Infection – is an invasion by and multiplication of pathogenic microscopic organisms, such as bacteria, viruses and fungi, in a bodily part or tissue of a host organism which may produce subsequent tissue injury and progress to overt disease through a variety of cellular or toxic mechanisms. The infecting organism, or pathogen, interferes with the normal functioning and perhaps the survival of the host organism.
Skin infections are common. Breaks in the skin integrity, particularly those that let in infectious agents(pathogens) like bacteria and fungi, frequently cause or aggravate skin infections. All skin infections can be divided into 3 classes by a disease-causing agent:
The difference between an infection and colonization by microorganisms is often only a matter of circumstance. Organisms which are normally non-pathogenic and live on the surface of healthy skin can become pathogenic under the right conditions, and even the most infectious organism requires certain circumstances to cause a compromising infection. As an example, the staphylococcus species present on skin remain harmless on the skin, but, when present in a normally sterile space, such as in the capsule of a joint or the peritoneum, will multiply without resistance. The variables involved in the outcome of a host becoming inoculated by a pathogen and the ultimate outcome include:
- the route of entry of the pathogen and the access to host regions that it gains
- the intrinsic capacity of a microorganism to cause disease (virulence) of the particular organism
- the quantity or load of the initial substance introduced into the organism (inoculant)
- the immune status of the host being colonized
Any one who has a break in the skin is at risk for infection. However, certain conditions or diseases can put a person at greater risk for infection, including: diabetes (which causes poor blood flow to the skin), AIDS (because of a depressed immune system that is unable to fight the infection), skin damaged by sunburn or scratching.
Many invading organisms produce substances that cause allergic sensitivity in the host; the immune response to virus infection has been implicated in some diseases. Infections may be spread via respiratory droplets, direct contact, contaminated food, or vectors, such as insects. They can also be transmitted sexually (see sexually transmitted diseases) and from mother to fetus. Immunity is the term used to describe the capacity of the host to respond to infection. Drugs that help fight infections include antibiotics and antiviral drugs.
Beautiful skin can be marred by acne which affects about 85% of teenagers and can be seen in 60% of adults as well. It is most likely to be seen during periods of hormonal changes such as puberty and menopause (or in women starting or stopping birth control pills).
Elevated hormone levels can cause the sebaceous (oil producing) glands to form greater amounts of sebum (oil). These glands are attached, under the skin, to the sides of each hair shaft, and together form a unit called a follicle. The opening of the skin is referred to as a pore. The oil produced is necessary to lubricate the hair and skin. Most of the time the oil glands produce the right amount of sebum, and the pores are fine. When excess oil production is triggered, the pores can get clogged and bacteria begin to multiply, which leads to acne. Sometimes the pore is so blocked that it ruptures the skin and spills the contents into the surroundings. This causes inflammation, irritation and results in the deep “underground” pimple we know as an acne nodule or cyst.
Recent studies have shown that the typical Western diet contributes greatly to the incidence and severity of acne. Our diets are rich in refined carbohydrates and sugars. This triggers our bodies to produce a surge in insulin. It also causes an excess of male hormones which encourage the skin to excrete more oil and subsequent abundant growth of bacteria. Studies have shown that populations not fed on a Western diet are virtually acne-free. Yet when they move to cities and change their diet, they begin to experience acne for the first time ever.
Tips for Clear, Beautiful Skin:
– Cleanse twice daily. It is not necessary to wash your face every hour, as this can strip off too much oil from your skin and trigger over-production to compensate.
– Maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet.
– Eat organic whenever possible. Your body does not need the extra hormones and antibiotics found in typical meats, chicken or even farm-raised fish.
– Refrain from touching the area.
– Take care to keep hair sprays and gels on your hair but off your face.
– Use a moisturizer if you need one. You don’t have to dry out your skin to treat acne.
– Try an over-the-counter homeopathic remedy.
– Some dermatologists offer a new laser treatment (SmoothBeam) which can help to clear acne in a few monthly sessions.
Beautiful skin is pleasurable to behold. Following these steps you can help create and maintain beautiful skin throughout your life.
by Lisa Benest, MD.
Combination skin is characterized by a mixture of oiliness and dryness. Typically, the oily areas tend to be the T-zone, consisting of the forehead, nose and chin. The cheeks are normal to dry. The degrees of oiliness and dryness can vary. Pores may be larger in the oily areas - with pimples, blackheads and breakouts sometimes occurring - and dry areas may feel rough and irritated. The “tissue test” can help you determine if you have combination skin. Take a tissue and hold/press it against your face. If there’s oil on the tissue where it touched your T-zone, but no oil where the tissue touched your cheeks, you most likely have combination skin.
Many factors can cause combination skin, including hormones, age, genetics, the way in which lipids are organized in our skin and even the weather. Hormonal changes can lead to changes in skin’s oiliness or dryness. Teens and young adults tend to have oilier skin, especially in the T-zone, but with age, hormones change and the oil production may decrease (but unfortunately, acne is still an issue for many adults). Also, hormones change due to menstruation and the birth control pill, which can make skin oilier in certain areas. Lipids also play a role in combination skin: These proteins affect skin’s softness and feel. When lipids aren’t evenly spread throughout the skin, certain areas will feel drier and rougher, while other areas may feel soft but oily or greasy. The organization of lipids in skin is due to genetics and hormones. Finally, weather can exacerbate combination skin. Dry cold weather can cause skin to dry out and become irritated. Conversely, hot humid weather can increase oil production. This can affect your T-zone as well as your cheeks.
Combination skin requires special care to balance the oily and dry areas of the face. Proper cleansing, treatment, moisturizing and sun protection are all necessary.
• Cleansing: People with combination skin often have difficulty finding a cleanser that works for their unique skin needs. Formulas designed for oily skin may leave combination skin too dry, especially in the cheeks, while formulas designed for dry skin may leave combination skin greasy, especially in the T-zone. It’s best to avoid products that are either too drying or too rich. Instead, use a foaming or gel cleanser to get rid of dirt and oil without causing irritation or dryness. A cleanser to try is one that removes excess oil and impurities while still being gentle and not drying out skin.
You should also exfoliate your skin regularly to remove dry, dead, rough skin cells. These cells may be particularly prominent on your cheeks. They can flake off and block pores, causing blemishes and blackheads. Try a product that might include papaya and pineapple juice, olive derivatives and Ginkgo Biloba
Treatments: Treatment products are another important skincare component, helping to balance your skin. One treatment to try is one which moisturizes dry areas but prevents excess oil, especially in the T-zone. This product also contains antioxidants to prevent aging. Another type of treatment is a mask, and you’ll find an array of products for every skin type. Some experts advise using a hydrating/moisturizing mask on dry areas (cheeks) and a deep-cleaning clay mask on oily areas (T-zone). While using two different masks is certainly an option, you can also use a mask specifically designed for combination skin. If you suffer from breakouts, which may occur around the T-zone, use acne treatment products with salicylic acid. For problem skin, try a blemish serum or a spot treatment.
• Moisturize: Combination skin needs balance, and part of that balance means moisturizing your skin. Moisturizing is especially important for drier areas of the face, but your entire face needs moisture. Some experts suggest using separate moisturizers - a lightweight one for the T-zone and a deeper one for cheeks. You may choose to use separate moisturizers, but you can also use a single moisturizer designed for combination skin. Try a lotion which balances skin with witch hazel and aloe extract to help skin stay soft. Pay careful attention to dry areas, as they may require more frequent moisturizing than oily areas. Generally, experts recommend moisturizing dry areas twice a day and moisturizing oily areas once a day. Keep in mind that your individual skin has unique needs, so you might want to adjust your moisturizer - how often you use it, where you need it and how much you need.
• Sun Protection: Like all other skin types, combination skin needs protection from the sun. UVA and UVB rays can damage skin, so use oil-free sunblock all over your face daily (and on any other exposed areas). Try an oil-free sunlotion or sunblock because it protects your skin from UV rays and won’t make skin greasy.
Natural treatments such as aromatherapy oils, home-made exfoliants and masks may help treat your combination skin. For example, try mixing essential oils like chamomile, lavender and ylang ylang (just a few drops) together with your oil-free moisturizer. These ingredients have antibacterial properties and may help to rid skin of dirt or bacteria. However, if your skin is sensitive or easily irritated, or if you’re pregnant, you shouldn’t use these essential oils.
Exfoliating treatments can be made at home by mixing and grinding nuts, seeds or oatmeal along with water. These will slough off dead, dry skin cells - especially common around the cheeks. You can add citrus peels from fruit - like orange or grapefruit - to the mix and apply it to the oily T-zone.
To make a mask for dry areas, use ingredients like yogurt, mashed bananas or avocados to moisturize. On oilier areas, try pureed strawberries and apples.
What causes skin deterioration and wrinkles? All aspects of aging, including thin skin, wrinkles and uneven skin tone are the result of free radical damage at the molecular level. In not-so scientific terms, oxygen molecules are the ‘bad news’ of the anti-aging world. When involved in a chemical reaction, they frequently lose one of their electrons and then bounce around trying to steal an electron from another molecule. This can start a destructive chain reaction of unstable molecules, called free radicals, running around creating more unstable molecules.
Free radical damage is also known as “oxidation.” You can compare it to a little rain shower building to a fierce storm. Rust is the result of oxidation in metal, so when you consider the delicate skin tissue, you can imagine the damage that results.
Fortunately, the skin has amazing regenerative abilities that can help it repair damage (up to a point). Additionally, nature has provided antioxidants in the body, to help calm the storm of oxygen molecules. Antioxidants effectively block free radicals from getting to other healthy stable molecules.
Be aware, there are factors that can accelerate free radical damage to the point that the prevailing winds can shift the balance of power in favor of the oncoming storm. Current accepted wisdom categorizes the factors into lifestyle (meaning where and how you live), the natural aging process and genetics.
Of course, some of these risk factors can be changed and some can’t. As time and science march on, the list of factors which can be mitigated grows longer and longer. Lifestyle changes are frequently possible if you know what to do and are motivated to make the changes.
Thanks to recent scientific findings, the natural aging process of skin can be slowed and even reversed to some extent. That leaves only the genetic factors of skin aging to content with. But don’t go mistaking science as your “get out of jail free card.” There is no substitute for taking good care of yourself; eating healthy foods, drinking lots of water, and reducing alcohol and sugar intake. You body is designed to heal itself – help it do that by providing a foundation from which it can work.
UV protection, in the form of SPF creams, is the first topical step to take for your skin’s health. The second is moisturizing. The third step is assisting the fight against free radical damage with antioxidants. Steps four and five are skin care products that help remove old, dead and abnormal skin cells and those that promote normal skin regeneration. Many ingredients shown to accomplish this destruction and restoration are found in the latest generation of face creams.
In addition to anti-aging treatments that support physical health and beauty, there are also anti-aging skin care creams that address cosmetic concerns like adult acne, uneven skin pigmentation and lines of expression. While no one dies from these conditions, it is widely accepted that if we look better, we feel better. Therefore, while treatments for skin conditions are generally termed cosmetic, they frequently have a mental health benefit in that they support a healthy self-image and increased self confidence.
Science Daily (Apr. 14, 2009) — Scientists of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch and Charité – University Medical School, Berlin, Germany, in collaboration with researchers from the Klinikum rechts der Isar of Technical University Munich and Christian Albrecht University, Kiel, have identified a gene variant on chromosome 11 that is associated with an increased risk of atopic dermatitis.
In a large genome-wide association study the researchers scanned the genomes of more than 9600 participants from Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. “Our findings cast new light on the pathogenesis of the disease,” said Professor Young-Ae Lee (Charité / MDC). The pediatrician-researcher and her collaborators hope the study will lead to a new approach to targeted therapy for this chronic skin disorder.
More and more people suffer from atopic dermatitis, which is also known as atopic or infantile eczema. Atopic dermatitis is a chronic (long-lasting) inflammatory skin disease that typically affects the large flexures such as the bend of the elbows or the back of the knees. Patients suffer from recurrent flares of intense itching, dryness and redness of the skin, with weeping of clear fluid in the acute stage, and skin thickening (lichenification) in the chronic stage. Along with hay fever and asthma, atopic dermatitis is one of the most common allergic disorders. In the industrialized countries about 15 percent of young children are affected.
Atopic dermatitis is typically the first clinical manifestation of allergic disease. In most cases atopic dermatitis appears within the first few years of life. For the majority of affected children this marks the beginning of an “allergic career”, which in later years evolves into hay fever or asthma. Just what triggers the outbreak of atopic dermatitis is not yet fully understood. However, epidemiological studies indicate that the genetic contribution is substantial.
For that reason, of the total of 9600 study participants, the scientists decided to scrutinize the genomes of 3011 individuals more closely. These included children and adults with atopic dermatitis, healthy controls, as well as entire families in which at least two children have atopic dermatitis. The researchers scanned the entire genome, searching for genetic variants that are especially common in atopic dermatitis patients.
The study demonstrates that several genes are involved in the pathogenesis of atopic dermatitis. Most importantly, the researchers identified a variant on chromosome 11 that is particularly common in the patients with atopic dermatitis. This variant is located in a region containing the gene C11orf30 which encodes the protein EMSY. The scientists suspect that a mutation in this gene is associated with atopic dermatitis. However, the exact role of EMSY in atopic dermatitis still needs to be investigated.
Same variant also a risk factor for Crohn’s disease
The same variant on chromosome 11 is also common in patients with Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract. Scientists therefore suspect that this variant on chromosome 11 will unravel a novel common disease mechanism that can lead to chronic inflammation of various organs. The variant is very widespread: in Europe, 36 percent of the population are carriers. Now the MDC and Charité scientists want to decipher the exact function of EMSY in atopic dermatitis.
Furthermore, the scientists show that other previously unknown variants in genes related to the outermost skin layer (epidermis) increase the risk for the disease. The researchers hope that their findings will contribute to improved treatment for atopic dermatitis sufferers. “To develop a targeted intervention,” they explained, “we must first fully understand the underlying disease mechanism.”
1. Esparza-Gordillo et al. A common variant on chromosome 11q13 is associated with atopic dermatitis. Nature Genetics, 2009; DOI: 10.1038/ng.347
Adapted from materials provided by Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.
Many of us, women especially, can relate to the phrase, “I just don’t have the time.” Conversely, if you grew up in any generation or location that frowned upon wearing makeup or using ‘beauty products’ as ‘unnatural’, you might have recently had second thoughts as those lines began to show a little too much, or those dark spots were just getting darker.
You have lived long enough to know “beauty isn’t everything,” but the truth is, when it starts to fade, boy does it sure seem more important! Regardless of the circumstance that finally brought you to shock the last time you looked in the mirror, the good news is there are always second chances when it comes to taking care of your skin. The older you are, the more important it is to get started with a quality skin care regimen.
Three simple steps can aid your skin back the face you knew yesterday. You might have heard this before, but here it is again…just in case you need a refresher.
1. Cleanse - but gently. Too many professional skin care products strip your facial skin of the natural elements it needs to keep your skin soft and supple. Using a mild cleanser with a very light, delicate scent that won’t leave your face feeling tight and dry. For damaged, wrinkled skin, a moisturizing cleanser or cream cleanser is best.
2. Exfoliate - Many exfoliating products using sand or walnut shells can be too harsh to use daily - try to find a gentle exfoliating product – a natural clay or organic oatmeal. Natural skin care products tend to be less irritating and will not only exfoliate the grime and pollution of the day from your delicate facial skin, they also moisturize, soften, and increase your body’s collagen and antioxidant production.
3. Moisturize - Use a dry skin care anti aging lotion each morning after cleansing. Excellent high quality moisturizers not only replace vital moisture in your face but leave very soft and smooth. Additional moisture will also supplement the antioxidants your skin needs to produce to stay looking healthy and young. If you use an SPF of 25, it will also help protect your face from sun damage throughout the day.
One more thing…
The goal of your skin care routine is to address wrinkles, dark spots and dryness with products that deliver lighting, moisturizing and antiwrinkle ingredients. It’s not enough to get a facial to keep your skin clear and beautiful. You need to have a great home skin-care routine. I never hurts, to get a professional facial to deep cleanse your skin at least four times a year, as the seasons change. Every 4-6 weeks is ideal. But please, throw away the grocery-store soap and use quality skin care products that are right for your skin type. Also, if it still has to be said, wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days and in the winter. Use a good quality, high-SPF sunscreen. Sun damage is the single most important cause of premature aging. Last, if you have a tendency to engage in skin-damaging habits like smoking, excessive drinking, and tanning booths, please try to reduce or eliminate these habits altogether. Remember, you want your skin to reflect and shine the beauty that we know you already are on the inside. Make all those years of wisdom and experience show on the outside as well.
Dry skin recommendations and supplements that can help your skin
Dry skin responds best to climates with high humidity and hates cold, dry and windy climates. Indoor heating and air-conditioning can also be drying to skin. If you live in a dry climate, try to use a humidifier to add moisture to the air. There are many affordable varieties available on the market or for re-sale today.
Don’t steam your face or use excessive steaming facials because steaming is actually more drying than hydrating. Likewise, avoid steam rooms, swimming pools, chlorinated hot tubs and overly hot baths. Avoid those old-fashioned recommendations to put your face under a towel over a pot of boiling water. Not only will this lead to excessive drying, it can also cause broken capillaries or blood veins along the fragile skin of the cheeks and nose.
If your skin tends to be dry, and tight or wrinkled and sun spotted, avoid excessive sun, exposure or hot wax facial treatments, hair sprays and hair dyes that can dry your skin and provoke inflammation leading to dark spots.
Hormone replacement therapy can help to lessen skin dryness after Menopause though it will increase age spots due to new hormones stimulating pigment production. It may help prevent the wrinkles that quickly occur after menopause Consult with your doctor with your family health history to make an informed decision on HRT.
A weekly facial mask is a great way to boost your skins radiance and normalize oily or dry conditions. No matter what your skin type, there is a facial mask suited for you. Facial masks, when used once a week or twice a month for sensitive skin, can deep clean your face, tighten your pores, or brighten and exfoliate. Exercise caution though when shopping for a mask. Not every facial mask will suit your particular skin type. Several varieties are clay masks, moisturizing masks, fruit extract masks, yogurt masks, and gel masks, just to name a few. Before you buy a facial mask, you must recognize your skin type and buy accordingly. Read more
You may have heard the old saying, “You are what you eat.” Never does it ring more true when we consider the quality of our skin. It’s not a fallacy to say we feel better when we eat pure, healthy foods that support and nourish our bodies as compared to a diet of over-processed, chemical-laden foods. Without proper nutrients, the body just can’t function optimally. It will be sluggish, lack vitality, and lack muscle mass. On the surface, the skin may show wrinkles, sagging, acne, age spots and appear overall to be dull. Free radicals can take the blame for some of this skin degeneration, but if you want beautiful, healthy, glowing skin – you have to feed it right. Antioxidant-rich foods that contain vitamin C and E have been found to defend against free radicals by giving them their own electrons and forming a barrier that protects skin cells. You may already know certain behaviors and habits will either help or harm your skin, such as proper diet, exercise, smoking and sun exposure. One of the most significant sources of skin-damaging free radicals is cigarette smoke.
The modern Western diet is filled with carbohydrates, unnecessary sugars and salts, fats and caffeine. Most would be shocked to learn just how many of these detrimental elements they consume in a day. According to current research, it is the sugars and carbohydrates that have the worst effects on your complexion. They rob your skin of the oxygen it needs to stay youthful and can also cause inflammation.
In opposition to the processed foods, a diet that is pure and natural to its original essence as possible will provide your skin with vital nutrients and oxygen. Fruits and vegetables are on the top of this list of course, but other vital fats like walnuts, olive oil and fresh fish oils will also contribute greatly to beautiful, glowing skin. You cannot improve your skin without first improving your daily diet. Take the time to research various natural foods and their beneficial qualities. Try to incorporate these foods as much as possible into your lifestyle. Also beneficial is to replace those sugar-laden sodas with fresh water and teas. Proper hydration will help flush residual toxins from your system while you are optimizing your diet.
Once you consider what foods you are ingesting, you may also need to consider your smoking and drinking habits. We all know how harmful excessive smoking or drinking can be for our health, but our skin will be the first to show the signs of damage–long before our bodies give any indication of disease or imbalance. Smoking creates a toxic metabolism in your whole body. Many know the lungs are damaged by smoking–which is bad enough in itself–but the lack of oxygen will show on your face first. You will see more wrinkles around the eyes and mouth and smokers also have skin that is slower to heal. Blood is actually directed away from the skin by the destructive effects of nicotine, resulting in a sallow, grayish skin tone. On a scientific level, the nicotine blocks the oxygen supply to your skin, causing the subdermal capillaries to go into spasms, eventually increasing the rate at which your skin ages.
If you are hoping a cosmetic procedure will “erase” all the damage you have done – be aware that many doctors today will not perform any invasive procedures on a smoker due to the slower healing rate and lack of it results it can cause.
Once you have incorporated healthier foods into your life and reduced or eliminated smoking and excessive drinking, it is guaranteed you will see noticeable positive results in your skin’s appearance and in your overall health.
The first thing one thinks of when they hear the word “organ” in relationship to the body, may be an internal image – one of the lungs, liver or heart, one that helps the body function. You may not consider your skin to be an organ but it is in fact the largest organ of the body. According to a popular encyclopedia, adults carry some 8 pounds (3.6 kilograms) and 22 square feet (2 square meters) of it. This fleshy covering does a lot more than make us look presentable. In fact, without it, we would literally fall apart.The average skin composition is about one-hundredths of an inch thick. Its layers are called the dermis, which contains blood vessels and cells known as fibroblasts. These cells produce collagen, elastin and proteoglycans–the mortar that holds your skin together. The outer component is the epidermis. This contains between twelve and fifteen layers of cells, but as we age, they diminish to nine or ten layers.
Only the very bottom layers of cells divide and replace themselves. They slowly rise to the skin’s surface and as they rise, they lose their neuclei and die. This outer layer, knows as the stratum corneum, is then automatically sloughed off in tiny pieces during everyday activity, which then triggers the bottom layer of skin to create new skin cells all over again. If you are injured, this regeneration rate doubles or triples to compensate for the loss of skin cells and create new skin.
If you are a teenager, the regeneration process will take about two to three weeks. As an adult, this rate slows and cells become less apt to divide and less hydrated. Part of this cycle is mainly due to what are known as “free radicals.” These little guys have been getting a lot of press lately and driving many anti-aging products and supplements. Free Radicals are basically unstable oxygen molecules. They are unstable because they are missing some essential electrons. So, they seek out healthier electrons from other molecules – including our skin cells. The chain reaction they cause is known as oxidation. This effect can also restrain blood circulation and can cause other unsightly results like varicose veins.
The most significant sources of free radicals are cigarette smoke, air pollution and pesticides. All of this contributes to aging skin, creating wrinkles, age spots and sagging. Antioxidant-rich foods that contain vitamin C and E have been found to defend against free radicals by giving them their own electrons and forming a barrier that protects skin cells. You may already know certain behaviors and habits will either help or harm your skin, such as proper diet, exercise, smoking and sun exposure.
Skin acts as a waterproof, insulating shield, guarding the body against temperature extremes, damaging sunlight, and harmful chemicals. It also prevents infection and manufactures vitamin D to converting calcium into healthy bones. Skin additionally is a huge sensor packed with nerves for keeping the brain in touch with the outside world, proving to be an amazingly versatile organ. Treating it right, feeding it healthy, nourishing foods and protecting it from free radicals will ensure beautiful skin for many more years to come.