Why Dandruff Shampoos Work (Even Though We Don't Know the Exact Cause of Dandruff)

dandruff

We’ve all seen it — whether on ourselves or others — the telltale white flakes that accompany dandruff. Dandruff, in particular dandruff caused by seborrheic dermatitis (SD) , is often caused by overproduction of sebum (skin oils) and skin cells in addition to irritation from malassezia (a yeast-like fungus). This fungus lives on all adult skin, but when it grows out of control, which researchers think may happen because of excessive shedding of dead skin cells, it can cause problems (Mayo Clinic, Journal of Medicinal Chemistry).

This fungus causes the inflammation that results in flaky, scaly patches and red, itchy skin (A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia). In more severe conditions, sufferers may have excess oiliness, yellow crusts and fissures of the skin, and there’s concern about secondary bacterial infection. Dandruff/SD seems to be genetic, but can be triggered by weather changes, stress, skin disorders, fatigue, insufficient washing, oily skin, and obesity; certain neurological conditions and HIV have also been linked to increased cases.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of dandruff shampoos to treat these conditions, though they don’t cure them. Though we don’t understand the exactly why dandruff happens, we do know that these shampoos work.

Dandruff/SD and Too Many Dead Skin Cells

An excess of dead skin is definitely an important factor in dandruff and SD, but what causes it?

An excess of dead skin is definitely an important factor in dandruff and SD, but what causes it?

Dandruff shampoo primarily contains zinc pyrithione, which is an antibacterial and anti-fungal compound that also has cytotoxic activity against skin cells (Merriam-Webster, Food and Chemical Toxicology). In fact, this cytotoxic action may be an important part of how dandruff shampoos work.

Studies have looked into the scalps of SD sufferers to understand why malasezia, which is found on all skin, causes SD in some and not in others. In a small, single-center, double-blind, randomized, parallel group comparison study of 12 participants to determine whether the ultrastructure of a scalp with dandruff was different than a non-sufferer’s scalp (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology).

Those with dandruff had an altered structure of the scalp. This primarily entailed an increased number of intercellular lipids. These appeared in and cause separation and curling of the corneocytes, which are what makes up the stratum corneum (outermost layer of skin). So, the researchers conclude that SD is caused both by altered keratinization and altered sebum production. The researchers found that these scalp abnormalities were greatly reduced by zinc pyrithione, meaning that whatever the cause of these abnormalities, zinc pyrithione helps.

An in vitro study on human cells found that zinc pyrithione might have an antimetabolic action on the skin, which decreases the cell proliferation (Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists). This research shows that increased cell proliferation is an important part of SD, but doesn’t actually provide a root cause.

While researchers initially thought this meant that the fungus was a component but not a cause of SD, the introduction of azole anti-fungals, which proved to help people with SD, seemed to suggest that the fungus was complicit in causing SD.

Dandruff/SD and Fungus

Malasezia, a fungus found on nearly everyone's skin is a part of dandruff. But researchers want to know why only some people are affected.

Malasezia, a fungus found on nearly everyone’s skin is a part of dandruff. But researchers want to know why only some people are affected.

Some researchers have suggested that the increased proliferation of skin cells might actually be the body’s response to the presences of the fungus malassezia. People who are sensitive to this fungus might have their immune system provoked by its presence, resulting in the proliferation of cells (PLoS Pathogens). This is further backed by the increase in SD in people with AIDS, which seems to suggest that there are immunological factors at work (Clinical and Experimental Dermatology).

Some people with SD have also been shown to have an elevated number of activated lymphocytes in their system, which backs the idea that SD has ties to the immune system. Research as to whether malassezia raises the antibody count in SD sufferers has been inconclusive.

The fact that lesions improve with the removal of malassezia from skin seems to suggest that this fungus is directly correlated with SD. There are still numerous questions to be answered, but the currently theories about SD and dandruff include the presence of fungus. That’s a good thing, because Proctor & Gamble cracked the genetic code for the fungus and hope to create products to combat it even better.

And thanks to its antimicrobial capabilities, zinc pyrithione also helps to take care of malassezia. One study found that an important part of how it functions is inhibiting fungus by increasing copper uptake and activating key proteins that stop the growth (Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy). Still, we don’t entirely understand it’s antimicrobial properties and more tests must be done.

Bottom Line

While we don’t know exactly what causes seborrheic dermatitis or the accompanying dandruff, we do know that dandruff shampoos seem to work to aid the problem, if not cure it altogether. That’s because the usual ingredient, zinc pyrithione, combats many of the components of SD and dandruff. As a cytotoxic agent, it helps to curb the excess proliferation of skin cells. As an antimicrobial agent, it curbs the growth of malassezia, the fungus that is a huge component and possibly the cause of SD. Future studies to understand exactly what causes SD and dandruff will help us to create products that might actually cure the condition one day.

Tell Us About You

Self_esteem_week_logo

From March 4-8, we’ll devote some of our content to talking about self-esteem, but we want you to be a part of the conversation too! Whether it’s a story, a poem, a mantra, or just your philosophy, we want to hear what you have to say about beauty and what’s on the inside. Feel free to get creative — this is your chance to write something for FutureDerm. Something from every entry will be included on the blog, and the top submissions will receive prizes.

To participate, send your submission to Natalie@futurederm.com by February 2 at 11:59 p.m. with the subject “Self-Esteem Week.” So far, we’ve had some great submissions and we hope that you’ll participate!

Does Mineral Oil Enhance UV Light?

Cosmetic-grade mineral oil is transparent.

Cosmetic-grade mineral oil is transparent.

Last week, I analyzed the issue of whether petrolatum enhances UV light. In that post, the myth that petrolatum enhances UV light due to a magnifying lens-like effect was debunked. Furthermore, it was concluded that petrolatum was able to confer mild “blocking” effects on both types of UV irradiation, with it being more adept at blocking UVB rays compared to UVA rays.

In the comments section however, one reader mentioned that mineral oil, which is derived from petrolatum, was actually shown to enhance the effects of UVB treatment. A comprehensive and albeit slightly speculative response was made by the author (read: me). And while I usually don’t write about a topic that’s already been (more) thoroughly discussed in the comments section, I judged this topic important enough to make an exception, since most people mineral oil with petrolatum. So here we go!

What is the Difference Between Mineral Oil and Petrolatum?

Methane is the simplest alkane and is a gas. As the size increases, an alkane will change to a liquid, and then to a solid at room temperature.

Methane is the simplest alkane and is a gas. As the size increases, an alkane will change to a liquid, and then to a solid at room temperature.

Summaries for the IPCS (International Programme on Chemical Safety) profiles on cosmetic-grade mineral oil and (cosmetic-grade of course) petrolatum reveal the main differences between the two types of compounds in terms of a variety of characteristics such as density and solubility.

Chemically-speaking however, the most important difference is that mineral oil is comprised of alkanes (saturated hydrocarbons) that have a chain length of between 14 – 20 carbon atoms. Petrolatum on the other hand, is mostly made up of alkanes that have a carbon chain length greater than 25. This difference is responsible for all the other attributes; it is why at room-temperature petrolatum has a jelly-like texture, while mineral oil has a liquid texture.

But is this difference in chemical composition, responsible for the claim that mineral oil enhances UV light?

What Does the Research Reveal?

The best way to examine this claim is to find comparative studies that test both types of compounds. Fortunately, there are a few.

In this 1979 study, multiple emollients were studied to see their effects on UVB transmission. Petrolatum was shown to reduce UVB transmission, while mineral oil had “minimal effects.”

Then in this 1995 study, this same conclusion was confirmed when testing fewer emollients: “Thick application of petrolatum and emollient creams can reduce transmission of UVB. Mineral oil and a clear liquid emollient did not significantly affect transmission or erythemogenicity of UVB.”

Notice how dry and flaky psoriatic plaques appear.

Notice how dry and flaky psoriatic plaques appear.

Finally, in this much more specialized and more in-depth study published in 2005 on mineral oil alone, it was shown that, “On the Vaseline oil pretreated side, significantly more plaques were cleared, especially in severe psoriasis. Scaling and infiltration were significantly improved. Application of Vaseline oil was more interesting in thick and scaly psoriasis probably because the oil penetrates the intercellular space allowing an optical matching effect which increases the UV transmission… We strongly recommend Vaseline oil pretreatment with UVB TL01 phototherapy in psoriasis, especially in severe psoriasis.”

Petrolatum and Mineral Oil Research Discussion and Analysis

Okay, we can definitely confirm that petrolatum does indeed reduce UVB transmission: the conclusion drawn in last week’s post.  But does mineral oil behave similarly?

Here is the SC of someone with psoriasis. Notice how it's thickened and bent out of shape.

Here is the SC of someone with psoriasis. Notice how it’s thickened and bent out of shape.

Well, the two early studies concluded that mineral oil had minimal or non-significant effects on UVB absorption, which most likely means that the studies did not yield statistically significant figures with p-tests; probably <0.05. The more specialized and more recent study however, found that mineral oil did enhance UVB transmission due to the oil penetrating the intercellular space and allowing an “optical matching effect.” The authors went to conclude that mineral oil would be especially (think yielding statistically significantly results) effective for those with severe psoriasis.

Upon clinical observation of patients with severe psoriasis, you’ll notice that the plaques are very dry and have tons of flaking skin everywhere. Microscopically, these layers of skin of the stratum corneum (SC) are in disarray: bent, twisted, and misaligned. Therefore, this arrangement will dilute the potency of UV light by reflecting it in all directions. What mineral oil does is slip between those layers of dry skin cells (think: INTER-cellular) and normalizes all the weird angles to allow the layers of skin to sit properly on top of each other; to match. It’s kind of like how a zipper will realign all the teeth after a pass.

Mineral oil helps the SC appear more flat and allows better penetration of UV light.

Mineral oil helps the SC appear more flat and allows better penetration of UV light.

This new arrangement of skin will therefore, be characterized by (more) regular layers that resemble a brick wall, which will reduce the reflection of UV light as it can now pass through at a direct angle. Think of how a knife will glance off of a bullet-proof vest if it comes in at an angle, but will penetrate if stabbed directly. This is likely the “matching optical effect” described.

So yes, mineral oil does indeed enhance penetration of UV light. And to answer the initial question posed: it does also appear that the difference in the sizes of the alkanes is responsible for the influence that mineral oil has on UV transmission. The smaller-sized alkanes of mineral oil allows the substance to better penetrate into the “intercellular space,” while those of petrolatum are larger and less able to do so.

***Note that, it is more the mechanical effect of mineral oil on the skin, rather than a direct chemical interactive effect between mineral oil and UV light, that is responsible.

Mineral Oil and Petrolatum Research Conclusion

But does that conclusion apply to the general population, or even to those with mild to moderate cases of psoriasis? Fortunately, it does not!

For once, it's better to just be "normal" and yes, boring! :)

For once, it’s better to just be “normal” and yes, boring! :)

You have to keep in mind that all of these studies were tested on patients with psoriasis, who have decreased susceptibility to UV transmission. And even in patients with mild to moderate cases as noted above, mineral oil had no significant effect. Mineral oil only had a significant effect on those with severe cases, due to the fact that it induced a change to a characteristic (flat layers of skin) that’s already present in “regular” skin. That significant increase was only a measure of the change in efficacy of mineral oil’s capacity to enhance UV irradiation when psoriatic skin mimicked normal skin. But as previously emphasized, the layers of skin are already flat in normal skin, so mineral oil would have no “optical matching effect.”

Therefore, this unique finding cannot be applied to the general population, and was taken out of context by the reader. It is logical to conclude that mineral oil neither protects against nor enhances UV transmission in normal skin.  

Also, please take the time to tell me your experiences with water-based products versus oil-based ones in this discussion. It would be of great help to me!

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Lumene Vitamin C+ BB Cream Review: Will it Protect and Brighten Skin?

lumene

Lumene Vitamin C+ BB Cream ($28.99, amazon.com) promises to delay signs of aging, brighten, hydrate, cover imperfection, even skin tone, and protect skin overall. But

BB Creams are great as makeup with a little extra oomph. For the most part though, it’d be remiss to say that you can chuck the rest of your products in exchange for this single cream. Lumene is really a nice moisturizing makeup with a boost of antioxidants, but it’s really a timesaver more than a miracle product. Many BB creams use a lot of silicones, which can make skin feel smooth and provide a thin coat of protection as an occlusive agent.  If you’re on the run, it can be a great easy way to get what you need — as long as the ingredients are effective, that is.

DON’T Rely on this for Sunscreen

Octinoxate isn't stable, making it a poor sunscreen if it's used on its own.

Octinoxate isn’t stable, making it a poor sunscreen if it’s used on its own.

One of the benefits of BB creams is that they generally contain sunscreen. Lumene’s cream contains 6 percent Octinoxate, the most frequently used UVB absorber (Happi). Unfortunately, it doesn’t protect against UVA rays. It does, however, protect against sun-induced DNA damage (Life Extension Magazine).

One of the issues with chemical sunscreens is that they’re often unstable and degrade in UV light (Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences). Octinoxate isn’t stable in UV light; in fact, when exposed to sunlight, it undergoes isomerization and turns into a less UV-absorbent form (FDA, Inorganica Chimica Acta). It’s also important to note the octinoxate will degrade avobenzone evern faster in UV light when the two are paired.

In addition to this octinoxate appears to be estrogenic in some studies, and has been linked to hormones imbalances in tests on mice, though how it affects humans is not entirely clear (Toxicology).

While the ingredients list includes mineral sunscreen titanium dioxide, which physically blocks UV-rays, it’s not listed in the active ingredients section. Because of this, it’s difficult to figure out whether there’s enough to provide sun protection. Aside from this, it also primarily blocks UVB rays, meaning that nothing in here is protecting your skin from UVA rays (Nanoscience and Society).

There’s Plenty of Vitamin C

Arctic clouberry has a whopping two times the amount of vitamin C of oranges.

Arctic clouberry has a whopping two times the amount of vitamin C of oranges.

One thing Lumene does have is plenty of vitamin C. With ascorbic acid, ascorbyl palimtate, and arctic cloudberry, among other vitamin C possessing ingredients, these ingredients should help boost UV protection (though the cream doesn’t have the right kind of sunscreen protection in the first place), increase fibroblasts’ production of collagen, and might even reduce wrinkle formation (Cosmetic Dermatology).

Vitamin C doesn’t have the same antioxidant strength as idebenone, vitamin E, kinetin, or ubiquinone, but it does still work to scavenge free radicals (Cosmetic Dermatology). Other antioxidants in the cream come from arctic cloudberry, which contains vitamins A, C, and E, among other antioxidants (Cosmetics and Toiletries).

Vitamin C can suppress skin pigmentation by inhibiting tyrosinase, as well as decompose melanin (Cosmetic Dermatology). It can in that way help to brighten and even out skin tone, but it won’t treat hyperpigmentation as well as something with kojic acid or hydroquinone.

Personal Use and Opinion

Lumene Vitamin C+ BB Cream goes on smoothly with some moisturization, but not too much. It takes a few minutes to settle into skin, but after it did, it had a smooth, matte finish. It has a really pleasant citrus smell. I used 01 Light, which is the lightest shade and found that it work reasonably well for my skin tone, but was a bit on the pink side. Overall, it would be best for someone who had pretty clear skin and not too much to cover up.

To be honest, all of this paled in comparison, for me, to the fact that the sunscreen in this in photo unstable and doesn’t protect against UVA irradiation. I was disappointed that an anti-aging cream would be lacking in the most important anti-aging ingredient: sunscreen. Add to this that layering it over a cream that has avobenzone in it might degrade it and reduce the sun protection of both products.

Bottom Line

One of the appeals of BB creams is that they’re several products in one. Unfortunately, that means that sometimes they don’t live up to what using three separate products would. Lumene Vitamin C+ BB Cream has reasonable coverage and finish, but not as good as a foundation. It’s moisturizing, but not as moisturizing as a regular moisturizer. And the fact that it only has octinoxate for sunscreen, which degrades in UV light, makes it inadvisable to use as a sunscreen. To it’s benefit, it is chocked full of vitamin C. Overall, I’d advise skipping this BB cream in favor of using more effective products that will be better for your skin.

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Tell Us Your Stories And Win Prizes

giveaways

Readers, as someone who hasn’t always felt beautiful, I think self-esteem is an important part of beauty. And I’m not sure we talk about it enough. It’s that special something that makes you hold your head high and smile even though you know you aren’t perfect. That’s why we want to devote some of our content to talking, not just about self-esteem in general, but about your self-esteem from March 4-8.

Whether it’s a story, a paragraph, or just a line, tell us a story or a philosophy on self-esteem. Feel free to get creative! The rules about what submissions have to be are pretty vague so that you can decide what “self-esteem” means and how you want to talk about it. We’ve already received some wonderful entries. We’ll post a part of every entry we receive. And to add a little something extra, we’ll send the prizes shown above to the top five submission. To enter, email Natalie@Futurederm.com by March 2 (extended deadline) at 11:59 p.m. with the subject “Self-Esteem Week.”

We can’t wait to hear from you!

Weekly Giveaway: How Often Do You Change Skin Care Products?

spicedrumgiveaway

Tell us how often you change your skin care products and you could win Black Opal Spiced Rum Lip Color! The winner will be chosen Friday, March 1.

For FutureDerm’s giveaway rules, please see our Policy Page.

 

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Study Focus: Omega 3 Might Decrease Skin Cancer Risk

Fish oil capsules

Another good reason to take your omega 3 supplement: it might lessen the chance of developing skin cancer.

A study published recently focused specifically on non-melanogenic skin cancers, which are strongly linked to sun exposure. UV rays not only damage skin cell DNA, but they also suppress a certain kind of immunity called “cell mediated immunity.” This suppressed immunity means that not only do the sun rays cause DNA damage and cell mutation, but they also prevent the body’s immune system from getting rid of these mutated cells, which then go on proliferating, leading to skin cancer.

(Suppression of immunity due to sun exposure is termed photoimmunosuppression.)

Previous studies have found that an omega-3 rich diet is associated with a lowered risk of skin cancer. As well, mice given omega-3 supplements had an improved immunity and decreased skin cancer risk. This new study aimed to examine whether the same effect can be achieved in humans taking omega-3 supplements.

How was the study done?

Nickel allergy was employed in this study

Nickel allergy was employed in this study

Researchers tested about 80 volunteers who are known to have nickel allergy. The idea was the following

  • Exposure to nickel in these volunteers would cause an allergic reaction.
  • But, sun exposure would weaken this allergic reaction, as it weakens cell mediated immunity (photoimmunosuppression).
  • So, the longer the exposure, the weaker the immune response, the weaker the allergic reaction to nickel.
  • Then, if half of the volunteers took omega-3 supplements, their immunity would be less affected by the sun, and thus their allergic response to nickel would be stronger than in the group that does not take omega-3.

All these theories proved to be true in this study. And although it is a small study and further research is needed to confirm these findings, they are quite promising nonetheless.

Moreover, it was found that longer exposure to sun light lessened the benefits of omega-3 supplements. So omega-3 supplements should be viewed only as a small measure that can benefit the body in multiple ways, one of which is possibly reducing the risk of skin cancer.

Bottom line

While this study is quite small, it is yet another good reason to adhere to a diet rich in omega-3. But ultimately, this is by no means a replacement for using sunscreen. In fact, the single most important fact to take from this study focus is the extreme importance of sun protection. It is not just about delaying wrinkles. SPF saves lives.

Thank you for reading!

Source:

 

SM. Pilkington, KA. Massey, SP. Bennett, NMI. Al-Aasswad, K. Roshdy, NK. Gibbs, PS. Friedmann, A. Nicolaou, LE. Rhodes. Randomized controlled trial of oral omega-3 PUFA in solar-simulated radiation-induced suppression of human cutaneous immune responses. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2013; 97 (3): 646-52.

 

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Why You Bite Your Nails and Tips for Quitting

Nail biting

I have a good friend who bites her nails when she’s stressed. Oftentimes, the habit is so second nature that she’s barely cognizant that she’s doing it. She can go through a conversation looking like she’s about to gnaw off her finger and only barely register that it’s happened.

It’s a habit that’s fairly common, but one that has the potential to become destructive.

In fact, the habit is part of a group of disorders classified as “pathological grooming” that will get more attention in newest iteration of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Soon it will be grouped with disorders like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (NPR).

But before you casual nail biters register concern, there’s a line that one must cross. For a behavior to be considered a disorder, it must be detrimental, impairing, or otherwise a very serious issue (Huffington Post). If you occasionally nibble at your nails and it’s not overly often or overly severe, you’re probably fine (though it can contribute to infection).

If it is a severe problem, it’s important to talk to your doctor so you can work out a treatment plan (Acta Dermato-Venereologica).

Why Do You Bite Your Nails?

Nail biting is generally an anxious behavior.

Nail biting is generally an anxious behavior.

Nail biting — also called onychophagia — is a common habit that’s most often seen in children, but is also fairly common into adulthood. It’s closely tied with anxiety, but can manifest itself at other times as well. Most often, it happens when someone is stressed out or upset, but some might bite their nails out of boredom (Clinician’s Corner). In fact, the habit might start as stress for some and then turn into something they do without thinking.

It’s typically not seen before the age of three, and between seven- to ten-years-old, about 28 to 33% of children are nail biters. But nail biting spikes during adolescence, when about 45% of kids are nail biters (which isn’t exactly surprising when you consider what a stressful time adolescence is) (Clinical Pediatrics). But there is one interesting note about adolescence: Boys are more likely to continue than girls. After that, nail biting tapers off for many between the ages of 16 and 18, but that doesn’t mean it stops for everyone.

And researchers have noticed stages in nail biting. It starts with the nails hovering around the mouth, followed by tapping your teeth with your nails, then pressing the nails against the teeth and biting vigorously, followed by checking over your nails either by looking at them or feeling them.

Complications for Nail Biters

While the damage isn't permanent, nail biting can result in unsightly nails. It can also cause infection and sickness.

While the damage isn’t permanent, nail biting can result in unsightly nails. It can also cause infection and sickness.

While nail biting isn’t as harmful as some habits one might pick up, it can still cause some damage — and not just the cosmetic kind. The good news is that nail biting doesn’t cause permanent damage to nails (in fact, some studies have found that it can increase nail growth by 20%, possibly because the movement stimulates the nails’ roots.) But there are other problems that can arise.

Nail biting can cause skin infections in the area where you bite them, as well as make existing conditions worse. But it doesn’t just affect your nails. All the dirt and bacteria under your nails and on your hands comes into contact with your mouth, spreading germs that can cause colds and other illnesses (Mayo Clinic).

Nail biting might cause misalignment of the teeth, but there aren’t specific changes with the teeth associated with nail biting. However, it is possible to cause infections in the mouth; and conditions of the mouth, such as herpes, may cause problems for the fingers, such as herpetic whitlow.

If nail biting is a serious problem or is very damaging to the nail biter, it’s possible that it’s a sign of a condition that falls under the umbrella of OCD. The same goes for skin picking and hair pulling.

How to Stop Nail Biting

People use all different tactics to stop biting nails. Some use nail polish as incentive to keep their nails nice.

People use all different tactics to stop biting nails. Some use nail polish as incentive to keep their nails nice.

Quitting nail biting is a strikingly different process for adults and children — something that many, many articles note. Punishing children or putting emphasis on the habit often exacerbates the stress and can also cause the child to insist on doing it more.

In order to use the kinds of tactics sometimes recommended, such as Band-Aids on fingers or mittens, it’s important that the child shares the desire to stop nail biting. Otherwise, it’s best to consider the underlying reasons for nail biting. Giving children attention and teaching them appropriate ways to relieve stress can help stop their nail biting.

For adults, nail biting is probably a conscious desire on the part of the biter, and so different people have found different coping strategies. Some use acrylic nails, Band-Aids, or just plain mindfulness. Studies have been done and found that habit reversal training, often used to treat tics, has better results for long-term treatment (99% reduction in a five-month follow-up) than negative practice (60% reduction in five-month follow-up) (Behavioural Research and Therapy).

If nail biting is a serious enough problem, doctors may recommend medications that are used to treat this and other similar tics.

Bottom Line

Nail biting can be a relatively harmless habit or the sign of a serious underlying condition. While some find bitten-up nails a bit unsightly, the damage isn’t permanent. Still, there are problems that can arise from doing it, such as infection and illness. There are many different ways to stop nail biting, depending on whether the quitter is an adult or child and what the severity of the condition is.

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Clinique ChubbyStick vs. CoverGirl, Neutrogena, and Revlon – Infographic

part-1To keep things consistent, I tested in relatively similar colors:

Clinique Chubby Stick in Super Strawberry ($15.35, amazon.com)

CoverGirl Lip Perfection Jumbo Gloss Balm in Rose Twist ($10.99, amazon.com)

Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick in Bright Berry ($12.99, amazon.com)

Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Smitten ($7.49, amazon.com)

part-2

 

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Study Focus: Omega 3 Might Decrease Skin Cancer Risk

Fish oil capsules

Another good reason to take your omega 3 supplement: it might lessen the chance of developing skin cancer.

A study published recently focused specifically on non-melanogenic skin cancers, which are strongly linked to sun exposure. UV rays not only damage skin cell DNA, but they also suppress a certain kind of immunity called “cell mediated immunity.” This suppressed immunity means that not only do the sun rays cause DNA damage and cell mutation, but they also prevent the body’s immune system from getting rid of these mutated cells, which then go on proliferating, leading to skin cancer.

(Suppression of immunity due to sun exposure is termed photoimmunosuppression.)

Previous studies have found that an omega-3 rich diet is associated with a lowered risk of skin cancer. As well, mice given omega-3 supplements had an improved immunity and decreased skin cancer risk. This new study aimed to examine whether the same effect can be achieved in humans taking omega-3 supplements.

How was the study done?

Nickel allergy was employed in this study

Nickel allergy was employed in this study

Researchers tested about 80 volunteers who are known to have nickel allergy. The idea was the following

  • Exposure to nickel in these volunteers would cause an allergic reaction.
  • But, sun exposure would weaken this allergic reaction, as it weakens cell mediated immunity (photoimmunosuppression).
  • So, the longer the exposure, the weaker the immune response, the weaker the allergic reaction to nickel.
  • Then, if half of the volunteers took omega-3 supplements, their immunity would be less affected by the sun, and thus their allergic response to nickel would be stronger than in the group that does not take omega-3.

All these theories proved to be true in this study. And although it is a small study and further research is needed to confirm these findings, they are quite promising nonetheless.

Moreover, it was found that longer exposure to sun light lessened the benefits of omega-3 supplements. So omega-3 supplements should be viewed only as a small measure that can benefit the body in multiple ways, one of which is possibly reducing the risk of skin cancer.

Bottom line

While this study is quite small, it is yet another good reason to adhere to a diet rich in omega-3. But ultimately, this is by no means a replacement for using sunscreen. In fact, the single most important fact to take from this study focus is the extreme importance of sun protection. It is not just about delaying wrinkles. SPF saves lives.

Thank you for reading!

Source:

 

SM. Pilkington, KA. Massey, SP. Bennett, NMI. Al-Aasswad, K. Roshdy, NK. Gibbs, PS. Friedmann, A. Nicolaou, LE. Rhodes. Randomized controlled trial of oral omega-3 PUFA in solar-simulated radiation-induced suppression of human cutaneous immune responses. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2013; 97 (3): 646-52.

 

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