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Identifying Skin Cancer Spots

May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month and the team at Mona Dermatology in Kenwood is sharing their top tips to be sun smart and recognize skin cancer spots this summer!  

Dr. Mona’s Sun Smart Tips

  1. Get a complete skin exam with your dermatologist yearly
  2. Do your own skin checks regularly
  3. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen
  4. Avoid mid-day sun 10am-2pm
  5. Wear a broad-brimmed hat
  6. Consider wearing UPF clothing for added protection

Types of Skin Cancer:

Basal Cell Carcinoma 

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer with over 1 million diagnosed per year.  

When found early, this skin cancer is highly treatable. An early basal cell carcinoma can often be removed during an appointment with your dermatologist.

Photo of a basal cell carcinoma.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer.

Chronic sun exposure is a risk factor for developing a squamous cell carcinoma.

Finding this skin cancer early is important so that we can treat it before it grows deeper into the skin and has a chance to spread.

Photo of a squamous cell carcinoma.

Melanoma

Melanoma arises from the pigment producing cells in your body called melanocytes. These cells give color to your skin and are what make up your moles. Melanoma can arise from a pre-existing mole or can develop on your normal skin as a new growth.

While fewer people get melanoma than the other types of skin cancer, developing melanoma can be more serious because it is more likely to spread to other parts of the body. 

Although melanoma is an aggressive cancer, early detection is key because early detection translates into a higher cure rate.  

Photo of a melanoma.

ABCDE’s of Melanoma

A – Asymmetry

Moles should be symmetrical, not asymmetrical. Each half should be like the other.

B – Border

Moles should be round or oval and not have irregular borders.

C – Color

Each mole should be a single color, not multiple colors or darker than the other moles on your body.

D – Diameter or Different

Moles should be smaller than a pencil eraser and should not be growing in size. They also should not be different than your other moles. Look for the “ugly duckling mole” that does not fit with the rest of your moles.

E – Evolving

Moles should not be changing in color, size, or shape.

The Best Moisturizers for Glowing Skin | Featured In Glamour

Dr. Mona Foad and Dr. Alexandra Bowles expand upon the insights they shared in Glamour’s most recent article on “The Best Moisturizers for Glowing Skin.”

Dr. Mona Foad and Dr. Alexandra Bowles insights on the best moiturizers for glowing skin

What moisturizer do you most recommend for glowing skin?

Dr. Mona Foad

When looking for a moisturizer, I first start by asking what type of skin someone has.  Are they oily, normal, sensitive, or dry?  For someone who is oily, I tend to suggest lightweight humectant-rich gel or lotion moisturizers. These are helpful because they are not going to block their pores and cause them to break out. If someone is more dry, I look for more humectant-rich creams or oils to help seal in their moisture.  Moisturizers help to lock in moisture and keep your skin barrier in tip-top shape. Without the right one for you, you can develop breakouts or your skin may get irritated. 

However, moisturizers are only part of the answer to more “glowy skin.”. You should evaluate why your skin is not glowing. Possible reasons may include:

  • Your skin is more dry: You may need to add in a topical hyaluronic acid to build hydration.
  • You are getting older: Your cellular turnover has slowed down, leading to a more dull appearance.
  • Environmental damage: Factors such as sun exposure and pollution that have caused you to lose that youthful glow.

A moisturizer is very important to lock in and seal your own hydration. To truly achieve more glowing skin, I recommend adding in skin care products that target changes in your skin. These include hyaluronic acid, exfoliants, antioxidants, retinol, and sunscreen.   

Dr. Alexandra Bowles

When I hear patients requesting glowy skin, I like to educate them that it’s not just about what you’re putting on top of the skin, but also how well you’re taking care of your skin holistically. My top tips for caring for your skin include:

  • Stay hydrated
  • Use sunscreen to avoid UV damage
  • Use proper active ingredients such as antioxidants and retinoids when appropriate
  • Seal all of those healthy skin cells in with a moisturizer that helps bring out that hydrated, glowy look

First and foremost, I always recommend a hyaluronic acid-based serum. Skinmedica’s HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator has 5 types of hyaluronic acid, each working with your skin to help draw moisture into the skin and lock it in. I like this serum specifically because I think it does a great job of providing that glowy look with an elegant finish that looks great alone or layers well under makeup. For a more affordable option, Vichy Mineral 89 Serum is also a HA-based serum that I love, especially as a base for my more dry patients, such as those taking isotretinoin.

To seal these serums in, I recommend a cream-based moisturizer. My favorite is the Skinmedica Dermal Repair Cream. It has a light finish and leaves the skin glowing. For a drugstore option, CeraVe Facial Moisturizer is a great option. They have both an AM and PM version, one with SPF and one without. 

What other products should we use to promote glowing skin?

Dr. Mona Foad

Hyaluronic acid (HA) acts as a “water grabber” and is important for building your skin’s hydration, or water content. Without enough HA, your skin will be drier and therefore look less glowing. As we get older, we lose our ability to make HA. For this reason, adding it to your skincare routine becomes even more important. My favorite is SkinMedica’s HA5 which has 5 cross-linked hyaluronic acids. This helps your skin build its own hyaluronic acid rather than just adding it topically.  

Our skin has a natural shedding process. As we get older, this slows down and can lead to dull, dry, and rough skin. Using exfoliants appropriate for your skin type is a great way to gently shed the top layer of dead skin. This gentle exfoliation can help unclog pores, smooth skin, and reveal healthier glowing skin below. They also help other products penetrate the skin better so they can be more effective. There are many options ranging from alpha, beta, and polyhydroxy acids. 

I always encourage a topical antioxidant to help fight environmental damage such as UV rays, pollution, and blue light. These environmental aggressors can make your skin look more dull and cause your skin to age. Vitamin C is the most well-known and common antioxidant. It helps to brighten your skin, protect against UV damage, and help build collagen.  

Retinols or a prescription Retin-A can help to stimulate cellular turnover and have the added anti-aging benefit of helping with collagen production. Both of these processes help with overall skin health and appearance. 

I would be remiss if I did not mention sunscreen! Make sure that you wear sunscreen daily to protect your skin from the most common cause of photodamage, the sun. 

What is the best moisturizer for dry skin?

Dr. Mona Foad

Moisturizers are made up of humectants, emollients, and occlusives.  If you have more dry skin, you will want to consider humectant-rich creams over lotions and add oils to your routine when needed, such as squalene oil. You may also want to consider occlusives, such as Vaseline or Aquaphor, to aid areas that are especially dry or flaking.  I tend to suggest fragrance-free products to avoid any potential irritation. I like Avene Tolerance Control Soothing Recovery Balm as a more affordable option for sensitive skin. Additionally, SkinMedica’s TNS Ceramide Treatment Cream is a heavier cream that is great for very dry skin thanks to its added ceramides. 

Dr. Alexandra Bowles

For dry skin, I recommend a cream-based moisturizer. I really like Cerave Cream Moisturizer for the body because it has a thick cream vehicle full of ceramides and hyaluronic acid to help improve the hydration of the skin and keep the skin barrier happy and healthy. It comes in a big tub that makes application a breeze. It is also a great option for sensitive skin as it was designed by dermatologists and is accepted by the National Eczema Association.

One thing I think a lot of patients miss is that you want to prevent dry skin, not just treat it after it happens. To help lock in moisture and prevent dry skin, I recommend moisturizing daily, preferably immediately following showering. By preventing dry skin, you’re also improving the integrity of the skin barrier and preventing micro-cracks and tears that can lead to chapped skin or flare-ups of other issues such as eczema. 

For dry or cracked hands, I recommend the Norwegian Formula Hand Cream from Neutrogena. For dry lips, I recommend Vaseline or Aquaphor. I prefer these as they are very gentle and provide an occlusive-like moisturization without dyes or perfumes that can irritate the lips.

How to Get Rid of Scalp Acne? | Featured In First For Women

Dr. Alexandra Bowles expands upon her insights on scalp acne from her recent First For Women feature: How to Get Rid of Scalp Acne According to Top Dermatologists.

Dr. Alexandra Bowles | Insights on how to get rid of scalp acne | Featured in First for Women

 

What is scalp acne?

Scalp acne is an informal term used to describe small pimples or bumps that appear on the scalp. In some cases, this is not technically true acne. Scalp acne, also known as scalp folliculitis, is a condition characterized by small, inflamed bumps on the scalp. These bumps often look similar to acne lesions on the face and body. Folliculitis is typically caused by inflammation or infection of the hair follicles. This is due to factors such as excess oil production, bacteria, yeast, or other irritants. 

Scalp acne can be relatively common in both men and women, but several factors contribute to its development in women. Hormonal fluctuations, stress, certain medications, hair care products, and underlying skin conditions can cause scalp acne in women. Additionally, women may be more prone to hormonal fluctuations due to menstrual cycles, pregnancy, or menopause. These hormonal fluctuations could potentially influence the frequency and severity of scalp acne outbreaks.

What is folliculitis?

Folliculitis is an inflammation or infection of the hair follicles. It typically appears as small red or white bumps surrounded by redness. It sometimes also forms with a central area containing purulent fluid. In more severe cases, folliculitis can lead to larger, painful lesions or cysts. While sunburn itself doesn’t typically cause folliculitis directly, sunburned skin can be more vulnerable to infection and may contribute to the development of folliculitis. Similarly, excessive sweating can create a warm, moist environment that promotes bacterial or fungal growth, increasing the risk of folliculitis in affected areas.

What exactly is dandruff? 

Seborrheic dermatitis, more commonly known as “dandruff,” is a common scalp condition characterized by flaking of the skin on the scalp. It typically appears as a formation of visible white or yellowish flakes. Dandruff can be caused by Malassezia fungus. This fungus is naturally present on the scalp and feeds on the oils produced by hair follicles. An overgrowth of Malassezia can lead to irritation and inflammation of the scalp, resulting in greasy yellow or white scales. These scales are what we commonly refer to as dandruff. Dandruff is not a form of acne. 

Inflammation of the hair follicles does not typically cause dandruff. Instead, scalp flaking is the primary cause. Wearing hats can potentially worsen dandruff in some cases. Tight-fitting hats or helmets can trap heat and moisture against the scalp, creating an environment that is conducive to the growth of Malassezia fungus. 

What is acne mechanica?

Acne mechanica is a form of acne that is caused by friction, pressure, or heat against the skin. It typically occurs in areas where there is repeated physical contact or irritation, such as the face, shoulders, or back. Acne mechanica is not usually caused by the same factors as traditional acne (such as excess oil production and bacteria), but rather by external factors that disrupt the skin barrier and lead to inflammation. Acne mechanica can appear as small, red bumps, pustules, or papules on the skin. It may resemble traditional acne, but it arises primarily from physical irritation rather than hormonal imbalances or bacterial presence on the skin. Tight clothing, backpack straps, sports gear, and other sources of friction or pressure on the skin are typical triggers for this condition.

How common is scalp skin cancer caused by the sun? 

Skin cancer of the scalp caused by sun exposure is relatively common, particularly in individuals with fair skin or a history of extensive sun exposure. The most common type of skin cancers affecting the scalp are basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). While melanoma can develop on the scalp, it’s not as prevalent as non-melanoma skin cancers such as BCC and SCC in this area. Areas exposed to the sun like the face, neck, arms and legs are commonly associated with melanoma. However, it can occur anywhere on the body, including the scalp.When melanoma develops on the scalp, it may present as an irregularly shaped mole or lesion that is asymmetrical, has uneven borders, exhibits various colors, and may change in size or appearance over time. It’s very important to protect your scalp from the sun whether that is with sunscreen or wearing hats.

Summer Skin Care Tips

As seen in the July 2023 issue of Cincinnati Magazine.

The well-trained team of providers at Mona Dermatology share their favorite summer skin care tips!

Brooke Stinnette, RN

“Don’t neglect your neck; future you will thank you! Be sure to extend the application of any skincare products, SPF included, to your neck daily.” 

Learn more about Brooke

Alexandra Bowles, DO

With summer upon us, my biggest tip is to make sunscreen a part of your daily routine. Sunscreen helps prevent skin cancer, reverse signs of aging, and improve dyspigmentation.”

Learn more about Alexandra

Jessica Watkins, PA-C

For summer, go shopping for a new hat you’re excited to wear! Then, stash a small sunscreen in your typical places so that you won’t be stuck without it when you find yourself in unexpected sun exposure! Think your purses, car, gym bag, and office!

Learn more about Jessica

Anna Luning, CNP

Antioxidants are vital for your summer skin care routine to protect your skin from increased UV exposure, which is also the number one cause of aging in the skin.  My favorite is Skinceuticals Silymarin!

Learn more about Anna

Mona S. Foad, MD

With summer comes more sun exposure: my go-to sunscreen for protecting against sun damage is ColoreScience Glow. I also love doing tightening treatments, like Sofwave, EmFace or Thermage, in the summer because sun exposure is not a factor.

Learn more about Mona

Taylor Ford, CNP

“During summer months, the sun and heat can dry our skin out if we don’t hydrate properly. Although you may feel more oily at times in the summer, it’s still important to keep skin hydrated with a good moisturizer and make a point to increase water intake.”

Learn more about Taylor

Megan Niese, PA-C

“Limit sun exposure during the strongest time of day from 10am-4pm. When you are out, a nice option in addition to your sunscreen is to wear UPF clothing that is specifically designed to block ultraviolet rays.”

Learn more about Megan

6 Best Wart Treatments | Featured In Very Well Health

Dr. Mona Foad expands upon her insights shared in her recent Very Well Health feature, The 6 Best Wart Treatments.

6 Best Wart Treatments | Featured by Very Well Health featuring Dr. Mona

What are warts and why do people get them? 

Warts, or verruca, are small, grainy, bump-like growths that develop on the skin. They are especially common in areas like the hands and feet.  Warts are caused by strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are many different types of warts, including common warts, flat warts, plantar warts, filiform warts, and genital warts. All types of warts can vary in appearance and location.

  • Common warts usually grow on the hands, fingers, and around the nails.
  • Flat warts typically develop on the face, arms, or legs and are generally smaller and smoother.
  • Plantar warts grow on the soles of the feet. These can be very painful while walking or standing.
  • Filiform warts often appear on eyelids, lips, face, or neck.
  • Genital warts are typically sexually transmitted and grow on and around the genital and anal areas.

Warts are transmitted through direct contact with the virus. This can occur through skin-to-skin contact with a person who has warts or by coming in contact with surfaces or objects that the virus has infected. Warts tend to be more prevalent among children and teenagers because their immune systems are still developing and, therefore, not strong enough to combat the virus. Additionally, some people are more susceptible to the virus because their genetic makeup and immune system are not as equipped to fight the virus when they come in contact with it. For example, it’s quite common to see warts on multiple siblings in the same family or children of parents who had warts as children.

Over-the-counter wart removal options 

Two of the most recommended over-the-counter wart removal options include products with Salicylic Acid and Cryotherapy (freezing) products. Salicylic acid products come in a range of formulations, including liquids, gels, pads, and plasters, each designed to gradually dissolve the wart tissue. A popular OTC salicylic acid treatment that I like to recommend is either Compound W® One Step Pads or  Dr. Scholl’s ClearAway Wart Remover.  Both of these have salicylic acid in an easy-to-apply bandage and can be effective, non-painful ways to decrease the size and potentially remove warts.  

OTC freezing products usually come in the form of a spray. By spraying the product directly onto the warts, the tissue is frozen and killed. These products commonly contain dimethyl ether or propane. These cold substances freeze the wart, causing it to turn into a blister, and ultimately fall off. For these types of products, I like to recommend Compound W Freeze Off or Dr. Scholl’s Freeze Away.  Although this can be an effective way to remove smaller warts, it can be a more painful process than the salicylic acid options and generally does not work on larger warts or plantar warts, which go deeper into the skin.

In-office wart removal options 

There are also in-office and prescription treatments for warts that might be more resistant or difficult to treat with OTC products. The most common treatment used by most dermatologists is cryotherapy, or freezing therapy, which involves using liquid nitrogen to freeze the wart. The liquid nitrogen used in an office setting is more effective than the OTC freezing options. Only a trained professional should use liquid nitrogen. With this treatment, the wart will blister and eventually fall off.

Another in-office procedure that we use to treat small warts is electrosurgery. We place a thin, needle-like tip on the wart that burns and kills the skin cells. Lasers can also be an effective way to treat warts.  A pulse dye laser, such as a VBeam, uses a specific wavelength to target and shut off the blood supply that feeds the wart. The treated wart turns purple or black and falls off.

We can also use injections for stubborn and hard-to-treat warts. These can include 5-fluorouracil, bleomycin, and candida. Only a trained professional should perform these injections to minimize damage to the surrounding tissue. Although we can surgically cut out warts, this is not an effective treatment because they tend to recur at the edge of the excision site.  Any method, no matter whether at home or in the office, may require several treatments to effectively remove the wart.  

What products/ingredients are most effective at removing warts at home?

Over-the-counter (OTC) wart removal products usually include salicylic acid or freezing agents (cryotherapy) as the main ingredient. Most wart treatments focus on removing the top layers of skin where the warts reside. Warts and plantar warts are commonly treated with salicylic acid. It is slowly absorbed into the skin and causes the skin cells that contain the wart to shed and peel off. By softening the hardened skin of the wart, salicylic acid products effectively destroy the wart without causing significant damage to the surrounding skin. OTC salicylic acid products range in strength from 17% to 40% and can come in the forms of liquids, gels, and pads 

Freezing agents, such as dimethyl ether, isobutane, or propane, work by quickly freezing and destroying both the wart tissue and a small area of normal skin around the wart, causing it to dry out and eventually fall off. These products can be effective in treating common warts. However, it is necessary to perform several treatments to remove the wart entirely.  Plantar warts, on the other hand, go deeper into the skin of the foot and are harder to treat. For this reason, freezing agents may not be as successful on plantar warts.



How To Get Rid Of Adult Acne | Featured In Woman’s World

Dr. Mona Foad expands upon the insights she shared in her recent Woman’s World feature: How To Get Rid of Adult Acne, Plus Doctors Pinpoint Why Women Over 40 Deal with Breakouts

 

Dr. Mona Foad's insights on" How To Get Rid of Adult Acne", Plus Why Women Over 40 Deal with Breakouts

What causes skin to be acne-prone?

A combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors can cause acne-prone skin. One factor is excess sebum production by the sebaceous glands in the skin, which can clog pores. Hormonal changes, particularly androgens, can also increase sebum production. This is why acne is common during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and in conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Another factor is clogged pores, whereby dead skin cells that do not shed properly can mix with sebum and clog hair follicles, forming comedones (whiteheads and blackheads). Bacterial growth in clogged pores and inflammation caused by this bacterium in the pores also play a crucial role in acne development, leading to redness, swelling, and pus. 

Additionally,  genetics can determine how much sebum your skin produces, how your skin cells shed, and your body’s inflammatory response, all of which can make you more prone to acne. Some studies also suggest that diets high in refined sugars and dairy products may exacerbate acne. Stress is another factor that can cause acne since it increases hormone levels that stimulate sebum production. Frequent touching of the face, wearing tight clothing, or using items like helmets and backpacks can cause further friction and pressure on the skin, leading to acne mechanica.

What is a good skin care regimen for someone with acne-prone skin?

A good skincare regimen for someone with acne-prone skin should focus on keeping the skin clean, reducing excess oil, and minimizing pore blockage without causing irritation. I always recommend a morning and evening skincare routine for my patients.

For a morning routine, start by using a gentle, non-comedogenic cleanser such as La Roche-Posay Effaclar Gel Facial Wash to remove excess oil and impurities. Using a toner is optional, but if you choose to do so, opt for one that is alcohol-free and contains soothing ingredients like witch hazel or glycolic acid to help exfoliate and remove any leftover impurities.

Next, apply a serum with active ingredients like salicylic acid, niacinamide, or tea tree oil to target acne. Niacinamide can also help reduce inflammation and control oil production. I like to recommend SkinCeuticals Silymarin CF to my patients. Use a lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizer to hydrate the skin without clogging pores. Elta MD Moisture Seal is a moisturizer I typically recommend to my patients. Finally, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30. Sunscreen is crucial to protect the skin from UV damage, which can worsen acne and cause hyperpigmentation. EltaMD UV Facial SPF 30+ Dry is a great sunscreen product I highly recommend. 

For an evening routine, start with cleansing the skin to remove makeup, sunscreen, and daily grime. Next, apply targeted acne treatments that can be stronger, like retinoids, which can promote cell turnover and prevent clogged pores. Finally, make sure to use a non-comedogenic moisturizer (same as your morning routine) to keep the skin hydrated. It’s essential even for oily skin to maintain the moisture barrier.

What ingredients should they look for?

Certain ingredients can help manage and prevent breakouts for acne-prone skin while keeping the skin balanced and healthy. Some ingredients to look for include salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid (BHA)  that penetrates pores to exfoliate and reduce sebum production, and glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that exfoliates the skin’s surface to remove dead skin cells. For serums, look for niacinamide to reduce inflammation, retinoids to promote cell turnover, unclog pores, and reduce the appearance of acne and fine lines, and zinc to help control sebum production.

When it comes to moisturizers, look for hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin without clogging pores, ceramides to restore and maintain the skin barrier, and aloe vera to soothe and hydrate the skin. For sunscreens, opt for non-comedogenic formulations specifically designed not to clog pores, as well as mineral sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that provide broad-spectrum protection with less risk of irritation. If you like to use mask treatments, look for products that include charcoal to draw out impurities and help detoxify the skin and clay, which helps to absorb excess oil and unclog pores. 

What ingredients should they avoid?

Avoiding certain ingredients that can exacerbate breakouts or cause irritation is crucial for someone with acne-prone skin. Avoid comedogenic ingredients like heavy oils and butters, waxes, and silicones that clog pores and contribute to acne formation. Additionally, steer clear of irritating ingredients such as alcohol and both synthetic and natural fragrances. You’ll also want to avoid harsh exfoliants like apricot and walnut shell powder. All of these ingredients can cause inflammation, irritation, and worsen acne. 

Product recommendations for acne-prone skin

For acne-prone skin, using products that help keep the skin clear without causing further irritation or breakouts is essential. The cleanser I typically recommend is the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser. I like that it contains 2% salicylic acid to target acne and clear pores. For a serum, I like La Roche-Posay Effaclar Serum. For a moisturizer, CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion is a non-comedogenic, oil-free moisturizer with niacinamide and hyaluronic acid. These ingredients will help to control oil. EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 is a lightweight sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays. It is also formulated with niacinamide to help calm the skin. Differin Gel is an over-the-counter retinoid that helps prevent and treat acne by promoting cell turnover.

The Best Acne Light Therapy Devices | Featured In Cosmopolitan

Dr. Mona Foad expands upon the insights she shared in her recent Cosmopolitan feature: The Best Acne Light Therapy Devices Are Worth Adding to Your Routine, Stat

What is light therapy?

LED light therapy is also known as light-emitting diode therapy. This is a non-invasive skincare treatment that uses specific wavelengths of light to stimulate various cellular processes in the skin. It’s a popular treatment because it can help decrease inflammation in the skin. It can also treat a variety of skin conditions, including acne, fine lines, and eczema.

LED light therapy is a versatile treatment, with different colors of light offering a range of benefits for the skin. For instance, red light stimulates collagen production, reducing wrinkles and enhancing skin texture. It also aids in controlling inflammation and promoting wound healing. Blue light, on the other hand, targets acne-causing bacteria, effectively reducing breakouts. It’s a popular choice for mild to moderate acne treatment. Green light works to even out pigmentation and enhance skin tone while also providing a soothing effect. Lastly, yellow light promotes lymphatic flow, improving overall skin health and reducing redness and irritation.

What light kills acne bacteria?

Blue light therapy is the type of light commonly used to kill acne-causing bacteria. Specific wavelengths of blue light, typically in the range of 405 to 420 nanometers, are used to target and destroy the bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes), which is a major contributor to acne.

Blue light therapy penetrates the skin and reaches the sebaceous glands where P. acnes bacteria reside. When exposed to blue light, the bacteria produce molecules called porphyrins, which then generate free radicals that ultimately destroy the bacteria. This process helps reduce inflammation and prevent new acne breakouts from forming.

Blue light therapy is often used as a non-invasive and drug-free treatment option for mild to moderate cases of acne. It can be administered on its own or in combination with other acne treatments. Depending on the severity of your acne and other individual factors, your provider may recommend other acne treatments. These can include over-the-counter skin care, prescription topical medications, oral antibiotics, birth control pills or isotretinoin.

Dr. Mona’s favorite devices  

When recommending LED devices to patients, I take into consideration individual preferences, skin types, and specific needs. Belowa are some of the more notable options I like to recommend to my patients:

  • LightStim for Acne LED Light Therapy Device uses blue light to destroy acne-causing bacteria, and red light reduces redness to help soothe and calm the skin. LightStim has advanced NASA’s LED technology to simultaneously emit multiple wavelengths (colors) of light that work together to help clear existing breakouts and give your skin a more radiant and clear complexion. This device is great for adults and teenagers and is maintenance-free with no cartridges, LEDs or battery replacement costs.
  • The Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask is an over-the-counter mask that uses blue light to target acne-causing bacteria and red light to reduce inflammation. It’s a convenient and accessible option for at-home use and is suitable for mild to moderate acne.
  • Foreo ESPADA is a handheld device that emits blue light and low-frequency pulsations to target acne bacteria and stimulate faster healing, thereby promoting clearer skin. It’s portable, rechargeable, and suitable for treating individual acne spots. This device uses a smart skin sensor that only turns on the blue light when it is in contact with your skin. I like this feature because it protects your eyes from any harmful LED light exposure.
  • Dr. Dennis Gross DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro is a wearable LED mask that combines red and blue light therapy. By offering both light options, this device can target acne and promote skin healing. It’s designed to be worn for just a few minutes daily and is suitable for all skin types.
  • The Environ Omnilux Contour FACE  is also a handheld LED device that emits blue and red light therapy for acne treatment. It’s portable, easy to use, and suitable for spot treatments or larger areas of the face and body.

How to choose the best acne light therapy device for you? 

Choosing the best acne light therapy device involves considering several factors to ensure it meets your specific needs and preferences.

Determine Light Type

First, determine whether you prefer blue light therapy, red light therapy, or a combination of both.

  • Blue light targets acne-causing bacteria
  • Red light reduces inflammation and promotes healing.

Some devices offer both types of light for comprehensive acne treatment. If possible, I would recommend getting a device that has both red and blue light to target both the acne and the inflammation that can cause hyperpigmentation.

Determine Design That’s Right For You

Consider the size and design of the device and whether it’s suitable for treating the areas of your skin affected by acne. Some devices are designed for spot treatments, while others cover larger areas like the entire face or back.

Next, check the intensity and wavelength of the light emitted by the device. Higher intensity and specific wavelengths are often more effective but may also increase the risk of side effects. Look for devices with adjustable settings to customize treatment intensity according to your skin’s sensitivity and the severity of your acne. 

Determine Desired Features

Additionally, opt for a user-friendly and convenient device to incorporate into your skincare routine. Consider factors such as portability, ease of setup, and whether the device is rechargeable or requires disposable batteries. To guarantee its safety and effectiveness, ensure that the device is FDA-cleared or CE-marked for acne treatment. Avoid purchasing unregulated or uncertified devices, as they may not provide reliable results and could pose risks to your skin. Make sure to research customer reviews and recommendations from reputable sources to learn about the experiences of other users with the device. Look for feedback on effectiveness, ease of use, durability, and customer service. Finally, compare the prices of different devices and consider the overall value they offer in terms of features, effectiveness, and long-term benefits. While investing in a high-quality device may require a larger upfront cost, it can provide better results and durability over time.

Ensure Eye Protection

It is very important to protect your eyes while using an LED treatment. If used incorrectly, LED light therapy has been shown to damage your eyes. At-home use can be safe if you follow the appropriate guidelines. Make sure to use a high-quality, reputable device that meets all safety standards, and be sure to read and follow the instructions and guidelines included. Some devices, as mentioned, only turn on when in contact with your skin, some are made to be used around the eyes with a lower intensity of light and have built-in safety features, while others may require eye protection. Make sure to research the right device for you.

Nail Strengthening Habits | Featuring Body Network

Dr. Alexandra Bowles expands upon her insights on nail-strengthening habits from her recent Body Network feature: Nail Strengthening Habits for Thicker, Longer Nails

When it comes to strengthening your nails, incorporating certain habits into your routine can promote stronger, thicker nails and encourage healthy nail growth over time. Dr. Bowles shares 9 nail strengthening habits to incorporate into your routine. 

Maintain a Balanced Diet

For one, it’s important to maintain a balanced diet that includes essential nutrients such as protein, biotin, vitamins (particularly C and E), and minerals like iron and zinc, which are important for nail health.

Hydrate

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water to keep your nails hydrated and prevent them from becoming brittle.

Wear Gloves

Protect your nails by wearing gloves when doing household chores or working with harsh chemicals to prevent damage and breakage to your nails.

Avoid Acetone

Avoid harsh chemicals by limiting exposure to nail polish removers containing acetone, as it can dry out and weaken your nails. Opt for acetone-free formulas instead.

Moisturize with Hand Cream

Moisturize regularly by applying a moisturizing hand cream or nail oil to your nails and cuticles daily to keep them hydrated and prevent them from becoming dry and brittle. 

File Nails Carefully

Use a gentle nail file to shape your nails, avoiding harsh filing motions that can cause damage and weaken the nails. 

Take a Break From Nail Polish

Limit Nail Polish use by occasionally giving your nails a break from nail polish to allow them to breathe and recover. When using nail polish, opt for formulas free of harsh chemicals like formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP). 

Be Gentle with Your Nails

Be gentle with your nails by avoiding using them as tools for tasks like opening packages or scratching surfaces, as this can cause them to break or become damaged. 

Protect Them From Trauma

Protect your nails from trauma by being mindful of activities that can cause trauma to your nails, such as biting or picking at them or wearing acrylic tips, which can weaken and damage the nail structure.

Skin Cancer Risk Factors | How to Prevent Them

Skin Cancer: How to Prevent, Diagnose and Treat Skin Cancers 

Understanding skin cancer risk factors and educating yourself about the effect of sun exposure on your skin is an essential part of protecting yourself against skin cancers.  Dr. Mona shares how to stay sun safe and reduce your chances of developing skin cancer.

How does the sun affect my skin? 

The sun emits ultraviolet radiation (UV Rays) that come through the atmosphere and penetrate our skin. UVC Rays are filtered out by the ozone for the most part, leaving UVB and UVA Rays.  UVB Rays are what we call “Burning” rays because they can lead to a sunburn.  They do not penetrate as deep into your skin as UVA Rays, which we call “Aging Rays. UVA Rays go deeper in the skin and can cause more free radical damage. Which can lead to both increased risk of skin cancers as well as more aging effects with loss of collagen, elastin, and brown spot formation. A tan is our skin’s way of trying to protect itself from the burning effects of the sun but at the cost of increased risk of both skin cancer and aging. Sunscreens can help to decrease the effect of harmful UV Rays.   

Why should you use a broad-spectrum sunscreen?

We recommend using a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects your skin against both UVA and UVB rays since both rays can cause damage at different levels of your skin. Dr. Mona suggests choosing a mineral sunscreen that contains Zinc Oxide because it protects against the full UV spectrum. Mineral sunscreens, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, are what we call physical blocks because they physically block the UV Rays and have the added benefit of being well tolerated by all skin types.  If you want a broad-spectrum chemical sunscreen look for ones that include Avobenzone, since this covers into the UVA spectrum. Chemical sunscreens chemically alter UV rays once they get to the skin. 

Why is SPF so important?

SPF stands for sun protection factor, which is the measurement of how well sunscreen protects your skin against UVB, NOT UVA, Rays. Using a broadband sunscreen with an SPF that is at least over 30 or 40, and reapplying it every two hours, will ensure full coverage. While products with high SPFs of 90 or 100 may seem helpful, they do not provide a significant increase in protection. SPF of 30 allows 3% of UV Rays to penetrate, therefore protecting you against 97% of the sun’s rays while an SPF of 50 allows only 2% of the sun’s rays to penetrate, giving you protection against 98% of the sun’s rays and an SPF 100 protects you against 99% of the sun’s rays before you get sunburned. Although SPF matters, having a broad spectrum sunscreen that you are willing to wear and reapply every 2 hours is more important than the SPF number. 

 Enhanced Skin Cancer Protection

Though sunscreen is the best way to protect yourself against the sun, there are other ways to get extra protection. Try limiting your exposure to the sun between 10 am to 2 pm, since this is when the sun is at its strongest. Wearing hats and /or protective clothing can also provide you with some protection. For example, you can try wearing a broad-brimmed hat. Visors and baseball hats protect your face front but not the sides, ears, or back of your neck. We suggest choosing a broad-brimmed hat for the best full-face protection to get fuller coverage. Antioxidants such as Vitamin C are great at helping to decrease free radical damage for the rays that penetrate your skin and get passed your sunscreen. 

 Are you checking your skin monthly? 

First, make sure that you are scheduling your yearly skin exams. In addition to your in-office skin exams, we encourage you to get to know your skin and keep an eye out for new growths and suspicious moles. Point out new red bumps, scaling patches, and any funny-looking mole to your provider. When looking at a mole, consider the ABCDEs. This acronym is used to identify suspicious moles and potential melanomas. Remember, with early detection comes a better chance to treat and cure skin cancer.  

ABCDE’s:

(A) Asymmetry: Moles should be symmetrical, not asymmetric.

(B) Border: Moles should be round or oval-shaped.

(C) Color: The color of a mole should be uniform, not darker or different colors.

(D) Diameter or Different: A mole should not be bigger than a pencil eraser or look different from your other moles.

(E) Evolving: The mole should not be evolving or changing.

 

SCHEDULE A SKIN EXAM

It’s not too late to schedule your yearly skin exam! To learn more, schedule an appointment online or give us a call at 513.984.4800.

Can You Use Aloe Vera on Your Face? | Featured In Real Simple

Dr. Mona Foad expands upon the insights she shared in her recent Real Simple feature: Is Aloe Vera Good For Your Face?

 

Is Aloe Vera Good For Your Face, Featuring Dr. Mona

Is it OK to use aloe vera on your face?

It is generally safe to use aloe vera on your face. It can have numerous benefits for the skin, including moisturizing, soothing inflammation, reducing acne, and promoting healing. Many skincare products contain aloe vera as a key ingredient due to its calming and hydrating properties. However, if you know you have very sensitive and reactive skin, I would recommend doing a patch test first. This allows you to ensure that you don’t have any allergic reactions or sensitivities to aloe vera. Apply a small amount of aloe vera gel to a small area of your skin (such as the inside of your wrist or elbow) and wait 24 hours to see if there’s any adverse reaction before applying it to your face.  If you are sensitive, applying aloe vera may cause redness, burning, or a rash. 

What are some of the key benefits of using Aloe vera on your skin?

Aloe vera has been around for centuries and has been used in many cultures for its healing properties.  The over 70 active components in aloe vera have many skin benefits.  It contains water, which helps to hydrate the skin without leaving it feeling greasy. It is also an excellent natural moisturizer, particularly for people with dry or sensitive skin. Aloe vera also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to calm irritated or inflamed skin. For this reason, it can be beneficial for soothing sunburns, rashes, and other skin irritations.

Aloe vera contains salicylic acid, which has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. This can help to reduce acne and prevent breakouts by unclogging pores and reducing inflammation. It promotes wound healing and can help speed up the recovery process for cuts, burns, and other minor injuries. It also contains compounds that stimulate the production of collagen, which is essential for repairing damaged skin tissue.

Aloe vera is rich in antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C, and E, which can help to protect the skin from free radical damage. This can reduce the signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles. It has a natural astringent effect, which can help to tighten and tone the skin. This can help reduce the appearance of pores and give the skin a smoother, more refined texture.

What’s the best application method?

When it comes to the best application method for aloe vera on your face, this really depends on personal preference and the specific needs of your skin. One way to use aloe vera includes sourcing it directly from the plant itself. If you have an aloe vera plant at home, you can cut open a leaf and extract the gel directly from the plant. Apply the gel directly to your face as a moisturizer or soothing treatment. This method ensures you’re using pure, natural aloe vera without any added ingredients or preservatives.

Many skincare companies today produce aloe vera gel products specifically formulated for topical use. These products can include moisturizers, serums, masks, and cleansers. Be aware that they often contain additional ingredients such as preservatives, thickeners, or other beneficial compounds. Look for products that contain high concentrations of aloe vera gel and minimal additives.

You can also creating your own aloe products by mixing aloe vera gel with other natural ingredients, such as honey, coconut oil, or essential oils. DIY recipes allow you to customize the formula to suit your skin type and address specific concerns.  Always make sure to patch-test products to ensure you do not have a sensitivity. 

Who shouldn’t use Aloe Vera?

While aloe vera is generally safe for most people, some people may be allergic. If you have a known allergy to plants in the Liliaceae family (such as onions, garlic, or tulips), you may also be allergic to aloe vera. This is why performing a patch test before using aloe vera on your skin is important, especially if you have sensitive skin or a history of allergies. 

Even if you’re not allergic to aloe vera, it’s possible to experience skin irritation or sensitivity from its use. If you have very sensitive skin or any existing skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis, it’s a good idea to consult with a dermatologist before using aloe vera. 

For women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, the topical application of aloe vera gel is unlikely to pose a risk. However, oral use of aloe is not recommended in pregnant women due to a theoretical risk of stimulating uterine contractions. Oral aloe is also not recommended during breastfeeding as this has been known to cause gastrointestinal upset in nursing infants. In general, it is always best to err on the side of caution and consult with a healthcare professional before using it.

There are also some interactions with other medications. Concomitant use of aloe vera with topical steroids may cause increased absorption of the steroid cream. Oral use can lower potassium levels, so should not be used with digoxin, digitoxin, or furosemide and should be used with caution in patients using insulin or oral hypoglycemics.

How does this Aloe Vera compare to other ingredients?  

Aloe vera is a popular ingredient in skincare due to its hydrating, cooling, and soothing properties. While it is effective for many people, other ingredients can serve similar purposes. Hyaluronic acid is a humectant that attracts and retains moisture in the skin, helping keep it hydrated and plump. It is often used in moisturizers and serums to provide and maintain hydration.  

Niacinamide, or vitamin B3, is very popular in skincare. It promotes a healthy skin barrier by reducing moisture loss and dehydration and helps to calm skin with its anti-inflammatory properties. It helps with oil control and can also help with acne 

Cucumber extract is another ingredient known for its cooling and soothing properties, making it a popular ingredient in skincare products designed to calm irritated or inflamed skin. It also has hydrating benefits and can help to reduce puffiness and dark circles around the eyes. Calendula extract is derived from the marigold flower and is known for its anti-inflammatory and healing properties. It can help to soothe redness, irritation, and minor skin wounds, making it suitable for sensitive or damaged skin. Chamomile extract is another ingredient that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making it beneficial for soothing sensitive or irritated skin. It can help to reduce redness and inflammation and promote overall skin health. Additionally, oat extract is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties, making it ideal for calming and soothing irritated or itchy skin. It can also help to improve skin barrier function and retain moisture.

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