Promoting Confidence Through Healthy Skin-Sexy Smooth Skin

I know what you are thinking….bikini season is over, who care’s about shaving and smooth skin?  I have seen a lot of patients lately who told me that they never put on a bathing suit all summer because they were too embarrassed by unwanted hair or irritated, bumpy skin from waxing or shaving. So I figured, let’s address this issue now and nip it in the bud before next bathing suit season!

Even though bikini season is over,  most of us still choose to wax or shave even during the cooler months.  Men commonly get irritated along the neck or jawline after shaving and women commonly experience irritation in the bikini area.  Although razor blades are expensive , it is important to use one with multiple blades, and change them frequently to avoid bacteria from growing in them which can cause pimple like breakouts. Some men may find that using an electric razor and not shaving completely smooth  can help prevent ingrown hairs. In my experience, both men and women have appreciated a benefit using a product called bump patrol after shaving to keep the skin smooth.

It is helpful to mildly exfoliate once in a while to eliminate dead skin and allow for a closer shave. Don’t scratch your skin, a soft body sponge  or mild scrub once a week is enough.  Use a shave lotion or gel to allow the razor to glide smoothly across your skin and avoid catching on small irregularities in the skin surface. Neutrogena makes a nice scrub and shave gel for men. Remember, to avoid bumps you should shave in the direction that the hair grows.

At home waxing can be dangerous! Be careful not to burn yourself. This technique is best left to a professional. If you are a little red or itchy after a wax, you can apply over the counter cortisone twice daily for a couple of days.

Sometimes, no matter which hair removal technique you prefer, you cannot avoid a painful ingrown hair. These can be treated at your dermatologist office by injecting a small amount of cortisone to shrink the inflammation or by giving you a short course of antibiotics.

Laser Hair Removal is rapidly gaining popularity across the country.  This is the only way to permanently reduce hair.  It is fast, safe and effective for dark hair and can be used for any part of the body. Be prepared for 3-6 treatments and the occasional touch up treatment. Expect costs between $100-800 per treatment depending on the size of the area you want to treat.  The only effective way to permanently remove blond or grey hair is with electrolysis. Electrolysis is a slower process where one hair at a time is treated. Electrolysis is great for delicate areas like eyebrow shaping or eliminating nose hairs.

While you may not be in a bathing suit in the next month or two, you can test out these smooth skin tips with your spouse or significant other. Let them be the ones to appreciate the new smooth and sexy you! 

Personally, I am ready to put aside the bikini(or tankini in my case) and prepare for fall. I welcome the cool crisp days.  This is my favorite season. Time to get out the scarfs, watch the leaves change color and get ready for the long winter months ahead!

I hope you are enjoying the beginning of the change of seasons, and I wish you a happy Halloween!

Promoting Healthy Skin- Mosquitos, Mites, Bed Bugs..Oh my! Are you being eaten alive by summertime bugs? Learn how to protect yourself from these pesky insects

The last few weeks of summer are a popular time for camping trips and outdoor activities!  Many people are squeezing in the last family vacation before school starts for the year. Insect bites are a real nuisance and can put a damper on these summertime memories.

Here are a few tips to avoid the most common insect offenders:

 

 1. Mosquitoes are found  in most parts of the US. We  have all experienced the annoying buzz of a mosquito in our ear at some point in our life.

They are common around bodies of water and  are especially active at dusk.  The American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) recommends to use repellents containing ingredients such as diethyl phthalate, diethyl carbate; N, N-Diethyl-3-Methylbenzamide (DEET), metofluthrin, oil of lemon-eucalyptus, picaridin and ethyl hexanediol.  For many years, DEET has been the gold standard in mosquito repellents and it still the standard  today. People who prefer all natural repellents should try Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.  Repellents do not kill mosquitoes and other insects, but they will help deter them from biting people. Citronella candles can be effective if you are outside in an open area and of course long pants and  long sleeve clothing will help protect your skin. The itch from the bite may be relieved with topical Benadryl or cortisone creams applied  for a few days. Many people don’t realize that Mosquito bites can cause various infections;  the West Nile Virus is the most common in the U.S.  Around the world, mosquitoes can transmit some dangerous infectious diseases such as Malaria,  Dengue fever, various forms of Encephalitis and Yellow fever. Mosquito bites can also cause Heartworm infections in dogs. An equestrian friend of mine who spends a lot of time in the stables around Southern California reminded me that a light spray of AVON Skin So Soft can help prevent flies and mosquitoes around horses and dogs. Check with your vet to see if this is an appropriate way to protect your four-legged friends.   For more detailed information about Mosquitoes check out the The American Mosquito Control Association website.  

 

 

2. Ticks and Spiders-These two notorious critters can cause some real harm.  Infected ticks can potentially transmit Lyme Disease to humans.

 There are various spiders that have poisonous bites and often times people mistake Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacterial infection that can be life threatening, for a spider bite. Use DEET repellent when hiking and camping to prevent tick bites, but if you suspect you have a tick or spider bite, please get an evaluation from a qualified medical professional to be sure you do not need systemic treatment.

 

 

 

 

 3. Mites-Everyone loves to watch birds in a feeder or baby birds hatching in the nest, but here in Southern California that could lead to hundreds of itchy bites.  Mites typically live on small rodents and birds.

 These mites are so small that they are difficult to see from the naked eye. If you have any exposure to rodents (rats, squirrels, mice, etc) or birds (bird’s nest close to the house or bird feeders), you could be the victim of mite bites. These are not the type of mites that live in your skin, they only use you as a source of food. The mites are so small that they can fit though holes in a screen door. Mite bites are very itchy and it is difficult to get rid of the mites on your own without a professional exterminator evaluating the situation and removing the source(i.e. rodent or bird or nest).

 

 

 

 4. Bed Bugs-Those of us who are frequent travelers get itchy just thinking about these guys!

Bed Bugs have been making national news for a while now. They are becoming a huge problem with tourism as they are invading a wide range of  lodging  facilities  from truck stop motels to fancy 5 star resorts.  There are a few ways you can protect yourself when traveling.  Bed Bugs like to live in cracks and dark spaces, so make sure to always look for evidence of the bugs or feces in between mattresses and box springs especially near the headboard of the bed.  Never put your luggage on upholstered  furniture or on the bed . Always use the luggage stand for your suitcase and keep it zipped. Carefully inspect inside dresser drawers and wipe with a damp tissue to make sure there are not bed bugs hiding in the corners. Bed bugs are the size of an apple seed and can have a sweet or musty odor in the room.

                                                                                    A Bed Bug Bites a Person

They do not fly, they get around by walking  and they survive on blood. They can actually live for months without a food source. If you are feeling itchy and  have new bites, along with small blood stains on your sheets, you should  inspect the room for bed bugs.  If you get bit by a bed bug, the bite will usually resolve within 2 weeks. The most  important thing to be certain of is that you do not have a stowaway bed bug in your luggage that makes it into your house! They can be very difficult to eliminate from your home, even with professional assistance.

 I like to use online travel resources such as Expedia, Travelocity,  and Trip Advisor before traveling to a new hotel to make sure other people have not experienced problems with bed bugs during their stay. There is also a Bed Bug Registry where you can research a hotel before you go. WebMD has a nice summary of the headaches associated with beg bug exposure.

I sincerely hope that you had a fantastic summer and that you made it through the past few months without being a victim to any of the above offenders!  Soon, we will be getting into fall with shorter, cooler days and the beginning of a new foliage season.  I am looking forward to a long weekend  in Maine with my family to close out this summer,  and I am wishing everyone your own safe and happy Labor Day adventures along with wonderful back to school season!!

Promoting Healthy Skin – Sunscreen

Q. How do I know which sunscreen is best?

A. Summertime is here! Everyone is excited for outdoor B-B-Qs and fun at the beach! The FDA recently released new sunscreen label guidelines for 2012 which will change how we all shop for sunscreen products starting next year. I am routinely asked about my favorite sunscreen and the truth is there are many good sunscreens to choose from.  I thought I would pass along these tips to help protect your skin:

1. Sunscreen helps protect skin from sunburn, but all sun exposure increases the risk of skin cancer, even with sunscreen. Remember, you are still exposed to harmful rays during a cloudy or foggy day.

2. Always use SPF 30 or higher with “broad spectrum” coverage to protect yourself from both  UVA and UVB damage.

3.  Look for Zinc or Titanium Dioxide ingredients for the best physical block.  Neutrogena’s Helioplex  also provides good protection.

4.  A golf ball size amount of sunscreen is required to protect your entire body

5.  No Sunscreen is waterproof. Be sure to reapply after any prolonged water exposure,  sweating,  or every 2 hours in  direct sun. The new FDA guidelines will only allow the term “Water Resistant” when refering to water exposure. Starting in 2012, products will be rated after 40 mintues and 80 minutes of water exposure.

6.  Apply all sunscreen in front of a mirror 30 minutes before sun exposure to ensure an even application to your entire body

7.  Be careful with spray sunscreen. You need to be generous with the spray to prevent blotchy “skipped” areas.  They can be difficult to apply in a windy environment. Currently there are investigations into the safety of accidental inhalation of the spray sunscreens during application, so try to hold your breath when applying spray sunscreen to avoid potentially inhaling the chemicals.

8.  Hats and Sun protective clothing are important to use along with sunscreen. Look for sporty sun protective clothing at L.L. Bean where they have mens and womens clothing with SPF 50. Many other manufacturers have also developed clothing and hats with SPF protection.

9.  The only “all natural” type of sunscreen is Zinc. Beware that Zinc will often leave a white film on your skin.

10. One of my favorite sunscreen manufacturers is Neutrogena. They have a wide selection of sunscreen products and many options for sensitive skin. I love their new lightweight UltraSheer liquid lotion that has SPF 55. Another great sunscreen choice is Anthelios by La Roche Posay. Le Roche Posay has developed an Anthelios Mineral Sunscreen with Titanium Dioxide which provides great broad spectrum coverage. California Baby or Aveeno Baby Natural are both good choices for little ones! Newborns should avoid direct sunlight and should not use sunsreen until about 6 months of age.

Whether you are in Maine or California-Enjoy the great outdoors but be safe and protect your skin!

To read more about the recent FDA guidelines for sunscreen labeling, you can read this official press release from the FDA :http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm258940.htm