I am sure many of you have heard of the acne app to treat acne and must be thinking how on earth could a cellphone treat acne?!?! Well if you had your doubts, you were right. There is absolutely no evidence that using an acne app will improve acne.
These apps popped up around a year ago with claims that they could provide blue and red light treatments right from your phone. Blue and red lights have been effective in treating acne but these treatments are done in the doctor’s office with special lights that emit much higher energies than could ever come from a little cellphone.
Light therapy, tends to work better in conjunction with 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA). ALA is a topical treatment that is applied before the treatment. ALA activates the blue light therapy to make it more effective and is done under the supervision of a physician. Blue light helps acne by shrinking the oil glands and also by killing the bacteria that is implicated in acne.
The Federal Trade Commission is actually stepping in to shut down these apps that claim to treat acne. The marketers of the apps have agreed to stop making these claims in order to settle the FTC complaint. So don’t waste your money on the acne app. Try over the counter treatments with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide or see a dermatologist for an effective treatment plan.
Vitiligo is a skin condition characterized by white spots on the body. It can occur anywhere on the body but is very common on the face and hands. This is the skin condition that Michael Jackson reportedly suffered from. Vitiligo occurs in all skin types but is most obvious in people with multi-hued skin tones because of the striking contrast in color between the white and brown skin.
A recent study examined bimatoprost ophthalmic solution (Latisse) in 10 patients with vitiligo. Patients applied the solution twice daily for four months to the affected white vitiligo spots. Three patients had 100% repigmentation, 3other patients had 75-100% repigmentation and 1 patient had 50-75% re-pigmentation. Overall 7 of the 10 patients responded to treatment. Patients with vitiligo on the face responded the best.
The big question is …why does Latisee work on vitiligo? Well Latisse is a prostaglandin that is known to increase melanin production. Before it was used for eyelashes, it was a glaucoma medication. In the original glaucoma studies, one of the side effects was increased iris pigmentation. So it is not surprising that Latisse may work in vitiligo. Of course more studies are necessary to truly understand the role of Latisse in vitiligo, but it certainly looks promising.
Summer is upon us and this is the time of year when patients often come in complaining of “sun spots”. This is one of the most common things I see in the summer but its official name is tinea versicolor. Tinea versicolor is seen in young men and women and is characterized by slightly scaly spots on the back. It can also occur on the chest and abdomen in more severe cases.
In darkly pigmented people, tinea versicolor is usually lighter than the normal skin. In lighter skinned individuals, it can be tan or slightly darker than the surrounding skin. This familiar skin condition goes by many names…“sun spots” and “acid” are two of the most common ones. There is a wide held belief that they are caused by the sun, or drinking soda and juice. The truth is that tinea versicolor is caused by a common fungus. Some people relate it to the sun because sometimes the fungus produces a chemical that prevents tanning in the affected areas. For this reason, when you go out in the sun, the affected areas do not tan and are lighter than the surrounding skin. Thus, the name “sun spots” was a logical misnomer.
The treatment is simple. Ketoconazole is an antifungal medication that is taken by mouth or used in a topical cream or shampoo to treat this condition. Tinea versicolor tends to be recurrent so sometimes prevention with a weekly antifungal soap or even Selsum Blue shampoo is recommended. So if you suffer from sun spots, there is no need to worry. This is a common condition that can be easily treated by your dermatologist.
Memorial Day weekend in South Florida was hot! Unfortunately, I wasn’t where all of the action was in South Beach. I was actually invited to speak at the annual meeting of the Florida Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery in Boca Raton. I spoke about hyperhidrosis.
Hyperhidrosis is excess sweating and is common on the hands, underarms, feet and even in the groin. It almost always gets worse in the summer so I thought it would be a good time to shed some light on this condition and treatment options. If you suffer from hyperhidrosis, you are not alone. Around 2.8% of people have hyperhidrosis. It tends to run in families and can start in childhood. Most people grow out of it but for some it can persist into 30’s and 40’s. Antiperspirants that contain aluminum chloride are the best first line treatments. HydrosalPro is an excellent new product from Canada that has worked well on many of my patients. Antiperspirants with aluminum chloride are actually used at night so that they can penetrate better and clog the sweat ducts. Usually they are applied nightly for 4-7 nights and then as needed.
If topical antiperspirants don’t work, Botox injections are another excellent option. Some insurance companies cover the procedure and Botox typically stops sweating for 3- 6 months. For severe cases, there are also two surgical procedures to treat hyperhidrosis. One involves liposuction of the sweat glands in the underarms and is a permanent safe solution. The other procedure is called sympathectomy and is a more significant surgery that cuts the nerve that causes sweating of the hands. Although this procedure is very effective, up to 30% of people get sweating in other locations so there are significant risks involved.
For anyone with hyperhidrosis, I always recommend the website sweathelp.org. It has tons of detailed information on all of treatments I discussed today. If you have hyperhidrosis, don’t get discouraged this summer. There are many treatment options available…you just have to find the one that works best for you.
Recently I was at an outdoor event and walked by a temporary tattoo stand. It looked like fun and was “temporary” so many people were lined up to get inked. These temporary tattoos are also known as black henna tattoos and vendors typically explain that they will wear off over several weeks.
Interestingly, as a dermatologist I have seen many reactions to these tattoos that range from mild itching to severe blisters. Those with the most severe reactions can actually heal with scarring. When I first saw these reactions I was surprised because henna is a natural vegetable dye and has been used for centuries; however, the truth is that black henna tattoos also contain para-phenylenediamine (PPD) which is a black dye. Authentic natural henna tattoos are actually orange/brown in color and need to be left on for hours to stain the skin. They rarely cause any type of allergic reaction.
Vendors often add PPD, to the natural brown henna because it stains the skin more quickly (within ½ hour) and looks darker like a real black tattoo. This black dye is the same ingredient in black hair dye and is a common cause of contact dermatitis in people who are allergic. In hair dyes, the FDA requires that the concentration of PPD is less than 6% due the significant risk of allergic reactions to this ingredient. In some of the black henna pastes used for tattoos, the concentration of PPD can range from 10%-80%.
So how can you know if a temporary tattoo has PPD? It is simple… if a paste stains skin black in less than ½ hour, it has PPD in it. Also if the paste is mixed with peroxide, or if peroxide is wiped over the design to bring out the color, it has PPD in it. It is best to avoid these temporary tattoos unless you are 100% sure they do not contain PPD…otherwise, if you are allergic, these tattoos may not be so temporary after all.