Interesting Facts

What is skin?
Acne
Ageing of the skin
Collagen
Free Radicals
Pigmentation


What is Skin?

What is skin? Skin is one of the most amazing organs in the human body. It is hard for us to think about it as an organ, however. We tend to think of organs as boxy things. Your heart, liver, kidneys - those are obviously organs. But skin is an organ too, especially if you look at the dictionary definition of "organ", like this definition from the Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary:

Organ:

a) differentiated structure (as a heart, kidney, leaf, or stem) consisting of cells and tissues and performing some specific function in an organism

b) bodily parts performing a function or cooperating in an activity

By that definition, skin is definitely an organ. Skin is made up of very specific cells and tissues, and their collective purpose is to act as the boundary between "you" and "the world". One of the neat things about skin that makes it different from a lot of other organs is the fact that it does have to deal with the real world. Therefore it is loaded with sensors, and it also has a very tough layered design so that it can handle realities of the environment like abrasion and sunlight.

Due to the skin taking on so much environmental battering, it is imperative to protect the skin with a carefully planned regime to prevent free – radical damage.

If you take a look at a cross section of typical skin (like the skin on your arm or leg) you find that it is made up of two main layers: the epidermis on the outside and the dermis on the inside. The epidermis is the barrier, while the dermis is the layer containing all the "equipment" -- things like nerve endings, sweat glands, hair follicles and so on. Above is a picture to help you see what is going on.

In the subcutaneous layer (you may have heard of subcutaneous fat -- this is where it lives) you can see the blood vessels (shown as two thin red and blue lines). These vessels branch infinitely (not shown) into the dermis to supply the sweat glands, hair follicles, sebaceous glands and erector muscles with blood. They also fan out into the dermis's capillary bed. It turns out that the dermis is loaded with capillaries. Capillaries satisfy the nutritional needs of the cells in the dermis, and they also help the skin perform an important cooling function in humans. The epidermis has no direct blood supply, but instead is supported and fed by the dermis.

The dermis is where the action is functionally. The dermis contains sweat glands, hair follicles (each with its own tiny little muscle so that your "hair can stand on end"!).

The epidermis is your interface to the world, and it is actually quite interesting. It has two main layers, the inner of which is living and the outer of which is dead. The dead skin cells of the outer layer are what we see when we look at ourselves.

Acne

People often believe that acne is a manifestation of dirty blood or dirty skin. They treat it by scrubbing it with harsh chemicals or drying out the skin – only to exacerbate the condition.

The Process of Pimple Formation

1. Acne skins can produce 4 times the amount of dead cells (excess keratinisation) than a healthy skin.

2. Flakes from the horny layer gets mixed with sebum (oil) and this mixture dries out and creates a plug which prevents sebum from lubricating the stratum corneum (outer layer of the epidermis). This small bump (whitehead) becomes old and dries to show as a blackhead.

3. The sebaceous gland continues to produce sebum which is trapped due to the plug formed by the comedon (blackehead). Large cysts, may then form.

4. Bacteria may find its way to the cyst and contaminate it. The bacteria will then multiply in the sebum and break it down into fatty acids. (Not to be confused with essential fatty acids). This will be the start of an infection.

5. The infection will cause an inflammation which may progress on to pus formation which you will recognise as a “spot”.

Overview

Acne involves different processes. Hormones stimulate the production of sebum or oil from sebaceous glands and some people seem to be more sensitive to these androgens than others. This oil mixes with keratin cells along the hair follicle, plugging up the pores. A natural bacteria on the skin's surface gets involved in the mix and causes inflammation. There are natural ways to reduce overactive sebaceous glands and reduce the production of sebum. Your diet, sun exposure and vitamin A creams can reduce how reactive your sebaceous glands are to circulating hormones.

Acne Treatments

Ageing of the skin

Ageing of the skin is a chronic disease that needs daily treatment, starting before the visible signs of ageing show (prevention is better than cure!) and, as we get older, more intensive treatment is required. Daily treatment will help reduce and delay the visible changes of ageing. With today’s knowledge and understanding, we do not have to accept the ageing process of the skin.

In today’s world of aggressive environmental factors, high stress, pollution, UVrays and processed foods, the protective layer of the skin and in particular the skin’s immune system should be of primary concern to maintain the healthiest and most resilient skin possible. Understanding the immune system of the skin is a vital key to understanding how skincare can promote healthier skin at a cellular level. I believe ageing is a deficiency disease. If you can understand that then you will agree that there must be something that can correct the deficiency. If the skin is deficient in vitamins many undesirable skin conditions will occur including the loss of a wrinkle - free young looking skin. We fight free radicals with ant-oxidants.

The important vitamins are the light sensitive vitamins and the antioxidant vitamins which will counteract free radical damage such as vitamin A, C and E all of which are antioxidants. Vitamin A is the most important because its role in the cellular function is so crucial. We call it a vitamin but in fact it is an external hormone that controls growth and other important functions of virtually every cell in the body. Vitamin A reduces signs of ageing by promoting collagen production. It normalises the sebaceous secretions of the skin, thickens the outer layer (protective layer) of the skin and hydrates the cells, it is a crucial DNA regulator, and it regulates how the cells grow and stimulates growth factors. All the main indicators of photo-ageing are corrected by the daily application of vitamin A so it therefore has a central role in preventing photo-ageing.

Vitamin A will always be an essential nutrient that has to be replaced daily for a youthful appearance. You may think that you can address this deficiency by increasing vitamin A in your diet. That won’t work! When you go out into the sun you deplete your vitamin A levels by about 10% – 15% in about 45 minutes. By diet alone, and staying in a dark room, it will take about a week to get the skin levels of vitamin A back to normal. This is why it is vital to topically feed the skin.

Vitamin A and C work together and are both antioxidants. Once vitamin E has been used up in quenching a free radical vitamin A will recondition vitamin E to allow it to become active as an antioxidant once again. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that stimulates the production of collagen, which helps in the prevention of fine lines and wrinkles, and has a very important benefit in reducing sunburn. It actually slows down the production of melanin which means it helps in the prevention of unsightly pigmentation.

There are, fortunately many ways to deal with all these conditions and we should start as early as possible in preventing the state of deficiency from being overwhelming.

Collagen

Collagen starts to degenerate from approximately the age of 27/28 years old. It is referred to as the glue that holds the body together. It is a protein interlaced with elastic and surrounded by glycosaminoglycans (GAGS). GAGS which retain water, forming a microscopic network of fibres that act as a framework in which cells and blood vessels are found. It is vital to preserve the collagen and to stimulate it to prevent the formation of fine lines, wrinkles, enlarged pores & thread veins.

As one gets older it becomes necessary to increase the intensity of one's routine. The principal of skin ageing is not taking place in the top layer of the skin but several millimetres below

With the treatments I offer, I help to stimulate collagen back to its former firmness and strength. The skin will then heal itself. There are many ways to do this from a home-care regime which will include anti-oxidants to more invasive non-surgical treatments. The choices will be explained to you during your consultation.

Free Radicals

Free Radicals "The Invisible Destroyer"

Free radical damage is what ages us. The ageing process of skin is intimately related to the acute and chronic control of free radical formation contributed by a negative work/play lifestyle including stress, pollution, incorrect diet and excessive sun bathing, amongst many others.

Fortunately, we have many built in protection systems to protect us from the very air we breathe. This protection comes in many forms, anti-oxidants would be one you may be familiar with and cells constantly generate a variety of anti-oxidants to neutralize free radicals. These built in defence systems decline with age, due to the external environment and an unhealthy lifestyle. The changes in the skin alter cellular function and contribute to unwelcome skin conditions such as fine lines, wrinkles, pigmentation and inflammation (spots).

As this critical process starts to set in, at any stage to alter it, an improved lifestyle change will be necessary and the correct home-care regime will need to be prescribed. The skin will be fed with active vitamins, including anti-oxidants, to counteract free radical damage and improvements will take place as the skins immune system strengthens.

Pigmentation

Pigmentation plays a major role in the colour and appearance of the skin and conditions related to the abnormal production of melanin (hyper-pigmentation and hypo-pigmentation) are not uncommon. The production of melanin is a complex chemical reaction and is part of the skin barrier defence system in that it protects against exposure to UV rays and pigmented blemishes are almost always the result of excessive stimulation by sunlight. The formation of melanin is entirely dependent on UVR (sun) exposure. All causes of pigmentation will be from one of the following; trauma, medication, a chemical substance, hormonal and vitamin A and C deficiencies not forgetting essential fatty acid deficiency.

I have many ways to even the skin tone, prevent and correct the appearance of pigmentation from a daily applied lotion to microdermabrasion to IPL skin rejuvenation and vitamin A and C based creams. More in-depth information will be given to you during your consultation.