies find it helps to remove carpets from their house, and give pets dander treatments.
  • Use unscented, mild skincare and sunscreen productswith no additives or chemicals.

 

Written by Cristi Driver

 

October 08, 2015 by Blue Lizard Staff

What Causes Skin Photosensitivity?

Today, most people know about sun protection and sun damage. However, not many people know about a condition that can accelerate sun damage. This condition is called photosensitivity — an increase in the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight or artificial light often brought on by certain medications or medical conditions.

When a person experiences a photosensitivity reaction, they experience one of two separate reactions, known either as a phototoxic or photoallergic reaction.

           Phototoxic

This is the most common type of sun sensitivity drug reaction. It occurs when skin is exposed to the sun after certain medications are taken or applied. The drug absorbs the ultraviolet light (UV) from the sun and then releases it into the skin.  Symptoms appear within a few days on the exposed areas of the body. Common drugs that cause phototoxicity are drugs in the tetracycline family, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen), and amiodarone (Cordarone®, a heart medication).

           Photoallergic

In this case, symptoms occur when skin is exposed to the sun after certain medicines are applied to the skin's surface. The UV light of the sun causes a change in the drug, which in turn, causes the production of antibodies that are responsible for the reaction. The reaction appears as an eczema-type rash, which often occurs a few days after exposure. The rash can also spread to parts of the body that were not exposed to the sun.

It is important to note that not everyone who uses these drugs may experience a reaction.

Also those who take these medications may experience photosensitivity only the first time they take it while others may experience it every time.  It is always important to check with your healthcare professional and see if any drugs you may be taking can cause photosensitivity.

In addition to certain medications, photosensitivity can be caused by some medical conditions, including lupus, rosacea and psoriasis. 

Since many people rely on many of these medications to maintain or restore their health, they cannot simply stop using them. In order to prevent photosensitivity, it is important to practice good sun safety habits like applying sunscreen daily and seeking shade if you are outside for long periods of time.

Written by Amanda Reichert

 

September 08, 2015 by Blue Lizard Staff
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