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…] about Q: Is it true that drinking more water would be good for my skin?
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.
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…] about What Is Ichthyosis?
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 lotions typically felt good when they were initially applied to the skin, but they often had the net effect of drying it out – leaving the skin drier than ever. As the water in the lotion evaporates from the skin surface, it pulls some of the skin’s own water with it. Although lotions tended to be easier to spread over the skin, dermatologists often preferred to recommend products in a cream or ointment base, because these types of emollients would supply more of the moisture trapping lipids.
With advances in the technology of formulations, this paradigm has shifted somewhat. Currently, some lotions can be quite lipid-rich and some creams quite watery. In addition to the lipid content of emollients, another consideration is their pH. The optimal pH for skin care products would be in the acid range. Yet most consumers will have little information to guide them in their choice of emollient, either in terms of its water content or its pH. A recent study by Shi and coworkers examined the pH and water content of a number of emollients available in the US. We have summarized this information in our free booklet, Taking Good Care of Your Skin.
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 are plugged and forming blackheads (‘open comedones’) and small flesh-colored bumps (‘closed comedones’) – can prevent the later development of pimples (‘inflammatory papules and pustules’). If you have more than a few blackheads, you probably need to make an appointment with your dermatologist.
‘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.