Skin Care

SKIN DISORDERS IN ADULTS: MALE-PATTERN HAIR THINNING AND ALOPECIA AREATA

Male-pattern hair thinningBalding in women occurs in the same way as it does in men. It is generally less severe and usually occurs diffusely from the front of the scalp to the crown. Some women have a hormone disturbance which causes the hair loss, and can also suffer from excessive hair growth on the face, irregular periods and facial acne. These women produce an excess of male-type hormones.Because it is genetically determined, this type of hair loss cannot be readily prevented. However, oral contraceptive pills which contain high levels of progestogen can aggravate hair loss, while those with high oestrogen and low progestogen can improve the situation. There are no special shampoos, conditioners, lotions or hair treatments that prevent or decrease hair loss.There are several ways this male-pattern hair loss can be treated. These include the use of topical Minoxidil, hair transplantation, the use of hair pieces and make-up, and hair fusion. Refer back to pages 70 to 71 for more details on these techniques. If there is a true hormonal disturbance, hormone treatment can be an option. There are now two anti-male hormone drugs on the market, called Androcur and Aldactone, which can be effective if used on a long-term basis.
Alopecia areataThis condition, which can occur in both adults and children, results in patchy hair loss. It occurs more commonly in people with eczema, and may appear suddenly after a stressful episode. In children it often improves spontaneously, but in adults it can lead to permanent, severe hair loss.The exact cause of alopecia areata is unknown, but it is thought to be caused by an abnormality in the body’s immune system, whereby the body rejects its own hair in the way it would a foreign protein. If hair loss is limited to a few patches, cortisone injections will successfully treat the problem. If hair loss is extensive however, there are few effective remedies and fifty per cent of sufferers will lose all their hair.
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SKIN CARE: SUN SCREENS

Since the skin lacks adequate natural defence mechanisms against the damaging effects of UV radiation, total sun avoidance, the wearing of protective clothing, or the application of sun screens is necessary to protect it The latter is obviously more acceptable, and as people have become more conscious of the dangers associated with sun exposure, there has been greater awareness and use of these products.

A sun screen is a product intended for application to the skin to reduce the intensity of UV radiation reaching it. It should be easy to apply, form a thin invisible film, and resist removal by perspiration and swimming. Most importantly, it should be a broad spectrum screen, which absorbs both UVA and UVB radiation. It used to be thought that UVB radiation was the only wavelength to cause burning and permanent sun damage. So these wavelengths were the first to be screened out. However, it is now clear that both UVA and UVB are the cause of premature skin ageing and skin cancer. Therefore, newer preparations known as broad spectrum preparations are the ideal sun screens for Australian conditions. Furthermore, it should be made quite clear that a tan does not protect the skin from cancer-producing wavelengths even though it may prevent sunburn. Sun screens should be applied to dry skin, preferably half to one hour before sun exposure, and be reapplied if sweating is profuse or swimming frequent. The best chemical combinations currently available are those containing either the aminobenzoates or cinnamates, which preferentially absorb UVB, and benzophenone, which absorbs UVA.

The Health Departments and Anti-Cancer Councils in Australia classify sun screens by relating them to the percentage of UVB wave lengths which they screen from the skin. Most products from the United States and Europe, however, are labelled according to their Sun Protection Factor or S. P. F. This value is essentially an indication of how much the period of sun exposure can be prolonged without risking severe sunburn. An S.P.F. of 4 would mean that the product will allow the user to enjoy the sun four times longer than would be possible without protection. For the average individual this would mean an exposure of 40-60 minutes. Since the various products available for the Australian market vary greatly with respect to their S.P.F., the level of protection should be specified in order to simplify the consumer’s choice. Furthermore, it should be made clear that the broad spectrum preparations, although fewer in number, are the ideal choice for Australian conditions.

The only totally effective method of preventing sunburn and the more severe permanent signs of skin damage is to completely avoid the sun. A more satisfactory solution is to apply an effective sun screen preparation every morning as part of one’s daily grooming, along with such routines as hair combing and teeth cleaning. This is necessary in Australia and other sunny climates because of the cumulative effect of the sun from birth onwards. It is the number of hours of exposure to the sun, rather than the intensity of any single exposure, which is the crucial factor with regard to the onset of premature ageing and the formation of skin cancer.

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