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

Facials Don’t Treat Wrinkles

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Last week one of my patients complained that she gets facials every month for her wrinkles, but that she still has prominent wrinkles around her eyes and mouth. “What,” she asked, “is she doing wrong?”

Facials are the third most popular treatment in spas after nails and massage. They come in many flavors like: mineral masks, steam treatments, microdermabrasions, LED light treatments, blu-light, and even oxygen facials.

Facials can be beneficial; they extract clogged pores, exfoliate dull, scaly skin, and give you a deep, invigorating cleansing, leaving your face smooth and silky. But facials cannot treat wrinkles, broken blood vessles, or brown spots.

Facials are done by aestheticians who are not licensed to practice medicine. Aestheticians cannot administer treatments that penetrate the skin or have  biologic effects (by definition, this would be considered medicine and must be administered by a licensed practitioner such as a physician or registered nurse).  Deeper problems such as wrinkles require invasive treatments which cross the line from cosmetics to medicine.

Facial massages or electrostimulations, which are supposed to tone your skin, don’t. Toning or building muscle requires intense and repeated activity. Just like building biceps, firming musles on your face would require working out. The problem is that wrinkles on your face are caused by contracting muscles — crow’s feet are caused by contracting muscles around your eyes; frown lines are caused by furrowing your brow; lip lines are caused by contracting the muscles around your mouth. Any treatment then that firms facial muscles would only make wrinkles worse.

Other treatments such as oxygen facials and mineral treatments have no evidence to support them, (unless you count “Madonna said so” as evidence). Save your money and have your daughter apply a mud mask the next time you go to the beach.

Photo: Arkansas Shutterbug (flickr)

What Causes Dark Circles Under Your Eyes?

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Maybe it’s the economy. Or maybe it’s too many late nights watching back episodes of CSI on your DVR. Either way, you notice that there are dark circles under your eyes that didn’t seem to be there before. What causes these dark circles under the eyes, and what can you do to treat them? Continue reading “What Causes Dark Circles Under Your Eyes?”

Hormone Replacement Therapy Doesn’t Make You Younger

For post-menopausal women, decreasing estrogen levels might contribute to skin aging. Common skin changes associated with being post-menopausal include atrophy (thinning of the skin), wrinkling, dryness, laxity, sallow complexion, and poor wound healing. There are estrogen receptors in the skin and it is thought that the decrease in estrogen that accompanies menopause leads to a loss of estrogen activity and to these undesirable skin changes.

Continue reading “Hormone Replacement Therapy Doesn’t Make You Younger”

10 Ways to Prevent and Treat Crow’s Feet

Crow’s feet are the wrinkles that form on your temple and cheek around your eyes. The best advice I have about crow’s feet, or any wrinkles for that matter, is to put off getting them for as long as possible. All wrinkles can be improved with cosmetics, but the more winkles you have, the more difficult and expensive it is to improve them. Continue reading “10 Ways to Prevent and Treat Crow’s Feet”

What Causes Crow’s Feet?

Crow’s feet — the fine lines that radiate from the corners of your eyes – are among the first wrinkles to form and can surface as early as your 30’s. They are dynamic wrinkles, meaning they’re most noticeable when you contract the muscles in your face, such as when you squint or smile.

Many factors contribute to crow’s feet including sun exposure, squinting, smoking, and menopause. Sun exposure is probably the most important of these. Over years, solar radiation in the form of UVA light damages elastin and collagen leading to lax skin that hangs loosely instead of clinging tight to the underlying muscles. The result is sagging, wrinkled skin.

The more natural pigment you have in your skin, the more you are protected from harmful ultraviolet radiation. This is why people with darker skin tend to have fewer crow’s feet than those with lighter skin.

Squinting contributes to crow’s feet as a result of countless contractions of the muscles around the eyes; years of squinting eventually form permanent wrinkles. Crow’s feet overlie the large muscle that surrounds your eye called the ocularis orbis. When you squeeze your eyes tight, you are contracting this muscle, forming wrinkles that radiate from the corners of your eyes to your temples. Under constant tension, as in an afternoon at the beach, the skin becomes fixed in that wrinkled position, and over years, changes in the collagen make these wrinkles permanent.

Smoking causes wrinkles by damaging collagen and elastin fibers and by depriving the skin of blood flow and oxygen. It also contributes to dynamic wrinkles like crow’s feet because you squint to keep smoke out of your eyes.

Estrogen helps prevent wrinkles by maintaining your skin’s collagen, elasticity, and hydration. Since estrogen is decreased following menopause, it can worsen your crow’s feet. Studies have demonstrated that women lose 1 to 2% of their collagen every year after menopause and that hormone replacement therapy might help maintain women’s skin’s thickness and elasticity, minimizing wrinkles.

Post written by Jeffrey Benabio, MD for The Derm Blog.

Photo: Jacob Theo, Flickr.com

Is Mineral Makeup Better for Your Skin?

Cleopatra was 2,000 years ahead of her time. Mineral makeup, once used by ancient Egyptians, is now the hottest trend in cosmetics. But is it really healthier for your skin? Continue reading “Is Mineral Makeup Better for Your Skin?”