Monthly Archives: October 2016

Helathy Dry Winter Skin

Winter brings cold, crisp days, fun seasonal activities, and snowy nights spent by a warm fire. But not all elements of winter are so enjoyable. For one, there’s dry winter skin, which can be exacerbated by the cold winter air outside and warm, dry air inside. This year, do your best to guard against the factors that cause dry, itchy skin.

Winter Itch Factors: How to Prevent Dry Winter Skin

Start by addressing the factors that irritate dry skin. Consider your indoor and outdoor environments, your skin care regimen, and even what you wear.

Low humidity. As temperatures fall, so do humidity levels, and the loss of moisture can cause your skin to become dry and itchy. Heat from furnaces, radiators, woodstoves, and fireplaces can also suck the moisture out of the air inside your home, which can dry out your skin even more. Put moisture back into the air by using a humidifier in the rooms you spend the most time in — both at home and in your office.

The loss of your skin’s natural oils. Washing your hands and showering frequently can actually strip your skin of its natural oils. One of the best ways to combat dry, itchy skin and keep your skin moist and supple is to moisturize it immediately after you wash your hands or take a shower. Moisturizers work by sealing moisture into your skin, so just pat your skin partially dry with a towel — don’t rub skin dry as this can remove your skin’s protective oils — and apply a moisturizing lotion or emollient to your damp skin.

Inferior moisturizers. Not all moisturizers are effective at alleviating winter itch. Water-based lotions and creams don’t lock in moisture as well as the oil-based ones. Thick, emollient moisturizers that come in ointment form typically contain the most oil, which makes them a smart choice for really dry skin. Petroleum jelly is a good example of this type of ointment-style moisturizer. Apply a small amount to your skin and be sure to rub it in well. If you prefer to use a moisturizing cream, look for one that contains petrolatum, mineral oil, or glycerin.

Chapped lips. Your lips are often the first to succumb to cold winter air. Find a lip moisturizer that you like and apply it often. Barbara R. Reed, MD, clinical professor of dermatology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, CO, and in private practice at Denver Skin Clinic, recommends an emollient-based moisturizer for the lips that is soothing and has no irritants. “I do not recommend products with menthol or phenol as they may be irritating.”

The Roots of Gray Hair

The roots of gray hair may lie in a particular type of communication between hair follicles and melanocyte stem cells, the cells that make and store the pigments in skin and hair, a new study suggests.

Using mouse models, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center found that Wnt signaling, already known to control many biological processes, may explain how these stem cells work together to produce hair color and generate hair growth.

“We have known for decades that hair follicle stem cells and pigment-producing melanocycte cells collaborate to produce colored hair, but the underlying reasons were unknown,” said Mayumi Ito, assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Langone in a news release from NYU. “We discovered Wnt signaling is essential for coordinated actions of these two stem cell lineages and critical for hair pigmentation.”

Researchers found the lack of Wnt activation in melanocyte stem cells leads to de-pigmented, or gray hair. They also showed that abnormal Wnt signaling in hair follicle stem cells prevents hair re-growth. The study’s authors concluded their findings could serve as a model for tissue regeneration.

“The human body has many types of stem cells that have the potential to regenerate other organs,” noted Ito. “The methods behind communication between stem cells of hair and color during hair replacement may give us important clues to regenerate complex organs containing many different types of cells.”

The researchers added the study, published in the June 11 issue of Cell, could help shed light on diseases in which melanocytes are either lost or grow uncontrollably as in melanoma.

Rules All About Sunscreens

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it will require new labeling for sunscreens to identify products that are best for reducing the risk of skin cancer, early skin aging and helping to prevent sunburn.

Under the new rule, sunscreens that protect against both ultraviolet A rays (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays can be labeled “Broad Spectrum.” UVB rays and UVA rays both can cause sunburn, skin cancer, and premature skin aging; UVB rays are the main source of sunburn, FDA officials explained.

The new rules will also require sunscreens to have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more or they won’t be able to claim that they help prevent sunburn and possibly reduce the threat of premature skin aging and skin cancer — if used with other measures to protect against the sun.

“Sunscreens that meet the new test for Broad Spectrum protection and are also SPF 15 or above can, for the first time, include the statement ‘used as directed reduces the risk of early skin aging and skin cancer when used with other sun protection measures,’ ” Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation, said during a Tuesday morning news conference.

The new labels will, for the most part, not been seen until next summer, she said.

Sunscreens with a SPF of 2 to 14 can be labeled as “Broad Spectrum,” but only those Broad Spectrum products with an SPF of 15 or more can claim they reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging, according to the new regulation.

Any sunscreen that is not Broad Spectrum or a Broad Spectrum sunscreen with an SPF between 2 and 14 will have to carry a warning saying the product has not been found to prevent skin cancer or early skin aging.

Sunscreens labels will also have a “Drug Fact Box,” Woodcock said. And, sunscreens can no longer be called sunblocks, she said, “because we don’t want to give the impression that complete protection is provided.”

In addition, sunscreens can no longer claim they protect for more than two hours, without approval from the FDA, Woodcock said. The products will also no longer be allowed to state that they are waterproof and sweat-proof. Products can, however, claim to be water-resistant for 40 to 80 minutes. The amount of time the product remains effective must be stated on the label, Woodcock added.

One expert applauded the FDA move.

“Consumers need simplified and user-friendly guidelines to help them choose an effective sunscreen. The new guidelines will make it easier for dermatologists to make recommendations about sunscreens and for consumers to choose an effective sunscreen to protect their skin,” said Dr. Jennifer A. Stein, assistant professor in the department of dermatology at NYU School of Medicine in New York City. “These new guidelines are a major step in the right direction to help better protect Americans from the dangers of sunburn and helping them reduce their risk of developing skin cancer in their lifetime.”

Healthy Winter Skin

Dry winter air can wreak havoc on your skin — leaving it dry, itchy, and irritated; but there are many simple ways to combat dry skin causes and help keep your skin feeling moist and supple all winter long. Here are 10 ways to get started.

Top 10 Tips for Healthy Winter Skin

1. Invest in a humidifier. Using a humidifier in your home or office will add moisture to dry winter air and help keep your skin hydrated. Run a humidifier in the rooms you spend the most time in, including your bedroom.

2. Lower the thermostat. When it’s chilly outside, what’s the first thing you want to do? Crank up the heat! But central heat can make the air in your house even drier. Try setting the thermostat at a cool, yet comfortable setting — 68°F to 72°F — to maintain healthy skin.

3. Skip hot showers. Although it may be tempting to warm up with a long, steamy shower, hot water dries out your skin by stripping it of its natural oils. Instead, take a 5- to 10-minute lukewarm shower (or bath). You should also avoid using excessively hot water when washing your hands — if the water causes your skin to turn red, it’s too hot.

4. Choose cleanser wisely. The wrong soap can worsen itchy, dry skin. For instance, steer clear of regular bar soaps, since they tend to contain irritating ingredients and fragrances. Instead, start washing with a fragrance-free, moisturizing cleanser or gel. You can also prevent winter skin problems by using less soap, so limit your lathering to necessary areas, such as your hands, armpits, genitals, and feet.

5. Modify your facial skin care regimen for the season. During the winter months, choose cream-based cleansers, and apply toners and astringents sparingly, if at all. Many astringents contain alcohol, which can further dry your skin. Look for products that contain little or no alcohol — unless your skin is excessively oily. At night, use a richer moisturizer on your face.