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How to Boost and Protect Collagen

cosmetic services Sugar Land, TXThe more we know about collagen and its supportive role in skin, bone, and cellular health, the more we know we don’t like the idea of losing this precious protein. Without sufficient collagen, we will notice that the skin becomes thin, less resilient, and saggy. Even though there are several treatments that can reduce the appearance of wrinkles, it makes sense to become proactive about boosting and protecting collagen as we age.

Ways to Boost Collagen

  • Massage the face. Facial massage has been shown to support muscle memory and also to encourage collagen production. It is possible to massage the face gently as a part of your daily cleansing routine. Microcurrent facials, which may be obtained by qualified estheticians, are like the facial massage on steroids.
  • Feed the skin. When the body is well-fed, the skin reflects a high level of nourishment. There is no lack of options for collagen-boosting foods. Look for freshness, such as oranges, broccoli, and other foods rich in vitamin C.
  • Supplement as needed. Collagen production slows as we age so that supplements may be a necessary aspect of anti-aging. Vitamins A, C, and E may be paired with zinc for increased collagen proliferation.
  • Maximize skin care. Topical products may support collagen production, but only if they reach deeper tissues where the protein is made. To increase the effectiveness of skin care products, exfoliate the skin on a regular basis. This can be achieved with monthly, light chemical peels.

Ways to Protect Collagen

  • We don’t mean purchasing an expensive product; we mean moisturizing from the inside out. A hydrated body means hydrated skin cells that remain plump and supportive of collagen.
  • Smoking that is. Cigarette smoke comes in direct with the skin on the face. The chemicals in that smoke are absorbed, where they then break down collagen. For healthier skin, and a healthier body, stop smoking.
  • Supplement as needed. Supplements can both build collagen and protect what you’ve already got. One way to stimulate cell growth and support collagen is with aloe vera. Extract from this plant, taken orally, has been shown to preserve healthy collagen strands. Antioxidants, as well, such as grape seed extract and resveratrol are skin-saving chemicals.

As we make our way through summer, remember that collagen is also affected by UV exposure. Take good care of your skin with help from your Sugar Land dermatologist.

Summertime Skin Issues You May Not Expect

skin care services SugarlandAs you head out into the sun and the heat, you may have the primary goal of avoiding sunburn. UV exposure is a common concern that we discuss quite often. But there are other issues that you may come face to face with as warmth permeates the air. Let’s see what they are and what you can do about them.

Acne

People with acne-prone skin may dread what weather changes will mean for them. The heat of the summer months presents prime conditions for breakouts. To prevent frustration due to acne, take proactive steps such as:

  • When you sweat, blot the skin rather than wiping it. If the skin is highly susceptible to acne, it is also more reactive to stress, so be gentle.
  • If you wear hats, wash them to prevent bacteria or oil buildup that then sits against the forehead. Also wash bedding and towels frequently.
  • Choose a sunscreen product for acne-prone skin. Also, use non-comedogenic products and lighter moisturizers that will not clog pores.
  • Consider purchasing a sonic brush for face-washing. The high-vibration of bristles maximizes effort and adds convenience to daily facial care.
  • Remember that acne is not just a “face” issue, it may also strike the back or chest. Cool showers and lightweight products add moisture without leaving a film on the skin.

Dryness

The idea of dry skin is usually something that comes to mind in the wintertime. However, the skin can become ultra-dry even in the midst of humidity. Dryness is a problem that we may encounter more so as the skin ages. Fortunately, managing the moisture of skin can feel like pampering.

  • Take lukewarm showers. Hotter water temperatures draw moisture to the surface where it quickly evaporates.
  • Apply moisturizing lotion (a light formula) immediately after drying off, while there is still dampness to the skin.
  • Keep moisturizers handy at work and home, and frequently apply throughout the day to maintain a layer of moistness on the surface of arms, hands, legs, and the face.
  • Consider purchasing a light facial spray with hydrating ingredients to use several times a day.

Folliculitis

There is nothing like an inflamed, itchy hair follicle to make you run for cover. This common summertime problem may be managed by:

  • Changing out of wet or sweaty clothing after workouts or outdoor activities.
  • Choose light, airy clothing on hot, humid days. The more air that can reach the skin, the less likely it is that hair follicles may become clogged.
  • Avoid hot tub use if there is any question of cleanliness. The term “hot tub folliculitis” doesn’t exist for no reason!

Need help with your skin? Call your Sugar Land dermatologist at (832) 770-6388.

Think Jowls are a Problem for your Plastic Surgeon? Not so!

skin tightening treatments Sugar Land TXThere are several signs of aging that incite concern when they appear. For many of us, a time comes when it feels as if we have missed the boat; we will live out our days wishing we had done more to prevent the formation of deep lines and wrinkles and sagging skin along the jaw. If you are starting to notice jowls to go along with those smile lines or under eye bags, your mind may be spinning with thoughts of a facelift.

The truth is, you may not need to go that far. Before assuming that surgery is your only solution to jowls, consider the problem behind that symptom.

Why we get Jowls

Jowls are pockets of skin and fat tissue that accumulate at the jawline. Usually, this starts out subtly, like two little pockets – one on each side of the face. As the face ages, these pockets worsen. It isn’t that jowls form out of the blue; they are a byproduct of what is happening across the mid-face.

Most people understand collagen relatively well by now. This protein makes up the matrix of fibers that run through deeper epidermal tissue. Collagen gives skin its firmness, and this firmness helps underlying structure maintain its drape across facial bones. Alas, collagen breakdown is nearly impossible to avoid. When fibers of this compound fray, tissue drops bit by bit, until it lands on the jaw line.

Finding the Solution for your Skin

We could not say that surgery is never needed when jowls have become problematic. There are more severe cases in which excess skin on the face needs to be removed and remaining tissue draped to its previous position. However, there are ways to correct mild to moderate jowls, and also ways to ward off their formation. Here are a few:

  • Because jowls are secondary to volume loss, dermal filler cheek augmentation may be performed to lift tissue across the lower face.
  • Laser resurfacing is an excellent anti-aging treatment that customized to address mild to severe cosmetic problems, including laxity.
  • Ultherapy ultrasonic skin tightening causes both collagen contraction and ongoing rebuilding that progressively improves jowls and other concerns.

Acclaim Dermatology has an extensive service menu, which means you have numerous options for managing your aging skin without surgery. To learn more about skin tightening treatments, call our Sugar Land office.

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.

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