Thursday, November 27, 2008

Skin Warts and Your Beauty

Warts are very common. At anyone time something like ten per cent of the population will have a wart or two somewhere on their bodies. Warts are caused by viruses, they are infectious, and they seem to affect children more than adults (we tend to develop immunity to them as the years go by), and most of them will disappear without any treatment.

It is because warts tend to disappear by themselves that there are so many marvellous 'cures' available. Listen to tellers of old wives tales and you will discover that it is possible to get rid of warts by blowing on them nine times when the moon is full, by rubbing them with a slice of raw mea t and then burying it in the garden and by stroking the warts with a tortoiseshell cat's tail in the month of May.

Some of the more modern remedies are not much better and unless a wart is inconvenient, painful or particularly embarrassing it is best to leave it alone. It will probably disappear in time without leaving any scar.

Verrucas Warts that appear on the soles of the feet are, for some reason, known as verrucas and because they get trodden on quite a lot can be painful and annoying. It is worth taking some trouble to get rid of them. You can buy remedies containing salicylic acid from a pharmacist but do read the instructions very carefully and make sure that you do not get any of the application on healthy skin around the wart. It isn't sensible to try removing warts at home without first consulting your doctor.

The question of whether children with verrucas should be allowed into swimming baths always crops up when these warts are mentioned. The consensus of opinion seems to be that it is much more dangerous to stop children learning to swim than it is to let them into pools with verrucas on their feet. The best compromise is to cover the warts with a temporary protective coating, such as waterproof sticking plaster.

You should always see your doctor if you are not certain that what you have is a wart, if a wart changes color, grows in size or bleeds. Warty-looking growths can be malignant and, although this risk is slight, it must not be ignored.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Getting in Shape at a Minimum of Cost: Home Fitness Exercise

Not everyone knows that it is very possible to get in shape without buying expensive gym memberships that usually come with contracts that do not get used to their fullest extent as life changes, or even buying home fitness exercise equipment. Home fitness exercise merely takes a shifting of perspective so that the individuals see their house as full of exercise equipment already, not to mention the variety of activities that can be done for exercise out of doors.

Types of Exercise

There are a variety of home fitness exercises that individuals can do to increase their cardiovascular health at little to no cost. Going on a brisk walk for thirty minutes to an hour not only increases cardiovascular health, but it also allows individuals to enjoy the outdoors, a nice break from the office. For the more adventurous, these walks could be jogs or runs, possibly training for the next community fun run in order to give them the inspiration they need to continue the exercise. Either of these activities are great to do with friends or pets, which also helps with the motivation needed to continue.

For a minimal cost, individuals who live in colder climates and do not want to run or walk out of doors in the coldest of weather can buy a jump rope or an aerobics or yoga DVD to do their home fitness exercise for cardio vascular strength. These items cost anywhere from five to twenty dollars, which is less than a month's cost at a gym and usually lasts a lifetime. Jumping rope can get tedious, but putting on a favorite CD or flipping to a favorite TV station and cranking the volume can help the time pass quickly. In addition, individuals can do interval training, where they jump as fast as possible during commercials and then watch the show while doing stomach crunches or pushups.

In order to gain more strength, there are also great home fitness exercises that can be done using the furniture and tools that are in common households. For leg strength, individuals can do lunges across the living room or down the hallway, making sure that the front knee does not bend in front of the toes so that they do not injure their knees. In addition, they can do calf raises on any set of steps, holding onto the railing and lowering their heels as far as possible and then raising up on their toes as high as possible. These can be done with toes turned in, out or straight. For arm strength, individuals can do wall pushups, regular pushups, military pushups, pushups with their feet on a chair and hands on the floor, and dips with their hands on a chair for their triceps.
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Ways to Prevent Wrinkles Easily

Most of the organs in our bodies age without our being aware of anything very much happening: our lungs, kidneys, heart and liver all begin to wear out but, unless they fail to function effectively, we are not usually aware of what is happening.

Skin is different. As we age, the changes which take place in our skin become clearly apparent:

1 There is an increase in the amount of natural skin pigmentation and instead of being regular and even, it tends to be rather blotchy, producing freckle-like patches or 'liver spots'.

2 There is a build up of dead cells and these collect together to cause dryness and roughness.

3 As the connective tissue beneath the skin loses its firmness, the elastic fibres break down, the skin loses its natural plasticity, and the changes in sex hormone production which accompany old age lower the production of natural skin oils.

All these combine with environmental factors - such as sunshine, high winds and chemical pollutants in the atmosphere - to produce skin wrinkling.

Although it isn't possible to prevent all wrinkles developing it is possible to slow down the process:

1 One of the simplest and most effective ways is to keep out of the sun as much as possible, or at least to use effective sunscreen creams. The sun is a giant wrinkle­ making machine.

2 Use a good moisturizing cream regularly to protect your skin from the sun and from pollutants.

Exercise is often promoted as an effective way to stay young looking. Beauty experts have thought up complex routines designed to strengthen the facial muscles. However, I don't know of any evidence to suggest that exercising your muscles will retard the development of wrinkles. The harsh truth is that it is the collapse, breakdown and disappearance of the proteins, elastin and collagen, in the skin which determines the formation of wrinkles - and these are not restored by exercise.

Massage is another frequently recommended remedy for wrinkles. But again, I do not know or any evidence proving that it works. Indeed, I suspect that massage could hasten the development of wrinkles rather than prevent them. Nor do I think that rubbing in special creams will help. You need to use good supplies of your ordinary moisturizing cream all over your body, but I don't think there is any value in buying special creams.

One specific pollutant often associated with wrinkle formation is tobacco. I'm doubtful about this. I suspect that if tobacco does cause wrinkles it is because smokers tend to screw up their eyes against the smoke. The answer is either to give up smoking or to use a cigarette holder.

There are scores of remedies available for the treatment of wrinkles but I think that a lot of them are quite useless. You can, for example, buy special' anti-wrinkle' creams, but these only work as masking creams - they do not make the wrinkles disappear. Then there are the special electrical treatments that beauty salons sometimes offer. I don't have much faith in them either. Nor do I recommend special collagen injections or laser treatments, both of which could be dangerous in unskilled hands. Special pills and diets are a waste of money, vitamins won't help wrinkles and nor will vitamin creams. I don't think you should waste your money on garlic, ginseng or any of the magical and mysterious remedies now on the market either. Finally, while discussing remedies I don't recommend for wrinkles I must mention dermabrasion and chemosurgery. In dermabrasion the surface layer of the skin is removed mechanically - with a very tough brush. In chemosurgery the skin's top layer is removed in much the same way as it would be if acid were splashed on to it. Both these remedies are potentially dangerous and I think you should avoid them.

The only effective, permanent way of dealing with wrinkles that already exist is to visit a plastic surgeon. However, I would repeat my advice that you should only visit a plastic surgeon who has been recommended by your own family doctor. Never follow up advertisements offering plastic surgery.

The classic way in which a plastic surgeon deals with wrinkles is by tightening the skin. Just as you can remove the surface wrinkles from a piece of cloth by pulling it tight so you can remove the wrinkles from skin.

A standard face lift, to deal with deep creases and sagging skin, takes several hours. Using either a local or a general anesthetic the surgeon makes small cuts in front of the ears, cuts the facial skin away from the face and then literally pulls the skin tight before cutting off the excess and resuturing. There is usually some bruising for a week or two, but the eventual scars can usually be covered up with hair.

Unfortunately, there are a number of risks with face lift surgery. If the circulation is impaired, skin may slough off and if the facial nerve is cut permanent paralysis can result.

The other extremely popular operation to eliminate facial wrinkles involves the eyelids. This is longer lasting than a face lift, heals quickly and is usually very effective. It is also possible to deal with forehead creases by an operation called a frontal ridectomy. The snag with this type of operation is that afterwards the patient's face may not be so mobile or able to produce a full range of facial expressions.

I've mentioned facial wrinkles at some length because they are the ones that worry people most of all. But surgeons can also operate on wrinkles elsewhere. Indeed, the only part of the human body that plastic surgeons cannot straighten out is the insides of the thighs. If you see someone on the beach and you want to know whether their youthful good looks are a result of the knife, look at the insides of the thighs for tell-tale wrinkles and creases.

Removing excess skin is probably the technique most commonly used for wrinkles but there are others. Plastic surgeons used to inject silicone into the skin, for example, although this has gone out of favor because it is known that the silicone does not always stay where it is put.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Health Risks of Tattoos

Tattoos regularly go in and out of fashion, and if you are tempted to have one it is important to remember that once pigment has been put into the skin it will stay there for ever: tattoos are permanent. It is also important to remember that if the artist doing the tattooing doesn't sterilize his needles very carefully there is a real risk of hepatitis - a dangerous, disabling and sometimes lethal disease.

When tattoos are unwanted the simplest way to deal with them is by the use of a camouflage cream, available either from a pharmacy or through a general practitioner. Over the years a number of methods for removing tattoos have been tried. Surgical removal, followed by skin grafting, and dermabrasion are just two such techniques. More recently surgeons have started to remove tattoos with the aid of carbon dioxide lasers and this technique seems useful and effective, but it still is not clear how the technique works and there is usually some scarring.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Facts about Sunbeds

In order to supplement holiday sunshine many people now take to sun beds during the winter months. Thousands of sunbeds have been bought for private homes and many clinics have been set up by entrepreneurs anxious to cash in on the boom.

If you are planning on using a sunbed then you should be aware of these facts:

1 There is no evidence to show that spending time on a sunbed improves health or helps to alleviate disease. The reports that do exist seem to be based on subjective evidence provided by happy customers rather than on objective and critical scientific research.

2 Lying on a sunbed is as dangerous as spending time in the sun. Apart from the risk of getting burnt there is risk of skin drying out, wrinkling being induced and cancer developing. There is evidence too that certain disorders, such as psoriasis, can be made worse by lying on a sunbed. All the rules about sunbathing should be obeyed.

3 Goggles must always be worn; otherwise you risk eye damage.

4 Only about one in three people get a good suntan from lying on a sunbed. The other two-thirds end up with either a moderate tan or no tan at all. It seems that there are differences between the suntan obtained from sunshine and the one obtained from a sunbed. People who normally tan well in the sun don't necessarily tan well on a sun bed and a sunbed tan won't prevent burning when your skin is exposed to the sun.

Ringworm Treatment

Different species of ringworm (or tinea) attack different parts of the human body and in slightly different ways. However, the marks are usually round and red with a white scale on top, about the size of a large coin, and they almost invariably itch.

On the scalp ringworm causes bald patches, and it is extremely infectious.

On the feet it produces scaling and blistering in a condition known commonly as athlete's foot.

On the chest or back it usually produces very pale blotches which can be mistaken for vitiligo.

Ringworm Treatment

The treatment of ringworm depends on the precise nature and site of the infection. There is an effective drug called griseofulvin which can be taken orally, but ringworm can also be treated with a cream, shampoo or lotion. Do not try treating any type of ringworm yourself; see your doctor for a precise diagnosis and an appropriate prescription.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

What Causes Stretch Marks (Striae)?

The average newborn baby weighs about seven pounds. The average adult weighs twenty times as much. In order to accommodate this massive, if gradual, increase in size our skin needs to stretch a great deal; if skin did not stretch and grow with us we would all burst out of our skins at a very early age. However, although usually skin can accommodate this gradual change in shape and size very successfully it does sometimes fail to cope: it can be strained by sudden changes in body weight and size, and stretch marks are the visible souvenirs of that unacceptable pressure.

Stretch marks usually show where the elastic fibres of the skin were put under the greatest stress and their number and size is usually proportionate to the rate of weight chance.

It is not known exactly what happens during the development of stretch marks but it seems possible that hormones weaken and rupture the elastic fibres while mechanical forces decide the extent, length and direction of the resulting stretch marks.

Stretch marks can occur at almost any time of life but there are two occasions when they are particularly likely to develop:

1 The earliest date at which stretch marks develop is usually adolescence when changes in hormone levels in the body accompany a fairly rapid weight gain. Experts disagree about just how common striae are at this time but it seems that between a half and three quarters of all girls and about a third of all boys develop marks somewhere on their bodies. Varying in length, stretch marks are usually pink or purple to start with, although they invariably fade to white scars as the years go by, becoming wrinkled and papery with time. Adolescent boys usually develop striae on their backs, buttocks and abdomens while girls develop marks on their breasts as well.

2 The other very common time when women develop stretch marks is, of course, during pregnancy. An ordinary female abdomen has to stretch considerably during those nine months, to cope with the developing foetus, and one side-effect is often a collection of abdominal stretch marks. Nine out of ten young mothers develop them, either on their abdomens or on their breasts. (Marks develop on the breasts because they, too, tend to swell as milk accumulates.)

There is no certain way to prevent stretch marks developing, although there are scores of preparations on the market, designed to help stop striae forming. A little gentle massage with a plain moisturizing cream is probably as useful as anything, and very gentle exercising of the abdominal muscles may help. Stretch marks on the breasts can be minimized by wearing a good, supporting maternity bra.

Stretch Marks (Striae) Treatment

Once stretch marks have developed the most effective way to deal with them is with a camouflage cream. Your local pharmacist should be able to recommend a suitable one but if you have difficulty, ask your doctor to refer you to a dermatologist, who should be able to advise you on suitable creams - indeed some specialist dermatologists now work closely with specially trained beauticians. I would not suggest plastic surgery for stretch marks because the result may be scars that are more noticeable than the stretch marks. Remember, although they rarely disappear entirely stretch marks do usually fade as the years go by.

Steroids for Your Skin

These creams and ointments have been in use since the 1950s and have a powerful effect on the skin. Also known as topical steroids they are believed to work in three different ways:

1 They make surface blood vessels close up tightly, thereby reducing the amount of redness visible in the skin.

2 They slow down the production of new cells.

3 They reduce skin inflammation (thereby having an important effect on conditions such as eczema).

Although they are particularly effective in the treatment of most types of dermatitis and eczema, some cases of intertrigo, occasionally psoriasis and a variety of other disorders, topical steroids can make some other conditions worse and are particularly likely to produce problems if used on the face, under the arms or around the genital area. The side-effects produced by steroids vary but skin atrophy, acne and some types of dermatitis can all be caused by creams and ointments of this type. Children and babies are particularly susceptible.

Treatment with steroids

When prescribed for skin conditions, steroids should be applied fairly sparingly (the majority of patients use more steroid cream than is necessary). They should be rubbed in very gently but thoroughly and should be kept off areas of healthy skin if possible. These creams should not be obtained on repeat prescription.

There are many different types of steroid cream available, some much more powerful than others. Obviously, the least powerful preparation that will do the job is the most suitable one.
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