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Sometimes, changes in your skin can signal changes in your health as a whole. For example, according to Brooke Jackson, MD, Director of the Skin Wellness Center of Chicago, “The hormones that the thyroid produces are directly responsible for the natural fats that protect the skin, as well as hair and cell growth and hair pigmentation.”
She explains that in a person with hyperthryroidism (when the thyroid overproduces thyroid hormone), the epidermis––the outer layer of skin––may thicken and skin may be soft. With hypothyroidism (when the thyroid under-produces thyroid hormone), on the other hand, symptoms include very dry skin and thickened skin on the palms and soles. Another way your skin can tip you off to health issues: Acanthosis nigricans, a condition in which skin around the neck darkens and changes in texture, is often associated with diabetes, according to D’Anne Kleinsmith, MD, dermatologist at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, MI.
Melanin, explains Josie Tenore, MD, SM, is a coloring pigment that is present in all people’s skin—regardless of race. “The difference in skin tone between people of different races—and between people of the same race––lies in how much of this pigment is present, and its distribution within the skin.”
More specifically, everyone—no matter how dark or pale they are––has the same number of melanocytes, which are the cells that make melanin, explains Arnold Oppenheim, MD, a board-certified dermatologist. “It’s their product, melanosomes—which contain the melanin––that differ. Some people have denser and larger ones, which make their skin darker.” Also, the denser and closer together they are, “the more protection the skin is afforded from skin cancer,” he says.
Ever wonder why children have such naturally rosy and dewy skin? While skin of all ages produces new cells which eventually move to the surface and shed off, young people’s skin does this more often, according to Dr. Tenore. “In kids, this happens every two to three weeks, which gives them that vibrant, shiny skin. But as we age, this process becomes slower. More dead cells stay on the surface, resulting in that dull, dehydrated look.”
She adds that exposure to direct sunlight slows down the sloughing off process even further because UV light decreases cellular turnover. Depending on your skin type—your dermatologist can identify yours––daily exfoliation or a topical antioxidant serum that contains retinoids, vitamins and peptides can help encourage cell turnover, according to Francesca Fusco, MD, a New York City dermatologist.
Pregnancy, weight fluctuations and even teenage growth spurts can all cause stretch marks, those squiggly lines that start out darker than your skin color and often appear on the hips, thighs and abdomen (but can crop up anywhere). When collagen and elastin initially break down, says Dr. Oppenheim, skin creates striae rubrae—red or purple stretch marks on light-colored skin—due to inflammation. When stretch marks are in this phase, applying retinoid creams to them—no matter where they appear––can “considerably lessen their appearance,” says Dr. Fusco. That’s because the medication promotes cell turnover and skin regeneration. Some older stretch marks, which are lighter in color and have indentations, can be treated with lasers to help smooth the skin, says Dr. Kleinsmith, but it depends on where they appear—ask your dermatologist if lasers can help reduce the appearance of your older stretch marks.
The relationship between hair and skin is a close one. “The whole sebaceous (oil) gland and hair apparatus is one unit,” says Dr. Oppenheim. “The oil gland grows out of the hair follicle, which it helps to lubricate.” But it’s the difference in the individual glands that affects hair type. According to Dr. Oppenheim, “Where we have large oil glands, which produce more oil, we have thin hairs; where we have small oil glands, which produce less oil, we have thick hair.” People have oily skin in the middle of their faces because there are large sebaceous glands there, and they have dry skin on the periphery because there are small oil glands there. This is why even men with heavy beards don’t grow hair in the middle of their faces.
Those brown spots that tend to crop up with age have little to do with the passing years, and much more to do with soaking up rays. “Age spots are the result of cumulative sun exposure and subsequent damage,” says Dr. Fusco. “They appear because pigment cells have accumulated in the top layer of skin.” To prevent sunspots, apply sunscreen in the morning every single day—and every few hours afterward if you’ll be in direct sunlight. “The minimum SPF you should use is 30; be sure that it’s broad spectrum to block UVB and UVA rays.” advises Dr. Fusco. Aim to use a marble-sized amount of block for your face and a shot glass–sized amount for your body. Though age spots aren’t directly related to age, seborriheic keratosis, benign hereditary moles that usually stick out from your skin, are. They vary in color from white to black, says Dr. Oppenheim, and tend to appear on the face, scalp and torso (but can show up anywhere except your palms, the soles of your feet and your mouth) as you grow older.
If you’re on the lookout for dark moles to screen for skin cancer, you’re on the right track. But malignant spots aren’t always so easy to find. “Follow the Sesame Street rule—‘One of these things is not like the other,’” says Barbara Reed, MD, a dermatologist at the Denver Skin Clinic. “Melanomas can be red, purple, flesh-colored or even white. I think I’ve seen them in every color except green,” she explains. If a mole looks funny, grows, itches or just plain makes you obsess over it, Dr. Reed recommends heading to your dermatologist for a check-up. And always tell your doctor about any other new spots or skin irregularities that you notice.
Posted on 03 June 2012 by Nitin
1. Flat, worn teeth plus headache
Sign of: Big-time stress
Many people are surprised to learn they’re tooth-grinders. After all, they do this in their sleep, when they’re not aware of it. And they underestimate the physical toll that stress can place on the body. “Crunching and grinding the teeth at night during sleep is a common sign of emotional or psychological stress,” says Iacopino. You can sometimes see the flatness on your own teeth, or feel it with the tongue. Or the jaw may ache from the clenching.
What else to look for: Headaches, which are caused by spasms in the muscles doing the grinding. Sometimes the pain can radiate from the mouth and head down to the neck and upper back, Iacopino says. Mouth guards used at night can relieve the symptoms and protect teeth.
2. Cracking, crumbling teeth
Sign of: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Older adults, especially, are vulnerable to teeth that appear to be cracking or crumbling away. The enamel becomes thin and almost translucent. But this erosion isn’t a normal consequence of aging. In fact, it can happen at any age.
Disintegrating teeth are usually caused by acid that’s coming up from the stomach and dissolving them, Iacopino says. The cause: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD, also called acid reflux disease). GERD causes stomach acid to back up into the esophagus — and from there, it’s a short distance to the mouth for some of the damaging acid. GERD is a chronic disorder caused by damage or other changes to the natural barrier between the stomach and the esophagus.
What else to look for: Dry mouth and heartburn are related GERD symptoms. (But in an older adult in someone else’s care — in a nursing home, for example — these complaints may go unreported.) Cracking or chipping teeth in a younger person is also a telltale sign of bulimia, the eating disorder in which the sufferer causes herself (or himself) to vomit before digesting. Same net result: Stomach acid washes up into the mouth, over time disintegrating the tooth enamel.
3. Sores that won’t go away
Sign of: Oral cancer
Many people bite the insides of their mouth as a nervous habit. Others sometimes bite the gum accidentally, creating a sore. But when an open sore in the mouth doesn’t go away within a week or two, it always warrants showing to a dentist or doctor. “We all injure our oral tissues, but if an area persists in being white or red rather than the normal healthy pink, this needs to be evaluated to rule out oral cancer,” says Susan Hyde, an associate professor of clinical dentistry at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Dentistry.
More than 21,000 men and 9,000 women a year are diagnosed with oral cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. Most are over age 60. Oral cancer has a survival rate of only 35 percent, Iacopino says, but this is mainly because cases are often detected too late. Smokers are six times more likely to develop oral cancer, but one in four oral cancers develop in non-smokers.
What else to look for: Suspicious oral ulcers tend to be raised sores and often have red or white (or red and white) borders. They may lurk underneath the tongue, where they’re hard to see. Bleeding and numbness are other signs, but sometimes the only sign is a sore that doesn’t seem to go away. A biopsy usually follows a visual check.
4. Gums growing over teeth
Sign of: Medication problems
If you notice your gum literally growing over your tooth, and you’re taking a medication for heart diseaseor seizures or you take drugs to suppress your immune system (such as before a transplant), it’s well worth mentioning this curious development to your prescribing doctor.
“A swelling of the gums to where it grows over the teeth is a sign the dosage or the medication need to be adjusted,” the ADA’s Anthony Iacopino says. Certain drugs can stimulate the growth of gum tissue. This can make it hard to brush and floss, inviting tooth decay and periodontal disease.
What else to look for: The overgrowth can cause an uncomfortable sensation. In extreme cases, the entire tooth can be covered.
5. Dry mouth
Sign of: Sjogren’s syndrome, diabetes
Many things can cause dry mouth, from dehydration and allergies to smoking and new medications. (In fact, hundreds of drugs list dry mouth as a side effect, including those to treat depression and incontinence, muscle relaxants, antianxiety agents, and antihistamines.) But a lack of sufficient saliva is also an early warning of two autoimmune diseases unrelated to medicine use: Sjogren’s syndrome and diabetes.
In Sjogren’s, the white blood cells of the body attack their moisture-producing glands, for unknown reasons. Four million Americans have Sjogren’s, 90 percent of them women. Twenty-four million people in the U.S. have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, a metabolic disease caused by high blood sugar.
What else to look for: Other signs of diabetes include excessive thirst, tingling in the hands and feet, frequent urination, blurred vision, and weight loss. In Sjogren’s, the eyes are dry as well as the mouth, but the entire body is affected by the disorder. Because its symptoms mimic other diseases (such as diabetes), people are often misdiagnosed and go several years before being properly diagnosed.
6. White webbing inside cheeks
Sign of: Lichen planus
The last thing you might expect to discover while brushing your teeth is a skin disease. But it happens. Lichen planus, whose cause is unknown, is a mild disorder that tends to strike both men and women ages 30 to 70. The mucus membranes in the mouth are often a first target.
Oral lichen planus looks like a whitish, lacy pattern on the insides of the cheeks. (The name comes from the same roots as tree lichen, a lichen that has a similar webbed, bumpy appearance.) Seventy percent of lesions appear in the mouth before they strike other parts of the body, says professor Anthony Iacopino.
What else to look for: Another common area where a lichen planus rash may appear is the vagina. Lichen planus often goes away on its own, but sometimes treatment is necessary.
7. Crusting dentures
Sign of: Potential aspiration pneumonia
Most people don’t connect dentures (false teeth) with pneumonia, other than to think they’re both words that often refer to the world of the elderly. And yet the two have a potentially deadly connection. “A leading cause of death in older people is aspiration pneumonia, often from inhaling debris around the teeth and dentures,” Iacopino says.
In aspiration pneumonia, foreign material is breathed into the lungs and airway, causing dangerous (even fatal) inflammation. Too often, the problem stems from people in the care of others — those in nursing homes, for example — who fail to clean dentures properly. Dentures need to be removed daily from the mouth, cleaned with a special brush, and stored in a cleansing solution.
What else to look for: A soft, crusty material developing around dentures. With proper cleaning, though, you don’t have to worry about other red flags. “It’s amazing. You can get a 100-percent reduction in what’s otherwise a leading cause of death for denture wearers,” Iacopino says.
Posted on 02 June 2012 by Nitin
Posted on 27 May 2012 by Nitin
Smart Groceries Shopping
1. There’s no perfect time to do your groceries shopping - Supermarkets usually receive food deliveries 1 or 2 times a week, but nowadays most groceries stores are getting shipments daily. The mindset that certain items are going to be a lot fresher on certain days does not hold true any longer.
2. Mornings are better - No matter what day you patronize, morning are an perfect time to get the freshest produce and dairy products. Stock is refilled from the past day 1st thing in the morning [also, the milk case has simply been covered in a refrigeration blanket overnight].
3. Watch out for the small fruit displays - Most stores have Hugh produce displays, and there able to have them that big because they sell them very fast. If you see smaller displays, the store most likely does not go through its produce as rapidly…Which means, naturally, that it’s been sitting on that display for much longer.
4. Big superstores chains are not any cheaper - Save daily, everyday low-pricing stores such as Walmart, Winn-Dixie and Food Lion will not necessarily give you the best deals. Higher-end supermarkets like A&P or Wegmans frequently offer sale prices that, if you use your coupons wisely, will cost you less than those at everyday low-pricing superstores.
5. Wash your hands - The push handgrips on shopping carts are a perfect place for bacteria. People who are sick will almost for certain have germs on their hands, and the dampness and body oils on the shopping cart handle are a host for germs to grow.
6. Be careful of foreign fruits - The normal produce section carries over 100 assorted items. Obviously, apples, oranges and bananas sell quicker than, say, a Annona cherimola. Commonly, the standard fruits and veggies are going to sell faster, which means they will be refilled more quickly.
7. Do the scent exam - If you are picking up a more unusual product, take the time to smell it, feel it and, when if you’re not sure, ask the produce manager, since there’s a probability it has been sitting for longer.
Posted on 13 May 2012 by Nitin