How to Keep Skin Hydrated During Winter Travel

On a recent flight, a woman sitting across me whipped out a cosmetic bag bursting with facial products. She squeezed, rubbed, and spritzed her face all the way from San Diego to Minneapolis. Was she doing the right thing? Maybe. Though her seat mate probably wasn’t too happy.

There’s no doubt that air travel dries out your skin. At 40,000 feet, there is extremely low humidity in the air which evaporates all the moisture off your skin.

Here are 5 tips for keeping your skin looking and feeling healthy during winter travel:

1. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Before you leave your house, apply a facial moisturizer. (Here’s a post on 6 tips for choosing the proper facial moisturizer.) Also, keep one in your bag so you can reapply as needed.

2. Hand moisturizer. If you’re smart, you’ll be washing your hands a lot and applying gel hand sanitizers to ward off colds. Unfortunately, you’ll also be suffering from dry skin, nails, and cuticles. Always keep a travel size hand moisturizer in your bag so you can reapply after every hand wash, gel application, or anytime you feel dry.

3. Don’t forget your lips. Because the skin on your lips is so thin and delicate, moisture evaporates off of them more quickly, leading to dry, chapped lips. Pamper your lips with a soothing lip balm, preferably with SPF 15 or 30, and reapply frequently. If you’re prone to licking your lips, avoid flavored balms.

4. Skip the peanuts and pretzels. Eating salty foods will draw moisture away from the skin and cause swelling and bloating. Bring your own healthy, low-salt or no-salt snacks instead.

5. Beware the booze. Tempted by the free wine coupon? Alcohol dehydrates you and your skin. If you do imbibe, then have 2 glasses of water for each alcoholic drink.

Photo credit: FCC, Irargerich

Why Does Skin Age? Part I: Genetics

The Aged Beauty

A 91-year-old woman who comes to me every few months for treatment of skin cancers came to me recently. While I was removing a basal cell from her scalp, she volunteered: “I should have died at 85.”

“Why would you say that? I asked.

“Just look at my skin,” she said. “There’s nothing left to it. My joints are shot, my heart doesn’t beat right, the bowels don’t work. We just weren’t meant to live this long.”

Mind you, this is from a woman who still drives in to see me. She has managed to stay healthy but has not avoided aging.

Aging is most common disease I see. Billions of dollars are spent each year to conquer and unconquerable foe.

So why does our skin age? And why in this technologically sophisticated world haven’t we figured out how to stop aging?

Skin aging results from both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic factors are your genetic makeup — your skin color, texture, and elasticity you inherited from your parents — and cannot be modified.

  • Aging begins in your 20′s
  • Loss of elastin leads to lax skin and the formation of wrinkles.
  • Dead skin cells don’t shed properly leading to scaly skin.
  • Loss of natural skin fats lead to dry, itchy skin.
  • Loss of collagen and elastin leads to thin, papery skin on the hands and arms and  vertical ridges around your lips.
  • Loss of underlying fat leads to hollowness under the eyes, sunken cheeks, and sunken backs of hands.
  • Gray hair and loss of hair develop.
  • Nails become thin, brittle, and easily breakable. The loss of nail lunula (the white part of the nail) occurs and nail ridges develop.

Extrinsic factors are things within your control that also lead to aging including sun damage, smoking, sleeping habits, and diet. These are all factors that can be modified. And in my next post, I’ll share my best anti-aging tips with you.

Photo credit: FCC, alex proimos

Food Friday: Morning Glow Avocado Breakfast Smoothie

cayenne spiked avocado and orange smoothie

Many of my female patients tell me they love making natural facial masks with avocado. I can understand it. Because they’re high in monounsaturated fat (the good kind), they’re moisturizing on your skin.

I don’t apply avocado facial masks, but I do eat lots of avocados. I live in San Diego. It’s required.

Avocados are high in B vitamins, which reduce skin inflammation, and vitamins C and E, which have anti-aging properties (so you’ll look younger).

Avocados are ideal for breakfast. The healthy fat fills you up and keeps you full so you’re less likely to snack mindlessly later in the day. Try some mashed avocado sprinkled with salt on toast. Add diced avocado to your egg white scramble. Or make this avocado smoothie.

Spicy Avocado and Orange Smoothie

Makes 1 serving

1/2 medium ripe avocado, squirted with lime juice
1/2 small frozen banana
2/3 cup orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed
1/2 cup almond milk (or milk product of your choice)
1 teaspoon honey
A pinch of cayenne pepper

1. Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Add more orange juice of milk if you like it thinner.

Variations: Feel free to play around with ingredients. Instead of banana, try mango, fresh pineapple, ripe pear, or frozen raspberries. Like it sweeter? Skip the cayenne and add a little extra honey, or use agave nectar. Don’t like orange juice? Replace it with apple or pomegranate juice or milk of your choice such as skim, soy, rice, or nut milk.

Photo and recipe by Susan Russo of Food Blogga.

 

Two Things You Must Do To Prevent Razor Bumps

Razor bumps are painful red bumps that develop from ingrown hairs. Shaving against the grain or using a razor with many blades can cause them. In this video I’ll show you what causes razor bumps, also called pseudofolliculitis barbae (in case your date asks and you’re trying to impress her). I’ll also give you two tips to prevent them.

What Causes Eczema?

Eczema is a common skin disorder in children. It’s caused by an over-active immune system and damaged skin. The damaged skin allows for bacteria and other irritants to enter the skin. This leads to more inflammation and worsening of the eczema. Scratching only damages the skin making it easier for bacteria to penetrate. Here’s a short video that explains what causes eczema.

Can You Be Allergic To Your Swimming Pool?

Allergic to Swimming?

We’re in the dog days of August and summer continues to hold on. What better way is there to relax than in your nice, cool pool? Unless you’re allergic to it, of course.

I had a patient this summer who developed an itchy rash all over. He thought it might be due to his pool, but insisted that he kept it immaculately clean. Ironically, that might have been the trouble.

Some people are allergic to the shocking agent used for pools and hot tubs. Potassium peroxymonosulfate or PPMS is an oxidizing agent used to keep pools clean. A study showed that skin allergies to this chemical aren’t uncommon and that it tends to afflict men more than women.

As with my patient, treating the allergic reaction with topical steroids and changing the pool’s shocking agent can help. At least he wasn’t allergic to water.

Photo: Omar Edwardo

An Unwanted Yoga Partner: Fungus

Yoga is good for your mind and body, including your skin. Yoga mats, on the other hand, might not be. Using someone else’s yoga mat for an hour could lead to an infection.

Fungus infections are common and appear as athlete’s foot, toenail fungus, and ringworm. Unfortunately, the fungus can survive on surfaces like mats long after the infected person has left. Although most people blame the gym locker room when they develop athlete’s foot, you can catch the fungus from a variety of places anytime you walk barefoot.

Fortunately, even if the fungus comes into contact with your skin, it doesn’t always lead to infection. Dry, cracked skin, or soft, wet skin disrupt your primary defense against the fungus — the densely packed barrier of skin cells, oils and proteins on your healthy skin’s surface. Here are 5 ways to prevent taking a fungus home with you from your next yoga class:

1. Bring your own mat. At least you know what you have.

2. Use an alcohol sanitizer on your hands and feet after your class. Sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol are excellent at drying up the fungus and killing it long before it has a chance to infect you.

3. Clean your yoga mat. Use a solution of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water and scrubbing will act as a fungicide. You can add a few drops of essential oils to the wash so that your neighbor doesn’t think that vinegar smell from your mat is coming from you.

4. Take a shower after class. Be sure to scrub your hands and feet with soap and water. Fungus sitting on the surface of your skin can easily be washed off.

5. Keep your skin healthy. Damaged, cracked, or moist skin is vulnerable skin. Dry your feet well and use antiperspirant on them if you have trouble keeping them dry. Moisturize daily to preserve a protective barrier of healthy skin which will keep infections out.

Photo: Terriko