The Effects of Skin Aging Vary Depending on Ethnicity

The population in the United States is expected to become increasingly older, with estimates indicating that by the year 2030, nearly 40 percent of Americans will be over the age of 65.

As people are living longer, their skin is not only chronologically, or biologically aging, but it is also being exposed to environmental factors, such as sunlight, which can cause age-related damage to the skin.

Neelam Vashi, MD, director of the Center for Ethnic Skin at Boston Medical Center, has published a review paper in Clinics in Dermatology that discusses how aging presents in patients, and the differences that are attributed to skin type, exposures and genetic factors.

For the review, the researchers examined 41 peer-reviewed published articles between 1970 and 2018 that focused on aging in ethnic skin through PubMed. The data included in the articles demonstrate that all skin types will show signs of damage from exposure to Ultraviolet rays from the sun, which include skin discoloration, loss of collagen and/or skin cancer.

Here are some key findings from the review:

  • Melanin is a key difference in those of light and dark skin types
  • Patients of color are more likely to experience changes in pigmentation (dyschromia)
  • Key differences in fibroblasts (cells that promote wound healing and collagen production) account for increased skin thickness of African-American patients, resulting in wrinkles that appear several years later than white counterparts
  • Patients of East Asian descent have a higher likelihood of experiencing hyperpigmentation, but wrinkles don’t form as early in the aging process
  • Patients of Hispanic descent also experience fewer wrinkles earlier in the aging process
  • Patients of Caucasian descent (European, North African, Southwest Asian ancestry) more commonly have thinner skin and experience wrinkles, loss of skin elasticity, and reduced lip volume

“Aging is inevitable, and each person will have a unique experience with how their skin changes as it ages,” said Vashi, who is also an associate professor of dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine.

As a dermatologist, Vashi treats a large number of patients for a variety of skin conditions related to aging. The one treatment she always recommends is UV protection, which helps shield all skin types from the sun’s harmful rays. “Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the US, and using sunscreen is an extremely important practice to protect your skin,” added Vashi.

Some of the other available treatments for skin aging include:

  • Topical agents, antioxidants, chemical peels and lasers can be effective to treat dyschromia
  • Botulinum and toxin and soft-tissue fillers can help treat wrinkles and sagging skin

Source: EurekAlert!


Today’s Comic

FDA Strengthens Sunscreen Rules

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration took steps to tighten regulation of over-the-counter sunscreen products.

Included in the proposed rule are updates on sunscreen safety, sun protection factor (SPF) requirements, and the effectiveness of insect repellent/sunscreen combinations.

“The proposed rule that we issued today would update regulatory requirements for most sunscreen products in the United States, to better ensure consumers have access to safe and effective sun care options in line with the latest science,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said during a media briefing Thursday morning.

The proposal “applies only to sunscreen active ingredients currently on the market in the United States without FDA-approved application. And that’s actually the vast majority of sunscreens available in the United States,” added Dr. Theresa Michele, director of the division of nonprescription drug products at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER).

Under the proposed rule, two of the 16 active ingredients in sunscreens — zinc oxide and titanium dioxide — are now considered safe and effective, while two others (PABA and trolamine salicylate) are not. No sunscreens sold in the United States contain PABA or trolamine salicylate.

Safety data for 12 other sunscreen ingredients is not sufficient to determine if they are safe and effective, the agency added.

“Therefore,” said Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the CDER, “we are asking for additional clinical and non-clinical data on these 12 ingredients.”

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a watchdog organization for consumer health, called the new initiative way overdue.

“After more than 40 years, the FDA is at last taking serious steps to finalize rules that would require sunscreen companies to make products that are both safe and effective,” David Andrews, senior scientist at EWG, said in a news release.

He pointed to one ingredient, oxybenzone, in particular.

“For a decade, EWG has worked to raise concerns about sunscreens with oxybenzone, which is found in nearly all Americans, detected in breast milk and potentially causing endocrine disruption,” Andrews said. “Today the FDA recognized those concerns.”

Woodcock noted that labeling changes will also make it easier for consumers to understand what they are buying.

“Since 1999, new scientific evidence has helped to shape FDA’s perspective on what active ingredients could be considered safe and effective, among other things,” Woodcock said in a CDER statement.

“I want to emphasize that the proposed rule does not require any sunscreen products to be removed from the market at this time,” she added. “Manufacturers will be able to provide comment and submit data on the proposals contained in the proposed rule, including safety data for active ingredients for which insufficient data [now] exist.”

Types of sunscreen generally considered safe and effective include sprays, oils, lotions, creams, gels, butters, pastes, ointments and sticks.

Meanwhile, “we have found sunscreen powders eligible … but are requesting additional safety and efficacy data on powders before they can be included [in the proposed rule]. We are proposing to exclude wipes, towelettes, body washes, shampoos and other dosage forms,” Woodcock said.

Also, products that combine sunscreens with insect repellents are not generally considered safe and effective, the agency stated.

Under the rule, the maximum sun protection factor on sunscreen labels would be raised from SPF 50+ to SPF 60+.

“We are proposing to permit the marketing of sunscreen products formulated with SPF values up to 80, but not above, unless the product has an approved [new drug application],” Woodcock explained.

Sunscreens with SPF values of 15 and higher will be required to be broad spectrum, and broad spectrum protection against UVA radiation must also increase as SPF increases, the rule states.

“This will ensure that these products provide consumers with the protections they expect against skin cancer and early skin aging,” Woodcock said.

New sunscreen label requirements will include listing of active ingredients on the front of the bottle and other requirements for the front of sunscreen bottles — all meant to help consumers better understand what the sunscreens they are buying can actually do.

Source: HealthDay


Today’s Comic

Making Sense of Skin Spots

Julia Calderone wrote . . . . . . . . .

As your skin ages, it’s natural for more bumps, spots, and blemishes to crop up, says Shari Lipner, M.D., Ph.D., a dermatologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian in New York City.

In many cases, they’re simply a minor nuisance.

But sometimes they can signify something more worrisome, such as skin cancer—which becomes more common with age.

The evidence that routine skin checks—by you or a dermatologist—reduce cancer death isn’t strong. Unless you’re high-risk, just see a doctor when you spot anything concerning.

Here, a brief guide to the harmless growths, the ones that are potential problems, and how to tell the difference so that you can treat each properly.

Source: Consumer Reports


Today’s Comic

Maple Leaf Extract Could Nip Skin Wrinkles in the Bud

Maple trees are best known for their maple syrup and lovely fall foliage. But it turns out that the beauty of those leaves could be skin-deep — and that’s a good thing. Today, scientists report that an extract from the leaves may prevent wrinkles.

The scientists had previously studied the chemistry and health benefits of sap and syrup obtained from sugar maple and red maple trees. Historical records suggested that other parts of the trees could also be useful, according to Navindra P. Seeram, Ph.D., the project’s principal investigator. “Native Americans used leaves from red maple trees in their traditional system of medicine,” he notes, “so why should we ignore the leaves?”

Skin elasticity is maintained by proteins such as elastin. Wrinkles form when the enzyme elastase breaks down elastin in the skin as part of the aging process. “We wanted to see whether leaf extracts from red maple trees could block the activity of elastase,” says Hang Ma, Ph.D., who is presenting the work at the meeting and is a research associate in Seeram’s lab.

The researchers, who are at the University of Rhode Island, zeroed in on phenolic compounds in the leaves known as glucitol-core-containing gallotannins (GCGs) and examined each compound’s ability to inhibit elastase activity in a test tube. The scientists also conducted computational studies to examine how the GCGs interact with elastase to block its activity, and how the molecules’ structures affect that blocking ability. GCGs containing multiple galloyl groups (a type of phenolic group) were more effective than those with a single galloyl group. But these compounds can do more than interfere with elastase. In prior work, Seeram’s group showed that these same GCGs might be able to protect skin from inflammation and lighten dark spots, such as unwanted freckles or age spots.

Seeram and Ma plan to do further testing. “You could imagine that these extracts might tighten up human skin like a plant-based Botox®, though they would be a topical application, not an injected toxin,” Seeram says. And the fact that the extracts are derived from trees would be appreciated by consumers who are looking for natural, plant-based ingredients in their skincare products.

The researchers have taken steps to get the extracts into products, having developed a proprietary patent-pending formulation containing GCGs from summer and fall maple leaves and maple sap, which they named MaplifaTM (pronounced “mape-LEAF-uh” to reflect its origin). They have licensed it to botanical extracts supplier Verdure Sciences based in Indiana and are hoping to eventually find a market for the formulation in the cosmetics sector or even in dietary supplements.

If these products come to fruition, the team’s findings could benefit the local economy. “Many botanical ingredients traditionally come from China, India and the Mediterranean, but the sugar maple and the red maple only grow in eastern North America,” Seeram says. Farmers in the region, who currently only harvest sap from the maple trees, could tap the leaves as a value-added product for an additional source of income. Even better, the process would be sustainable because leaves could be collected during normal pruning or when they fall from the trees in autumn.

The researchers presented their results at the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Source: American Chemical Society

Protect Your Skin Using the UV Index

Sally Wadyka wrote . . . . . . . .

Chances are you’ve heard of the UV index—and alerts about it may even pop up on your weather app on especially sunny days. But you may be confused as to what those numbers really mean and how understanding them can help you better protect your skin.

“The UV index is a way to convey the risk of sun damage by putting a number on it,” says David J. Leffell, M.D., professor of dermatology and surgery at the Yale School of Medicine. “Its main purpose is to keep sun protection top of mind for people as they plan outdoor activities.”

So if the weather is warming up in your area or you’re heading to the beach or the slopes for spring break, understanding the UV index can help guide you to smarter sun-safety strategies.

How the UV Index Is Calculated

Ultraviolet rays from the sun are a known cause of premature aging of the skin—wrinkles and sagging—and skin cancer. In 1994, the National Weather Service and the Environmental Protection Agency developed the ultraviolet index as a means of helping to quantify how strong the sun’s UV rays are at any given time.

Sunlight intensity (and consequently, the level of the UV index) varies according to time of day, cloud cover, ozone levels, altitude, time of year, ground surface (snow, sand, water, pavement), and amount of cover (such as buildings and trees that provide shade). The calculation is a complex formula that takes into account all these factors. Checking the UV index can help you plan when and how to safely spend time outdoors.

Reading the Numbers

Depending on where you are and what the weather is doing, the UV index can read from 1 (Low) to 11+ (Extreme). The highest readings—regardless of location or time of year—will be at midday when the sun’s UV radiation is at its peak intensity.

You can search for the UV index at any location in the U.S. on the EPA’s website, or download the agency’s UV index app.

A reading of 1 or 2 is Low, 3 to 5 is Moderate, 6 to 7 is High, 8 to 10 is Very High, and 11 or more is Extreme. The idea is that the higher the number forecasted for a given day, the more diligent you need to be about protecting yourself.

At the Extreme end of the UV scale (which you’ll commonly find at midday during the summer in places like South Florida and Arizona), experts warn that the sun’s rays will be so intense that unprotected skin can burn in a matter of minutes. “Those are the days when you may even want to stay indoors or only go out early or late in the day, especially if you have fair skin,” Leffell says.

But don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by lower numbers. “You can still get burned even on a cloudy day when the UV index is only 2 if you don’t protect yourself,” says Darrel Rigel, M.D., clinical professor of dermatology at the NYU School of Medicine. “Cloud cover definitely dials back the intensity of the rays, but it’s not that nothing is getting through.”

The same goes for the colder months. While the UV index will be significantly lower on average in winter than in summer, unprotected skin is still vulnerable to damage when readings are at Low to Moderate levels.

And because snow reflects the sun’s rays, the UV index on a sunny day at a ski area can be as high as—or higher than—it is at the beach (especially when you also factor in the effect of altitude). Snow reflects as much as 80 percent of UV rays (and UV increases by about 2 percent for every 1,000 feet of elevation), compared with 15 percent for sand and 10 percent for water, according to the EPA.

Cover Up Accordingly

Even on days when the UV index is in the Low to Moderate range, the expert recommendation is still to cover any exposed skin with a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher sunscreen.

And as the UV index climbs, you should step up your sun protection—being vigilant about reapplying sunscreen every 2 hours or immediately after swimming or heavy sweating, and adding sun-protective clothing (shirts, pants, rash guards, and wide-brimmed hats) to the mix.

Source: Consumer Reports