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The first time I heard that someone had shingles my first questions was “what are they going to do with them?” I was so embarrassed that I thought it was a conversation about roof materials and not a skin rash! I quickly learned that shingles is a painful illness that is common among our maturing population, and it can be highly contagious.
What are shingles? Shingles are known in the medical community as Herpes zoster. It is caused by the Varicella zoster virus which is also the cause of chickenpox in children. In fact, because shingles is contagious to children or people who have never had chickenpox the virus can be contracted by them and can manifest as chickenpox.
How is shingles contracted? After a child has chickenpox, the Varicella zoster virus lay dormant in the root of the nervous system, or the part of the nervous system near the spine. As we age or experience compromises in our immune system, the virus can then reactivated and move out through the nervous system when factors like, stress, cancer, chemotherapy or HIV take hold of one’s health. However, there are also unknown causes for reactivation and the virus appears to become more common in those people 60 years or older.
What are the symptoms? Because shingles works its way through your nervous system, it will go down a nerve(s) and will often manifest in a characteristic pattern consistent with nerve regions. Shingles are generally accompanied by itchy blisters that can become filled with pus in addition to a generalized pain on the skin in the affected region. Pain can range from mild to excruciating.
If you experience any symptoms like the above you should seek the advice of your physician. Your physician can help you determine the best ways to soothe your skin and calm your rash. Common forms of soothing include calamine lotion and cool compresses.
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Living organisms that infest or otherwise “bug” humans (pun intended!) have been around since the dawn of time. With so many forms of itches, rashes, bumps, and other skin irritations we thought it may be helpful to provide a basic understanding of scabies.
What is scabies? The skin condition described as “Scabies” is caused by a tiny parasitic mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. The female mite is predominately the cause of the initial infection when she uses her mouthparts and front legs to tunnel under the skin. Once in the skin, she lays 2-3 eggs a day while continuing to burrow across the skin of her human host. She lives for about 2 months and spends her days and nights loading her host up with eggs that hatch to become larva, that then transition to nymphs and eventually become adult Sarcoptes scabiei which then start the process again. The sex of the mite is determined by how many times the parasite molts, once for a male and twice for female so the females tend to be twice the size of the males. Okay, enough about the bugs, you are probably wonder how you get it and what the skin looks like right?!
How do you get it? The Sarcoptes scabiei mite is transmitted via direct skin to skin contact and is highly contagious. Outbreaks can commonly occur in hospitals and care facilities where people have close contact, conditions are unhygienic, or where high concentrations of people are in close proximity, though non-intimate casual contact is generally not a method of contracting scabies.
What are the symptoms? Once you are exposed and have become host to a fertile female Sarcoptes scabiei it can take up to six weeks for an itchy red rash to appear on your skin. Though no other symptoms may be present during the first six weeks other people having close contact with the host can become infected and spread the parasite further. If you’ve had contact with someone who has been recently diagnosed, be sure to tell you physician if you too should become symptomatic. The itch can start as mild irritation accompanied with redness and then intensify to unbearable itching with increased intensity at night. Intensity can be so unbearable that the host may not even be able to sleep.
If you experience any of the above symptoms you should contact your physician. It’s important to note that only a doctor can prescribe treatments that are effective in battling scabies.
For minor itches and irritation year round I keep my paraben-free ATOPALM Intensive Moisturizing Cream handy! It’s a multipurpose moisturizer that really works well to relieve irritation and redness associated with seasonal factors and even summer bug bites like mosquitos and chiggers.
Seborrhoeic dermatitis, also known as seborrhea, is a common skin disorder that effects 3-5% of the population. It is found mainly on the scalp and face in scaly, itchy, red skin patches. The patches of skin can appear thick, and either yellow or red in color, and sometimes these patches can look shiny. Seborrhea commonly appears on the upper chest and back or other areas of the body that contain more sebaceous glands. Babies can also suffer from this condition and is typically known as cradle cap, which will usually clear up by their first birthday. While this skin condition is non-contagious, the people who suffer often will find it difficult to treat.
The causes of seborrhoeic dermatitis are not yet known by doctors but there are key factors that may play a role in its origin. There is natural occurring yeast called malassezia that grows in sebum, an overabundance of malassezia can cause flare-ups and inflammation. Also a change in season can be a trigger to a flareup, so seborrhea is usually more prevalent in the winter time. Seborrhoeic dermatitis has also been linked to people who have neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease, and in people who are stressed and fatigued would be at greater risk. It seems to also be related to hormones and genetics, but doctors are not sure why.
Treatments for seborrhoeic dermatitis includes creams and lotions as well as medicated shampoos for the scalp. In some severe cases a doctor can prescribe an oral or topical medication to help reduce symptoms, because usually an antifungal product will help keep the flareups at bay. If you have seborrhoeic dermatitis on your scalp, an anti-fungal shampoo that contains selenium sulfide, coal tar, zinc pyrithione, or salicylic acid can be effective (we recommend Philip B Anti-Flake Relief Shampoo). Even over the counter shampoos and products should be used as directed or as a physician prescribes. Alternative methods for helping symptoms include the use of phototherapy which uses LED lights to inhibit the growth of malassezia which can reduce inflammation. Also the use of natural ingredients such as aloe, coconut oil and tea tree oil have helped certain people.
People who have seborrhoeic dermatitis sometimes think they just have dry skin or dandruff because their skin or scalp is flaky and itchy. Dandruff is considered the less inflammatory form of seborrhoeic dermatitis. If people do not know the specific skin condition they are dealing with, this can cause people to use products that are too heavy and are greasy on the skin which can aggravate the condition. A doctor would be able to determine the best course of action for you to ensure you are getting the care you need.
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There are five types of psoriasis: plaque, guttate, inverse, pustular and erythrodermic, however plaque psoriasis is the most common form. While most people may think it is a skin condition, it is actually an immune system deficiency. The immune system protects the body from infections and diseases. In patients with plaque psoriasis, certain immune cells are activated and produce too much of a protein called tumor necrosis factor (a.k.a TNF), it’s protein produced by the body in response to infections. This protein can cause skin cells to grow too quickly. In turn, the skin cells build up and form raised, red patches often with silvery scales, known as plaques. Plaques can be painful, itchy and in some cases can even bleed. They can appear anywhere on the body but are most commonly found on the elbows, knees, scalp and back. Although this is a disease of the immune system, there are certain factors that may trigger psoriasis such as:
• Injury to the skin- skin infections, inflammation or excessive scratching
• Over exposure to sunlight (sunburn)
• Streptococcal infections
• Emotional stress
• Smoking and alcohol
• Hormone changes
Here is a breakdown of the types of psoriasis:
Guttate Psoriasis: This form of psoriasis appears as small, red, individual spots on the skin. Guttate lesions usually appear on the trunk and limbs. These spots are not usually as thick as plaque lesions.
Inverse Psoriasis: Is found in the armpits, groin, under the breasts, and in other skin folds around the genitals and the buttocks. This type of psoriasis appears as bright-red lesions that are smooth and shiny. Inverse psoriasis is subject to irritation from rubbing and sweating because of its location in skin folds and tender areas.
Pustular Psoriasis: is characterized by white blisters of noninfectious pus (consisting of white blood cells) surrounded by red skin. There are three types of pustular psoriasis. It may be localized to certain areas of the body, such as the hands and feet, or covering most of the body. It begins with the reddening of the skin followed by formation of pustules and scaling.
Erythrodermic Psoriasis: is a particularly inflammatory form of psoriasis that affects most of the body surface. It is characterized by periodic, widespread, fiery redness of the skin and the shedding of scales in sheets, rather than smaller flakes. The reddening and shedding of the skin are often accompanied by severe itching and pain, heart rate increase, and fluctuating body temperature. People experiencing the symptoms of erythrodermic psoriasis flare should see a doctor immediately.
If you have any of these signs or symptoms we recommend contacting your physician for best treatment recommendations. There are many oral drugs that can be prescribed by a physician to treat psoriasis. If prescriptions fail or you would like to steer clear of unwanted side effects, there are also more natural remedies like herbs, vitamins, sunlight, and ocean water. Some of the ingredients known to help are aloe vera, fish oil, Vitamin D, dead sea salts and cayenne.
While there is no cure for psoriasis, there is hope in topical and systemic medications. Topically, some effective ingredients are; salicylic acid, coal-tar ointments, and retinoids. Skinstore.com carries a variety of products that can help. Neostrata Therapeutics Psorent Topical is clinically-proven solution designed to help relieve the symptoms of psoriasis such as itching, scaling, flaking, redness and irritation. Avene Professional Akerat S Psoriasis Skin Cream is recommended for localized rough, thick and scaly areas on the scalp and body. This body product helps relieve and prevent the recurrence of itching, flaking and scaling. PCA SKIN Dry Skin Relief Bar is a mild facial bar suitable for all types of dry skin conditions particularly psoriasis and eczema. Tarsum Shampoo/Gel from Summers is a therapeutic scalp product. For a relaxing and calming treatment try one of the Ahava Mineral Bath Salts. No other natural substance contains a greater concentration of skin rejuvenating minerals than 100% pure Dead Sea salt crystals.
Ringworm, a common skin disorder, is not as the name suggests caused by a worm. It’s a skin fungus characterized by round lesions or rings on the skin. The medical term is tinea, but the name “ringworm” has stuck over time. There are different forms of tinea that affect the skin on the body, the scalp, the feet (a.k.a athlete’s foot), or the groin area (a.k.a jock itch). Ringworm is caused by fungi known as dermatophytes which thrive off of dead cells on the skin, hair, and nails.
Types of Ringworm:
Ringworm on the body (tinea corpus) is the most common form. It starts as a round lesion with dry scaling in the center. The affected area is often itchy and in patches. It’s important to avoid scratching to spread the fungi to other areas of the body.
Ringworm of the foot, also known as athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) causes scaling, inflammation, and itching in between toes and may also cause thickening of the skin on the heels and soles of the feet.
Ringworm of the groin also known as jock itch (tinea cruris) is reddish brown in color and usually extends from the folds of the groin area down the thighs.
Ringworm of the nails causes fingernails to look yellow, thick, and brittle. Artificial nails have an increased risk for fungi because water can collect under the artificial nail creating a warm moist environment ideal for fungi to grow.
Ringworm of the scalp (tinea capitis) is common among school age children because it is spread by person to person contact. Tinea capitis can cause the scalp to scale and often forms bald spots.
How did you catch Ringworm?
Ringworm is very contagious and can be spread by contact with the infected person, animal or object. Yes, you can catch ringworm from Fido! Ringworm is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be transmitted from animals to humans. Although Fido is not your only concern!
Ringworm is commonly spread by contact with infected gym equipment and in locker rooms. It’s important to properly sanitize public gym equipment and mats before use and to wear sandals or flip flops in gym showers. Close contact sports like wrestling or basketball are also culprits for spreading Ringworm. Remember to shower thoroughly after engaging in similar sports.
Although ringworm’s appearance is very distinct, it’s important to consult with your doctor and not self diagnose. Other common skin conditions can have similar characteristics. Your physician can prescribe topical antifungal creams or for severe cases oral medication. SkinStore carries an over the counter product Pedinol Fungoid Tincture for fungal infections including athletes foot and ringworm.
Tips to minimize your chances of ringworm:
-Wear sandals in locker rooms, public pools or bathing areas
- Don’t share clothing, towels, or sports gear
- Shower after any sport that includes skin to skin contact
-Wear loose fitting cotton breathable clothing and under garments
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Do you ever experience red, raised, dry, itchy, or irritated skin? Most adults and many children have probably experienced these conditions a few times in their lives. While some are more serious skin conditions, there are some very common minor culprits known as rashes. Take a look at just a few of the most common rashes to better identify your skin concerns with:
• Drug Rash- The most common type of rash is usually developed from an allergic reaction to medication. It can be from any type of medication including antibiotics, anti-seizure and diuretics. This type of rash usually appears within the 1st week after taking medication. You might initially see individual red spots that can spread throughout large areas of the body and can last for up to a few weeks even after ending the medication. There are cases where it can be serious and a physician should always be contacted in case of a drug rash.
• Heat Rash- Another common rash that’s usually not very serious, and can be resolved with proper self treatment. Heat rash occurs due to hot, humid weather, tight fitting or synthetic fabric clothing which interferes with the flow of sweat. Heat rash is sometimes called Prickly Heat, as it has a pins and needles sensation when inflamed. To avoid heat rash you should keep skin cool and dry, wear loose fitting cotton clothing.
• Diaper Rash- A form of inflamed skin which appears as a bright red pattern usually on a baby’s bottom. It usually occurs due to frequently wet or infrequently changed diapers. Other causes include diarrhea, improper ventilation, use of antibiotics, and even with change of diet. This type of rash can easily be treated at home usually with common over the counter diaper rash ointment.
• Swimmers Itch- This rash is usually from an allergic reaction to a waterborne parasite which burrows into the top layer of the skin. It appears as tiny bumps or blisters that can burn and itch. This rash can worsen with increased exposure to infected water and may even increase skin sensitivity. At home remedies such as calming lotions or baths may relieve symptoms and this condition usually resolves within a week.
With a better understanding of skin conditions you can be prepared to prevent skin ailments and combat the most common skin irritants! If you have a rash consult with your physician immediately for best treatment recommendations.
What is Eczema? Eczema is a red, inflamed and irritated patch of skin. It is an inherited condition that can flare up and subside due to a few different factors. It is often accompanied by asthma or hay fever. The cause of eczema is unknown, but many medical professionals believe that it may be related to a deficiency in the body’s immune system. Eczema appears as thickened, cracked or scaly skin. It can affect any area of the body, but is typically found on the arms and legs. Many individuals also suffer from Eczema on the scalp.
Avoid Environmental Triggers
Rapid changes in body temperature (this usually occurs when we are stressed) can cause skin to become inflamed and irritated. Avoid detergents, harsh soaps and fragrances, as well as wool fabric products, as they can aggravate the skin. If you suffer from scalp Eczema avoid hair care products which contain sulfates.
Take a calming bath
Adding raw oatmeal, baking soda or a calming bath cream, such as Avene Professional Trixera Plus Selectiose Emollient Cleansing Bath to warm water can soothe and calm sensitized skin.
Choose products designed for sensitive skin
Avoid skin care products that contain perfumes, dyes, and harsh detergents. Look for products designed to calm and soothe the skin and are intended for those with sensitive skin.
Keep skin hydrated
Keeping skin moisturized can avoid flare ups. Choose heavier lotions and creams designed for dry to very dry skin conditions. Moisturizers like ATOPALM Intensive Moisturizing Cream help to boost the skin’s barrier function while protecting it from environmental stresses.
Eczema is often confused with other skin conditions like psoriasis and dermatitis, so it’s always best to consult a dermatologist, physician, or immunologist to determine your skin condition and best treatments available.
As we say goodbye to summer, why not say goodbye to sun spots and uneven skin tone as well?! Dr.Dennis Gross Hydra-Pure Vitamin C Brightening Serum unites three forms of Vitamin C with a strong peptide to provide supreme brightening and anti-aging benefits. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that plays a vital role in the production of collagen. You will see an improvement in sun damage, an increase in skin’s luminosity and a visibly firmer, more youthful appearance. For best results use daily followed by your favorite moisturizer. As with any Vitamin C serum you always want to wear SPF, as this product will make skin more sensitive to the sunlight.
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Lately, everyone is on a quest to either retain their youth they have, or turn back the hands of time to look younger. For those of us with pocket books that are not so deep as to afford cosmetic surgery (if needed), an injectable medicine with little to no down time sounds attractive!
But what exactly is Botox and where does it come from? In a nutshell Botox Cosmetic by Allergan is a low dosage of botulinum toxin that temporarily relaxes or temporarily paralyzes facial muscles. It was approved by the FDA in 1989 for limited use for eyelid spasms and crossed eyes. By 2002 it had been approved for use on moderate or severe frown lines and lines between the brows. By temporarily paralyzing select facial muscles, it can decrease your facial muscle’s ability to contract. The result is less wrinkling of the skin from repeated muscle movement. The results are temporary and can last anywhere from 3 – 6 months depending on the number of follow up treatments. Botox can also be used to treat hyperhydrosis or extreme sweating.
If you decide Botox is for you please make sure you see a qualified, trained physician or dermatologist. Botox is available by prescription only from a doctor. Botox “parties” have become a popular event where a licensed physician will offer services at a discounted rate if someone gets a group of people together and hosts the event. The concern is that although the doctor may be licensed to administer injectables, the doctor that attends the “party” may not be trained in the specialty of facial muscles and the administering of a facial muscle relaxant.
If the thought of needles and injections doesn’t sit well with you, you may want to consider some alternatives. There are products on the market that can give you an instant lifting and firming of the skin that lasts for several hours and some products have accumulative results.
For instant results:
Alchimie Forever’s Alexandrite Firming Gel for Neck and Bust is ideal to rejuvenate the delicate neck and décolleté area. The gel lifts and firms the skin, helping to impart a more toned and youthful appearance to this often-forgotten part of the body. It can also be used on the facial area and jaw line. The gel absorbs quickly, is not oily or sticky, and helps to prevent shine and reduce pore size.
Kinerase Extreme Lift Face is the alternative to physician administered injectables. This one of a kind formula fills in mild to moderate wrinkles for immediate, undeniable, proven results. It also visibly smoothes and fills trouble spots like forehead furrows, frown lines and crow’s feet. There is no discomfort or loss of facial expression and results are reversible within a day.
Dr. Brandt Lineless Lines No More is a filler and volumizer. It is formulated to help to fill and plump smile lines and nasolabial folds from the inside out, visibly decreasing the depth of wrinkles and folds while smoothing skin’s texture and appearance. Lineless Lines No More promotes youthful-looking skin. Can also be used on an ongoing basis for accumulative results.
For cumulative results:
Strivectin Instant Facial Sculpting Cream is an excellent product to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and crow’s feet. It also accentuates your cheekbones and jaw line as it lifts, tightens and tones your skin… making your face look more sculpted, youthful and defined. You may need to use the product for at least 4 weeks before seeing results and you will need to continue to use it to maintain results. So far I’ve had excellent results!
Kinerase Restructure Firming Face Cream Cream goes beyond stimulating collagen production to target critical elastin protein coils, combining the clinically-proven anti-aging power of Kinetin with revolutionary elastin-strengthening technology. Skin is deeply moisturized, contours are lifted and toned, and expression wrinkles are visibly smoothed.