Posts Tagged ‘skin care’

Treating acne during pregnancy

Monday, March 30th, 2015

skinOne of the most common questions we get at the Pregnancy and Newborn Health Education Center is about skin care during pregnancy. More specifically, about products that contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. These over-the-counter cleansers and lotions are used to treat topical acne. Many of us use them every day, without even thinking about it. But during pregnancy, you may wonder if you should continue to use these products in your skin care routine.

According to MotherToBaby, a service of the non-profit Organization of Teratology Information Specialists, “Over-the-counter skin treatments have not been associated with an increased risk when used during pregnancy. Studies have shown that in most cases only 5% to 10% of the active ingredients are absorbed through the skin into your system. Since so little of the medication passes into the body, the amount that gets to the developing baby, if any, is unlikely to be high enough to cause birth defects.”

However, you should be careful and make sure you do not apply them to broken or irritated skin. That would allow more of the ingredients to be absorbed. Also, it is very important to make the distinction between these products and topical retinoids. Topical retinoids are used to treat acne and sun-damaged skin. Small amounts of these drugs may be absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream, so it is best to avoid them. You should never take oral retinoids during your pregnancy or if you are trying to conceive.

Keep in mind that there are many over-the-counter topical treatments available for acne. So you should make sure you talk to your health care provider if you have any questions and concerns. And always talk to your doctor before you take any oral medication during pregnancy, for acne or any other condition.

Sunscreen ingredients to avoid

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

sunburned-lady1Most experts discourage tanning whether you’re pregnant or not. When your skin tans, it’s trying to protect itself from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. These UV rays are hard on your skin because they:
• Increase the risk of skin cancer
• Give you a bad burn if you’re exposed to them for too long
• Increase signs of aging

UV rays are bad for everyone, but sunbathing is especially bad if you’re pregnant. Often, your skin is more sensitive to sunlight than it was before pregnancy, so you may burn easily. Sitting under the hot sun (or in a tanning bed) for a long time may make you overheated or lose body fluids (dehydrated). Both of these methods of tanning are bad for your growing baby. Also, UV rays may break down folic acid, an important vitamin that helps your baby’s brain and spinal cord develop.

So, if you are going to be out in the sun, what should you do?

Choose a sunscreen that does not contain retinyl palmitate, has an SPF higher than 15 (30 and up is better), and has UVA and UVB protection. If you are going to be going swimming or sweating a lot, then use one that is also “water resistant.”

Why not retinyl palmitate?

Consumer Reports (an independent rating company), conducted tests and suggest that pregnant women avoid sunscreens that contain retinyl palmitate, a type of topical vitamin A.  Retinyl palmitate “is an antioxidant that animal studies have linked to an increased risk of skin cancers. In skin, it converts readily to retinoids, associated with a risk of birth defects in people using acne medications containing them.”  To help you choose the product that is right for you, read the article on sunscreens as tested by Consumer Reports.

What about sunscreens that are also insect repellants?

Applying one lotion that protects against sunburn as well as bug bites sounds like a nifty idea. But, beware of using products that contain both sunscreen and bug repellant.  When you re-apply the product, you may be exposing yourself to too much bug repellant, which can be toxic.  Please read the warnings of using these kinds of combination products.

With a little knowledge and label reading, you will be able tosunburned-lady choose a product that protects you from too much sun exposure and is also safe.  Then, you can relax and enjoy your summer days in the sun.

101 years of soft skin

Monday, January 24th, 2011

beautiful-skin2We don’t realize that our skin is the largest living and breathing organ of our body.  On my mother’s paternal side I had a great- grandmother who was near and dear to our family.  She raised my mom for most of her childhood.  I remember looking at pictures of my great grandmother when I was a young adult thinking when I grow up I definitely want her long lifespan and soft skin as well.  She lived 101 years.  She had multi-ethnic roots, having an African American father and a Cherokee Indian mother.  As a child I remember spending time with her.  I would sit and listen to her stories and watch her quilt.  I was in awe of her knowledge and envious of the softness of her skin.

Our skin is the first line of defense and connection to the environment that surrounds us; both the positive and negative aspects of the environment.  Our body’s immune system works to heal our skin from acne, minor cuts, scrapes, bruises and wounds and the changes in the temperature.  It also responds to the type of foods we eat…fruits, vegetables, meats, calcium, oils and fats.  Our skin needs extra care from us too. 

It’s important for all of us to moisturize our skin from head to toe and front to back daily.  Many of us who are moms can think of the time we spend bathing our babies and then placing a conditioning moisturizer onto their skin. Yet, do we spend this time for ourselves, take time to do it and have the right moisturizing lotion that works for our own skin type?  This is an important question for everyone—women, men and children and especially pregnant women.

As an African American woman I find that this is a task I have to stay on top of regularly.  I remember during my first pregnancy going through the phase of having itchy skin and I would moisturize my belly to reduce the scratching.  There are many moisturizing products on the market.  You have to find the right moisturizer for your skin.  Your local pharmacist, primary care physician, OB-GYN or dermatologist can recommend skin moisturizers appropriate for you.  If you have sensitive skin or certain skin allergies there are specific products you should research and experiment to find what will work for you.  One tip that I can offer is researching products that are organic or have natural plant and tree oils, these seem to work well for me.  I also avoid products that have high fragrances.  I find in certain times of the season, such as the winter months, our skin gets very dry, brittle, rough and ashy; so daily moisturizing is extra important. Spending the time to protect your body’s largest organ will pay off—and for me I’m hoping it gives me the soft skin my great-grandmother had for 101 years.

The diaper debate

Friday, October 9th, 2009

36823629_thbGees…I just did the math and figured out that I’ve used approximately one thousand, four hundred and seventy-two disposable diapers in eight months. We go through a case of 184 diapers about every three to four weeks.  Including wipes, that’s almost seventy bucks a month. I’m going on a diaper run later this afternoon. Should I try cloth diapers? I’m a little nervous about the idea. Do they leak? I don’t know anyone personally who has tried them. The disposable ones are easy. My daughter’s skin has been so healthy, but I want to be environmentally friendly.  Saving some cash wouldn’t be bad either.

The choice between using cloth or disposable diapers is a matter of personal preference. Deciding which one is best depends on several factors including lifestyle, concern for the environment, cost, convenience, skin care and other health concerns.

What do you think I should do?

Hair dye and pregnancy

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

hair-treatmentsLots of women color their hair.  If you’re thinking of getting pregnant or are pregnant, is it OK to continue? Should you quit or switch to something different?  There aren’t any scientific study results to give you a definitive answer, but there is no evidence that the chemicals in hair dye will harm your baby. The amount of dye you would normally use on your hair is not enough to pose an increased risk to either you or your child.

If you’re concerned about dying your hair during pregnancy:
• Use gloves so that your skin absorbs less dye.
• Be sure the room is well-ventilated so you don’t breathe in chemicals for too long.
• Don’t leave dye on longer than the instructions recommend.

If you’re still concerned, consider highlights. Because dye from highlights doesn’t usually touch your scalp, your skin can’t absorb it. Dye can’t be absorbed through hair alone. You can also try vegetable dyes or henna, but the color choices aren’t as broad.

For more information, read Hair Treatments and Pregnancy  from the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS).