Monday, October 29, 2012

Vitamin D Receptor May Eventually Treat Hair Loss

According to the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, male pattern baldness affects 35 million U.S. men, and nearly $2 billion a year is spent worldwide on surgical procedures to treat hair loss. Clearly, there is a demand for hair replacement treatments, and a breakthrough may be on the horizon.

The most successful hair loss treatments to date are topical products, such as Rogaine, or surgical hair transplants. Recently, however, scientists have found that Vitamin D and its receptors seem to play a role in hair follicle health. Vitamin D is known for keeping bones and skin healthy, but according to Mark Haussler, a professor at the University of Arizona, Vitamin D receptors are “crucial for the regeneration of hair.” The receptors are believed to activate the hair growth, not the vitamin itself.

Researchers are challenged, though, because hair follicles do not grow hair very well outside of the body. Also, too much Vitamin D can have negative side effects, so any successful potential treatment must be aimed at manipulating Vitamin D and its receptors only in the skin.

Since cancer patients, new moms and many other people suffer from hair loss, a more effective treatment could change a number of lives. For now, we just have to wait and see if this Vitamin D receptor will continue to show promise and if more research will lead to a breakthrough treatment.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Trust a Dermatologist

A new study published by Dermatologic Surgery reveals that primary care physicians believe that dermatologists are best qualified to perform certain procedures including skin cancer surgery, botulinum toxin injections, filler injections and laser procedures.

"This is an important study because little was known about physician perceptions of dermatologists, and we know referring physicians want the best qualified specialist for their patients," said Susan H. Weinkle, M.D., president of the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, which supported the study with a grant. "This study shows dermatologic surgeons understand the special needs of skin through every stage of life and are skilled providers of advanced surgical and nonsurgical methods for both medical and cosmetic procedures."

The web-based study surveyed 561 primary care physicians in the U.S. Of those, 538 completed the survey, and the results were very consistent.

Complete survey results can be found here.

If you are not referred to a dermatologist, but are looking for one on your own, here is my advice:

   1.  Determine if you need a general dermatologist or cosmetic dermatologist and find the doctor that best 
             fits your needs.   
               2.  Visit his or her website and read the bio to be sure that your potential doctor is board certified in 
 3.          3.  Schedule a consult and be prepared with a list of questions

When it comes to your skin, trust a dermatologist - primary care physicians agree!

Monday, October 15, 2012

It Might be Mites

According to a review published by the Journal of Medical Microbiology, scientists are closer to establishing what they believe is a bacterial cause of the skin condition rosacea. Rosacea, a reddening and inflammation of the skin, is mostly found around the cheeks, nose and chin. In more serious cases of rosacea, skin lesions may form and could lead to disfigurement.

Statistically, 3% of the population is affected by rosacea. The majority of patients with this condition are women with fair skin between the ages of 30-50; weak immune systems have also been linked to rosacea. While previously no specific bacterial cause had been found, rosacea is typically treated with antibiotics. However, the recent review by the National University of Ireland reports that bacteria within mites on human skin may cause rosacea.
These mites, Demodex folliculorum, are shaped like worms and live harmlessly around hair follicles on the face. The number of these mites increases with age, and the mites are more prevalent among those with rosacea, which has led to the indication that they are linked to the cause of the condition.
“The bacteria live in the digestive tracts of Demodex mites found on the face, in a mutually beneficial relationship,” said Dr. Kevin Kavanagh, who conducted the review. “When mites die, the bacteria are released and leak into the surrounding skin tissues – triggering tissue degradation and inflammation. Once the numbers of mites increase, so does the amount of bacteria, making rosacea more likely to occur.”
While learning about mites on the skin is a bit unsettling, the good news is that this discovery may lead to the development of improved rosacea treatments. According to Dr. Kavanagh’s review, some pharmaceutical companies are already working on a way to control the population of mites on the face, so new, more effective treatments for rosacea may be available sooner than we had once thought.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Psoriasis May Be a Risk Factor for Diabetes recently published an article reporting that patients with psoriasis may be at an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes over the general population and that the risk is highest in patients with severe psoriasis. The study referred to in this article was conducted by Dr. Ole Ahlehoff from Copenhagen University Hospital Gentofte.

Psoriasis is a common skin disease that affects the life cycle of skin cells. Psoriasis causes cells to build up on the surface of the skin, resulting in itchy, red patches that are sometimes painful. Cases of psoriasis can range from mild to severe and can affect different areas of the body, including the scalp, nails, underarms and groin.

According to the article, patients with mild psoriasis have an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes of 49% over the general population. In addition, those patients diagnosed with severe psoriasis are more than twice as likely to also be diagnosed with diabetes. These are startling findings, especially considering that there are approximately 125 million reported cases of psoriasis worldwide.

“Diabetes and psoriasis share an underlying inflammatory process and an abundance of risk factors, and therefore, it is not surprising that psoriasis has been proposed as a risk factor for new onset diabetes,” said Dr. Ahlehoff, who announced the results of this study at the European Society of Cardiology meeting; the study’s results are detailed here.

“Screening for diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors in patients with psoriasis is warranted,” Dr. Ahlehoff concludes. He suggests that a yearly screening should be sufficient.

While the cause of psoriasis is not fully known, researchers suspect that it is related to the immune system and how it reacts to the environment. Some triggers have been identified and should be avoided if possible. These include: infections such as strep throat, injuries to the skin including cuts, scrapes and bug bites, stress, cold weather and heavy alcohol consumption.

In some cases, psoriasis may be more of a nuisance than a major health concern; however, this is a disease that can often lead to joint problems and now, possibly Type 2 diabetes. Even in the mildest cases of psoriasis, it is important to consult with a medical professional. If you think you may have psoriasis or would like more information, I encourage you to call us at 864-242-5872 to schedule your appointment.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Skin Virus May Be a Cure For Acne

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne is the most common skin disorder in the United States, affecting 40 to 50 million people. In fact, nearly 85 percent of people will have acne at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, while acne is prevalent, safe and effective treatments are not. 

The good news is that researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Pittsburgh have discovered that a harmless skin virus, called phage, may be used to treat acne. This virus occurs naturally on our skin, and its purpose is to target and kill the bacteria that cause acne. Unlike antibiotics, however, phages target only the bad bacteria. Scientists found that there are 11 versions of the phage virus, and they all share similar DNA coding and carry a gene that creates the protein endolysin. This protein is thought to destroy bacteria by breaking down their cell walls.

"Antibiotics such as tetracycline are so widely used that many acne strains have developed resistance, and drugs like Accutane, while effective, can produce risky side effects, limiting their use," said Dr. Jenny Kim, director of the UCLA Clinic for Acne, Rosacea and Aesthetics.

Acne can cause both physical and emotional scars, so this discovery may literally change people lives. It could be many years before this treatment can be fully developed and available as a cure. In the meantime, if you or someone you know is battling acne, schedule a consultation with us today. We can identify what may be causing skin irritation and recommend the treatment plan that is best for you and your skin. Call us at (864) 242-5872 to schedule your appointment.