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Antioxidants for Good Skin: Take Them or Apply Them?

skin careIt seems we are continually faced with new evidence that points to the power of antioxidants. These compounds are somewhat mysterious. We know we need them; that they will make hair and skin and nails and the body look good and feel good. But how? And are antioxidants better in certain forms, or does applying an antioxidant serum or moisturizer to the skin do enough to help us slow the signs of aging? Let’s take a look!

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are compounds that fight free radicals. This is the general term, but we think there is room for expansion. Free radicals are waste products that bulk-up our cells and create the potential for cellular damage. We don’t want this cellular waste, and we can get rid of it with antioxidants. Many antioxidants are found in foods. Vitamin C is an example, found in oranges and other citrus fruits. Lycopene is another, found in tomatoes.

Do they work?

Research indicates that antioxidants do help the body in numerous ways. Scientists are able to break down, to some degree, which antioxidants are good for which potential diseases. For instance, lycopene has been found to be a good risk-reducer for prostate cancer. In one study, published several years ago in the Journal of Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, participants who consumed supplements of selenium, either/or, lycopene, lutein, and other antioxidants measured higher on skin density via ultrasound than those who consumed a placebo. After 12 weeks, the skin was also smoother.

In another study, antioxidant use – a combination of consumption and topical application – was said to increase elasticity, hydration, and cellular health.

How you incorporate antioxidants into your life doesn’t have to come down to an either/or situation. According to these two studies alone, we can see value in eating antioxidant-rich foods such as spinach, kale, and fresh fruits, as well as applying antioxidant serums and other products directly to the skin.

If your skin needs a boost, everything matters. We can help you improve dermatologic health and appearance with a personal treatment plan devised around your needs. Schedule a visit with Sugar Land dermatologist Dr. Syed O. Ali at (832) 770-6388.

Are You Sunscreen Savvy?

sun protectionIt’s hard to escape the barrage of skin cancer education that is presented, particular at this time of year. And why would you want to! Skin cancer continues to be a prevalent problem for Americans, and statistics are demonstrating that abnormal lesions are appearing on younger and younger skin. The fact is, we are all susceptible to sun damage, including skin cancer, which means we need to be as sunscreen-savvy as we can get.

Good sun habits are the primary way to decrease the risk of premature aging and medical conditions related to UV exposure. Clearly, we cannot change our lifestyle to such a degree that we only go outdoors at night. Again, why would you want to do that! We crave the sunshine! We need it for health! But we need it in small doses at non-peak hours (before 10 am and after 4 pm. And we also need it from beneath the shield of sunscreen. The issue here is, are you using it correctly?

Common Sunscreen Fails

  1. Using too little. Applying large amounts of any lotion can feel, well, “icky.” When it’s already hot out, the last thing you want is for beads of sweat to sit on skin that has been moistened with sunscreen lotion. Get used to it. Most areas of the body need at least 1 full teaspoon of product for adequate protection. This includes the back, stomach, chest, each arm, each leg, and the face. ONE TEASPOON each!
  2. Using the wrong product. The more research that is conducted, the more we realize that not all products are created equal. The Environmental Working Group has developed an expansive resource for consumers looking for the best sunscreen. The most efficient sunscreen is “broad-spectrum,” meaning that both UVA and UVB rays are filtered. More information from the EWG can be found here. Using the wrong product also means wearing makeup with SPF, rather than applying a quality sunscreen in addition to cosmetics.
  3. Going into the sun too quickly. Sun exposure should occur no sooner than 30 minutes after applying sunscreen. Translation: apply at home, not at the pool or beach!
  4. Using an expired product. Check your packaging! There is an expiration date! Expiration means more than losing effectiveness. An expired sunscreen could behave differently, causing harm to the skin.
  5. Neglecting certain body-parts. Remember the tops of your feet and toes, the backs of your hands, your ears, your neck, and even your scalp.
  6. Once-and-done. A single application of sunscreen will only provide a few hours of protection. And that’s if you don’t get wet! Reapply every 1 to 2 hours to gain the greatest benefit.

Acclaim Dermatology provides all levels of skin cancer treatment, from screening to removal. Call (832) 770-6388 to schedule a visit in our Sugar Land office.

 

What You Need To Know About Nail Fungus

fungal nail infectionWe are getting into the time of year in which sandals replace boots. The last thing you want is to feel compelled to hide your feet due to nail fungus. A fungal nail infection may develop beneath the fingernail, as well, though toenails seem to be more commonly affected. Nail fungus can be a frustrating problem that causes brittleness, fragility, discoloration or thickness. We’ll just get straight to the point and say that its far better to avoid this problem than having to treat it. Here is what you need to know.

  • You may be more susceptible than others.
  • Fungal nail infection is more prevalent among older adults.
  • Poor circulation or low immunity increases risk.
  • Nail conditions are more common in individuals with conditions such as hyperhidrosis, psoriasis, and diabetes.
  • If nails become deformed or otherwise diseased, fungal infection is more likely.

General health isn’t the only factor in susceptibility. The fungus that infects nails loves certain environments, including:

  • Close-toed shoes.
  • Public showers and pools
  • Damp areas
  • The basin of your nail salon (sorry, folks!)

Nail fungus can “jump” from one foot to another. This type of infection is contagious. That’s why you may contract a fungal nail infection after a nice, soothing shower at your gym. Takeaway tip: wear shower shoes in public pools or showers.

Early treatment is easier treatment.
You may spot a fungal nail infection if you routinely take care of your nails. Some of the warning signs include spotting, either white or yellow, at the tip of the nail. Later, the nail may thicken or become brittle, may look dull, or may develop streaks of discoloration. Because treatment can be somewhat lengthy the more severe the infection becomes, it is important to schedule a dermatologic consultation at the first indication of symptoms.

You can reduce your risk of fungal nail infection.
Because fungi live in certain conditions, there are ways to protect yourself from unexpected infection:

  • Change your socks frequently if your feet tend to sweat excessively.
  • Take good care of your nails with regular grooming.
  • Wash your hands and nails every day.
  • Save your clippers and other grooming products for your personal use. Consider taking your personal clippers and files to your nail salon, too!
  • You don’t have to give up your mani-pedi routine. Just make sure your salon has efficient sterilization practices.

Do you think you may have a fungal nail infection? Call our Sugar Land dermatology office at (832) 770-6388.

Retinoids: There is a Right Way to use them

anti-agingMany of our patients receive a prescription for retinoids. This may be because they are struggling with hard-to-treat acne, or because the time has come to start combating the signs of aging. Whatever the reason for retinoid use, there are benefits. There can also be pitfalls, such as redness and flaking. We want to give you every opportunity to avoid them, so we offer a few tips on how to use retinoids the right way.

  1. Less is more. Remember that prescription retinoids are powerful. You may be anxious to see gain all the benefits you can, but applying too much too soon tends to only lead to frustration. Give your skin time to adjust. For the first few weeks, apply a pea-sized amount to your entire face. Do this only every three days. As you see how your skin responds, increase frequency, but not the amount.
  2. Unless you have been told otherwise, stop using all other acne and anti-aging products while you introduce your prescription retinoid into your skin care routine. Ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid can already disrupt your cells (in a great way). The result could be exacerbated when these ingredients are combined with retinoids.
  3. Wash, then wait. When you wash your face, the natural protective barrier is disturbed. If you apply retinoid lotion or gel immediately after washing, your skin may become irritated. The best practice is to wait about 20 minutes in between washing and applying your product. This can also ensure that your face is completely dry, another necessary component to success.
  4. Apply your retinoid, then wait. Wait for what? Your moisturizer! The process may take some time, but it doesn’t stretch out all night long, we promise. Waiting just another 20 minutes to add moisturizer to your skin means that your retinoid has some time alone to do its work. Applying moisturizer after the appropriate time mitigates the natural drying effect that your retinoid has on your skin.
  5. If your retinoid feels too irritating, you can mix this product with your moisturizer. This will buffer its effect.

There are several advantages to using retinoids. However, if you jump right in, you may toss that tube in the drawer before you gain any benefit. If you have questions about retinoid use for acne or anti-aging, we’re happy to help you. Contact Acclaim Dermatology at (832) 770-6388.

Want a Sun-kissed Glow? Let’s talk Sunless Tanners!

sun-kisssed glowIf you’re in the know, you know that there is no such thing as a safe suntan. Tanning has become synonymous with skin cancer. Even if you don’t take it that far, you cannot deny the evidence staring you right in the face: tanning leads to premature aging. The effects of UV rays include collagen breakdown, which means less support for the firm, youthful skin. Less support means sagging, it means wrinkles, and it means dark spots. No. Just, no.So what are you to do? Summer is approaching, and you want to protect your skin. At the same time, who doesn’t love the idea of a gorgeous summer glow? Here, we will look at some of the best sunless tanning products named by Elle magazine. Stepping into the sunless tanning arena can feel intimidating. The last thing you want is orange streaks on your legs, arms, face, or hands. With quality ingredients and a little application savvy, you can warm up your look long before summer.

So what are you to do? Summer is approaching, and you want to protect your skin. At the same time, who doesn’t love the idea of a gorgeous summer glow? Here, we will look at some of the best sunless tanning products named by Elle magazine. Stepping into the sunless tanning arena can feel intimidating. The last thing you want is orange streaks on your legs, arms, face, or hands. With quality ingredients and a little application savvy, you can warm up your look long before summer.

Products to consider include:

  • James Read Self Tan, at Sephora.
  • The Instant Tint Flash Bronzer from Lancome.
  • L’Oreal Sublime Bronze clear tanning gel.
  • Tropez Gradual Tan (use it in the shower for a progressive tan).

Want to keep the application process as simple as possible? Try out the Tanning Towelette from Kate Somerville, or the ultra-easy Micro-Mist from Neutrogena for an airbrushed tan.

Anyone who has ever tried a sunless tanner will tell you; there is a trick to getting a natural glow. The only part of the process is choosing a good product. The rest is up to you. According to Allure magazine, there are steps you do not want to miss:

  • Anything else you need to do, do it first. This includes waxing, shaving, and even getting your gel manicure.
  • Remove loose skin cells first by exfoliating in the shower. If you apply a tanner to your face, try the ultimate exfoliation with a Clarisonic brush cleanser, or even a chemical peel from one of our highly-trained staff.
  • Only apply tanner to completely dry skin. Wait awhile after a shower, or dry every nook and cranny, then,
  • Apply a light lotion to areas where buildup may occur, such as the knees and the elbows. Don’t forget your knuckles.

Our role as your Sugar Land dermatology team is to help you stay healthy without compromising your desire to look good. To schedule an aesthetic or medical consultation with us, call (832) 770-6388.

When you Rethink your Ink

Laser Tattoo Removal As a dermatology office in Sugar Land, one of the things we have learned over time is that people who have tattoos often change their mind about their body-art. Another thing we have learned is that most people who have become dissatisfied with their tattoo wish for a better option for removal. If you have been considering having one or more tattoos removed, here is what you need to know.

Tattoos are intended to be permanent and therefore are made by injecting ink in the dermis, the secondary layer of connective tissue that lies beneath the surface. The location of ink means that no topical ointment or cream can successfully extract the tiny particles. They are in there, but not necessarily for good. Just remember, chemical solutions might reach your unwanted pigment, but they will not lift it without burning your dermal tissue, and that means scarring.

What good is tattoo removal if you are left with unsightly scars? While there are plenty of sites that will tell you it’s possible to DIY your tattoo, just don’t. Contact us or another board-certified dermatologist for laser tattoo removal. This is the treatment that has been proven to be the most successful at eliminating pigments beneath the skin without harming surface tissue.

How Laser Tattoo Removal Works

Laser treatments target tissue or, in this case, pigment in the tissue, with light. Pulses of light break apart the particles of ink that are settled in connective tissue. Then, these smaller fragments are targeted by your body’s immune system, which comes in to clean up the disrupted ink.

The benefit of laser tattoo removal over home tattoo removal is clear. The process is safer. It is also more effective. Yes, it takes time, and it takes multiple treatments. So would a home method (plus you risk burning your skin).

According to research, as many as one-third of the people who get tattoos eventually regret it. Maybe not having tattoos in general, but a particular piece of art. Whether it is a style choice or that you would like to be ink-free consider how laser treatment can enable you to achieve your goal in the safest way possible.

Would you like to know more about laser tattoo removal? Contact our Sugar Land office at (832) 770-6388.

Dry, Cracked Hands? Here’s what to do!

Dry, Cracked HandsYour hands are one of the first things that people notice. This can seem especially true of the skin on your hands and across your knuckles is excessively dry. Redness, cracks and even bleeding are common complaints about some people, and they do not necessarily indicate some dermatologic condition. Whether you are already there, living with the frustration (and pain!) of dry, cracked, hands, or you are on your path toward a point of no return, get help. Let’s look at some easy tips for preventing this problem:

  • Heat will dry the skin. When you wash your hands, use lukewarm, or even cool water. Because you wash your hands relatively frequently, this is an important habit.
  • Avoid bar soap and inexpensive soap that is offered in public restrooms. Both may strip your skin of essential natural oils. If necessary, carry your travel-sized bottle of moisturizing soap. Look for ingredients like lanolin or glycerin.
  • Pat hands dry after washing; don’t rub! Then, while your hands are still damp, apply moisturizer (with the moisturizing ingredients mentioned above).

Need Healing?

If your hands are already dry and cracked, sore and red, you need more than a few healthy new handwashing habits. Try these action-steps:

  • Apply an emollient lotion before bed, something with glycerin or dimethicone. Think thick, oily cream, not light lotion.
  • In a pinch, or just as a personal preference, you may also rub your hands down with good old-fashioned olive oil before bed. Obviously, the only downside to this is that your hands may feel Depending on the severity of dryness, you may apply your cream or oil and then don a pair of cotton gloves to lock in moisture.
  • Gloves may become your new BFF if your hands are excessively dry. Not just when you sleep, but also anytime you are outside, anytime you wash the dishes, and anytime you clean your home. Skin that is covered is skin that is protected from the elements.

Do you need help?

Sometimes, medical care becomes necessary to resolve the issue of severely dry skin. If you have used creams and gloves and other over-the-counter remedies for dryness, it’s time for more. Contact our Sugar Land dermatology office at (832) 770-6388. We will help you regain comfort as quickly as possible.

Give your Hands a Leg up this Winter

winter hand careThe winter weather can do a number on your skin. If you're not careful, small problems like slight dryness could quickly turn into painful itching and fissures that sting in the cold air. Because we often associate the winter season with increased risk of colds and flu, many people inadvertently exacerbate the dryness problem with excessive hand-washing. Here, we want to discuss how you can protect the delicate skin on your hands to prevent discomfort, not to mention premature aging.

The Skin Barrier
In order for your skin to remain as healthy as possible, it needs a barrier between cells and the outside world. The skin's natural barrier is found on the uppermost layer of the epidermis. It is referred to as the stratum corneum. This barrier is similar in makeup to a brick-and-mortar wall. The "bricks" on the stratum corneum are composed of the cells that are ready to be shed. Another important aspect of dermatologic health is the lipid layer, or mortar, that holds the ready-to-shed cells together. The lipids do more than act as cement; they give the skin its softness, firmness, and hydration.

Protecting your Skin's Covering
Damage to the stratum corneum means an increased risk of irritation. Skin that is unable to hold adequate moisture may become itchy, cracked, and uncomfortable. Winter weather is harsh enough on this barrier. Because there is little that can be done to change Mother Nature, we must take care to avoid harsh products and chemicals that leach the skin of its natural protective layer. We can do this by:

  • Limiting use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
  • Washing hands less frequently, and only with mild soap.
  • Using thicker moisturizing cream, and applying cream while hands are damp after washing.
  • Wearing gloves when washing dishes or cleaning house.

Individuals who are prone to dry skin, or who have a chronic skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis, may benefit from emollient-type moisturizer. This thicker formulation is especially useful for nighttime application, and may be complemented by wearing cotton gloves overnight.

Chronic inflammation is an unnecessary pain. If your hands are already showing signs of irritation, call us. We can help you develop a care plan for healthy skin. (832) 770-6388.

Holiday Food Choices and Your Skin

holiday food choices and your skin sugar land TXThis holiday season, like every other, we look forward to festivities with friends and family. Most of the gatherings we go to will have a fair amount of food, which means we will be forever tempted to indulge in delicious holiday goodies. As you attend one holiday bash after another, or make food choices during the hectic bustle of shopping and home life and work, you might think about the effects the food you eat may have on your waistline. However, there are also several common holiday foods that could affect your skin. Here, we will separate the good from the bad.

Eat This!

  • Pumpkin. We hate to say it, but this does not include a daily pumpkin spice latte. Real pumpkin contains zinc, vitamins, and nutrients that benefit the skin. For example, the vitamin C in pumpkin fights free radicals that can cause premature aging. The carotenoids that give pumpkin its beautiful color give your skin a healthy dose of nourishment that can reverse UV damage.
  • Cranberries. This tiny, tasty fruit also contains substantial amounts of vitamin C. In addition to warding off premature aging with antioxidants, the vitamin C in cranberries and other fruits support healthy collagen production.
  • Coffee. According to recent research, you need not feel bad for indulging in an extra cup of caffeinated coffee. Just one cup a day of this beverage, due to the components of coffee beans, has been shown to reduce a person's risk of skin cancer (nonmelanoma) by 10%. Caffeinated tea provides similar benefits!
  • Cocoa. As if we needed a reason to revel in a rich cup of cocoa, research shows that the epicatechin, a flavonoid in cocoa increases circulation to the skin, thus improving texture. Red wine also contains this skin-nourishing ingredient!

Avoid This!

  • Alcohol. A glass or two of wine or a few cocktails at that holiday party probably won't harm your skin. However, be sure to hydrate, because alcohol can deplete the entire body of water, which is necessary for smooth, healthy skin. The more alcoholic beverages that are consumed, the more the tiny blood vessels beneath the skin dilate, causing a flushed appearance that may linger.
  • Full-fat eggnog. The dairy in this popular holiday beverage may exacerbate acne due to its likelihood to increase oil production.
  • Cookies, candy, and other sweet treats. Holiday goodies that are made with white flour and refined sugar can accelerate the breakdown of collagen and elastin. Sugar is also a factor in acne breakouts.

Acclaim Dermatology in Sugar Land offers a variety of services to help you keep a beautiful glow throughout the holiday season and beyond. Call (832) 770-6388 to schedule your consultation.

Is it Really Necessary to do a Fall Change up for your Skin?

fall skin careWe've seen it coming for months, and many of us are welcoming the entrance of Fall with open arms. Who isn't ready for cooler nights, colorful leaves falling, and the reminder of how good it can be to let things go. Oh, and let's not forget that yummy Pumpkin Spice Latte! But back to letting things go. Knowing just where to go to buy a cozy sweater or warm cup of cider is one thing. Knowing what may be going on with your skin as the seasons change is another. So let's take a look!

It's parched!
The colder weather of fall is oh, so drying to your skin. As the weather continues to cool down, it is a great time to ditch the bar soap and reach for something kinder and gentler, such as a shower gel loaded with moisturizing ingredients.

It's really sensitive
Something happens to your skin as the temperature drops - it becomes increasingly susceptible to environmental factors. Sometimes, it just needs a break. You can do this by giving its lipid barrier a boost. Also, other than at the hands of your dermatologist, avoid harsh acids or scrubs during this time of year. Severe exfoliation could prove too irritating for delicate skin. When you offer up a little extra TLC, your skin can focus on important tasks like remodeling collagen.

It's in shock
The long, hot days of summer have really done a number on your skin, even if you didn't spend your days shaking and baking at the beach. As we settle in to Fall, you may start to notice the signs of sun damage, such as small brown spots here and there, or a muddled appearance. To renew and repair the damage of summer, add retinoid products to your skin care regimen. The regular use of Retin-A or even a commercial retinol product will work to smooth lines and restore vibrancy.

Another way that summer's aftershock is noticed is in the size of your pores. When it's hot out, more oil is produced by the sebaceous glands. The oil joins with keratin, dirt, and possibly bacteria, which causes the pores to stretch and enlarge. This effect of summer is exacerbated by weakness in the skin caused by UVA rays, which deplete collagen and elastin. To service your pores, reach for gentle products with salicylic acid.
Do you want something extra special to pamper your skin this Fall? Call Acclaim Dermatology at (832) 770-6388!

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