Nail biting is a common habit among children that sometimes continues into adulthood. The troubles of nail biting go well beyond the cosmetic appearance. Biting your nails can damage the tissue that makes your nails grow, causing them to grow unevenly. It can also cause an increase in hangnails and ingrown nails. If you commonly use nail polishes, especially gel polishes, the toxins in these products are harmful when ingested and currently have unknown long-term side effects.
Your nail health isn’t the only thing affected. Nail biting can leave you vulnerable to infection from bacteria and viruses passing from your mouth to your nails. This transmission can cause a painful, red, and swollen area around your nails, and in some cases, this area may develop into a pus-filled blister. Similarly, viruses and bacteria can travel the opposite direction. Even after washing your hands, these pathogens can pass from under your nails to your mouth and spread infection. Furthermore, regularly biting your nails can shift the alignment of your teeth, requiring braces or a retainer.
While stopping this habit is the best thing you can do for your overall health, it is not always easy. Here are some tips to help stop nail biting:
Photo credit: Jesska Stevens
“I think I need something to dry it out, not make it oilier.”
“Why do I need to moisturize my already oily skin?”
“My skin is oily enough, why would I add more moisture?”
People with oily skin have commonly expressed these concerns when asked about moisturizing. So should you moisturize oily skin? YES, you need to moisturize your skin, even if it is oily and acne-prone. To understand why, let's take a closer look at what a moisturizer really does.
Moisturizers don’t add water to your skin, but rather help hold the water in the outer layer of your skin to keep it hydrated. How do they do that? Moisturizers contain ingredients called humectants, which draw the water into your skin, and emollients, which form a protective film and trap the water in the skin. There are all kinds of different moisturizers from lotions and creams to gels. Some are water-based, others oil-based. With so many choices, how do you know what is right for your skin?
Remember, everyone’s skin is different. The same product that works well for one person, may not be the best option for you. Be ready to experiment with different moisturizers until you find the one that works best for you. Here are some tips to help you find a moisturizer that is compatible with oily skin:
Want another helpful hint? When choosing a face wash, choose something gentle. Using a harsh face wash may actually irritate your skin and trigger increased oil production.
If you’re concerned about your skin’s oil production or struggling with acne breakouts, contact us. We will be more than happy to help!
As a doctor, I have trained to serve my fellow human beings. There have been few experiences that have touched me as much as volunteering on a mission trip with the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS). As a dermatologist, I knew my services were needed. These refugees did not have the luxury of getting basic medical treatment, let alone specialized dermatologic treatment. Many were children. The setup was very basic, and we had to improvise. My friend, Dr. Sarah Ferrer, and I prepared many samples, lotions, creams and medications to take with us. We worked with the SAMS team in Jordan to be able to bring local medications to this vulnerable population.
The refugee camps Zaatari and Al-Azraq were the areas where we saw the most patients. We alternated locations to increase our coverage. We were also lucky to have local medical students and pharmacy students to help scribe, distribute medications, and translate. We could not have done it without them! Above is a picture of the very basic clinic. I had to be the doctor and the pharmacist. Our medication supplies were limited, but the demand for our services was unlimited. One of the most painful moments was telling someone with a bad skin disorder (like psoriasis or severe acne) that I did not have enough medication to help. I did what I could and treated them with compassion and respect. Many of them waited for hours and sometimes the whole day for a few minutes of my time and a tube of medication. At times, we had to turn people away after running out of time. I really tried my best to see everyone, and on the days we were able to do so, I felt euphoric!
In some patients’ eyes I saw hope, but in eyes of others I saw despair and hopelessness. Rafif, a five year old eczema patient I treated (picture above), was so happy. She mentioned, “I hope to become a dermatologist like my kind doctor, who treated me today. I want to thank him for taking care of me and being so kind to me.” She is a refugee at Al-Azraq camp. It’s moments like these that give me hope. I am happy and hopeful that Rafif will be able to carry the torch and treat patients one day.
In the end, I know my trip was just a drop in the bucket. I hope it was drop that made a small difference.
Is your wound infected?
It is important to monitor your wound for infection as you take care of it on a daily basis. If your wound changes in appearance, this does not necessary mean it is infected. While working in a surgical practice, we have noticed some common concerns that our patients have about their wounds. While some of these complaints can be serious, others are easily preventable by avoiding some common mistakes. These include:
1. Too much or too little ointment
2. Irritation around the wound due to harsh adhesives or large bandages.
3. Using your own products on open wounds
4. "My wounds need fresh air"
5. Hydrogen peroxide
6. Wash your hands!
Let’s be honest: a child’s main concern is fun. Most kids want to run around outside in the sun all day without a care in the world. So, it can be difficult to explain to them why they need to be careful when having all that fun. Here are some helpful tips for talking to your children about sun safety in a way they can understand.
How is the sun helpful to our bodies?
The sun gives your body vitamin D, which helps you absorb calcium to keep your bones strong. It does this by sending ultraviolet rays, or UV rays, to Earth. These UV rays are absorbed by your skin. But, if your skin is exposed to too many UV rays, you get a sunburn!
What is a sunburn?
Your skin has a chemical in it called melanin. This chemical helps your skin absorb the UV rays from the sun. When your skin is exposed to too many UV rays, the melanin cannot absorb them all and this causes a sunburn. People with lighter skin usually burn faster because they have less melanin, but even people with darker skin can get a sunburn.
Why is a sunburn bad?
Besides the fact that a sunburn hurts, there are many reasons to avoid getting a sunburn. Really bad sunburns can blister and if these blisters pop, you can get an infection. Sunburns can also cause wrinkles when you’re an adult and can potentially lead to skin cancer, which is very serious!
How do I keep from getting a sunburn?
There are a few important things you can do to help prevent a sunburn:
What about my infant?
Sunscreen should not be used on infants under six months old, as their skin is less mature and can absorb more of the chemicals in the sunscreen. To keep your infant safe in the sun, follow these simple recommendations:
Remind your kids the sun isn’t a bad thing, you just have to be careful!
As a dermatologist, I can tell you that almost everyone I have run across has had a skin issue. Some less serious such as a poison ivy rash that has resolved or an allergy to a cream that was transient. Some are more serious like melanoma, a very dangerous type of skin cancer that can travel across the body and in some cases cause death. Some disorders can have a range of severity such as psoriasis. It can be a few patches but it can also cover most of the skin surface. Psoriasis, like other skin disorders, can affect other parts of the patient, such as their heart. It can put the patient at increased risk of heart attack and stroke when compared to the general population. It can affect joints too and cause arthritis and joint destruction. There are over 300 diseases that dermatologists are trained to treat. They are experts at recognizing these skin disease patterns, diagnosing them accurately. Dermatologists usually tend to be very busy and are in high demand so I would recommend having an established dermatologist in the event you have:
Also if you are at a higher risk of skin cancer due to your profession or pastime (farming, golfing, sailing, etc) or your accumulated skin damage then it would be a great idea to establish regular skin checks with your dermatologist. That way you are proactive and catching the problem, if one appears, very early. You can catch a pre-cancer before it becomes cancer. When caught early, skin cancers are very treatable and require less aggressive treatments. So while you may not need a dermatologist now, chances are you may need one in the future.
As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” (That's Benjamin Franklin for all you history buffs!)
Photo credit: Coline Haslé
Suppose I give you a dapper suit or a stunning dress.
This is the most exquisite dress or suit you have ever come across. I tell you that I am going to give it to you for free. You glance over the amazing outfit, and the retail price tag catches your eye: $2 million! You are ecstatic! There is not one wrinkle within the fabric, and the material is silk smooth. Nothing can compare. In the summer, it cools you off. In the winter, it gives warmth. The outfit is waterproof and protects you from the elements. You can't wait to put it on! I am willing to give it to you right now, but before you go....
Two conditions come with this outfit. The first is you must safeguard it. While it is very sturdy and resistant to damage, it has one kryptonite- the sun. The longer it stays out in the sun, the more worn and leathery it starts to appear. If it gets too much sun, it may start to rip over time. The only other condition is you have to wear the outfit everyday. You smile- it's more charming than anything you have ever worn (let alone laid eyes on) so why wouldn’t you want to wear it 24/7? You rush home to try it on....how will you take care of this outfit? Would you wear it for long periods of time in the sun?
Our skin is our wonderful suit, which is worth way more than $2 million. Without our skin we would not survive. We have one shot to get it right with our skin- if we mess it up, we can't take it in for an exchange. If we get skin cancer, we can’t rewind and start over. We can’t send our skin back for an exchange. You and I are incredibly lucky to have an organ as amazing as the skin. Let's take excellent care of beautiful skin!
Woman overlooking city- Elias Arias
Man wearing suit- Javier Reyes
Woman sitting by bridge- Laura Chouette
It's officially Skin Cancer Awareness Month!
As we start to venture out after weeks of quarantine, remember to limit your sunlight exposure (especially from 10 AM to 2PM) and keep a bottle of sunscreen handy. Remember that sunscreen should be re-applied every 2 hours and a hat will help protect your face, ears, and neck.
Here's a short video explaining how we can enjoy the summer while protecting our skin!
Enjoy the sunny, beautiful month of May (while remembering to keep your social distance)!
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