Women’s Facial Hair: Blame Your Hormones

The development of darker, thicker facial hair in women, especially on the chin and upper lip, is typically the result of hormonal changes and is benign.

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OK. Ladies, has this ever happened to you? You look in the mirror and spot a dark, thick hair on your chin or upper lip. Aghast, you immediately pluck it. It grows back. You pluck it again. It grows back again, only this time you swear it’s darker and thicker. What’s going on?

You’re not alone. The bad news is that it’s all too common among most women. The good news is that it’s almost always benign.

First, it’s a myth that plucking hairs causes them to grow in darker or thicker. These hairs are coarser and thicker because they are secondary sexual characteristic hairs; that is, they are the result of hormonal changes. They’re not unlike male facial hair, which is also coarse. These hairs appear thicker and darker than fine vellus hairs (peach fuzz) because they’re a different type of hair, not because of tweezing. Most women develop these hairs on the chin, jaw line, and upper lip. Though these hairs can appear at any age, they’re more prominent after menopause. They can also be the result of hormonal changes due to issues ranging from birth control pills and pregnancy to irregular periods and hormonal imbalances.

What can you do to get rid of them? For a fast and inexpensive option, tweezing is fine, as are depilatory creams. But the hairs will grow back. For permanent hair removal, try either electrolysis or laser treatment (at a doctor’s office). There are also some prescription medications that stop hair from growing. If that’s something you’re interested in, then speak with your dermatologist.

In the meantime, be kind to yourself. Remember, that it’s hormones at work, not you. And that it’s a fixable problem.

Photo credit: FCC, Michael

Can Yogurt Cure a Vaginal Yeast Infection?

Yogurt cannot cure a vaginal yeast infection. Antifungals cure vaginal yeast infections.

No.

The candida yeast lives normally in the vagina. When it overgrows, however, it causes a yeast infection, leading to itching, redness, white vaginal discharge, and burning upon urination.

Since yogurt contains probiotics, which help promote healthy bacteria, someone, somewhere, thought it would reduce the yeast. It’s an interesting idea, but it doesn’t work.

It’s better to treat a vaginal yeast infection with an antifungal cream such as miconazole which attacks the fungus. Don’t stop using it as soon as you start feeling better. Finish the treatment, or it might come back.

Photo credit: FCC, hfb

The Truth: How to Treat Cellulite


Cellulite is common; nearly all adult women have some. The best treatment is photoshop :).

But what’s the next best treatment? Are there really toxins in cellulite? Is it just fat? Do coffee grounds really work? Watch this video and you’ll see. What is your best tip to reduce cellulite? Share it with us here!

Skin Cancer Where The Sun Don’t Shine

HPV Can Cause Skin Cancer

Not all skin cancers are from sun exposure. Viruses such as human papilloma virus (HPV), the virus that causes genital warts, also cause skin cancer. Skin cancer from HPV develops on genital skin in both men and women. It is rarely talked about, but it’s important and can be deadly.

Did you know that half of all deaths from skin cancer other than melanoma are from genital skin cancer? You probably also didn’t know that women are more likely to die from genital skin cancer as they are from skin cancer that developed from sun exposure (again, excluding melanoma).

We dermatologists are inexhaustible when it comes to warning people about the dangers of sun exposure, but we should also be warning people about the dangers of genital warts. HPV protection, which includes HPV vaccines, is as important as sun protection in preventing death from non-melanoma skin cancer.

Genital warts can lead to deadly skin cancer. If your dermatologist has not checked your genital skin, then be sure your primary care physician or gynecologist does. This is especially important, because unlike other STDs which often have symptoms, HPV or genital warts often don’t. It may be embarrassing, but it could save your life.

Photo: practical owl, flickr.

What You Need To Know About Adult Acne

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Argh! You cleaned out your high school locker years ago and now you have acne pimples on your jaw this morning. You’re not alone — 1 in every 5 women over 25 has acne.

Adult acne, in contrast to the teenage type, occurs more often in women. For some women, this is the first time they had acne; we call this late-onset acne. For other women, their acne never stopped from childhood into adulthood; we call this persistent acne. Many of my women patients have other names for adult acne, but they cannot be printed here.

It Must Be Hormones

We like to blame everything on hormones. In the case of acne, hormones contribute, but they are not the only factor. Stopping birth control pills causes a change in hormones and is  a cause for acne in adult women. Similarly, using progestin-only birth control pills affects hormones in such a way as to cause breakouts. Pregnancy is a time of dramatic hormone fluctuations and for some women, dramatic acne. Similarly, menopause can trigger outbreaks. Despite these known hormonal triggers, most women who have acne do not have hormonal imbalances (they are normal fluctuations in hormones). Foods or supplements that claim to balance women’s hormones don’t. So save your time and money, they won’t help your acne.

You Can’t Scrub Acne Away

Exfoliating to open pores can help, but only when done in moderation. Harsh scrubs or repeated microdermabrasion will irritate the skin and make acne worse. Instead, use mild chemical exfoliators such as salicylic acid or glycolic acid which are found in many women’s cosmetics and in acne treatments. Products that contain benzoyl peroxide also help to exfoliate and will treat adult acne.

Don’t Give Up Your Scharffen Berger Chocolate

Although myths of chocolate and pizza causing acne have been disproved, it is true that consuming cow’s milk (which contains hormones) as well as eating a diet high in carbohydrates (which causes inflammation) can contribute to acne. Eating chocolate once and a while, especially good chocolate, will not cause or worsen your acne.

Cosmetics Cause Acne

Many skincare products contain ingredients that clog your pores, triggering acne. Pantene shampoo as well as many hair conditioners have been known to cause this problem. Also, sunscreens are notorious for causing acne. If you notice that your acne is worse around your hairline or that it has flared since you started sunscreens, then try changing your products; it might be all you need to clear up your face.

Photo: Foundphotoslj (flickr)

Post written by Dr. Benabio Copyright The Derm Blog 2009

Why Do We Bruise Easily?

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A bruise is blood that has leaked into your skin. The blood is red, but it appears blue when seen though the skin layers. Bruises can be frustrating, especially for women who always get them on their legs the day they wear their new INC empire-waist jersey dresses.

Bruises are a normal response to injury. Who among us has not walked into the corner of the bed or miscalculated the exact location of the coffee table when crossing the room? Most of the time bruising does not indicate any underlying diseases, except for clumsiness.

Women bruise more easily than men, especially on their thighs, calves and buttocks. This easy bruising is because women have exposed blood vessels and thinner skin as compared to men, so even unnoticed injuries to their legs leave noticeable bruises.

Usually bruising is a minor, lifelong problem. However, if bruising develops rapidly or is getting progressively worse, then investigation is needed. Also, bruising that is associated with taking medications like aspirin, plavix or coumadin should be discussed with a physician. Bruises that appear on the face, back, or abdomen are not typical and should also be evaluated by a physician. Also, if bruising is accompanied by bleeding such as heavy periods, recurrent nose bleeds, bleeding from the gums, or blood in your urine or stool, then you should see a doctor.

There is little you can do to prevent bruises. When bruising is the result of taking certain medications such as ibuprofen, fish oil or ginkgo, then stopping these can lessen bruising. Also, wearing long sleeves and long pants can be the difference in whether a bruise develops or not after a minor injury.

After an injury, try to minimize the amount of blood that leaks out to minimize the bruise. Sit down and apply pressure to the injured spot for 10-15 minutes. You can also use ice, but only for 15-20 minutes (longer than 20 minutes can cause worsening of the bruise). Apply ice with a wash cloth or other layer between it and your skin. Avoid hot showers or hot baths for 24 hours after the injury as the heat can restart bleeding into the skin.

Vitamin K and bromelain (found in pineapples) might be helpful in resolving bruises more quickly. Look for them in topical products or in oral supplements that can be taken for a few days after a bruise develops. And look out for the coffee table.

Post written by Dr. Jeffrey Benabio, Copyright The Derm Blog 2009.

Photo: Christy Gordon (flickr)

Women More Likely To Remove Tattoos

I see a lot of tattoos in clinic. They tend to be of three varities: old men with vintage war-time tattoos, young men with authentic NBA-style tattoos, and women who want to know how they can get rid of their tattoos. Continue reading “Women More Likely To Remove Tattoos”