All posts by Dr. Emmy Graber

Winter Dry Skin

While some of us look forward to the magical winter weather every year, it can really take a toll on your skin. Dry, cold, and harsh windy air outside combined with dry heated air indoors quickly depletes your skin’s natural moisture barrier. These season changes can cause skin to get dry, cracked, and irritated causing redness, itchiness and flakiness.

Adding moisturizers and revamping your skin care regimen for winter can help take your skin from parched and chapped to nourished and revitalized throughout the icy winter season. Here are some specific tips to stay hydrated:

Humidify: Turning on a humidifier can add moisture to the air and save your thirsty, sensitive skin. It is an easy way to combat dryness all over, including your nose and throat.

Face: Don’t wash too often! Stick to no more than two times a day and use gentle oil based cleansers or micellar water. This will be less stripping than harsh soaps and foaming cleansers. Always follow washing your face with a moisturizer of your choosing. You can’t go wrong here as long as you choose a moisturizer with SPF for the daytime and a nourishing moisturizer for the night time.

Body: Again, gentle soaps are the way to go. Avoiding fragrances or harsh antibiotic formulations will ensure that your skin is holding on to as much moisture as possibly through the drying season. Opt for warm rather than hot showers as they tend to dry your skin out further. In-shower body lotions help you hold onto all the moisture from the shower while body oils (sesame or almond) and lotions used immediately after showering (within minutes) take it one step further.

Feet: Dry and thickened patches of skin on the feet and soles can be smoothed out by using urea or lactic acid products. These products breakdown dead skin and accumulated cells to even out texture and exfoliate dryness.

Chapped Lips – How to Protect Your Pucker

Chapped, cracked, and dry lips can be a huge nuisance – and the winter weather is probably making it worse! Also known as cheilitis in the medical community, chapped lips are essentially an inflammation of the extremely thin and delicate skin on the lips. When added to normal wear and tear of talking, breathing, eating, and drinking, wind, snow, and a general lack of humidity can all threaten your skin’s natural barrier and suck moisture out of this super-sensitive skin.

 

Best Treatments for Chapped Lips

– Vaseline or Aquaphor: these products lock in moisture and help to soothe irritated lips. Go for unscented and unflavored options at first while your lips are still healing;

– 1% Hydrocortisone lip balm: for especially stubborn dry lips, an added dose of hydrocortisone in your lip balm can jumpstart the healing process. This type of lip balm can be especially helpful for people on certain medications often prescribed for acne (Accutane or isotretinoin) that can cause extremely dry, chapped lips.

 

Something Else to Consider

– Could you be allergic to your lip balm? Ingredients such as propolis (beeswax), fragrance, and essential oils are very popular in lip balms today, but they are also very common triggers for allergic contact dermatitis. If you are using a lip balm regularly and the irritation doesn’t seem to let up, you may want to try a more plain or simple lip balm instead.

– Are you making a habit out of licking your lips? Lip licker’s dermatitis is a rash consisting of dry, chapped lips due to chronic lip licking. Though it can be tempting, wetting your lips actually ends up drying them out more as the saliva evaporates. In addition, enzymes in the saliva can cause a chemical irritation as it dries onto the lips. This only makes them more dry and irritated, leading to more compulsive lip licking. This can be a hard habit to break but can be a huge help.

 

If That Doesn’t Work…

…schedule an appointment with your dermatologist! There are some medical conditions that can disguise themselves as chronically dry and chapped lips.

Things like angular cheilitis (dry lips that are superinfected with yeast or bacteria) and actinic cheilitis (severely sun damaged lips) can appear to be a simple case of chapped lips, but will need professional attention.

Skin allergy testing, known as patch testing, may also be needed to identify if dry lips are a result of allergic contact dermatitis.

Topical Retinoid Products

There are many topical retinoid products (also commonly known as topical retinol products) that can be used on the skin. Retinoid based products work by promoting surface skin cells to turn over rapidly, making way for new cell growth underneath. They are commonly used for treating acne but can also be used in a cosmetic fashion to help with anti-aging, fine lines, and to lighten certain types of browns spots. They can unclog pores and build collagen.

Retinoids come in a variety of formulations including creams, gels, lotions, and serums. They are available over-the-counter (without a prescription) as well as from your doctor (with a prescription). Some examples of prescription retinoids are: tretinoin, Retin-A, Retin-A micro, Differin, Veltin, Ziana, Epiduo, Refissa, and Tazorac. Generally, over the counter retinoids are weaker in strength than prescription versions, but they act in the same way. Differin 0.1% gel is actually a prescription retinoid that recently became available for purchase over the counter without a prescription.

When treating acne, topical retinoids can take up to 6-8 weeks before there is any improvement. For many patients, there is an initial flare of acne which the skin is purging and bringing all of the clogged pores to the surface of the skin.

It is best to use these products at night because the active ingredients can degrade in sunlight, making the creams less effective. Topical retinoid products are not to be used as spot treatment. You should be applying them to the entire face, as the products are better at preventing pimples than actually treating existing lesions.

Topical retinoids tend to cause dry skin for many people. Over time and with repeated use, the dryness will improve as your skin adjusts to the medication. However, initial dryness, peeling, and flaking of the skin is very common. To prevent exacerbation of this side effect, topical retinoids should be applied to a very dry face. Additionally, a very small, pea-sized amount should be used for the entire face. You should be spreading the product so thin that you think it is hardly enough to cover the entire area. You should start off using retinoid products every other night or even just a few times a week, building up frequency of usage over time as your skin is more able to tolerate the medication. Avoiding especially thin-skinned areas such as the eyes and lips is also helpful because these areas can experience excessive drying.

It is important to note that topical retinoid products can also make your skin more sensitive to sun exposure. This means you can sunburn much easier and quicker. Wearing extra sunscreen while using topical retinoids is a must! Using topical retinoids will also make your skin too sensitive for things like waxing for facial hair removal. You should find alternative methods of hair removal including threading, tweezing, and laser hair removal. One thing to remember is that you should not use topical retinoids if you are pregnant or nursing.

 

Myths about laser hair removal debunked

 

Myth 1: Laser hair removal is painful

If you’ve ever waxed or had threading, then laser hair removal will be a breeze!

The laser removes hair by a process called photothermolysis, which basically means using heat from light to remove the hair. This causes some warming sensation in the skin but our office used cooling equipment during the treatment such that it is alleviated. Also, some patients prefer to first having a special numbing cream applied in the office to help with discomfort in especially sensitive areas.

 

Myth 2: Laser hair removal doesn’t work on dark skin

It is true that lots of laser systems don’t work on darker skin, or aren’t safe for darker skin, however our laser works well on all skin types. Although laser hair removal works best on people with fair skin and darker hair, patients with darker complexions can still achieve great results, but they must be treated with special settings by someone trained in treating darker skin.

 

Myth 3: Takes years of treatments to work

As long as you’re using a powerful laser such as ours then you can see results after your first sessions.

For permanent hair reduction, it can typically be seen within 4-6 months. Hair grows in cycles and the laser can only target hair follicles that are currently in the growth phase. Laser hair removal treatments should be administered every few weeks to allow enough time for your hair to be in an active stage of growth.

 

Myth 4: Laser hair removal is expensive

Compared to a lifetime of shaving cream and razors, electric shavers and epilators, waxing and threading laser hair removal is actually very cost-effective.

 

 

Myth 5: Laser hair removal isn’t safe

With a team lead by dermatologists it is very rare for problems to occur. The treatment is appropriate for a range of healthy patients, and most people are eligible for laser hair removal. With that said, candidacy will always be evaluated by a reputable provider, and you should always look into the laser being used by your chosen provider. To be safe, laser hair removal should never be done in skin that has any little bit od sun tan.

 

Myth 6: Can’t be performed on face/sensitive areas

False! Some of the most popular treatments are laser treatment on the upper lip, underarms, and bikini area.

 

Myth 7: Laser hair removal doesn’t last

Patients can expect to see a reduction of up to 95% using certain medical lasers. For most people, the vast majority of treated hair does not return.

 

Myth 8: At-home treatments give the same results as in-office ones

This is a tricky one. While at home devices are not nearly as effective as ones at your dermatologist’s office, you may be able to extend the effects of laser hair removal between treatments with an at-home laser device.

 

Myth 9: Can’t go out in public afterwards

Busted! There is no downtime needed after getting laser hair removal. The only thing to note is that you should generally avoid direct sunlight immediately after your laser treatment.

 

Myth 10: Laser hair removal causes ingrown hairs

On the contrary, laser hair removal is the recommended treatment for those who experience ingrown hairs and those who deal with folliculitis and razor bumps.