Entries in Skin (15)


Sunscreen May Minimize Effects of Aging on Skin

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With the heat of summer approaching sunbathing and sunscreens are on many Americans' to-do lists. We all know that sunscreen protects us from the harmful rays of the sun that can cause skin cancer, but according to one study, they may also be a fountain of youth.

An Australian study in the Annals of Internal Medicine says that regular sunscreen use may reduce the signs of aging. Researchers instructed half of the approximately 900 participants in the study to wear sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher every day and the other half to wear sunscreen at their own discretion.

After four years, when researchers studied their skin closely, the group that used daily sunscreen was 24 percent less likely to show signs of aging skin.

The same study looked at beta-carotene supplements and found that they had no impact on aging skin. Beta-carotene is an anti-oxidant that some people believe protects the skin from aging.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


FDA Warns of Serious Skin Burns from Topical Pain Relievers

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Some consumers have contracted serious skin burns after applying certain over-the-counter topical pain relievers to ease mild muscle and joint aches, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned Thursday.

While such injuries are rare, consumer complaints to the FDA have spanned the spectrum from mild to severe chemical burns from the use of brand-name products such as those identified by the FDA as Bengay, Capzasin, Flexall, Icy Hot and Mentholatum.

These topical pain relievers include creams, lotions, ointments and patches. In many instances, the burns surfaced after only one application, and severe burning or blistering ensued within 24 hours, according to FDA Consumer Health Information. Some people were hospitalized because of serious complications.

It is common for the FDA to issue safety warnings to alert consumers and health professionals, so they can make informed decisions about product usage.

“The FDA plays an important role in ensuring products are safe and effective throughout their life cycle, and we continuously monitor for any adverse events,” spokeswoman Stephanie Yao said.

Relying on a variety of sources, the agency will research a concern as far back as necessary. It depends on the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System, other databases, and medical and scientific literature.

There were 43 cases reported -- from 1969 to 2011 -- to the FDA of burns linked to over-the-counter topical muscle and joint pain relievers containing the active ingredients menthol, methyl salicylate and capsaicin. FDA scientists uncovered these cases during safety surveillance. The agency noted that they represent only a small fraction of total consumer usage of these products.

“I can’t speculate as to whether this will result in changes to the label,” Yao said, while explaining that the FDA regulates over-the-counter products through drug monographs.

These over-the-counter monographs are like “a recipe book, covering acceptable ingredients, doses, formulations and labeling,” she said. Because monographs are continually updated, products conforming to a monograph may be marketed without further FDA clearance.

A majority of more severe burns stemmed from over-the-counter topical pain relievers with a combination of menthol and methyl salicylate. Most of these cases involved pain products containing higher concentrations of these ingredients (greater than three percent menthol or 10 percent methyl salicylate). There were few cases reported using a capsaicin-containing product.

“An FDA warning prompts consumers to ask questions before purchasing or using a product,” said Tanya Uritsky, a clinical pharmacy specialist in pain management and palliative care at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, she added, “physicians are made aware of these risks and can then assess the risks and potential benefits of therapy before making a recommendation for patients to use it. Pharmacists are on point to educate and counsel patients in the consumer setting, especially since these products are available over the counter.”

Anyone who has ever rubbed a cream, gel or other product on the skin to relieve a sore muscle or joint probably can relate to experiencing a warm or cool sensation. But in some cases, instead of relief, the result is burning pain or blistering, which requires immediate medical attention.

Predicting who will experience a severe reaction isn’t possible, but there are ways to reduce the chance of injury, Uritsky said. For example, apply these products only onto intact skin and don’t cover the area with a bandage or heating pad. If you feel pain after application, observe your skin closely for signs of blistering or burning.

All medications, whether available over the counter or by prescription, have the potential to inflict injury, said Dr. Lynn R. Webster, president-elect of the American Academy of Pain Medicine and a Salt Lake City-based practitioner who specializes in treating pain and addictions.

“There are no exceptions,” he said. "Fortunately, the harm is not common but does exist. Personal vigilance is always advised.”

FDA’s advice to consumers using over-the-counter topical muscle and joint pain relievers:

Don’t use these products on damaged or irritated skin.
Don’t put bandages on the area where you’ve applied a topical muscle and joint pain reliever.
Don’t use heating pads, hot water bottles or lamps on that part of the skin. Doing so increases the risk of serious burns.
Keep these products away from your eyes and mucous membranes (such as the skin inside your nose, mouth or genitals).
Check for signs of blistering or burning after applying these products. Stop using the product and seek medical attention if you experience this kind of adverse reaction.
Talk to a medical professional before using a product if you have concerns.
Report unexpected side effects to the FDA MedWatch program.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


That Rose in Your Cheeks Could Be Bacteria

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Rosacea can be annoying, embarrassing and even painful -- and now new research shows it could be the result of a type of bacteria that rides into your face in the belly of a mite.

A skin problem that causes reddening and inflammation on the cheeks, nose and chin, rosacea affects approximately three percent of Americans. Fair-skinned females between the ages of 30 and 50 are most at risk. Those with impaired immune systems are also disproportionately affected.

Doctors have known for years that rosacea was caused by tiny mites called Demodex folliculorum that usually live in people’s facial hair follicles. However, they did not understand why these mites would cause the symptoms of rosacea, nor did they know why treating with antibiotics improves the appearance.

Despite this, doctors have tended to use both oral and topical antibiotics to treat rosacea -- despite a causative bacteria never having been identified. That is until recently; when researchers at the National University of Ireland conducted a review that concluded that a bacterium isolated inside the mites called Bacillus oleroni was responsible.

“The bacteria live in the digestive tracts of Demodex mites found on the face, in a mutually beneficial relationship,” Dr. Kevin Kavanagh, who conducted the review, explained in a Wednesday news release. “When the mites die, the bacteria are released and leak into surrounding skin tissues, triggering tissue degradation and inflammation.”

The researchers found that people who suffered from rosacea had higher rates of these mites than people who did not have rosacea, and thus were exposed to more bacteria. Also, the bacteria produce chemicals that have been shown to cause inflammation in people who suffer from rosacea -- and in some cases, exposure to these chemicals actually triggered the condition.

“Once the numbers of mites increase, so does the number of bacteria, making rosacea more likely to occur,” Kavanagh writes. “Targeting these bacteria may be a useful way of treating and preventing this condition.”

The inflammation and redness that comes along with rosacea poses significant problems for patients, both in terms of appearance and pain. Antibiotics commonly used for the condition often kill these bacteria, but there are still a number of cases of rosacea that remain hard to treat.

The findings of this new study could open the doors to new insights -- and even novel treatments -- for this sometimes-difficult condition.

“It is interesting that they have identified this bacteria and it holds the potential to develop more targeted therapy of the treatment of rosacea,” says Dr. Mathew M. Avram, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Dermatology Laser & Cosmetic Center, who was not involved with the study.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Can Skin Cells Repair Damaged Heart Tissue?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(HAIFA, Israel) -- People who suffer from heart failure could someday be able to use their own skin stem cells to regenerate their damaged heart tissue, according to a new Israeli study.

Researchers took stem cells from the skin of two patients with heart failure and genetically programmed them to become new heart muscle cells.  They then transplanted the new cells into healthy rats and found that the cells integrated with cardiac tissue that already existed.

The study, published in European Heart Journal, marks the first time ever that scientists could use skin cells from people with heart failure and transform damaged heart tissue this way.

The newly generated cells turned out to be similar to embryonic stem cells, which can potentially be programmed to grow into any type of cell.

"What is new and exciting about our research is that we have shown that it's possible to take skin cells from an elderly patient with advanced heart failure and end up with his own beating cells in a laboratory dish that are healthy and young -- the equivalent to the stage of his heart cells when he was just born," Dr. Lior Gepstein, lead researcher and a senior clinical electrophysiologist at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel, said in a news release.

The findings open up the possibility, the authors wrote, that people can use their own skin cells to repair their damaged hearts, which could prevent the problems associated with using embryonic stem cells.

"This approach has a number of attractive features," said Dr. Tom Povsic, an interventional cardiologist at Duke University Medical Center.  "We can get the cells that you start with from the patient himself or herself.  It avoids the ethical dilemma associated with embryonic stem cells and it removes the possibility of rejection of foreign stem cells by the immune system."  Povsic was not involved with the Israeli study.

Another advantage of using skin cells is that other types of cells taken from patients themselves, such as bone marrow cells, could potentially lead to the development of unhealthy tissue.

"If a patient is already sick with heart disease, one of the reasons it may develop is that stem cells weren't able to repair the heart the way they should," Povsic added.  Skin cells, he explained, are generally healthy.

"It is very exciting and very interesting, but we are far away from taking this to patients," said Dr. Marrick Kukin, director of the Heart Failure Program at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital who was also not involved in the Israeli study.

Kukin explained that the study only involved two patients, and the cells were transplanted into healthy rat hearts that showed no signs of heart failure.

"Will it work in heart muscle that's dead?  Also, how many cells are needed to get an effect in the human heart, and how will they grow the cells to get the critical mass needed," he asked.

There are still a number of major experimental steps that need to take place before trying out this type of therapy in humans, Kukin added.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Allergic to Money? New UK Coins May Irritate Some

Hemera/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Who doesn’t love money? A little jingle in your pocket usually brings a smile to the face, but two new coins in the United Kingdom might leave some people literally itching to get away from them.

The UK has decided to coat their 5p and 10p coins with nickel, a material that causes a skin reaction similar to that seen with poison ivy in some people.

Specifically, people who have a skin allergy to nickel may develop an allergic contact dermatitis when they come in contact with the metal. This means that handing the new coins could lead to a skin rash consisting of redness, swelling and itching for those unfortunate enough to have this allergy.

According to two dermatology experts in the U.K. who wrote a report appearing in BMJ online on Thursday, these people may even be at increased risk for hand eczema, a condition in which the palms become inflamed and covered in itchy, potentially painful blisters.

The coins’ composition is being changed as a cost-cutting measure, but the authors say the cost to treat those affected by allergic reactions might be steep. They contacted Britain’s HM Treasury asking for data on the amount of nickel that is released from the new coins onto the hands.

According to Dr. Danielle Greenblatt, co-author of the letter and specialist registrar in dermatology at the Guy’s and St. Thomas’s MHS Trust in London, the treasury admitted it did not have answers to her questions.

“There hasn’t been any research that I’m aware of on these new coins to show what effect they may have,” says Greenblatt.

Nickel is one of the most common skin irritants in the world. Five percent of men and 27 percent of women had a reaction to nickel in a skin patch allergy test performed in a 2007 Norwegian study of more than 1,200 people.

Nevertheless, nickel is currently used in coins around the world.  Typically it’s part of a mixture of metals, called an alloy, with nickel representing 5 to 25 percent. According to the U.S. Mint, the American nickel, dime and quarter are all composed of a copper-nickel alloy.

These new British coins are different since they would be coated in pure nickel rather than having the metal simply mixed in. This actually reduces the total amount of nickel in the coin, down to 2 or 3 percent, but it means that the entire surface of the coin -- the part that comes into contact with the skin -- would be made of nickel.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


More Women Get Preventive Botox By Late 20s

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In a society that has become obsessed with youth, there is a growing trend of young women, many still in their 20s, taking dramatic and expensive measures to stop the signs of aging before they happen with non-surgical treatments.

Preventive Botox injections and costly thermage, a hot radio frequency treatment that tightens and lifts skin that is all the rage among celebrities, are the latest cosmetic procedures used to stop crows feet in their tracks.

Starting early is one of the top tips Dr. Debra Jaliman, a dermatologist on New York City's tony Fifth Avenue, offers in her new book, Skin Rules. She often tells her young patients, if they ask, that the science is clear: Early engagement can stop the clock.

"If you know you're somebody who's going in the direction of cosmetics and you know that you're going to care about lines, then I say it's better to do it earlier than to wait and do it once these lines have etched into the skin," Jaliman said. "So if you're in your 20s and you start to see lines coming, then why not do it early and prevent it? And to me it's just like exercise."

However, Jaliman also offers less costly, basic advice for any young woman who is looking to fend off the signs of aging. At the top of the list is getting enough sleep and eating right.

"I can't tell you all the people who come to me to correct problems they wouldn't have had if they followed those simple rules," Jaliman said. "They would save thousands of dollars if they did those simple things."

Most importantly, she says, young women should stay away from prolonged sun exposure and tanning beds.

"We know sun exposure is cumululative," Jaliman said. "Even five minutes a day is enough to give you cancer, but it's also enough to break down the collagen."

Thermage treatments jolt collagen under the skin into overdrive, causing the body to produce more, and firm up saggy areas. Patients get the nip-and-tucked look without the surgery, but it comes with a hefty price tag.

"It definitely tightens your skin. There's no downtime," Jaliman said. "But it is expensive. To do a whole face could be $3,500. So it's an expensive investment, so it's not for everybody. But I think it's a good investment."

Jane Curasco, one of Jaliman's patients, is a new mother and aspiring actress, with no overt need for any boosting or filling. She said she decided to make a substantial investment in stopping the aging clock at age 31. While her friends have tried lasers and microdermobrasion, Curasco said she was the only one to invest in thermage.

"I went on an audition recently and I was supposed to portray a young mother, which I am actually, but every young mother that went in looked 19 so I looked way older than the other people portraying what I actually am," Curasco said.

The dermatologist said thermage is so popular in her office that she has seen a new trend of patients who request it as a full body treatment, which costs a whopping $25,000. But if thermage is out of reach price-wise, patients can turn to preventative Botox.

Typically, single Botox injections start around $280 and go up from there, and according to American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Botox usage is up 10 percent among 20- to 29-year-olds in the past year. But Jaliman said she is not surprised.

"Botox has been around now for almost 20 years. We started using it in the 1990s. It got FDA approval in the early 2000s," she said. "It's relatively painless. It's quick. It's easy. It's an office visit. It doesn't require any surgery. So many people are willing to do it."

Katy DeMayo was just 28, with wedding bells ringing in her future, when she said she decided to try Botox. Before getting engaged, DeMayo said she never had any intention of indulging in cosmetic procedures.

"When you are 25 you have that mentality that it's never going to happen to me. I'll always look this great. I won't be one of those people that does that. And then it happens. Wrinkles appear," she said.

Just a month before her wedding day, DeMayo said she wanted her face to have that "extra perk" and to look "sparklier" for her pictures, so she got Botox injections.

She was so thrilled with the results, she said, that she continues to go back to the doctor once a year for maintenance. However, like many young Botox users, DeMayo wasn't that eager to go public about it. She said before this interview, she hadn't even told her husband she was getting Botox.

"I'm not going to look like I'm 25 years old, but if I'm 35 and I can look 30, or if I'm 45 I can look 40, I think that's worth something," DeMayo said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Man With Blue Skin Looks for Genetic Connection to Kentucky's Fugates

Kerry Green pictured on far right. Courtesy Kerry Green(SEATTLE) -- Born in 1964, Kerry Green of Tulsa, Okla., was given little hope that he would live because of a malformed aorta.

But by 3-years-old and several heart surgeries later, Green was being described by doctors as a "miracle child," small for his age at 23 pounds, but a "real live wire."

What doctors didn't know then was that the boy had a more serious underlying condition, a rare blood condition called methemoglobinemia -- the same disorder that affected the Blue Fugates of Kentucky.

"I was picked on as a kid in elementary school because I am blue," said Green, who is now 46.  "I look dead.  My lips are purple and my fingernails and toes are dark."

Today, Green lives in Seattle and is disabled, but he said he believes finding a genetic connection to the Fugates may help him learn more about the father he never knew.

"I am positive my father had the condition -- they all told me," said Green.  "I did see one kind of blurry picture of him and you could almost see it.  He's got the pale look I do."

Raised by his grandparents, Green said he doesn't even know if his father is alive.  Bob Green, who would be 73, had been a long-haul truck driver with relatives who had migrated west from Tennessee.

One of Green's sister was put up for adoption and the whereabouts of two brothers are unknown.  His mother, meanwhile, wandered in and out of his life.

"I just want to know where I came from and to know that side of my family history," said Green.  "It's hard to describe and it's kind of weird not knowing where the condition of mine came from.  People have pointed out the Fugates to me before."

Seven generations of the Fugates lived in an isolated pocket of Appalachia, passing down a recessive gene that turned their skin blue through in-breeding.

In the 1980s and 1990s, they dispersed, and the family gene pool became much more diverse.  Other relatives, perhaps like Green's paternal relatives, scattered throughout Virginia and Arkansas.

Even today, "you almost never see a patient with it," said Dr. Ayalew Tefferi, a hematologist from Minnesota's Mayo Clinic.  "It's a disease that one learns about in medical school and it's infrequent enough to be on every exam in hematology."

In the mildest form, methemoglobinemia causes no harm, and most of the Fugates lived well into their 80s.  But in Green's case, his body is starved of oxygen and every organ is affected.

Methemoglobinemia is a blood disorder in which an abnormal amount of methemoglobin -- a form of hemoglobin -- is produced.  Methemoglobin cannot effectively release oxygen.

Hemoglobin is responsible for distributing oxygen to the body and without oxygen, the heart, brain and muscles can die.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


You Are What Color You Eat?

Hemera/Thinkstock(ST. ANDREWS, Scotland) -- Physicians and parents have emphasized for years the importance of eating a healthy diet that included plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables.  After all, you are what you eat, right?

But what if you are what color you eat? Researchers at St. Andrews University found that increased portions of colorful fruits and vegetables can have an impact on one's appearance and, in fact, enhance their perceived attractiveness.

Fruits and veggies packed with antioxidant-rich carotenoids like carrots or apricots protect skin cells against damage from UV rays, environmental pollution and the elements.  A new study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, highlights the effects these foods can have on the skin's pigmentation.  Furthermore, the study found that people who consume more carotenoids can increase red and yellow pigments in the skin, giving off a perceived healthier glow.

In the following video, Julia Zumpano, R.D. of the Cleveland Clinic tells ABC News about the impact certain foods can have on our pigmentation.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Morgellons: Mysterious Skin Disease Under Microscope

PLoS One(WASHINGTON) -- New research sheds light on Morgellons disease, a controversial condition marked by crawling sensations in the skin.

In response to increasing reports of Morgellons symptoms, scientists from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed blood and skin samples from 115 patients in Northern California and found no evidence linking Morgellons to an infection or environmental cause.

"We saw a growing number of people complaining about these unusual symptoms, and as a public health agency we felt the need to see what was going on," said CDC spokesman Daniel Rutz.  "It was important to rule out an infectious cause because a lot of people were concerned about transmission."

The study was published Wednesday in the journal PLoS One.

Morgellons is not an official diagnosis.  Rather, it's a collection of unexplained symptoms including abnormal sensations that sufferers describe as the feeling of insects crawling on the skin.  Symptoms also include fatigue.

And, perhaps most peculiarly, one symptom is tiny fibers found embedded in waxy scabs on the skin.

"They're not alive," said Rutz, referring to rumors circulating on Morgellons message boards that the fibers are insects -- or even alien matter.  "They're pieces of cotton and other elements of clothing; common debris."

Roughly 40 percent of the skin samples showed signs of chronic irritation.

"These sores appear often to be the result of people picking at themselves, as they would if they had a chronic irritation that couldn't be resolved any other way," said Rutz, adding that fibers likely slough off clothes and become encrusted in the healing wounds.

The study uncovered some other common threads: Drugs were detected in hair samples from half of the patients; and more than one-third of patients had a neuropsychiatric condition.

Dr. Anne Louise Oaklander, a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said Morgellons might stem from damage to the nerves that transmit the itch sensation.

"This causes them to fire without appropriate cause, and it's natural that people interpret this as a sensation of insects crawling on the skin," she said.

Oaklander said the CDC study ruled out the possibility of insects or infections in Morgellons, opening the door for research into nerve damage and possible treatments.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sunscreen Pill from Aussie Reef Coral?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Tropical coral from Australia's Great Barrier Reef contains natural UV blockers that might one day come in a pill that protects our eyes and skin from the sun's ravages, researchers say.

But don't toss your high-SPF lotions and creams yet. If all goes as planned, a tablet that would protect people from damaging ultraviolet radiation is probably about five years away, said Paul Long, a senior lecturer in pharmaceutical science at King's College London.

Long leads a three-year research project, financed by the British government, focused on sun-shielding compounds in Acropora microphthalma coral. He and his fellow researchers have been trying to unravel the biochemical secrets of these chemicals, extracted from coral samples gathered during night dives.

"What we have found is that the algae living within the coral makes a compound that we think is transported to the coral, which then modifies it into a sunscreen for the benefit of both the coral and the algae," Long said in a statement from King's College, which issued a news release about the research. "Not only does this protect them both from UV damage, but we have seen that fish that feed on the coral also benefit from this sunscreen protection, so it is clearly passed up the food chain."

Because Acropora microphthalma coral is endangered, the scientists first must create a synthetic version of the coral compounds, which could be tested on human skin samples. Long has suggested scientists might find a ready supply in excess skin discarded by plastic surgeons after tummy tucks. Only after scientists learn how the compound affects skin cells could they then begin developing a pill that would protect skin throughout the body, as well as the eyes, which also are sensitive to the effects of UV light.

Long and his colleagues began thinking a pill might work based upon observations of small fish eating coral, "like Nemo" in the animated movie Finding Nemo, "and then larger fish would eat the smaller fish, so these compounds pass up the food chain."

One important consideration for researchers involves determining how the compounds' UV-blocking properties might interfere with the body's production of Vitamin D, often called the sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D comes either from exposure to sunlight, or from dietary supplements.

A pill based on coral's natural UV blockers wouldn't be the first sunscreen pill to offer protection from the inside out. A dietary supplement called Heliocare contains green tea, beta-carotene and Polypodium leucotomos, a tropical fern extract long used for psoriasis and eczema. However, dermatologists say its skin-protective antioxidants don't take the place of topical sunscreens, but may make the sun less vulnerable to UV damage. A bottle of 60 Heliocare pills runs about $50.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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