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Category: Healthy Skin
information on what patients can do to protect their skin.
The saying goes that beauty is only skin deep, but it should be updated to note that many times imperfections are similarly shallow. The fine lines and clogged pores that can make a face look older are often easily addressed by simply getting rid of the skin where they are found. The dermatologists at Tucson’s Ironwood Dermatology offer numerous treatments that do just that. Here is a brief look at four of them:
Within this category alone there are several variations, but all of them work the same way: A strong, acid-based solution is applied directly to the skin and left to work for a set amount of time. The outer layer will later peel away. This accomplishes two things: It gets dead cells and debris off of the face, and it promotes natural rejuvenation.
As opposed to covering the entire face at once in a peeling solution, microdermabrasion involves buffing the dead skin cells away from top to bottom, cheek to cheek. The ultimate result is much the same, in that healthier-looking, younger skin is revealed and collagen rejuvenation is kick-started.
Similar to microdermabrasion, dermaplaning is a treatment that mechanically removes dead skin cells, but it involves manual action from a cosmetic professional. Working directly on the skin with a special tool, the dermaplaner will exfoliate to remove unwanted cells and encourage healing.
Laser Skin Resurfacing
Short pulses of energy from a specially designed laser make this a non-invasive treatment that promotes collagen production without ablating—or removing—the skin. The resulting rejuvenated collagen can improve the look of everything from fine lines to visible scars and marks.
Patients are not expected to know which of these treatments would work best for their own skin. The Ironwood Dermatology team can suggest an ideal plan after a consultation tailored to the individual. Learn more by reaching out online or calling 520.618.1630.
One of the most common problems my patients have is sun-damaged skin. Over the years ultraviolet radiation from the sun causes dyspigmentation (abnormal color), atrophy (thinning), and rhytids (wrinkles).
While there are many medications, products, and procedures that can help improve the appearance of sun-damaged skin, the best way to have beautiful skin is to prevent the damage from ever occurring. I know that here in Arizona it is extremely difficult to completely avoid the sun, but there are several things you can do to significantly reduce your exposure, and thereby limit the damage to your skin and the need for restorative treatment.
The first step is to minimize your outdoor activities during the peak daylight hours (11:00 a.m. to 2:00p.m. in the winter and 9:00 a.m. to 4:00p.m. in the summer). The second step is protective clothing, including long sleeves, pants, and a broad-brimmed hat, which are more effective than sunscreens since clothing can block the sun’s rays, provided the weave of the cloth is tight enough. The last layer of protection is sunscreen. Obviously, here in Arizona this is what most of us depend on for our protection against the sun since we are outside frequently during the day, and the normal attire is shorts and a short sleeved shirt.
There are a few keys to using sunscreen appropriately that I would like to emphasize. The main key is to use enough of the sunscreen. Studies have shown that most of us use approximately 25% of the recommended amount, which manufacturers use to determine SPF (sun protection factor). What this means is that even if you have a sunscreen that is SPF 65, it becomes an SPF of 2.8 when you use one quarter of the normal amount. The other key is to use sunscreen daily. If you apply sunscreen to the same area every day, the SPF factor increases significantly because the skin retains a portion of it for several days. It will also protect you during those times that you find yourself outside when you didn’t expect to be there.
If you follow these simple guidelines you can keep your skin beautiful longer, minimize the amount of restorative treatment, and reduce your risk of skin cancer.
By Dr. Colin Trout
Many people complain of dry, itchy skin that worsens in the winter. It can frequently progress to a diffuse, red, scaly rash that is so itchy that people can’t sleep at night and have difficulty focusing on their normal daily routine. The usual cause of this is xerotic dermatitis, which some people call “winter itch”. This is extremely common in southern Arizona because the climate is generally very dry and during the winter we are inside with heaters that lower the humidity even further. This causes the skin to lose moisture and results in a disruption of the normal barrier of the skin. Once this occurs, there is an inflammatory response (dermatitis) that is very itchy. Over time, with sun exposure and aging, the skin loses its ability to hold in moisture and this condition becomes even more prevalent.
The key to prevention and treatment of this condition is moisture. There are several ways to protect and replenish the barrier of the skin. The most important step is to use moisturizing creams daily. We recommend creams instead of lotions because they hold in more moisture and last longer than lotions. Some people do not like the greasy feeling of creams, but it is a small price to pay to prevent the development of xerotic dermatitis. Another helpful practice is to use soap-free cleansers in the bath or shower, because soap strips the skin of the components that create the barrier and contributes to dryness. Reducing the frequency of water exposure (baths, showers, pools, spa, etc.) and applying the moisturizing cream immediately after drying off will also help prevent flaring of this condition.
If you are disciplined about moisturizing and protecting your skin you can significantly reduce or prevent winter itch. If you have this problem and it is not controlled by the above guidelines, see your dermatologist for an evaluation. They may prescribe a topical steroid to get the condition under control in conjunction with daily moisturizers.
By Colin R. Trout, M.D.
One of the most common reasons for seeking dermatologic care is for the evaluation and management of acne. Although primarily a disease of adolescence, acne can afflict infants, young adults and people in their forties and fifties. In simple terms, acne results from the action of hormones and other substances on the sebaceous (oil) glands and hair follicles. The sebaceous glands make an oily material called sebum that normally empties onto the surface of the skin via openings in the hair follicles (pores). Oil and cells that line the follicle (keratinocytes) can plug the opening. This, in turn, allows bacteria that live on the skin surface to grow and produce chemicals that attract inflammatory cells. The wall of the hair follicle can then rupture, spilling sebum, keratinocytes and bacteria into the surrounding skin. This results in the formation of “pimples”.
There are several types of acne. Comedones are plugged follicles without associated inflammation. Papules are small inflamed acne lesions that are red and tender. Nodules and cysts are deeper, painful inflammatory lesions that can lead to scarring.
The cause of acne is unknown and probably multifactorial; nevertheless, there are many myths on the subject. Chocolate and greasy foods do not cause acne, nor does dirt on the skin. However, there are things that can exacerbate acne in those with the disease: changing hormones (in adolescence or before menstrual periods), stress, oil in skin products, pressure from sports helmets, squeezing acne lesions and scrubbing of the skin.
Just as there are multiple types of acne, many treatments exist. There are over-the-counter and prescription medications that are very effective in treating acne. Depending on the type and severity of the condition, your doctor may recommend topical therapies, oral medications or both. The mainstays of therapy are topical retinoids (vitamin A derivatives) to unclog pores and topical or oral anti-inflammatory medications and antibiotics. For girls and women with acne, oral contraceptives and other medications that regulate hormones are used. The treatment of choice for scarring acne is isotretinoin (Accutane), and use of this very effective medication must be monitored closely by a dermatologist.
In addition to medications, there are cosmetic procedures which can improve acne. Chemical peels with exfoliating substances such as glycolic acid can be quite beneficial as an adjuvant to traditional acne therapy. Some relatively new, innovative treatments for acne using certain wavelengths of light and lasers are becoming more popular.
About the author
Doctor Robyn E. Glaesser is a practicing Dermatologist at Ironwood Dermatology located at 1735 E. Skyline Drive • Tucson, AZ 85718 • 520-618-1630 • Fax: 520-618-1636
Help your skin survive the desert winters
I am often asked by my patients “My skin gets so dry in this desert climate during the winter months. How can I keep it moisturized and healthy?” Here’s what I tell my patients who ask me this question.
The Sonoran Desert climate can be tough on your skin, especially in the winter months. The combination of dry air and lots of sunny days creates a challenge to keeping your skin looking and feeling good. Minimize the number of baths and/or showers you take daily and use a mild, moisturizing cleanser. Use warm to cool water only as very hot water can aggravate dry skin. Afterwards, lightly pat your skin dry and immediately apply a thin moisturizing CREAM to your skin. Reapply the cream several times daily as needed and before going to bed. Also remember to keep yourself hydrated with fluids throughout the day – your body, including your skin, will thank you!
Sun protection is another way to keep your skin in top form. Winter sun exposure can still cause significant damage and can lead to skin cancers in the future. Sun avoidance between about ten o’clock and two o’clock is ideal. Other sun protective measures include protective clothing (wide brimmed hat, long sleeves and long pants) and sunblock. Your sunblock should be at least SPF 30, contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, and should be applied every three to four hours for optimum results. Moisturizing and oil-free sunblocks are available, depending on your skin type. The lips are especially sensitive to the sun and to dry climates so use a moisturizing lip sunblock often. Finally, annual skin checks by a dermatologist are important for skin cancer screening.
The winter season is a wonderful time in the desert. These simple tips will keep you and your skin healthy for many desert winters to come!
About the author…
Doctor Fiona D. Behr is a practicing Dermatologist at Ironwood Dermatology located at
1735 E. Skyline Drive • Tucson, AZ 85718 • 520-618-1630 • Fax: 520-618-1636