Search results for aging skin

Mirror, mirror…your aging skin

Posted by on Feb 18, 2011 in appearance | 5 comments

Ugh. Talk about a red flag topic. I can barely look in the mirror these days without cringing! Sure, years of tanning (read: burning) in the sun without the proper SPF cream and lots of time outdoors hasn’t done me any favours. But, it’s difficult to deal with the changes that I see in my skin. And while I truly believe that my wrinkles have been well earned, there are times when I would like to turn back the clock and regain some of that suppleness that 20-somethings take for granted. Uh-oh; is that my vanity showing?

In any case, we’ve explored some of the ‘wrinkles’ in the search for the fountain of youth, dispelling claims that hormone replacement therapy may improve skin appearance or that regular use of over the counter moisturizers can actually melt away the years. In fact, only topical preparations containing antioxidants such as retinoids are believed to help the skin to repair itself; antioxidants have been proven to do this by preventing the activity of of chemically reactive oxygen molecules that live in the body, are promoted through ultraviolet light exposure and attack healthy cells.

However, retinoids are not the only antioxidants that may improve the appearance of photodamaged skin. Indeed, researchers have started to look into the potential of another topical antioxidant — idebenone complex — which is the biologically engineered (and possibly more effective) form of coenzyme Q-10. At last month’s American Academy of Dermatology meeting, Dr. Michael Gold from the TN Clinical Research Center in Nashville presented findings from a study of 32 women (ages 25 to 65)with moderate to severe photodamage who were asked to used a facial cleanser, skin brightener, eye serum and moisturizing cream containing 0.5% idebenone complex. This regimen was used twice a day for 8 weeks and the women also added an SPF 30 sunscreen during the day.

The results are fairly impressive. Not only did rough/dry facial skin, fine lines and wrinkles and patchy skin improve by 36%, but the researchers also reported a 41% improvement in skin elasticity and tone, a 42% improvement in skin brightness and a 42% improvement in skin radiance. Similar reports were made by the women in the study as well.

Thus, it appears that when used consistently, topical skin preparations containing idebenone complex may significantly improve the appearance, texture and tone of photodamaged, prematurely aged skin. Overall, 42% of participants had a global improvement in their appearance.

Is idebenone complex the fountain of youth? Probably not, because as the American Academy of Dermatology recommends, fighting photoaged skin is a multi step process that also includes avoiding sun exposure at certain times of the day, using sunscreen/protective clothing. However, even with the small number of women that have been treated with idebenone so far, I wouldn’t be averse to trying it.

These wrinkles might build lots of character and I’ve earned them. But sometimes a little help can’t hurt, can it?

Hat tip to Journalist Bob Finn,web content editor of the International Medical News Group for pointing me to this study. You can find their coverage of it here on the Internal Medicine News Digital Network.


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Wednesday Bubble: Better living through chemistry? Your aging skin

Posted by on Aug 5, 2009 in appearance, HRT | 2 comments


Still thinking that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can improve the appearance of aging skin? You may want to think again.

This past March, dermatologists at the American Academy of Dermatologists’ annual meeting once again debunked claims that HRT can improve the appearance of aging, photo-damaged skin. Although I’ve written on this topic previously, the subject is interesting (and relevant) enough to revisit.

Undoubtedly, certain areas of the body are more receptive to estrogen than others, e.g., cells comprising the skin on the face. And while estrogen can increase collagen, help the skin retain water and promote elasticity, its ability to reverse the effects of aging remain questionable.

Dr. Margaret Parsons, assistance clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California-Davis, says that she does not prescribe estrogen to improve skin’s appearance because data have not consistently shown any benefit. Not only doesn’t she believe that topical or oral estrogens offer any sort of long-term solution, but she also points to the risks involved in their use, such as breast cancer.

Consider the evidence (or lack, thereof):

  • In a study published last year in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, researchers evaluated whether or not low-dose HRT could improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, skin dryness/texture and sagging. Study participants were 485 women who had been menopausal for about five years.  No significant improvements were seen after 48 weeks of treatment, although researchers suggested that longer use of hormones or different doses might lead to better results.
  • In another study, which I wrote about last year, applying topical estrogen to sun-damaged skin, likewise, did not improve the skin’s appearance, although it did appear to promote collagen production in areas that had not seen the light of day, i.e. the hip.
  • A third study, published in the early 90s, suggests that use of a topical cream early in menopause and for a longer period of time, may improve the appearance of aging skin. However, this study was only conducted in 18 women over a period of six months, making it difficult to reach any definitive conclusions.

It appears that the jury is still out but deliberations don’t look too promising.

Think about it: are you willing to risk the adverse effects of HRT – cancer, death from lung disease, heart disease – for your appearance?

If you are deadset on erasing a few lines and a few years, there are effective therapies that dermatologist regularly suggest to improve skin’s appearance, for example retinoids, glycolic acid or procedures such as chemical peels, lasers, botox and skin fillers. While they might hit your pocketbook harder than HRT, most do not come with the same degree of health risks. You can learn more about taking care of mature skin in this issue of the American Academy of Dermatology’s SKIN e-newsletter.

Obviously, the best advice is to wear sunscreen regularly, avoid smoking and use a topical retinoid. We may not be able to turn back the clock but we can preserve what we have more responsibly. Estrogen might not be the ounce of prevention that works best.

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Wednesday bubble: a panacea for aging skin?

Posted by on Jun 17, 2009 in appearance | 0 comments


I was originally planning to devote this Wednesday to a discussion of the risks of early menopause. However, an article crossed my desk that was simply screaming for attention:

BBC News Headline: Anti-cancer cream fights wrinkles.

The cream in question is a topical chemotherapy treatment, fluroroucil, that is commonly used to manage skin cancer. Apparently, a study appearing this week in the Archives of Dermatology has shown an unexpected but welcome benefit of using flurorouciil: an improvement in the appearance of damaged skin.

So what’s the lowdown on the study? 21 study volunteers suffering from photodamage and dry, scaly rough patches of skin (actinic keratoses) that result from years of sun exposure were treated with fluroroucil cream,  twice daily for two weeks. They also had skin biopsies and other evaluations at the start of the study and periodically thereafter through week 24. The results showed significant changes in both the signs of actinic keratoses and photoaging/skin appearance — so much so that most of the patients said that they would be willing to undergo therapy again.

Fluroroucil evidently works by causing injury to the skin, leading to wound healing and regeneration and consequently, an improved appearance. This pattern of healing mimics that seen with other cosmetic procedures used to treat photoaged skin, such as laser therapy. But here’s the rub (no pun intended): fluroroucil is associated with significant side effects that include skin irritation, dryness, peeling, scabbing, weeping and even eye irritation. It also carries a FDA pregnancy category rating of ‘X’ meaning that it can harm an unborn child, and cause miscarriages and birth defects.

It’s essential to know the facts about fluroroucil, including its risk/benefits ratio. Undoubtedly the bonus of younger looking skin is enticing. And experts are already suggesting that its lower cost relative to other cosmetic treatments may promote its use beyond cancer treatment.

In the coming months, it will be interesting to see how many predators adopt fluroroucil as the latest and greatest thing since the Fountain of Youth. The new million dollar promise? Apparently you can iron out those wrinkles? But not without risk.

Buyer, beware!

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Wednesday Bubble: Newsflash – sleep and skin aging

Posted by on Jul 31, 2013 in aging, appearance, sleep disturbance | 0 comments


Whoa! I have some news to share this week and it’s not good for those of us who struggle nightly with their sleep. Poor sleep has been linked to premature skin aging and an overall reduced skin health.

In what is being billed as a ‘first of its kind,’ University Hospitals Case Medical Center (Cleveland, OH), explain that their study (which was presented this past April at the International Dermatology Meeting in Edinburgh) evaluated 60 women between the ages of 30 and 49 (who, by the way, were premenopausal) who had been surveyed about their sleep quality using a scientific index. About half of the women reported having poor sleep quality and sleeping five hours or less a night.

Additionally, the researchers evaluated participants’ skin aging in terms of physiological factors (e.g. diminished collagen) and external factors (e.g. UV rays, smoking) that might contribute to skin aging, as well as assessing how well the skin was functioning to keep out damaging substances and maintain moisture.

Finally, the women were asked to maintain a sleep log for a week.

The findings are quite startling. Women who were classified as poor sleepers showed significant signs of aging that are associated with intrinsic (physiological) factors, including fine lines, uneven pigmentation, slackening and reduced elasticity. On the other hand, good sleepers appeared to have half of the signs of aging as their colleagues, and they also recovered more efficiently from factors that stress the skin, such as recovery from sunburn and inflammation. And, skin function was about 30% more efficient in good quality sleepers compared to poor sleepers; for example, they had better recovery from moisture loss tests.

The primary take away from these data, which appears in abstract form in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, is that poor sleep may accelerate skin aging and hinder or weaken the ability of the skin to repair itself. The key to better skin aging? Get more zzzs!



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Wednesday Bubble: Sunscreen and Skin Aging

Posted by on Jun 5, 2013 in aging | 2 comments


I am bursting a big bubble today. The topic? Aging skin. Lord knows it’s a common theme among the women I know. And many women spend thousands (if not tens of thousands) of dollars on creams, lotions, botox, fillers, face lifts and the like to prevent wrinkles, make them disappear or preserve what they have.

Among the many culprits linked to aging skin, cumulative sun exposure is the worse. Ultraviolet (UV) light wreaks havoc directly on proteins and acids in the skin cells, impairs collagen and elasticity, and at its worse, promotes the development of skin cancer.

So short of spending thousands on the above, what can you do?


I can’t emphasize it enough.

Experts have been telling us for years that sunscreen can protect against the development of skin cancer. Guess what?! For the first time, researchers have shown the wearing sunscreen can also protect against skin aging. Moreover, a good sunscreen costs a heck of a lot less than costly cosmetic procedures that requires regular maintenance or endless surgeries to remove skin cancer patches.

In a newly published study appearing in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers assigned 903 adults under the age of 55 — most of whom were fair skinned and burned when exposed to acute sun — to two groups:

  • Roughly half applied sunscreen, SPF 15, to their head, neck, arms and hands every morning and were asked to reapply it after spending several hours outdoors or after heavy sweating or bathing.
  • Half were asked to apply sunscreen, SPF-15, at their discretion
  • The study participants also received a daily beta-carotene capsule or a placebo

At both the study’s start and after about four and half years, the researchers took impressions of the back of every hand. To insure that the groups were ‘sticking with the program,’ so to speak, they were also asked to turn in suncreen and return the pill bottles for capsule counts every three months.

The findings? Well, at the start of the study, a little over half of the participants showed moderate photoaging; four years later, 49% had skin showing aging to the same degree. And, only the people who used daily sunscreen did not have a detectable increase in the severity of their photoaging. In fact, daily sunscreen users were 24% less likely than discretionary users to have experienced increased skin aging! The same findings were not seen among people with higher grade photoaging at the study’s start. And no differences were seen between beta-carotene and placebo tablet users. Importantly, the results did not appear to be linked to any change in time spent outdoors or in other sun protection methods.

The reason that the ‘under 55 set’ were chosen for the study is that the majority of their photoaging at this stage in their lives is due to sun exposures. So, the findings might not apply to adults older than age 55 whose aging skin is also due to other factors in addition to sun exposure. Still, the researchers say that a unit increase in photoaging grade is related to a visible deterioration in skin texture and an increase in visible small blood vessels and pores on the face. It also correlates significantly with a risk for keratoses and skin cancer.

Still unknown is whether or not a sunscreen with a higher SPF would achieve even greater results. And there are a few scientific limitations to the study; for example, a third of participants did not have skin impressions taken at the study’s start (although the researchers argue that this did not appear to affect the results), and the study numbers were too small to conclude a true lack of benefit with beta-carotene. Yet, what is clear is pretty simple:

Wear sunscreen. Not only will it help to protect against skin cancer but, it also appears to yield a cosmetic benefit, preventing visible aging. That’s a win-win in my estimation!


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