Q&A

While we strive to reply to queries posted to us, we may not be able to answer all individually. Many of the questions you pose may be of general interest to our readers and will be addressed here.

Do pores on the skin need to breathe?

  Pores on the skin represent openings of hair follicles and sweat ducts.  These pores do not ‘breathe’ in the usual sense – our lungs take care of that need.  Yet, it can help to keep your pores open.  Sweat gland openings can become obstructed – for example, by wearing skin tight clothing when we exercise.  This can result in an itchy heat rash, or miliaria,  Hence, it is advisable to avoid overdressing when it is hot, and to remove sweaty clothing and shower as soon as possible after … [Read more...]

Is it true that drinking more water would be good for my skin?

We are frequently told that we should drink more water.  Consider too, that skin's most important task is to prevent the escape of our precious body water - this is our critically important skin permeability barrier.  This might lead one to conclude that drinking more water would indeed be good for our skin - just as it is purported to be for the other parts of our body.  But at the heart of this lies a misconception about water and how our body handles this precious resource. … [Read more...]

What Is Ichthyosis?

Ichthyosis is the term used for a family of skin conditions that are characterized by a thickened stratum corneum and/or visible scales covering most or all of the body surface. Most ichthyoses are inherited – yet paradoxically, often people with ichthyosis know of no one else in their families with their condition. This can happen if the genetic change that produces the skin condition began with them – that is, if it was a new mutation. … [Read more...]

What Is the Best Lotion for My Dry Skin?

The best treatment for dry skin may not be a lotion at all.  Dry skin is the result of a problem with the stratum corneum and it’s ability to hold water within the tissue.  Many times this can be the result of a deficiency in the quantity or types of lipids (fats) that the skin employs to waterproof our bodies.  In the past it could be easily said that  lotions are mostly water and they would not deliver sufficient quantities of lipid to the skin to improve its waterproofing abilities.  These … [Read more...]

Do blackheads mean that my face is dirty?

Blackheads bear no relationship to your personal hygiene. They result from the oxidation of sebum (the oily material produced by sebaceous glands) and keratinous material (outer skin cells) that fills the dilated pores with exposure to the air. Regular use of a scrub cleanser can help to reduce the size and numbers of blackheads by removing some of the follicular plugs. But more importantly, blackheads are usually an early warning sign of acne. Treatment of acne  at this stage – when the pores … [Read more...]

What Are Lipids?

'Lipid' is the scientific term for fats or oils. Lipids are organic molecules (i.e. carbon-containing molecules derived from living or once living organisms) that are defined by their solubility. They are (relatively) insoluble in water and other ‘polar’ solvents, and soluble in ‘nonpolar’ liquids, such as ether or chloroform. Cholesterol, triglycerides and fatty acids are examples of lipids. … [Read more...]

Will Bathing Dry Out My Skin?

If you have patches of dry skin to begin with, how you bathe and how often you do it is likely to make a difference. Too frequent bathing, particularly if accompanied by the use of hot water and a harsh soap, can worsen dry skin. But, bathing two or three times weekly in tepid water, using a mild soap, followed by the application a moisturizing cream or ointment (usually not a lotion) soon afterwards, may not pose a problem for your skin. This will make sense if you consider the frying pan … [Read more...]

What Is a Fatty Acid?

Fatty acids are a class of lipids (or fats) that consist of a hydrocarbon chain terminating at one end in an acidic, carboxyl group. In the body, they are often bound (‘esterified’) to other molecules to form 'complex' lipids, like phospholipids and triglycerides. In the stratum corneum, unbound or 'free' fatty acids are one of the 3 key classes of lipids that form the lamellar membranes of the stratum corneum. The other two are cholesterol and ceramides. Ceramides are another type of complex … [Read more...]

What Is a Ceramide?

Ceramides are a family of lipids that consist of two long chain fatty acids linked to one another by an amide group. … [Read more...]

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Disclaimer: This website is for informational purposes only. Use of this website is not intended to substitute for professional medical judgment or advice. This website does not provide medical advice and nothing contained herein is intended to constitute professional advice for medical diagnosis or treatment.You should always consult a doctor regarding any skin care or medical problems or conditions. See our Terms of Use.