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Posts tagged ‘skin’

Protect and preserve


The best thing you can do for your skin is to apply sun protection, writes Meera Murugesan

FORGET the lotions, potions, creams and serums that promise to prevent ageing. The best gift you can give your skin is to protect it from the sun.

Every second that we’re exposed to the sun, our skin cells get damaged says Dr Chang Choong Chor, consultant dermatologist at Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur.

Fortunately, we have a very good immune system on our skin, a complex DNA repair mechanism. Every time cells are damaged, the DNA is immediately corrected but if we get exposed to too much sun for the body to handle, then we will start to see negative effects and these include sunburn, pigmentation, wrinkles and in the worst cases, skin cancer.

“That’s why sun protection is the most important anti-ageing tool,” says Dr Chang.


Most Malaysians know the importance of sun protection but many do not realise that for best results, it’s important to know how to choose a sunscreen and to apply it correctly.

Dr Chang advises consumers to look for a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVB and UVA rays.

UVB affects mainly the epidermis so people may get problems such as tanning and sunburn but UVA can penetrate deeper into the skin, and affect the collagen and elastic fibres in the skin. It not only results in wrinkles but also plays an important role in causing skin cancer.

Dr Chang says it’s also important to look for products that won’t clog the pores and people with sensitive skin, eczema or a history of breaking out in rashes after using certain products, need to pay extra attention to the ingredients listed.

For general purposes, a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor 15 should be adequate but those with a higher risk of skin cancer, or who are very prone to skin sensitivity after sun exposure, would need a higher protection level. Fair-skinned people, for example, are more sensitive to the sun and some people have certain diseases that make them more sensitive to sunlight, such as those suffering from lupus. These people need products with a higher SPF level.

“I sometimes recommend SPF50 and above for people who are worried about skin cancer or those who already have sun damaged skin,” says Dr Chang.


Proper application is also crucial. Always apply 30 minutes before sun exposure and apply liberally.

Most people tend to use too little, says Dr Chang. For example, if someone uses a product with SPF15 but doesn’t apply enough, he or she won’t even be getting that level of protection.

Application should also cover all areas exposed to the sun and besides the face, the upper chest, back and shoulders should not be missed.

Depending on the level of exposure, it may be necessary to repeat applications throughout the day.

Dr Chang says if a person applies once in the morning and then goes to work and he or she works mostly indoors, then a once-a-day application should be fine.

However, if they tend to be out and about all day long in the sun, they need to reapply every two hours.

He adds that sun protection is not just about using sunscreen but also includes other tools such as umbrella, hat, sun-protective clothing, sunglasses and tinting of windows to block the sun’s rays.

What it means

PA Rating

A sunscreen with a PA rating means it blocks UVA rays.

The more “+” signs it has, the higher the UVA protection.

The maximum “+” sign a sunscreen can have is three.

Choosing a sunscreen

WHEN choosing a sunscreen, it’s important to make sure that it offers long-lasting stable protection against both UVA and UVB rays. SPF protection alone is not enough as that measures protection against UVB rays only, not UVA. A combination of SPF and a PA rating (on a product) means protection against UVB and UVA rays respectively.


via Protect and preserve – Health – New Straits Times.

Good sleep gives you younger-looking skin


Researchers have found that good quality sleepers show less signs of skin ageing, as well as recover more efficiently from stressors to the skin, such as sunburns.

WANT better, younger looking skin? Get better sleep, a new study finds.

In a small study at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, US, poor sleepers were found “to show increased signs of skin ageing and slower recovery from a variety of environmental stressors such as ultraviolet radiation”, the researchers said.

The study, presented at the International Investigative Dermatology Meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland, was commissioned by Estée Lauder.

“While chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to medical problems such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and immune deficiency, its effects on skin function have previously been unknown,” said head researcher Dr Elma Baron.

The study involved 60 women between the ages of 30 and 49, with half of participants falling into the poor quality sleep category. The classification was made on the basis of average duration of sleep and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, a standard questionnaire-based assessment of sleep quality.

Poor quality sleepers showed increased signs of intrinsic skin ageing, including fine lines, uneven pigmentation and slackening of skin, and reduced elasticity. The researchers found that good quality sleepers recovered more efficiently from stressors to the skin, such as sunburns.

Self perception of attractiveness was also significantly better among subjects who slept well compared to those who didn’t.

If you think you fall in the poor sleeper category, WebMD and the Mayo Clinic offer the following tips to boost your zzzs:

> Stick to a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends.

> Eat well, and avoid caffeine in the evenings or overeating before bedtime.

> Also try sleep accessories, such as a white noise machine or ear plugs, to block out distractions.

> Exercise during the day, which can aid sleep, and try to clear your mind from too much clutter before bedtime by writing in a journal beforehand, for example.

Though you may think chronic sleep deprivation is just stress-related, it could also be caused by an underlying medical problem like sleep apnoea, so it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. – AFP Relaxnews

via Good sleep gives you younger-looking skin – Health | The Star Online.

‘Scar free healing’ in mice may give clues to human skin repair, says study

African spiny mouse

The mouse skin’s tensile strength was 20 times weaker than in other mice.

By James Gallagher Health and science reporter, BBC News

Mice with brittle skin, which tears off in order to escape predators, may offer clues to healing wounds without scarring, according to US researchers.

Some African spiny mice lost up to 60% of the skin from their backs, says the study published in the journal Nature.

Unlike wounds in other mammals, the skin then rapidly healed and regrew hairs rather than forming a scar.

Scientists want to figure out how the healing takes place and if it could apply to people.

Salamanders, some of which can regrow entire limbs, are famed for their regenerative abilities. It has made them the focus of many researchers hoping to figure out how to produce the same effect in people.

Mammals, however, have very limited ability to regrow lost organs. Normally a scar forms to seal the wound.

Although many scienctists are trying to speed up the healing process, our studies on spiny mice and salamanders show that slowing things down is the path towards regeneration”

Ashley Seifert University of Florida

“This study shows that mammals as a group may in fact have higher regenerative abilities then they are given credit for,” said Dr Ashley Seifert from the University of Florida.

Regeneration hub

As well as rapid skin healing, the mice were also able to heal large circular holes punched in their ears – they regenerated hair follicles, sweat glands and cartilage.

Tests showed the mice produced a “regeneration hub” known as a blastema in order to repair the injury. It is this bundle of stem cells that is also used by the salamander to rebuild missing body parts.

Dr Seifert told the BBC: “It is thought that one of the main constraints on regenerating appendages in humans, or mammals for that fact, is the failure to form a blastema.”

He wants to investigate how the structure forms in these mice.

Another difference was in the web of proteins that holds cells in place – the extracellular matrix.

He said: “These mice appear to deposit extracellular matrix into their wounds at a slower rate than mice, pigs or humans.

“Although many scienctists are trying to speed up the healing process, our studies on spiny mice and salamanders show that slowing things down is the path towards regeneration.”

However, working out what is happening and then trying to transfer the findings to people is likely to be a long journey.

Commenting on the study, Elly Tanaka, from the Technische University Dresden, said: “These studies suggest that the pathways leading to regeneration, at least of the skin, that are normally associated with amphibians are also accessible in mammals.”

She added that harnessing the process “in a controlled manner in other wound situations may help to promote scarless healing”.


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