Category Archives: Beauty & Skincare

Eczema

A skin complaint characterised by redness, itch, dryness with pimples or blisters.

What to look for…

  • patches of itchy, dry, thickened skin, usually on wrists, face, and inner creases of the knees and elbows.

  • skin sores, patches of redness, scaling, sometimes small bumps or blisters that may ooze fluid.

Eczema is a form of dermatitis characterised by chronically itchy, inflamed and reddened skin.

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is generally hereditary however one person in a family could have the condition while all the other people in the family are not afflicted with it. It is most common among infants, many of whom grow out of it. Eczema is often associated with asthma, so children with that disorder may be at greater risk of skin problems. Stress or emotional upsets can often be the cause as well.

Causes

This skin complaint is often puzzling to experts. It can be caused by emotional upsets or it may have no apparent cause. Many cases of eczema are related to allergies. In sensitive people, outbreaks can be caused by ingesting certain foods, such as cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, and nuts, as well as by inhaling airborne irritants like dust mites and pollen.

Eczema is also caused by contact with irritants in common substances, such as woollen and synthetic fabrics, latex rubber, certain detergents, chlorine-based products, the mineral nickel used in plated earrings and other jewellery, and certain chemicals.

In people susceptible to eczema, it is apparent that outbreaks may be caused by a change in the way a person’s immune system copes with certain types of stress.

Traditional Treatment

Treatments are focused on relieving symptoms as it is sometimes difficult to pinpoint the actual causes of the disease. At-home remedies and over-the-counter medications are usually sufficient unless the complaint becomes unbearable or worsens in any way.

Most doctors will suggest you take warm baths to relieve the itching and to slowly remove the crusted parts.

If the eczema is allergy related, taking oral antihistamines may help. Some medications prescribed are very strong and should only be taken with care and constant supervision by your doctor.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative therapies are available to help both the symptoms of eczema and some of the causes. Only use with the supervision of a qualified and trained practitioner as some herbs may cause allergic reactions.

Aromatherapy – Essential oils of Lavender (Lavandula officinalis), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Jasmine (Jasminum officinale), and Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) may be capable of soothing Eczema related to allergies. Vapouriser or diluted in a carrier oil and use in massage. (see section on aromatherapy for more information). Essential oils ofLavender (Lavandula officinalis), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Jasmine (Jasminum officinale), and Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) may be capable of soothing Eczema related to allergies. Vapouriser or diluted in a carrier oil and use in massage. (see section on aromatherapy for more information).

Chinese Herbs – Beneficial herbs include Siler root (Ledebouriella divaricata), Chinese Foxglove (Rehmannia glutinosa), and Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis), which are said to be anti-inflammatories, and Peony (Paeonia lactiflora), which is said to affect the immune system. These herbs should only be used under the supervision of an experienced Professional. Beneficial herbs include Siler root (Ledebouriella divaricata), Chinese Foxglove (Rehmannia glutinosa), and Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis), which are said to be anti-inflammatories, and Peony (Paeonia lactiflora), which is said to affect the immune system. These herbs should only be used under the supervision of an experienced Professional.

Herbal Therapies – Evidence suggests that Evening Primrose Oil (Oenothera biennis) may effectively treat itching associated with Eczema. However, people with liver disease or high cholesterol should use this treatment only under medical supervision, and pregnant women should not use it at all because of its effect on oestrogen and progesterone levels. Evidence suggests that Evening Primrose Oil (Oenothera biennis) may effectively treat itching associated with Eczema. However, people with liver disease or high cholesterol should use this treatment only under medical supervision, and pregnant women should not use it at all because of its effect on oestrogen and progesterone levels.

Burdock (Arctium lappa) root and Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) root may also be effective. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) ointment soothes dry, flaky skin and helps inflammation and itching.

Do not take any of these herbs for longer than 
one month without supervision.

Homoeopathy – A Homoeopathic remedy to soothe inflamed skin that patients can apply safely at home is topical Calendula ointment. Do not attempt to treat eczema with other Homoeopathic remedies, however, without consulting a qualified Homoeopath. A Homoeopathic remedy to soothe inflamed skin that patients can apply safely at home is topical Calendula ointment. Do not attempt to treat eczema with other Homoeopathic remedies, however, without consulting a qualified Homoeopath.

Your Homoeopath with examine you thoroughly and make a recommendation in accordance with your symptoms and lifestyle.

During Homoeopathic treatment, Eczema may actually get worse before it gets better, so professional supervision is important.

At-Home Remedies – Try to learn to relax and avoid becoming overly stressed as this can be a trigger to your problem. Lavender oil can be helpful to relax. Try to learn to relax and avoid becoming overly stressed as this can be a trigger to your problem. Lavender oil can be helpful to relax.

  • To soothe itchiness, try a warm bath followed by an application of topical ointment such as calendula

  • Watch your diet.

Dietary Considerations

If Eczema is caused by allergic reaction, your diet will be of utmost importance. As mentioned previously, avoid cow’s milk, eggs, wheat flour, and nuts, also to limit red meat. Eat foods rich in zinc and vitamins A and C such as wholegrains, seeds, fresh fruit, and vegetables (red, yellow and green.)

You may benefit from a zinc supplement. Ask your Doctor or our Pharmacist to assess your particular case.

Prevention

Try not to wean your baby off breast milk too early as doctors suggest that this can cause Eczema to develop.

Avoid triggering food allergies that might bring on Eczema.

Babies should also be protected from potential allergens.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you have any of the symptoms above flare up

  • the inflammation does not respond within a week to treatment with over-the-counter creams. A Physician may suggest more aggressive forms of treatment.

  • you develop blisters filled with pus

  • you have a bout of Eczema and are exposed to anybody with a viral disease

     

Cellulite

So you have done the pinch test and yes, there is no getting away from the fact that there are unwanted dimples and bulges on your legs. Cellulite is the culprit for all those lumps and dimples on our thighs, hips, stomach and butts. Well, be assured that this annoying problem is not only troubling you but a high percentage of women today.

Cellulite is caused by uneven distribution of fat deposits under the skin and is most common in females! The bad news is that most of us will develop it at some time regardless of what we eat or don’t eat and how often we work out. Once you have cellulite you will find that it is very difficult to budge.

There are four stages in cellulite development, and you may start on any of the stages:

  • Normal Cellulite – thighs, butts and stomach are smooth when standing or lying down. It is only when you do the ‘pinch test’ that you notice the folding and uneven skin.
  • Early Cellulite – Skin on the areas is smooth when standing or lying but after the pinch test you will notice the dimples and fat pockets.
  • Medium Cellulite – Skin is still smooth when you are lying down but when you stand up, pitting, bulging and unevenness can be noticed.
  • Advanced Cellulite – The ‘mattress phenonomen’ is evident if you stand or lie down.

There are many apparent remedies for this condition but we believe that it is best to be very wary of any claims to cure this problem. Some practitioners believe that the following may help the condition, there is usually no harm in trying!

Massage

Gentle self massage with your hands or a bristle brush supposedly helps stimulate circulation. Always be gentle and massage towards the heart. It can be useful to add some diluted aromatherapy oils such as grapefruit and fennel.

Weight Loss and Exercise

Even if these two do not shift the cellulite, they will be of benefit to your body regardless (if you are overweight). Try to lose weight gradually and sensibly. Eat from the five main food groups and see your health practitioner about ensuring that the proper nutrients are eaten while dieting.

Fat intake should only be approximately 25% of your daily food intake. Eat lots of fresh foods and fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, raw nuts, skinless poultry and fish. There have been good reports about the benefits of raw juices. Of course try to avoid all highly refined carbohydrates.

Proper exercise is beneficial to all aspects of your body and lifestyle (not just the cellulite). Exercise regularly (after a doctor’s check up) and start off slowly.

Herbal Formulas

A lot of products have been given a lot of publicity lately. They claim to remove and prevent cellulite in just 8 weeks.

The makers say that after taking for 8 weeks, it will eliminate the visible signs of cellulite. They state you do not even have to exercise or make any other changes in your life. Apparently, the product works by increasing the blood flow to the fat deposits under the skin in the prone areas and it also increase the metabolic rate.

This idea of taking a pill and having your cellulite go away is very appealing to most women, but does it really work??

The makers have not had to go through the rigorous testing that prescription and over the counter drugs have had to go through and they also have a very potent marketing department. They apparently conducted two test in Italy but the results were not published in any scientific magazine or journal, so you make up your own mind

Corns and Callouses

A corn is a localised area of hard, horny skin which forms as a result of constant rubbing or pressure. A calluses are larger versions.

What to look for

Corn…

  • an area of hard, thick skin, which may look a yellow colour

  • Corns between the toes can be soft

Callus…

  • A callus is an area of hard, dead skin up to an inch wide on the soles of the feet, the palms of the hands, or any area subject to friction.

Corns and calluses are formed to protect the skin against friction or pressure. Corns generally occur on the toes and balls of the feet, while calluses can develop on hands, feet, or anywhere there is friction.

Causes

These are likely to develop whenever there is pressure or excessive wear on the skin. Most are caused by ill-fitting shoes. If your child develops a callus that has no clear source of pressure, it may be hereditary. Feet spend most of their time in a closed, moist environment ideal for breeding bacteria; staph infections can start when bacteria enter corns through breaks in the skin and cause the infected corn to give off fluid or pus.

Calluses are usually easy to fix.

Traditional Treatment

When the friction or excess pressure is gone, the callus or corn will usually disappear as well. Always wear shoes that fit you well, and usually leather will mould with the foot better than synthetic materials.

You can buy over the counter ointments and topically applied corn plasters, however be careful of the healthy tissue surrounding the corn. Oral antibiotics are available if your corn is infected.

It is a good idea to scrap the excess dead skin with a sharp scraper or scalpel knife. Do this until you can see the soft skin underneath. Be very careful not to scrape away too much skin as this can cause bleeding or introduce infection

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Herbal Therapies – Apply a calendula (Calendula officinalis) salve two or three times a day to corns or calluses to soften tissue and prevent inflammation.

Personal Care – The best solution to this problem is to remove the cause of the friction, but until you do that you can follow the remedies below for good results.

  • Soak yourself in a bath to soothe and soften the skin, then use a pumice stone to rub over the corn..

  • Apply hydrocortisone cream or a calendula-based ointment to a cracked callus. Aloe cream is also good for soothing and healing the skin.

  • Elevate your feet and expose them to fresh air whenever possible.

  • When you go to sleep, place a crushed comfrey leaf over the corn and put on an old sock. Repeat for 3 nights.

Prevention

Buy appropriate and comfortable shoes and beware of tight, high heels. If you wear high or otherwise constricting shoes for fashion reasons, try to take them off whenever possible during the day to give your feet a rest. You can also wear other more comfortable shoes to and from work.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you cut a corn or callus

  • a corn discharges pus or clear fluid; it is infected or ulcerated.

  • you develop a corn and you suffer from diabetes, Atherosclerosis, or other Circulatory Problems

     

     

     

     

     

Dandruff

Dandruff is excessive scaling of dead skin on the scalp

What to look for

  • flakes of skin that range from small and white to large, greasy, and yellow.

  • itchy flaking that appears on the scalp or eyebrows, or around the hairline, ears, or nose.

Dandruff usually poses no danger whatsoever. But it can be annoying and also embarrassing.

Washing your hair more often is not always the answer and dandruff does not necessarily happen because you don’t wash your hair enough.

Dandruff is actually the shedding of dead skin cells.

Causes

Skin cells that grow and die off too fast are the cause of dandruff, but doctors do not know why this happens. Some people with severe flaking have overactive sebaceous glands; others have an elevated level of fungus which is present in most people but to excess in dandruff sufferers. Other causative factors include hereditary, food allergies, excessive sweating, use of strong shampoos, yeast infectionsstress or the time of the year.

Dandruff flakes are greasy and yellow are linked to a type of dermatitis; Dry, thick lesions consisting of large scales may be psoriasis of the scalp. You do not usually have to worry about these types of dandruff unless you scratch your scalp continuously, then bacteria have more chance of entering the skin.

Traditional Treatment

Shampoos that you can buy over-the-counter shampoos can help moderate dandruff, but you may have to consult your doctor about more stubborn forms. Some herbal remedies may relieve the itching and dryness, but it usually takes tougher tar-based product to remove the greasy scales.

If you find that you are still scratching and shedding after trying over-the-counter preparations, see your doctor.

Doctors recommend being careful with medicated shampoos and to rinse them thoroughly after use. Also once the dandruff has cleared up, do not use the medicated shampoo too often as it is too strong for frequent use.

Brushing your hair with a natural-bristle brush can also prove beneficial.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

In addition to herbal preparations a careful balanced diet, stress-reducing activities, and massage may prove to be of some benefit in treating dandruff.

Herbal Therapies – To prevent flaking and protect against infection, try massaging tea tree oil into your scalp. Some herbalists believe it is as effective as prescription creams.

Another option is to rub Aloe Vera into the scalp before shampooing along with Nettle Tea and Rosemary oil. Use Olive oil as the carrier cream if your scalp is dry and diluted lemon juice or apple cider if your scalp is oily.

Stress may aggravate dandruff. Regular exercise is also good for your stress levels.

Aromatherapy – If your scalp is oily, use Cedarwood in a carrier oil to massage into your scalp daily. If your scalp is oily, use Cedarwood in a carrier oil to massage into your scalp daily.

Another solution is to blend 4 drops of lavender oil, 4 drops of geranium oil and 2 drops of sandalwood oils into a carrier oil such as jojoba and massage into hair a few times per week.

If you have greasy dandruff, blend 3 drops of tea tree oil, 1 drop rosemary oil, 2 drops juniper oil, 2 drops cedarwood oil and 2 drops lemon oil into a carrier oil and massage into scalp.

At Home Solutions – Briskly massaging your scalp while using a herbal preparation such as tea tree oil or olive oil, will improve the circulation in your scalp.

Watch your diet – eat nutritious, low-fat foods.

Wash your hair and scalp at least once a week with a medicated dandruff shampoo or try one of the herbal alternatives listed above to prevent recurrences. Another shampoo to try is one based on soothing herbs like Chamomile, Rosemary, Thyme, Comfrey, Elderflower and Nettle.  (Go to Herbs Information)

Diet Considerations

Dandruff is a common symptom of food allergies, however it is often difficult to determine which foods or combination of foods is the culprit.

If standard dandruff treatments don’t seem to be working for you, try cutting fatty foods (such as nuts and chocolate), dairy products, excessive sugar, spicy foods, and seafood out of your diet. Supplements of vitamins, such as biotin, thiamine (vitamin B1), Niacin (vitamin B3), Evening Primrose oil, Dandelion Extract and Vitamin B12), may help eliminate dandruff by improving your body’s ability to break down fatty acids. (Go to Vitamin Information)

When to seek further professional advice

  • scaling is greasy and yellow, and does not respond to over-the-counter dandruff shampoos and lotions; you may have Seborrheic Dermatitis and need more aggressive treatment to relieve the itching and flaking.

  • your dandruff is itchy and only in a few patches

Dermatitis

Dermatitis is a red and itching inflammation of the skin

What to look for

Contact dermatitis (an allergic reaction) (an allergic reaction)

  • A red rash that is restricted to the area of skin exposed to an irritant.

Nummular dermatitis

  • Red, itchy, circular lots of weeping, scaly, or encrusted skin, common in older people who have dry skin or live in dry environments.

Seborrheic dermatitis

  • Greasy, yellowish scales on the scalp and eyebrows, behind the ears, and around the nose; in infants it is called cradle cap.

Stasis dermatitis

  • Scaling, greasy-looking, sometimes ulcerated skin appearing inside the lower legs and around the ankles.

Atopic dermatitisor eczema , or eczema

  • Extreme, persistent itchiness.

Dermatitis simply means skin inflammation, but it includes a wide range of sicknesses. In nearly all cases the early stages are distinguished by dry, red, itchy skin, although later stages may include crusty scales or blisters that ooze fluid.

Causes

The following are the most common general types of dermatitis and their typical causes:

Contact dermatitis

 

  • pink or red rash, which may or may not itch.

  • causes include contact with poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac, and certain flowers, herbs, fruits, and vegetables irritates some people. detergents, soaps, chlorine, some synthetic fibres, nail polish remover, antiperspirants. The inflammation is often caused by cosmetics and skin-care products.

Nummular dermatitis

  • Living in a dry environment or taking very hot showers can cause this condition,

  • stress.

Seborrheic dermatitis

  • biotin deficiency in infants (where it is known as cradle cap)

  • or with overproduction and blockage of oil glands in adults.

  • stress

  • common in AIDS patients.

Stasis dermatitis

poor circulation.

Atopic dermatitis,

 

  • Eczema is usually hereditary

  • allergiesasthma, and stress.

Traditional Treatment

The cause of dermatitis must first be identified and removed before treatment can get under way.

Most mild skin inflammations respond well to warm baths followed by application of petroleum jelly or over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream.

Seborrheic dermatitis may respond to coal-tar-based shampoo; avoid sunlight immediately after using it, as it can cause sunburn on the scalp. Once irritants causing contact dermatitis are identified, avoid them and obviously the condition will improve.

To help dry the sores of nummular dermatitis, soak the area in salt water, then apply a corticosteroid cream.

If you suffer from stasis dermatitis, wear support stockings and rest often with your legs elevated to help improve circulation.

To reduce inflammation and heal the irritation of most types of dermatitis, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription cream.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative therapies are good for relief of symptoms of this chronic disease.

Herbal Therapies – Always seek the assistance of a Professional. But here are some tried and true herbs that have been successful in relieving some patients. Always seek the assistance of a Professional. But here are some tried and true herbs that have been successful in relieving some patients.

Burdock (Arctium lappa) boosts the immune system and helps reduce inflammation.

Some practitioners believe evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis) works as well as corticosteroids for itchy skin and has fewer potential side effects.

Topical ointments made with calendula (Calendula officinalis) or chamomile (Matricaria recutita) are effective for treating many types of dermatitis.

You can make a herbal remedy by mixing tinctures of nettle (Urtica dioica), cleavers (Galium spp.), and eithergoldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) or myrrh (Commiphora molmol) in equal parts.

You can also make a tea from fresh nettles or fresh cleavers.

Homoeopathy – For benign, short-term skin problems, an over-the-counter Calendula cream may soothe the inflammation. Taking Rhus toxicodendron three or four times a day may relieve the itching of contact dermatitis. For benign, short-term skin problems, an over-the-counter Calendula cream may soothe the inflammation. Taking Rhus toxicodendron three or four times a day may relieve the itching of contact dermatitis.

Dietary Considerations

doctor may suggest vitamin B complexVitamin A and zinc which may aid in skin healing, while vitamin E ointment can help relieve itching and dryness. Always have your doctor check the doses of all supplements you take to avoid over dosing.

At-Home Remedies

  • For dryness, rub petroleum jelly or olive oil on affected areas after a bath, or use a topical ointment containing aloe or zinc.

  • Avoid eating potential allergens. You may get help from supplemental vitamins A, B complex, and E, as well as zinc.

  • If you suspect an allergy to a chemical or cosmetic, try an at-home patch test. Apply a small amount of the suspected irritant to a spot on your arm or back for seven days. If you have a reaction, you know it is a potential irritant.

Prevention

The best way to prevent a rash caused by contact with toxic plants like poison ivy is to wash the exposed skin with soap and water as soon as possible after contact. If you feel you are at risk, consider these preventive steps:

  • Use a humidifier at home and at work.

  • Wear natural loose-fitting.

  • Avoid plated jewellery.

  • Be careful choosing watches with tight plated watchbands as these can cause problems by rubbing on your sensitive skin.

  • Supplement your diet with vitamins A, B complex, and E, and zinc.

  • Lubricate your skin after a bath using an unscented, preservative-free lotion or ointment such as sorbolene cream.

When to seek further professional advice

  • if your skin has pus or is oozing

  • if your skin does not respond to your treatment

  • if your skin is affected and you are exposed to anybody with a viral skin infection such as cold sores etc

Acne

Nearly everyone suffers from outbreaks of pimples at some point in life, making acne one of the most common skin disorders. Acne is a skin affliction usually occurring in teenagers, however quite a high percentage of adults do suffer some form of acne symptoms.’

Acne is characterised by inflammation of the sebaceous glands causing pimples, blackheads, white heads and inflammation. It occurs in both sexes, although teenage boys tend to have the most severe cases. Women are more likely than men to have mild to moderate forms into their thirties and beyond, and are somewhat more susceptible to rosacea.

What to look for…

Symptoms include a mixture of pimples, blackheads, whiteheads occurring mainly on the face, neck, upper back and chest but can sometimes occur on other areas of the body as well.

  • Blackheads are flat, dark spots in the pores of skin which are blockages of excess oil and dead skin that have darkened after being exposed to the air.
  • In whiteheads, the blockage is not visible but a small lump can be seen under the skin. This is the blockage of oil.
  • Pimples can be described as persistent inflamed red areas or swellings on the skin. These areas are often painful; they can become pus-filled. They are due to a rupture of the blocked gland under the skin.
  • If the blockage occurs slightly deeper, then very large cysts can develop. These cysts appear as red or pale lumps which can be inflamed and filled with fluid. This is a more severe form of acne.
  • Red swellings or lumps, sometimes visibly filled with pus, are pustules, which develop from blackheads or whiteheads.
  • Acne also tends to be worse in people with oily skin.

Causes

The cause of acne is not fully understood. While poor hygiene, poor diet, and stress can aggravate acne, they clearly do not cause it. Acne occurs because of a blockage in the opening of the oil glands in the skin.

It starts when tiny hair follicles become plugged with oily secretions from the skin’s sebaceous glands.

Tiny hair follicles, especially those on the face, neck, chest, and back, can become plugged with sebum and keratin. As the follicles fill up and bacteria multiply, blackheads or whiteheads form on the skin’s surface, a condition called non-inflammatory acne.

If the follicle wall breaks under pressure and sebum leaks into nearby tissue, pustules or inflammatory acne can develop. If pustules become infected, matters are further complicated: The infection can penetrate deep into the skin and create cysts, which can rupture and leave temporary or permanent scars.

Various factors appear to make certain people prone to developing acne, it can be inherited, a stressful lifestyle, and the use of oral contraceptives. Taking oral contraceptives may trigger acne in some women but actually suppress it in others, depending on the type of pill taken. Anabolic steroids taken by some bodybuilders can also lead to severe outbreaks.

However common acne vulgaris usually occurs in adolescent years as this is when there are large increases in hormone production from the sex organs and the Adrenal Glands.

During puberty, both boys and girls produce high levels of androgens – male sex hormones that include testosterone. Androgens can increase production of sebum, the substance that lubricates the skin and helps it retain moisture. There is usually only enough sebum produced to keep the skin supple and healthy.

Acne can afflict anyone who is undergoing hormonal changes for whatever reason. The inflamed redness, pimples, blackheads, whiteheads and in extreme cases, cysts are the result.

Traditional Treatment

The most important treatment is to keep the skin clean which allows the pores to breathe. Do not squeeze or touch any infected or inflamed areas as acne can produce lifelong scars.

A clean face can only be of help if the hair is also washed and away from the face. The overactive sebaceous glands cause the hair to become oily and dandruff can develop which can aggravate acne problems.

The occasional pimple or two need no treatment. Over-the-counter cover-up creams and cosmetics, if used at all, should be water based and hypoallergenic. These creams usually contain anti-bacterial antiseptics to reduce skin bacteria and keratolytics which remove any plugs of sebum blocking the follicles. These products can be very helpful for many patients.

Always follow the instructions carefully. Mild degreasing products may also be beneficial.

If you use cosmetics ensure that only water-based products are the favoured choices.

If these simple procedures do not help the problem, it is sensible to consult a doctor who may prescribe certain treatments.

To treat mild acne, your doctor may recommend a topical over-the-counter medication containing benzoyl peroxide or prescribe the anti-acne drug tretinoin (retinoic acid), a vitamin A derivative. Before applying the medication, wash the affected area with a mild oil- and scent-free soap.

When pus-filled pimples are ready to break, applying a hot towel for a few minutes may encourage the process. Infected pimples should be opened only by a nurse or doctor using surgical instruments and following antiseptic practices. Squeezing pimples yourself may lead to further infection and the possibility of permanent scars.

Conventional medicine favours drug therapies that inhibit sebum and keratin production, limit bacterial growth, or encourage shedding of skin cells to unclog pores.

Because many therapies can have potent side effects, any patient with a skin problem should proceed with caution when trying a new treatment. People with severe, persistent cases need the care of a dermatologist. However, if this course of action is chosen antibiotics can be quite helpful.

Oral antibiotics are usually left to treat the more severe cases of acne. They are of a lower dose that would be prescribed for an infection. Some forms of bacteria inflame acne and this is where antibiotics can help by removing these and settling the problem.

For moderate to severe cases, a mainstay of treatment is tetracycline, an antibiotic that is usually taken orally, sometimes in combination with topically applied tretinoin. Other useful antibiotics are oral erythromycin and clindamycin.

Another development in acne treatment is the use of medication called isotretinoin which is taken from Vitamin A. However it should only be considered in extreme cases of acne where no other treatment has been of assistance and its use must be strictly supervised by a medical practitioner. It must not be used during pregnancy or if there is any likelihood that conception has taken place. At present this drug can only be prescribed by a dermatologist. Chemical peeling and laser therapy are also avenues that could be investigated.

Patients taking anti-acne drugs should be alert to possible side effects and interactions. The drugs tretinoin and benzoyl peroxide can leave skin reddened, dry, and sensitive to sunlight. Benzoyl peroxide may inhibit the healing effects of tretinoin, so never apply them at the same time. Taking antibiotics for more than a few weeks may leave women susceptible to yeast infections.

There are surgical procedures available to eliminate the scars from acne and your medical practitioner will be able to advise on this treatment.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Some alternative therapies have proven to be very beneficial. In addition to these therapies it is advisable to keep the skin and hair clean as in the conventional treatments mentioned above.

  • Use mild soaps designed for skin health every day

  • Use a skin scrub based on oatmeal, calendula, tea tree oil (which is a natural anti-bacterial agent), thyme orcinnamon which gently removes the top layer of the skin and open the pores. Use 2-3 times per week.

  • Avoid alcohol based skin toners

  • Herbal treatments aid in reducing excess oil production, help the system cope with the overload of bacteria, helps reduce inflammation and aids in healing

  • Expose your acne to some sunlight in moderation, but be careful to avoid overexposure.

  • Diet is vitally important and fatty or oily foods should be reduced.

  • Reduce stress by relaxing with a cup of tea made from lavender or chamomile.

  • Chinese herbal medicine for acne seeks to rid the skin of dampness and heat, which are believed to be contributing factors.

  • Many herbs are used to help heal the skin and soothe inflammation and itching. The herbs a trained naturopath or herbalist may consider are Echinacea, calendula, tea tree oil, and goldenseal.

Never use any herbal medicines on newborns without consulting your doctor.

Dietary Considerations


Most doctors now believe that acne is not a food-related problem. Some alternative therapists, however, make a change in diet the basis of treatment. While experts in both camps concede that chocolate, fats, and other suspect foods don’t cause acne, debate continues over whether they can aggravate the condition. Most Health Professionals agree that fatty or oily foods should be avoided and to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.

It is also important to drink plenty of filtered water throughout the day. Try to combine fresh food with vitamin supplements such as Vitamin A, B complex, Vitamin C and the minerals Zinc and potassium. Also useful are Lecithin,Echinacea, Garlic and Evening Primrose Oil. Always check the required doses.

When to Seek Further Professional Advice

  • If you notice your condition worsening and the infection becomes severe with the formation of larger boils, cysts or abscesses

  • If the surrounding tissue is bruised and damages as a result of squeezing the blackheads.

  • If your acne doesn’t respond in two to three months to over-the-counter remedies; you may need medical treatment

Bad Breath

Bad breath could be described as an unpleasant odour coming from the mouth region.

What to look for

  • a stale, unpleasant odour coming from the mouth.

  • a foul, putrid odour coming through the mouth from the stomach or other internal organs.

Bad breath affects most people at some time, however usually just resuming normal healthy oral hygiene helps re-establish a fresh smelling mouth. Occasionally people worry they have bad breath when in fact they do not. There are three types of causes of bad breath…

  1. Oral,

  2. Respiratory and

  3. Digestive.

Causes

Regular cleaning is vital for a healthy mouth and pleasant breath. Without it, bad substances develop in the mouth which cause tooth decay and gum disease and odour.

The most dangerous is Plaque… a sticky coating of food particles, saliva, and bacteria on the teeth. Dental problems such as tooth decay and gum disease can also cause breath problems.

Residual traces of coffee, alcoholic drinks, tobacco smoke, and highly spiced or strong-smelling foods can also contribute to mouth odour. Skipping meals can cause stale breath because eating stimulates saliva flow.

Bad breath can be caused by indigestion, and post-nasal drip. Some diseases cause foul breath, including lung and gastrointestinal ailments, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, tuberculosis, sinusitis. Taking certain drugs, especially some antidepressants, may cause dry mouth and bad breath.

Anyone who has persistent bad breath that doesn’t seem related to oral hygiene or temporary indigestion should ask a Doctor about the potential cause.

Traditional Treatment

Good oral hygiene will take care of most bad breath. Brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day, especially after meals when food particles may be trapped in your mouth. Eliminating strong-smelling food can help reduce the problem, as can stimulating the flow of saliva and drinking plenty of water. Mouthwashes, mints, and chewing gum often only mask the problem.

Plaque build-up is a major cause of bad breath, so have your teeth cleaned by a dental professional regularly. Chronic bad breath should be diagnosed and treated by a doctor or dentist.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Homoeopathy – If your breath is particularly bad on awakening, after meals, or after drinking alcohol, try Nux vomicaor Kali phosphoricum. Both are available over the counter.

Herbal Therapies – alfalfa (Medicago sativa), bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), Echinacea (Echinacea spp), myrrh(as a gargle). Fenugreek or peppermint tea taken after meals used everyday can help, parsley chewed can also be of benefit. Preparations containing cloves, aniseed, and fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) also are popular.

Personal Care

  • Good oral hygiene

  • Clean your tongue as far back as feels comfortable

  • Always rinse out your mouth with water after cleaning with toothpaste.

Dietary Considerations

A high-fibre diet with plenty of whole grains, fresh fruit, and raw, leafy vegetables helps good digestion and reduces the chance of bad breath. Also eating quality yoghurts containing acidophilus and bifidus. Eating apples, oranges, and celery can help by cleaning the teeth, dispersing bacteria in the mouth, and stimulating saliva flow.

Try chewing fresh parsley or peppermint leaves, a method used by ancient Romans to sweeten their breath.

Try taking certain supplements such as B ComplexMagnesium, Digestive Enzymes.

When to seek further professional advice

  • the odour is accompanied by inflamed or bleeding gums noticeable after you clean your teeth. These may be signs of tooth decay or gum problems.

  • foul breath persists without any obvious cause after brushing and flossing the teeth and cleaning the gums and tongue. You may have an internal condition that requires medical diagnosis and treatment

Baldness

Baldness is the loss of hair anywhere on the body, usually on the scalp region. It is usually hereditary and affects men. However females can be affected by baldness also.

What to look for

  • thinning of hair in general, however, each hair strand becomes thinner and shorter until the roots produce nothing but fine down.

  • thinning of hair in temple region or on the top of the head usually signals male pattern baldness.

  • a patch of skin may suddenly become visible anywhere on the scalp as the hair has fallen out. It may be as small as 1cm across or it can be 10-15 cm in diameter. This condition is quite rare and can affect both men and women.

  • patches of hair can fall out anywhere on the body in either men or women

  • the person may wake up to find tufts of hair on their pillow or the loss can be more gradual

  • hair may fall out after it is coloured or bleached or you may notice it falling after the hair has been pulled back in tight pony tails or braided or even frequent tugging at it can cause it to fall out.

  • Also see Hair Loss.

Causes

Male-pattern baldness is caused by hereditary factors. It is usually inherited from the mother’s side of the family and involves the presence of an active form of testosterone to set off the gene-programmed balding process. Men whose mother’s fathers became bald early in life are very likely to follow a similar pattern. Hereditary hair loss is usually gradual and permanent, beginning with a thinning of the hair at the temples and or on the crown as early as in the teenage years.

Women can experience a natural thinning of the hair after menopause because of changing hormonal levels. Women who have just had a baby can also experience thinning hair or hair loss in patches. Hormonal change in this instance is temporary and will be replaced with new hair in just a few months.

Other factors which can contribute to the loss of hair are scalp infections and persistent dandruff, poor diet, stressand sluggish circulation.

Alopecia Areata describes the condition whereby hair falls out in clumps all over the head and body. This is usually to do with emotional stress. The hair usually returns after the stress has gone away in a few weeks or months. However, despite research, there is no clear indication as to how this condition arises. It also may occur in people with certain disorders such as pernicious anaemia or diabetes. If large areas are involved and all the hair on the head is lost, this is called alopecia totalis. If the person loses all body hair as well it is called alopecia universalis. In both these conditions, regrowth is not likely.

The medical profession are still unsure what exactly causes some types of baldness

Traditional Treatment

There is no satisfactory treatment for alopecia areata. If the areas are small, a doctor may try injecting the areas with small amounts of steroid drugs to try to trigger regrowth, but this is seldom successful.

The most common way of treating baldness has been by disguising it through the use of wigs, toupees and hair-pieces. They can be made to measure and fitted carefully.

Hair transplantation is another possible solution, although the end result does not always look natural.

A drug is available which has been found to promote hair growth on previously bald areas. This drug appears to be successful and is called minoxidil. It’s retail name is Regaine and is available on prescription. It is available also as a lotion formulation to be applied onto the scalp. It must however, be used every day to maintain the growth of hair.

Alternative/Natural Treatment

Body Work – Scalp Massage is often successful in increasing the circulation to the hair follicles. This can be performed with the essential oil of Rosemary 5 drops diluted in 15 ml of a carrier oil (preferably jojoba). Scalp Massage is often successful in increasing the circulation to the hair follicles. This can be performed with the essential oil of Rosemary 5 drops diluted in 15 ml of a carrier oil (preferably jojoba).

Herbal Treatments – Rinse your hair with tea made from sage (Salvia officinalis). Rinse your hair with tea made fromsage (Salvia officinalis).

Chinese Herbal Treatments – Chinese medical practitioners believe the hair is nourished by the kidneys and the liver. These organs need to be functioning properly in order for the hair to grow properly. They recommend – Polygonum, lycium fruit, Chinese foxglove root, Chinese yam and cornus. Chinese medical practitioners believe the hair is nourished by the kidneys and the liver. These organs need to be functioning properly in order for the hair to grow properly. They recommend – Polygonum, lycium fruit, Chinese foxglove root, Chinese yam and cornus.

Meditation and relaxation techniques to decrease stress levels can be helpful

Personal Care

Treating the hair with care, loosening tight pony tails, and other hair styles which may pull the hair out. As well as not damaging hair with bleach and other strong chemicals.

Creating a stress free environment; learning how to control stress in your life.

Dietary Considerations

  • Supplements such as the B ComplexZinc, Silica, Chelated Multi Vitamins, Brewers Yeast, Kelp

Blisters

A blister is raised section of skin which is full of a watery substance and is usually caused by aggravated rubbing orburns

What to look for

one or more bubbles of skin filled with clear fluid, ranging from pinpoint size to more than one-half inch in diameter usually accompanied by pain, swelling and inflammation.

Most blisters form as a reaction to irritation or other damage to the skin from an external source, although some can result from a disease or other ailment. Blisters can form on any exposed area.

Causes

Blisters can result from the rubbing of skin against another item such as from the wearing of new shoes, which causes an abrasion to form. This can happen quite quickly and is very painful.

Flames, steam, or contact with a hot surface can raise blisters, as can excessive sunburn or exposure to other types of radiation.

Skin may blister when it comes in contact with certain chemicals, cosmetics, and many other toxins.

Many people develop blisters as a reaction to taking certain oral and topical drugs.

Blisters are a common symptom of many infectious illnesses, including chickenpox, cold sores, herpes simplex,shingles, and impetigo.

Traditional Treatments

Most blisters caused by friction or minor burns do not require a doctor’s care. They can usually heal on their own with a little help from you.

Soothe ordinary friction blisters with vitamin E ointment or an aloe-based cream. Do not pop a blister unless it is large and too painful to leave. If you have to pop it, use a sterilised needle or razor blade. Wash the area thoroughly, then make a small hole and gently squeeze out the clear fluid. A dab of “Dettol” can help protect against infection.

If the fluid is white or yellow, the blister is infected and needs medical attention. Do not remove the skin over a broken blister; the new skin underneath needs this protective cover. For blisters caused by chemical contact or disease see a doctor.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

If your blister is purely pressure or burn-related, various ointments and rinses can be effective in relieving minor discomfort. To make good use of other therapies, you must first determine the underlying cause of the blistering.

Herbal Therapies – A couple of drops of chamomile oil in half a cup of water makes an excellent antiseptic to be used under a protective dressing. Blisters from the herpes simplx virus respond to the herb liquorice. A couple of drops of chamomile oil in half a cup of water makes an excellent antiseptic to be used under a protective dressing. Blisters from the herpes simplx virus respond to the herb liquorice.

Calendula ointment is a soothing, antiseptic dressing for all types of blisters. Tea Tree Oil or Aloe Vera can soothe burns as well as promote the healing process.

At-Home Remedies

  • If you have a blister from friction or a minor burn, apply petroleum jelly to keep the skin soft. Then apply a bandaid.

  • If your skin is blistered by chemical contact, flush it immediately with plenty of water or a saline solution. If pain or itching persists, or if large blisters develop, call a doctor.

  • Forget the old folk remedy about putting butter on burns and vinegar on blisters… both can aggravate the skin and may actually cause infection.

When to seek further professional advice

  • if your blister is the result of contact with chemicals

  • if the blister is the result of second-degree burns and all third and fourth-degree burns are medical emergencies.

  • your blister discharges white, yellow, or green pus, rather than clear fluid.


Bunions

A bunion is an abnormal enlargement at the joint between the foot and the beginning of the big toe, which is the result of pressure.

What to look for

  • an angular protrusion at the side of the foot behind the big toe, sometimes accompanied by hardened skin or a callus.

  • swelling, redness, unusual tenderness, or pain at the base of the big toe and in the ball of the foot, especially if the area becomes shiny and cool to the touch.

A bunion is an unnatural bump or bend in the bone that forms the ball of the foot at the base of the big toe. The result is an unsightly swelling at the inside of the foot, sometimes pushing the big toe inward so it overlaps one or more other toes.

Because a bunion occurs at the joint where the toe bends in normal walking, your entire body weight rests on it at each step. While most bunions don’t affect normal walking, they can be extremely painful.

Causes

Bunions are caused by wearing shoes which are too tight for your toes. Foot problems typically develop in early adulthood, becoming more pronounced as the foot spreads with aging. Bunions can be hereditary and occur along with other problems associated with weak or poor foot structure, as well as with corns and calluses. Bunions sometimes develop with arthritis.

Most of the time, bunions are so obvious from the pain and the unusual shape of the toe that further diagnosis is unnecessary.

Traditional Treatment

Relieving a bunion’s discomfort generally consists of steps to reduce pain and inflammation, followed by measures to prevent recurrence.

Your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter pain remedy, or may prescribe a specific medication to relieve the swelling and inflammation. A warm footbath or spa may also help relieve the immediate pain and discomfort, as may an analgesic cream containing a chili-pepper extract.

If your bunion isn’t persistently painful and you catch it early, wearing well-made, well-fitting shoes may be all the therapy you need.

In some cases, a specialist can prescribe shoes with specially designed insoles and uppers that take the pressure off affected joints and help the foot regain its proper shape.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Various therapies for reducing pain and inflammation can be used effectively on bunions.

Homoeopathy – Following an examination of your feet, you can be prescribed remedies that may relieve the pain of a bunion. .

Herbal Treatments – Try drinking nettle tea everyday for some relief. Also a warm poultice using rosemary, mustard or calendula oil followed by an ice pack can be soothing.

Personal Care

  • When a bunion causes sore feet, a hot compress or soaking in warm water will ease the pain.

Prevention

Always wear well fitted shoes in childhood to avoid problems later on. Exercising your feet can strengthen them, particularly if you learn to pick up small objects with your toes.

When to seek further professional advice

  • When you discover any of the symptoms mentioned above