rosacea

Rosacea is a common skin condition that affects millions of people. It usually shows up as redness, swelling, and sometimes small, pimple-like bumps on the face. The effects of rosacea can differ from person to person, but it can make the skin feel sensitive and can cause patients to feel self-conscious about how they look.

Those with rosacea may often deal with flare-ups, which can be both frequent and frustrating. Luckily, there are effective ways to manage and reduce them and today we’re sharing some of the top skincare tips that can help.

Common irritants for rosacea

People with rosacea react differently to various substances, but there are common irritants known to trigger flare-ups. Surveys by the National Rosacea Society indicate that ingredients such as alcohol, witch hazel, fragrance, menthol, peppermint, and eucalyptus oil are major culprits.

Alcohol tops the list, with 66% of respondents reporting it as a trigger, followed by 30% for both witch hazel and fragrances. Menthol, peppermint, and eucalyptus oil were problematic for 21%, 14%, and 13% of respondents, respectively.

Recognising these triggers is crucial. Many patients find that by avoiding astringents, exfoliants, and other harsh skincare products, they significantly reduce the frequency and severity of their rosacea flare-ups. Eliminating these common irritants from your skincare regimen can help keep your skin calm and reduce the likelihood of irritation.

Less is more when managing rosacea

When it comes to managing rosacea, less is often more. Using too many skincare products can overwhelm sensitive skin, leading to flare-ups. To avoid this, opt for a minimal skincare routine with products that are gentle and designed for sensitive skin.

Fragrance-free products are particularly essential, as fragrances are a common trigger for many people with rosacea. By keeping your skincare routine simple and free from unnecessary additives, you help maintain your skin’s natural balance and avoid aggravating the condition.

Test out new skincare products

It’s crucial when testing new skincare products, only do this on a small patch of skin before fully incorporating them into your routine. This patch test helps determine if the product will cause a reaction or contribute to a flare-up. Apply a small amount of the product to a discreet area and observe any changes or discomfort over a few days. This precaution can prevent widespread reactions on your face and help you identify safe products for your sensitive skin.

Implementing these skincare practices can be helpful for people with rosacea and reduce the occurrence of uncomfortable flare-ups. Remember, knowing your triggers and how to avoid them is important in managing the condition.

If managing your rosacea feels overwhelming or if your current regimen isn’t producing the results you hoped for, consider seeking help from a dermatologist. When rosacea is not controlled by trying to avoid triggers, Dr Williams can advise on the most suitable treatment which may be a cream or a course of oral antibiotics.

Book an appointment today with Dr Juliet Williams.

protecting from skin cancer

Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, and melanoma is its most serious form. Understanding how to detect and protect yourself from this disease is crucial.

As May has marked Melanoma Awareness Month, here we look at some of the most common questions about melanoma, its symptoms, and how you can best protect your skin.

What is melanoma and what are the symptoms of skin cancer?

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that begins in cells known as melanocytes, which are responsible for producing melanin, the pigment that gives your skin its colour. There are various types of melanomas, including superficial spreading melanoma, nodular melanoma, lentigo maligna melanoma, and acral lentiginous melanoma – each with unique characteristics and patterns of growth.

The symptoms of melanoma can vary but generally include:

  • New or unusual growths
  • A change in an existing mole

Signs to watch out for include asymmetry, where one half of the mole does not match the other, and irregular borders or changes in colour. It’s also important to watch for a diameter larger than a pencil eraser, and changes in size or shape of the mole.

These symptoms can be remembered by the acronym ABCDE (Asymmetry, Border, Colour, Diameter, Evolving).

How can I protect myself from UVA and UVB rays?

Protecting your skin from the sun’s rays is the most effective way to prevent skin cancer. First, seek shade during peak hours (typically 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are at their strongest).

You’ll also want to wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, trousers, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses with UV protection. Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all exposed skin and reapply it every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating.

In heat waves or on intensely hot days, when temperatures reach above 32 degrees Celsius and are accompanied by high humidity, it is recommended to use mineral sunscreens. Also, keep your sunscreen bottles in a cool, shaded place to ensure the ingredients do not degrade and become ineffective.

How often should I check my moles?

It’s recommended to examine your skin once a month for any signs of change. Use a mirror to check hard-to-see areas and familiarise yourself with the pattern of moles, freckles, and other marks on your body.

Keeping track of changes can help you identify any new or evolving lesions early. Seeing a dermatologist for a professional skin examination annually, or more often if you’re at high risk for skin cancer, is also advisable.

How is skin cancer treated?

The treatment for skin cancer varies depending on the type and severity of the disease. For precancerous skin lesions, options include prescription creams and cryotherapy, which involves freezing the lesions with liquid nitrogen. Suspected cancerous lesions are usually excised under local anaesthesia to remove them entirely and examine them for signs of cancer.

In some cases, surgical removal of the lesion under local anaesthetic may be required. Early detection significantly increases the effectiveness of treatment, leading to better outcomes.

If you have noticed changes in your skin that are concerning, schedule an appointment with Dr Juliet Williams. Taking proactive steps can be your best defence against skin cancer. Book an appointment today by calling 01483 555907.

new in dermatology

Dermatology is a field that never stands still, with continuous advancements and breakthroughs improving our understanding and treatment of skin conditions.

In this blog, we’ll explore some of the latest developments in dermatology, and what we can expect from future treatments.

Ruxolitinib approved to treat vitiligo

Vitiligo causes white patches on the skin due to the loss of pigmentation when melanocytes, the cells responsible for skin colour, stop working or are destroyed. While its exact cause remains a mystery, it’s often linked to autoimmune activity.

Ruxolitinib, initially used to treat certain blood disorders, now offers hope for vitiligo patients by promoting repigmentation. The drug targets and blocks the immune pathways that are believed to be overactive in Vitiligo, aiding in stopping its progression and encouraging the skin’s natural colour to return.

Patients with vitiligo will welcome this new treatment option which was approved in the USA by the FDA. It is not currently available for prescribing on the NHS and is in the process of re-appraisal by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Ritlecitinib recommended by NICE to treat severe alopecia areata

Alopecia areata causes hair loss, typically in patches, as the immune system mistakenly targets its own cells, including the hair follicles. This condition can escalate to complete hair loss on the scalp and body, significantly impacting self-esteem and quality of life.

Ritlecitinib has recently been recognised by NICE as a new treatment option for severe alopecia areata. Acting as a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor, it intervenes in the immune pathways responsible for hair loss.

Treating alopecia areata with Ritlecitinib is convenient, requiring just one pill daily, making it a user-friendly and effective approach for those grappling with this condition.

What other developments are making waves in dermatology?

There are currently several developments being worked on in the field of dermatology including a promising treatment for psoriasis. A study involving 255 patients (still ongoing) demonstrated that a targeted oral peptide inhibitor, the first of its kind, blocks IL-23 receptors and pathogenic T-cell activation, with no safety concerns. This could lead to improved treatments for psoriasis patients as well those with other immune mediated inflammatory diseases.

New findings from another study presented at the annual American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAI) meeting, also recommended PH labelling of liquid synthetic detergents on skin cleansers could be helpful for those with atopic dermatitis when checking products for acidity. These developments in dermatology are just a glimpse into ongoing investigations and discoveries.

If you’re facing skin issues, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with Dr Juliet Williams. She will be happy to help you with your skin concerns and if needed she can create a customised treatment plan for helping you manage the problem.

Teenage skin care

The trend of young girls using expensive skincare products has skyrocketed, with hashtag teenage skin care (#teenageskincare) hitting over 26.4 million views on TikTok. The trouble is many of these products are not suitable for teenage skin.

Here we’ll explore the risks teenagers face when using the wrong skincare products, as well as products that are designed with younger skin in mind. You’ll also discover some expert tips on how to safely take care of adolescent skin.

The dangers of using unsuitable products on teenage skin

Choosing the wrong skincare products can negatively affect the skin, especially during the teenage years when hormonal changes demand a tailored approach to skincare. Products that aren’t developed for teenage skin can worsen acne, can irritate the skin, and can even cause lasting skin damage. Skincare should be gentle and effective, with safe ingredients for preserving hydration, protecting against harmful sun damage while not clogging pores.

The lasting impact of using the wrong skincare products during the teenage years can be significant. Ongoing skin problems may not only cause scarring, but also negatively affect self-esteem and mental health.

Teenage skin, which is still maturing, is more vulnerable than adult skin. This means it allows harmful chemicals to penetrate more easily and possibly damage the deeper layers of the skin.

Therefore, products with strong acids, alcohols, or retinoids, typically used for adult skin issues, may be too harsh for teenage skin. This can result in dryness, peeling, and increased sensitivity.

Some acne treatments found to have harmful chemicals

Even products that are aimed at teenagers can be potentially harmful. Well-known acne solutions from brands like Clearasil and Clinique, have come under scrutiny for containing concerning levels of benzene, a human carcinogen. Treatments that use benzoyl peroxide, a frequent ingredient in prescription as well as over-the-counter acne remedies, often contain benzene. The FDA limit is 2 parts per million, but the breakdown of benzoyl peroxide into benzene can be made worse by the products being stored in warm environments.

When choosing skincare products for treating acne, it’s helpful to seek guidance from a dermatologist, who can ensure that they are safe, suitable and effective for the specific skincare needs.

Ensuring the safety of skincare products becomes even more crucial when considering the sensitive nature of teenage skin.

How to safely take care of teenage skin

A good skincare routine for teenagers includes gentle cleansing and using a lightweight, oil-free formula moisturiser that is not greasy or silicone-rich. Look for the word ‘non-comedogenic’ which means that the product will not block pores and cause break-outs. Using sunscreen to protect against sun damage in the warmer months is a great habit to get into, and there are many sunscreens that are designed for oily skin and will not make acne worse.

If possible, avoid products aimed at older skin with harsh chemicals like toners, chemical peels, face oils, physical exfoliators or anti-aging serums. Also, eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water can also protect the skin from the inside.

For personalised advice and treatment plans, consulting a dermatologist like Dr Juliet Williams can make a big difference. She can carry out a comprehensive assessment of the skin, offer tailored advice, and create a safe and effective skincare plan for you to follow with individualised products suitable for your specific needs. Schedule an appointment today to learn more.

Scabies

The UK is currently experiencing a surge in scabies, prompting concern from healthcare professionals and the public alike. This highly contagious skin condition can affect anyone and causes an intensely itchy rash.

Understanding what scabies is, how it spreads, and the available treatment options can help in managing this uncomfortable condition. So, if you’re worried you may have it, or simply want to find out more, read on to discover everything you need to know.

What is scabies?

Scabies is a highly contagious skin condition caused by tiny mites. These microscopic mites burrow into the upper layer of the skin, where they live and lay eggs.

The most common symptom of scabies is a severe itching that tends to worsen at night. The rash can appear as tiny blisters or red bumps and is often found in the folds of the skin, such as between fingers, around the waist, under the arms, or on the buttocks and genitals.

Scabies is spread through direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. It can also spread through contact with infested clothing, bedding, or furniture, though this is less common.

Scabies can affect anyone, regardless of personal hygiene habits. Outbreaks are often seen in crowded environments like schools and nursing homes. The number of cases has increased dramatically over recent years and it has become much more common so that anyone with a new, persistently itchy rash should consider the possibility of scabies.

What are the best treatments for scabies?

The first line of treatment for scabies is usually topical medications, such as creams or lotions that kill the mites. These are applied over the entire body and often left on for several hours or overnight. It’s crucial to follow the application instructions carefully and treat all household members and close contacts to prevent re-infestation.

Besides medication, it’s important to wash all clothing, bedding, and towels used by the infected person in hot water and to vacuum furniture and carpets.

Recently, there have been news reports about a shortage of topical medications to treat the condition in the UK. This can cause delays in beginning treatment, which can also worsen existing skin conditions, such as eczema.

In cases where topical treatments are not effective, or in short supply, oral medication may be necessary. Only Consultant Dermatologists can prescribe oral ivermectin, an effective alternative for treating the condition.

Seek support from a Consultant Dermatologist

Given the current rise in scabies cases, prompt treatment and prevention are essential.

If you suspect you may have it or have been in close contact with someone who is infected, it’s advisable to seek advice from a specialist dermatologist, for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.

Dr Juliet Williams treats many different skin conditions that can cause skin itching, and understands just how distressing this can be. She can help advise on a treatment that is designed specifically for your unique needs and challenges.

Remember, early intervention can help control the spread and alleviate the discomfort associated with the condition.

mole mapping

After Sarah Ferguson recently revealed her melanoma diagnosis, there has been a surge in online queries relating to skin cancer. Sometimes, people are not sure what the difference is between mole mapping services and seeing a consultant dermatologist.

In light of National Cancer Prevention Month, in today’s blog we’re going to explore the differences between these two services. Each has its unique features and benefits, and knowing the difference can help you make an informed decision about your skin health.

What is Mole Mapping?

Mole mapping involves photographing all your moles to track changes over time. This service, often offered by specialised clinics, uses high-resolution imaging to capture detailed pictures of the moles. Some systems even incorporate AI (Artificial Intelligence) algorithms to analyse these images and identify any changes or irregularities that might suggest a risk of skin cancer.

The primary benefit of mole mapping is its ability to document and monitor changes in moles across the entire body. This is particularly useful for those with many moles, as it creates a comprehensive record that can be referenced in future screenings.

However, it’s important to note that while mole mapping provides a thorough record of your moles, it typically does not include a personal assessment by an experienced skincare professional.

When should I see a Consultant Dermatologist?

In contrast to mole mapping services, a consultant dermatologist offers a more personalised and clinical approach. During the consultation, a dermatologist will first take a detailed clinical history to assess your background risk of skin cancer. This includes discussing factors such as family history, sun exposure, and previous skin conditions.

A thorough examination is then carried out on all your moles, paying particular attention to any that appear irregular. Using a dermatoscope, a tool that provides a magnified view of the skin, the moles can be closely inspected for signs of malignancy that may not be visible to the naked eye.

If any moles require monitoring, they will be photographed with and without the dermatoscope for precise documentation.

For patients with numerous moles or those who wish to undergo regular check-ups, comprehensive photographs of all areas of their skin can be photographed. This individualised approach ensures that each mole is evaluated in the context of your overall skin health and personal risk factors.

Why mole monitoring is important

Regular mole monitoring is a key component in the early detection of skin cancers, including melanoma. Catching it early significantly improves the chances of successful treatment. While mole mapping provides a valuable photographic record, seeing a consultant dermatologist offers the added benefit of expert clinical evaluation.

If you have any concerns about your moles, schedule an appointment with Dr Juliet Williams. As a specialist, she can provide a detailed assessment of your moles, considering your unique skin history and risk factors. This personalised approach ensures that any suspicious changes are quickly identified and addressed, offering you peace of mind and the best possible care for your skin.

 

Pregnancy and Acne

Pregnancy brings a lot of changes, not just to your lifestyle but also to your skin. Acne is a common issue expectant mothers face, yet treating the problem can be tricky.

In today’s blog, we’ll explore what acne treatments are considered safe during pregnancy and which ones should be avoided. Read on as we uncover the safest approaches to keeping your skin clear and healthy during this special time.

What acne treatments should you avoid during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, it’s crucial to avoid certain acne treatments due to potential risks they pose to your baby. The oral retinoid Isotretinoin is strictly forbidden during pregnancy as it carries a high risk of causing severe birth defects.

Similarly, Spironolactone, an oral medication often used for hormonal acne, is not recommended during pregnancy due to its potential effects on the developing foetus.

Other medications to steer clear of include Adapalene and Tretinoin. These are topical retinoids and small amounts can be absorbed into the bloodstream, which could pose a risk to a baby’s development.

It is safest therefore to avoid these treatments during pregnancy.

Are any acne treatments safe during pregnancy?

While many medications should be avoided, there are some acne treatments considered safe during pregnancy. Tetracycline antibiotics should be avoided but certain antibiotics, including erythromycin for instance, can be a safe option. They target acne-causing bacteria without being absorbed systemically in a way that could harm the baby.

Azelaic acid is another safe topical treatment. It’s effective in reducing inflammation and killing bacteria. Benzoyl peroxide can also be used, but in small quantities, to avoid excessive absorption through the skin.

In terms of physical treatments, laser and light therapies are generally considered safe, but speak to a dermatologist first as some light therapies require a numbing solution that can be absorbed by the body and may be harmful to the baby.

Salicylic acid, a common acne treatment, should also be used in limited amounts and only after consulting with a skin expert. High doses of salicylic acid have not been proven safe for pregnant women.

Clear up acne safely with help from a dermatologist

While certain acne treatments are deemed safe during pregnancy, it’s always best to consult a doctor or dermatologist before starting any skincare regimen. Each pregnancy is unique, and what’s safe for one person may not be for another. A dermatologist can provide advice and recommend personalised treatments that are effective and safe for both you and your baby.

If you’re struggling with acne during pregnancy, get in touch to schedule an appointment with Dr Juliet Williams. She can help you navigate the challenges of pregnancy-related acne with safe and effective treatments tailored to your needs.

Alcohol and the skin

As we embrace the new year, many of us consider participating in ‘Dry January’ – a month-long break from alcohol. This pause in our drinking habits isn’t just a welcome detox for our bodies, but it can also bring surprising benefits to our skin.

Here, we’ll explore the relationship between alcohol and skin health, and how cutting back can lead to noticeable improvements in your appearance.

How does alcohol affect the skin?

When you enjoy a drink, your skin feels the impact too. In the short term, one visible effect is flushing, where your complexion appears redder or inflamed. This happens because alcohol releases histamines, which cause blood vessels under your skin to dilate.

Another common issue is dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it makes you lose fluids and can leave your skin looking dull and dry. Sleep quality often suffers too, and we all know how important a good night’s sleep is for that fresh-faced look.

If you’re already dealing with skin conditions like Rosacea, Seborrheic Dermatitis, or Psoriasis, alcohol can also make things worse. It can trigger flare-ups and worsen symptoms, making managing these conditions more challenging. There is also evidence that drinking excess alcohol can put you at a greater risk of developing skin conditions, and can make them resistant to treatment.

Long term skin changes

Over time, regular alcohol consumption can lead to more permanent changes. One of the more serious concerns is an increased risk of skin infections. Alcohol can impair your body’s immune response, making it harder for your skin to fight off infections. Furthermore, the body’s ability to absorb nutrients is impaired.

Prolonged drinking can damage the liver causing problems such as cirrhosis and hepatitis. These conditions can also affect the skin, sometimes resulting in yellowing of the skin (jaundice), darker skin around the eyes, visible blood veins in the face (telangiectasia) and itchy skin.

More worryingly, there’s a link between alcohol and an increased risk of skin cancer. Consistent heavy drinking can weaken the skin’s defences, making it more susceptible to cancer-causing UV rays.

How to prevent alcohol related skin effects

The most straightforward way to prevent these skin issues is to either avoid alcohol completely or enjoy it in moderation. When you do drink, it’s a good idea to alternate alcoholic drinks with water. Staying hydrated helps counteract the dehydrating effects of alcohol.

Eating a balanced meal before drinking can also slow down alcohol absorption, offering some protection for your skin. Also, don’t forget about skincare. A good moisturising routine can help combat dryness.

If you do notice any changes in your skin or your existing skin conditions are flaring up, book an appointment with expert dermatologist Dr Juliet Williams. While alcohol can be a factor, there could be many other reasons why you’re experiencing skin troubles. If you are struggling to control your alcohol intake, there is help available. If you are concerned about your drinking habits, get in touch with your local doctor who can help advise you as well as put you in touch with support groups.

skin in menopause

The menopause is known to cause a range of unpleasant health issues from mood swings to hot flushes. However, one lesser-known symptom is its impact on skin health.

During this transitional period, the skin also undergoes distinct changes. From bouts of dryness to unexpected acne flare-ups, in this blog, we’ll explore these common menopausal skin troubles and how you can tackle them.

Protecting against skin cancer and age spots

Age spots, sometimes called liver spots or sunspots, are small dark areas on your skin. They range from freckle-sized to about a half inch across and are most common in exposed areas like the face, hands, shoulders, and arms. While primarily a cosmetic concern, they develop due to over-exposure to the sun over the years.

You can treat age spots with medications, laser therapy, a chemical peel, dermabrasion, and freezing. The treatment will depend on the size, location, and severity of the age spot.

Another thing to be aware of is the increased risk of skin cancer. With age, our skin’s ability to regenerate and repair diminishes. Regular self-examinations for any new or changing moles, and an annual check-up with a dermatologist can provide reassurance, particularly when any new or changing moles are causing concern.

Remember, prevention is key. Always wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days, and invest in protective clothing and hats.

Managing dry skin in menopause

During the menopause, it isn’t uncommon to develop dry patches of skin. Loss of oestrogen in the skin increases trans-epidermal water loss which makes the skin drier, which in turn can make eczema more of a problem.

To combat this, choose moisturisers with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, which can help lock in moisture. You can also use a night cream to provide intensive hydration while you sleep.

If you develop eczema and nothing is helping to clear it up, a dermatologist can provide guidance and advise on the most suitable treatment plan.

Dealing with menopausal acne

It’s a myth that acne only occurs during our teenage years. Up to 25% of women going through menopause can develop acne, and it can be extremely frustrating and embarrassing to deal with.

The hormonal changes can lead to increased sebum production, clogging pores and causing breakouts.

This means that to manage acne brought on by the menopause, a gentle yet effective skincare routine is essential. Dr Juliet Williams can advise on the most appropriate and effective treatments for this type of acne; for example creams are preferable to gel formulation and moisturiser is often required. The recently published SAFA study (Spironolactone for Adult Female Acne) demonstrated that spironolactone can be effective for women experiencing persistent facial acne.

Seasonal changes and the skin

As the seasons shift, so does our environment, from the warm embrace of summer to the crisp chill of winter. But did you know these changes can also cause havoc for our skin? Each season comes with its own unique challenges for our skin’s health and appearance.

In this blog, we’ll explore how seasonal transitions impact skin conditions. You’ll also discover some great tips for managing your skin through the seasons.

What happens with seasonal changes and the skin?

Seasonal shifts don’t just affect the world around us; they also have a direct impact on our skin.

During summer, increased humidity and the sun’s intensity often lead to more oil production, enlarged pores, and a higher risk of sun damage. As we move into autumn, cooler and drier air can start to rob our skin of its natural moisture, sometimes leading to inflammation. Winter amplifies this effect, and dry skin conditions like hand dermatitis, cheilitis and asteatotic eczema become more common. For chilblain sufferers the cold weather is a particular trial.

Spring brings with it the tree pollen which can trigger eczema in people who are sensitised to it and the UV levels start to rise which can bring on skin conditions that are caused by the sun like polymorphic light eruption or juvenile spring eruption especially in children.

Taking care of your skin during seasonal transitions

With each season presenting its own set of unique challenges, it is helpful to adjust your skin care routine. For example, during the warmer months, lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturisers and more frequent sunscreen application can help protect and hydrate the skin.

As the weather cools, introducing a richer moisturiser and possibly a hydrating serum can help combat dryness.

Do you need sunscreen in the winter months?

It depends why you are using it. In the UK, the UV levels in winter are such that for most people wearing sunscreen every day probably does not significantly lower their risk of getting skin cancer. However, if your aim is to protect your skin from ageing or to prevent hyperpigmentation then it is definitely beneficial to wear sunscreen all year round.

Addressing seasonal skin complaints

Each season can lead to a range of skin complaints. Summer can trigger an increase in breakouts due to excess sweating, increased oil production, as well as sunscreen or makeup that block pores, while winter often worsens eczema or dry skin flare-ups. Preparing in advance for these seasonal variations is crucial.

For summer, having a gentle cleanser and using products that contain salicylic acid can help manage breakouts. As sunscreen is essential, get one that is formulated for the face that is lighter and less likely to clog pores. In winter, using thicker creams and ointments that provide a barrier, locking in moisture can be beneficial. If, despite increased moisturiser, your eczema flares you may need to see a dermatologist who can prescribe a suitable topical steroid treatment. Even if you don’t apply sunscreen in Winter, make sure that you start to do so by the beginning of March so that the Spring sun does not catch you out. If you suspect that the Springtime tree pollens are triggering eczema, Dr Williams will be happy to discuss this and suggest ways to manage the problem.