Poison Ivy, also known as rhus dermatitis, is caused from an allergic reaction to the oil resin, urushiol, found in the leaves, stems and roots of poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. It is very common in the summer months.
The classical rash is a red blistering eruption seen in straight lines due to the way the plant brushes against the skin. If contact to the resin is a result of touching a piece of clothing, or from touching a pet that has been romping through the woods, the rash may appear more spread out. Inhaling smoke from a burning poison ivy, sumac, or oak plant may even cause a dangerous irritation to the nasal passges and lungs.
Once the oil resin is on the skin, it can spread to other parts of the body by scratching. Rhus dermatitis is often a very itchy rash and if untreated may last for several weeks. The rash itself is NOT contagious.
If contact to any of these plants occurs, immediately rinse yourself off with lukewarm water. Use a cleanser to wash away any remnant oil resin from your skin. Oil from poison ivy can stick to many different surfaces. Wash the clothing that may have contacted the plant. Rinse off patio furniture, garden tools, golf clubs, and even the fur on a pet.
A mild case of poison ivy may be treated at home with calamine lotion, over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream and oral antihistamines to control the itch. Do not open a blister as this may lead to infection. Cool compresses may help relieve the itch. If the rash is severe or widespread, affects the face or genitals, if blisters are oozing pus, or if a fever develops, seek medical attention immediately.
ALL ABOUT SERUMS
What exactly is a serum? The term serum is a medical term referring to the clear liquid in blood after both the cells and clotting factors are removed. Somehow this term morphed into a kind of cosmetic that most consumers assume is a clear water-based liquid with the promise to brighten skin, decrease wrinkles, improve pigmentation, improve tone and texture, give the skin a younger appearance, and more. Fact is there is no standard definition for the formulation of a serum, neither from the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA), from cosmetic chemists or dermatologists.
The buzz about serum is that they claim to contain a higher concentration of certain ingredients than other facial skincare products. They may. Or they may not. Consumers have no way of knowing what the actual concentration of any particular ingredient is in a cosmetic because the amount of each ingredient is proprietary and not given on the ingredient listing or the label. Serums are often touted as miraculous because of the ingredients they contain like hyaluronic acid, caffeine, snail mucin, peptides or arbutin, to name a few. There is little, if any, scientific evidence proving the effectiveness of any of these ingredients, which surprisingly, is in the manufacturers' best interest. If these products could actually change the structure or function of skin, they'd be classified as drugs and manufacturers would have to obtain FDA pre-market approval at great expense. Serums are cosmetics, not drugs.
My concern with serums is more about the ingredients they don't contain. Most serums do not contain ingredients that keep water from evaporating from the skin, such as petrolatum, mineral oil or dimethicone. Without one of these types of ingredients, a product is not very effective as a moisturizer.
And how these products fit into a healthy skincare regimen is also arbitrary. Some companies recommend serum application between cleansing and moisturizing. Others recommend application after both cleansing and moisturizing. Which one is it?
Even more confusing, the variations of serums keep growing. You can find combination serums (like serums plus primer, another unnecessary product), double serums, daytime serums and nighttime serums - a hysterical concept as ingredients can't tell time. Can serums be fun to apply? Yep. Do they feel good on the skin? Sometimes. Can they cause allergic reactions or irritation? Yep. Do you really need a serum? Nope.
DO I NEED SHAMPOO?
Shampoo is quite a recent invention with the first synthetic shampoo, Drene, being introduced in the United States in the 1930s. Shampoo didn't become a household staple until the early 1960s when products like Breck, Prell, and Johnson & Johnson's Baby shampoo became popular. Prior to that, hair was typically washed with bar soap.
Traditional bar soap is made from animal fat and lye. When mixed with hard water, it left a difficult to rinse soap scum on the hair. This resulted in hair that felt rough and dry. It also left the hair unmanageable. And because traditional soap didn't lather well, there were plenty of marketing opportunities to promote new and improved hair cleansers.
Shampoo is a hair care product that is designed to clean, remove sebum, desquamating skin cells, oils, dirt and sweat from the scalp and hair. It is also designed to beautify. It is simple to formulate a shampoo that will removed unwanted oil and dirt from the hair and scalp but to formulate one that also leaves the hair soft, smooth and manageable is much more challenging. Formulating shampoo is a balancing act between removing enough of the unwanted oils and dirt so the hair appears clean while leaving the hair conditioned and aesthetically pleasing to the consumer.
Although there is no known overall health risk to shampooing with synthetic shampoos, there is little science studying the effects of daily exposure to shampoo ingredients. We do know that over washing the hair can damage the hair itself.
So, if you have a healthy scalp, do you really need to wash your hair with shampoo? For some individuals the answer is a resounding NO. Proponents of the 'no-poo' method espouse that there is no medical reason to wash the hair with synthetic shampoos and that doing so is solely determined by cultural norms. Strengthening their argument is the fact that shampooing has only become a daily essential in the past half-century and the fact that there is little, if any, research proving the health benefits of shampooing as part of our daily hygiene.
Modern shampoos have made it easier to get cosmetic outcomes that are pleasing (clean, silky, manageable hair.) It all depends on how much you want to pay for it and how you feel about using synthetic products.
The selection of effective shampoos on skincare aisles that both clean and beautify is plentiful. Which shampoo you prefer and how often you shampoo is still mostly based on personal preference. Regarding the instructions on many shampoo bottles, Lather Rinse Repeat, personally I don't follow them. I just lather and rinse.
DRY WINTER SKIN
The dry winter days are here. There are beautiful snowflakes. And with them come lots of skin flakes as well. Your skin is dry, scaly and may even show signs of cracking.
Moisturizers come as creams, lotions and ointments. Petroleum based ointments tend to be more occlusive, limiting the evaporation of water from the skin. During the cold winter months, oil based moisturizers may be more effective. For very dry skin and for problem areas such as the elbows and knees, moisturizers containing urea and/or lactic acid may be beneficial as these ingredients draw moisturize into the skin. One caution when using these types of moisturizers: they may cause the skin to sting or burn when applied to irritated, cracked, or inflamed skin.
Try these steps to alleviate dry winter skin:
- Moisturize more frequently (3 - 5 applications/day) to help keep the skin hydrated. Always apply moisturizer after a shower or bath.
- Take brief, 5 to 10 minute, showers with lukewarm water. Long showers and hot showers may strip the skin of its natural lipids and proteins that help maintain adequate hydration.
- Use a mild soap free cleanser to minimize the loss of the skin's own moisturizing proteins and lipids.
- Apply petroleum or wax based lip balm to help keep the lips smooth and prevent chapping.
- Apply moisturizers to your hands regularly.
- Cover up when exposed to dry cold winter air. Wear hats, gloves and scarves to help prevent dry skin and chapped lips.
- To increase moisturize levels in the home, consider using a humidifier. Humidity levels between 30% - 50% may prevent the skin from drying out.
- If dry skin is severe or if it persists, see a dermatologist to rule out any underlying medical cause of dry skin like eczema, psoriasis or other inflammatory process. Prescription products may be necessary.
You can select effective soap-free cleansers, moisturizers, hand creams and lip balms with the Product Selector tool.
EXPENSIVE SKINCARE, DON'T BOTHER
After 30 years of practicing dermatology, reading the medical literature and testing skincare product formulations it is clear to me that:
- There is no correlation between the cost of an over-the-counter (OTC) skincare cosmetic, including "anti-aging", "anti-wrinkle", firming, toning, and night creams, to name a few, and its efficacy. The ability of an OTC product to temporarily improve the appearance of fine lines depends on its ability to increase the water content of skin, to moisturize. And,
- There is no OTC skincare product that can reverse the aging process. As a matter of fact, science has yet to discover a single ingredient that can do that. Simply stated, there is no "Fountain of Youth" in a bottle, jar, tube or pump.
Too many of my patients spend an astronomical amount of money on OTC skincare products with the hopes of looking many years younger. $50, $80, $100 per ounce. Up to $4800 per pound. Absurd! Save your money. Aging is inevitable. Embrace it. Don't let marketing and media hype convince you that you are somehow physically inadequate. You're NOT.
Optimize your skin health and appearance by living a healthy lifestyle. Magic potions do not exist. Apply a well-formulated moisturizer that you can purchase at your local pharmacy. Apply sunscreen daily. And remind yourself often, you're already awesome!
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Welcome to Fully Exposed
Hello, and welcome to FryFace!
I've been a New York based dermatologist for over 25 years. I love music. I love triathlons. I love chemistry. (I love petroleum jelly.) I study skincare ingredients and product formulation. I listen to skincare "advice" from self-proclaimed ......Read More