The Dangers of Tanning

According to the new guidelines put forward by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), there is no safe way to tan, no matter what other sources have led you believe. Many sources have stated that sun exposure in moderation can be beneficial for the skin and health, but exposing your skin to the sun in the middle of the day, when the UV exposure is calculated to be at the apex, can increase the danger of causing non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers, premature skin ageing and sunburns. In addition to that, prolonged sun exposure can also cause the skin to exhibit other skin diseases.

Certain age groups, especially babies and children, are at increased risk of suffering from these conditions, and people who work for extend periods outside or have light-coloured skin can also be at a risk of skin cancer. The NICE guidelines recognise the evidence that sunscreen application is not popular in the UK and people in UK don’t generally or regularly apply sunscreen, even when they go outside. The authority suggest that, in light of new evidence, it is time to ditch the old habits and embrace sun protection to protect themselves from skin cancer, especially if they have family history of it.

According to scientific evidence, 90% of melanoma is caused by UV exposure, and this includes UV exposure from natural source and the unnatural sources, such as tanning beds. Previously, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recognised tanning beds and tanning lamps as high-risk objects that cause cancer and demarcate them into the same carcinogen hazardous substances such as specific kinds of radium and plutonium. Several media sources have provided misleading information to the public by stating that Vitamin D is necessary for optimal health conditions and that its deficiency can be replenished by using tanning beds.

The majority of these tanning beds emit UVA radiation, which is counter-productive to the production of vitamin D in the body. The body actually needs UVB radiations to naturally produce vitamin D and its production can be maximized by increasing food intake that have vitamin D or by taking supplements. If you are worried about having a vitamin D deficiency, consulting a doctor or your physicians is a straightforward way to deal with it. As opposed to popular media advice, tanning is not safe and can cause several skin problems. In fact, one blistering skin burn can develop into melanoma later in life.

Tanning is generally damaging to the skin cells. Research indicates that the cumulative damage to the skin cells caused by prolonged exposure to the sun can cause wrinkles, premature aging, age spots and skin cancer. It is so dangerous that several countries, including Brazil, have banned tanning. Another trend, which prevails in beauty circles, is to get a base tan before leaving on a vacation. According to research, this will not help protect you from sunburns and will provide minimal or no sun protection, equal to SPF 3.

According to the NICE guidelines, people should regularly apply sunscreen, at least SPF 15, between the months of March and October and purchase brands that have the lettering of UAV on their packaging to protect their skins from wide spectrum UV rays. The guidelines also suggest that most people consider the risk of skin cancer from UV exposure to be a myth. However, new evidence suggests that it is simply not true and tanning poses a danger to your health. The authority pointed out that tanning of any kind, and not just exposing your skin to the sun, can result in increased risk of skin cancer. Sun beds can cause even more damage to the skin than UV light exposure.

In addition to that, NICE also recognised the fact that 1 in 5 people in the UK have a vitamin D deficiency and need assistance from external sources to replenish their calcium and phosphorus reserves. Due to this deficiency, they have a problem absorbing nutrients from the food that they eat. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to weak bones, tooth decay, rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. This deficiency can be easily avoided by spending no more than 10 to 15 minutes in natural sunlight with uncovered arms and legs. However, NICE still urges the individuals to put on at least 8 tablespoons of sunscreen before going out into the sun.

Acne Update

Well, just about everything is bad for us these days, dairy, carbs, gluten, meat, bread, you name it. For me it will always go back to the same thing: moderation. Unless I have a particularly bad reaction to a food or drink, everything in small amounts is ok. Enjoy food but nothing in excess! It’s not that easy for acne sufferers. It is impossible to know what causes this difficult skin condition. It’s not about dirty skin and poor hygiene so it’s got to be down to diet on some level. In some cases, where creams or tablets haven’t worked especially, maybe diet should really be given a good overhaul. It’s a huge point of interest at the moment for health professionals who deal with this mysterious condition.

The hormones in dairy are said to have an effect on hormones that produce spots and pimples. Sugar, as always, takes a lot of the blame as it causes inflammation, which is exactly the kind of condition acne is. Even the milk substitute for many, Soya, is said to be responsible for acne in those who suffer with break outs around the mouth and jawline. Watch those veggie chinese take-outs! Coffee, bread, coconut oil, and peanuts are also on the list and these seem like to me, the less offensive foods in the human diet. I suppose, sugar is mostly found in processed food products and avoiding stimulants like coffee is always good. With certain oils and peanuts for example, a skin intolerance to these foods will be on a person by person basis but it might not be a bad idea to leave these foods out of the diet and watch how the skin responds in turn. Foods can be slowly reintroduced into the diet while the skin observed carefully over a period of time. If the skin starts reacting again, this food is obviously not for you.

This diet examination requires patience and consistency but it will pay off to see what contributes to your acne breakouts where topical treatments and tablets have failed to heal. Some medications are strong and the side effects can be pretty serious. Looking at the diet before starting an oral tablet is also recommended.

To read more on dietary choices on acne, please see this website.

Acne Explained

Acne is an incredibly common skin problem and usually affects young people but is also known to affect adults, and increasingly so. Approximately 80% of those between the ages of 11 and 30 have it. When one thinks of acne they think of huge, inflamed spots that cover the entire surface area of the face, but stubborn and recurring spots are also classified as acne and can be tough to get rid of too. Spots usually appear on the face, back and chest and the severity of this chronic skin condition varies from person to person. You can view pictures of acne here.

One of the most popular selfies on instagram this week depicts the young popstar, Lorde, rocking her acne cream before bed in Paris. Images like this can help teenagers remember that everyone gets spots and they are an irritating problem for most, especially at that age. On the other hand, Cameron Diaz recently opened up about her long lasting struggle with acne in her new book, The Body Book, where she claimed she had zero control over her skin issue until she realised it was down to the cheeseburger and fries she ate every day throughout her twenties, (as hard to believe as this diet is). According to Cameron, once she stopped eating fast food, her skin slowly got better and she never returned to her bad habit, however, there is no medical evidence to support this idea.

For most sufferers, it is a hormonal issue. That’s why many girls start taking the pill as teenagers and why pregnant women are horrified when they see acne spots in the mirror, their old friend returned or, their teenage fear finally realised. Hormones trigger the sebacious glands to produce oil which, combined with dirt and blocked pores, causes the skin to flare up in the form of acne.

For acne sufferers who aren’t pregnant, there are great treatments available. For pregnant women, the spots are par for the course and will likely go away after term. With current acne treatments, results are unlikely to be instantaneous and it could take between four and eight weeks before any improvement is noted. These solutions include Skinoren, which reduces keratin skin growth and the production of this oil/sebum which causes acne. Duac also breaks down this keratin, and the antibiotic erythromycin is combined with the mineral zinc, to form Zineryt, another effective treatment. 90% of those who start treating their acne experience a 50% improvement after a couple of months and then other treatments can be incorporated in order to maintain the skin. Despite what people say, acne is not caused by poor hygiene or a bad diet and it’s just one of those things. Good hygiene will of course help the spread of the spots but is not an initial cause. If you have already been prescribed acne treatments for by your doctor then you can get repeat prescriptions online. There are a number of online clinics and pharmacies in the UK that provide this service. Personally, I use as they always provide a next day delivery service and they are reasonably priced. One of my friends uses Lloyd’s Pharmacy as they have click and collect option. For myself, delivery is better but it is good to have the option.

For more severe acne, other prescription drugs such as roacutane are an option and these drugs should always be prescribed by a licensed dermatologist considering the potential side effects can be quite severe and serious.  This product is not available online because it is a very serious treatment. Here is a useful forum that I use where people discuss their experience of Roacutane.

Dry Skin – Definition, Causes and Treatment

There are several people who always have dry skin. We hope to assess this skin problem today by going through the most important information you have to know if your skin is usually dry.

How do I know if I have dry skin? What are the symptoms?

The medical name for dry skin is Xeroderma. If your skin is itching, is rough or simply looks dry, you might have dry skin. This condition is more common in older men and women. Also, if your skin is red and cracks start to appear, you should really go to your doctor or physician as your skin might be severely dry.

 What are the causes of dry skin?

The main cause of dry skin is the lack of water in the outer skin layer called epidermis. This can be, in turn, caused by many biological and external factors. Biological factors include genetics, age, allergies while some external factors are the rough temperatures, tough soaps and losing moisture with hot showers or when drying your skin with a towel straight after the shower. Some medication might also make your skin dry as a side effect.

Why is my dry skin worse in the winter?

Many people find that their skin is drier in the winter. This can be due to a number of factors such as: cold weather, dryer air that (due to the use of heating) and low humidity in the atmosphere.

How can I treat dry skin?

Here are a few quick tips on how you can keep your skin moisturised:

  1. Clean with the right soaps and do not scrub: if you are prone to dry skin, clean gently and with soaps that moisturise your skin.
  2. Avoid hot showers: hot showers are great, but may dry your skin very quickly. Try to avoid them when you can.
  3. Moisturise right after showering: buy a skin moisturiser such as a body lotion or body oil. You will feel the difference but you have to remember to apply it regularly.
  4. Buy a humidifier: if your dry skin is accompanied by a sore throat or you struggle to breathe when you are back home, the air of your home might be too stiff and dry. A humidifier will solve these problems and will help you breathe and have a healthier skin. You don’t have to spend a fortune: there are very cheap ceramic humidifiers that you can hang to your radiators that will keep the right balance of water in the air as they will heat up the water only when the radiators heat up the room.

If none of the above methods and treatments works you should see your doctor, as the issue might be a sign of an underlying condition such as diabetes, eczema or hypothyroidism.

Anti-perspirant deodorants and your health

Now that it’s summertime many of us might start thinking about wearing deodorants more often to compensate for the unclean feeling we feel when we sweat. However, how safe are these products? The European Union has strict regulations for allowing or not cosmetics to be used in the continent. However, there is this scare over the internet that anti-perspirant deodorants containing aluminum and zirconium could lead to health problems such as sensitive skin and breast cancer.

In the UK there are many brands of deodorants that have these ingredients. Before you buy your next deodorant bottle, you might want to check whether your usual brand contains one or both of those ingredients. At the moment, there is not enough research to prove that these ingredients might be very harmful to the body. However, people should use their own judgement and be aware that these ingredients might be factors that might lead to health problems in the future.

If you do not want to risk it, there are alternatives to anti-perspirant deodorants. However, the problem is they might not be as effective to remove or cancel out the smell as anti-perspirant. In any case, the choices range from deodorants without aluminium or zirconium to home remedies such as baking soda and lemon. Another alternative could be applying baby powder. These remedies also work for people with very sensitive skin.

Inasmuch as there is not enough evidence to say whether these products are indeed harmful, it may be best to use anti-perspirant deodorants sporadically maybe just for events or gatherings. This might prevent worrying about the issue. It might also help our body to not get used to a product that, in the end, does contain loads of many different chemicals.

Feel free to read more about this subject if you are still concerned.

What are the most common skin problems?

Below is a list of the most common skin disorders. Before you start questioning whether you are suffering from any of the conditions below, please be advised that a full consultation with a specialist, such a dermatologist, is needed in order to properly diagnose your problem.

In any case, we thought this list could be helpful to our readers so here we go.

ACNE –acne is a skin condition that affects many teenagers and 5% of women and 1% of men over 25. Many already know what it looks like: red facial pimples that are located in the face, and whiteheads and blackheads. Acne is usually caused by too much sebum that blocks the skin pores and allows bacteria to infect the area. It is known that hormone levels can affect the appearance or disappearance of acne.

ECZEMA –dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin due to a contact with a specific substance. Eczema is the name for this specific type of dermatitis that manifests itself after a contact with a certain substance. It can develop after having touched an irritant or a substance you might be particularly allergic to. The skin might be red, inflamed or dry due to the condition and, in worst cases, blisters might appear.

WART –a wart looks like a solid blister. They are caused by an infection of viral nature. One of the most common viruses that cause this condition is a certain type of human papillomavirus (HPV). There exists different types of warts. Warts are contagious through skin-to-skin contact. Specific type of warts that develop on pressure points of the feet are called verrucas.

COLD SORE –cold sores are red blisters that might appear around the mouth or in other areas of the face. The main cause of cold sore is the virus herpes simplex type 1. Antiviral medication might help with an outbreak, but unfortunately there is no cure for cold sores at the moment.

PSORIASIS –psoriasis is a chronic skin condition. It looks like white chipped skin on top of a red area. It is a genetic condition whereby the process of formation of new skin is speeded up. However, once the tissue on top dies, the skin on the bottom is not completely ready yet and this causes inflammation. Most people that suffer from this skin condition also notice that certain elements prompt psoriasis to occur. Triggers can be skin accidents, smoking or stress.

For more information on these skin conditions, or to find out more, visit: