Thursday, October 28, 2010

Is There A Total Sunblock?

This is a frequently asked question. 

FDA has recommended that sun protection products be referred to as sunscreen, instead of sunblock.

In theory, a sunblock can offer up to 97% UV protection. In practice, this is rarely achieved.

Because, there are simply too many variables to the equation.

Firstly, SPF refers to protection against UVB. The higher the SPF, the longer the time that one can spend under the sun without getting becoming toast. SPF does not encompass UVA protection.

Secondly, protection from sunscreen decreases over time. Some gets removed with sweat, water or blotting tissue. Ingredients degrade under the sun, losing protective function.

Should I pick an SPF that is as high as possible?

The higher the SPF, the denser will be the product, and would feel thicker when applied on the skin.
SPF selection should be based on the level of activity or sun exposure anticipated. SPF 15 for basic protection, SPF 30 if more time spent outdoors, SPF 50 or more if skin is particularly sun-sensitive, or if receiving treatment for pigmentation. 

What is the maximum UVA protection to look out?

PA is one of the standard of measure of UVA protection. Other indices are IPD (immediate pigment darkening), PPD (persistent pigment darkening), UVA seal or star rating systems.

Although FDA has approved a new rating system to measure UVA protection, this will not be enforced till 2011.

For now, the only safeguard is to look at the ingredients carefully. Only ingredients such as Titanium Dioxide, Avobenzone, Meroxyl  SX, Zinc Oxide can give the best protection against UVA.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Are You Treating Baby's Skin Right?

Prevent eczema from birth
The incidence of eczema is rising relentlessly, and we are looking into ways to stem the tide.

From the time baby leaves the blissful, damp milieu within the womb, her skin changes, to adapt to life outside.

From the cold, dry air of the delivery suite, to baby's first bath; every little event is a potential insult to fragile newborn skin. Every insult erodes a little of the tenuous barrier of the skin, gradualy tipping the scales in favour of eczema.

Now, experts believe that the holy grail of eczema prevention, lies in the way we care for baby's skin from the time of birth.

To investigate this hunch, the researchers from Oregon University of Science and Health enrolled 28 babies who were deemed to be at high risk of developing eczema subsequently. These babies would have had older siblings with eczema or other allergic diseases such as asthma or rhinitis.

From the time of birth, right up till 2 years of age, their mothers were instructed to regularly apply an emollient (moisturiser) twice daily. Babies were bathed with soap-free cleanser only.

When these infants were assessed at 2 years of age, an overwhelming majority remained well and had not developed any signs of eczema. 

The result of this study is promising. The regular use of emollient replenishes moisture attrition in the skin, maintains the skin barrier. It may also prevent eczema!

Coming next ...Which Moisturiser Is Best?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Oral Sunscreen - Protection Against Skin Aging

With the gradual depletion of the ozone layer, there has been growing concerns about the level of ultraviolet radiation that reaches the earth and the increase in the incidence of sun-related diseases such as hyperpigmentation, photoaging and skin cancer. UV has many detrimental effects on the skin: it can directly cause DNA damage, and it can create so-called "reactive oxygen species" (ROS) or "free radicals." ROS are high energy molecules that collide with proteins and lipids in the cell and cause direct cellular damage. This damage is responsible for the effects of UV on skin: premature aging and a wrinkled and worn appearance.

Luckily, nature has provided us with a natural defense against the ROS rogues - antioxidants.Antioxidants quench the reactive oxygen species (ROS), decrease sunburn response. Antioxidants result in significant reduction in the number of ultraviolet induced sunburn cells and DNA damage.

Polypodium Leucotomos extract (PLE), which is taken orally, is one such antioxidant.

PLE has been traditionally used in Central and South America for the treatment of different inflammatory skin disease. Studies done on PLE have shown it to possess a range of benefits that include reduction in hyperpigmentation, skin firming effect which helps to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and slows down aging of the skin.

Patients who had taken PLE, demonstrated significantly less hyperpigmentation after 48 hours following UV exposure.

For all those sporting junkies out there, take an oral sun protectant like PLE in addition to topically applied sunscreen for fail-safe protection the harmful effects of UV.

Have fun in the sun!