Archive for the 'Dermatology' Category

Can You Get Bad Germs From a Toilet Seat?

A toilet seat can harbor a variety of germsYes, a toilet seat can harbor a variety of germs. MRSA, pinworms, and viruses that cause diarrhea and vomiting are just some of the pathogens that can be transmitted to you by the toilet seat.   

Researchers are now describing a new wave of irritating and itchy rash on the upper thighs and buttocks of children.  Harsh chemical cleaners on toilet seats and/or exotic wooden toilet seats appear to be the main culprits causing this problem.  A recent study from Johns Hopkins Children’s Center documents recent cases of toilet seat dermatitis in children, some of whom suffered for years before being diagnosed.

Toilet seat dermatitis was first documented and described in 1927 when varnish, lacquers, and paints were used on wooden toilet seats.  In the 1980s and 1990s, plastic toilet seats replaced wooden ones and sanitary seat covers came into use.  These changes were associated with a dramatic decline in the condition.

Recently, however exotic wooden toilet seats, as well as harsh toilet seat detergents have made a resurgence in popularity.  Cleaners with ingredients such as didecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride and alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride, are being used as toilet seat cleansers although they have previously been documented to cause severe skin irritation.

To prevent any of these conditions, avoid sitting directly on a toilet seat or use a protective barrier in public restrooms.  Avoid harsh cleansers at home and replace all wooden toilet seats with plastic ones.

Read more about the Super Bug, MRSA 

Source: “Toilet Seat Dermatitis Making a Comeback”, MedPage Today, January 2010
Source: Center for Disease Control


Sugary Foods May Contribute to Acne

South Beach Diet found to improve acneA low-carbohydrate diet may help improve skin condition in people with acne, according to a recent study from the University of Miami. 

In a large survey, more than 80% of those adhering to the South Beach Diet reported noticeable improvement in acne within three months of starting the new diet.   And among survey participants taking acne medication, 91% said they decreased the dose of medication or the amount of acne treatment after starting the diet.

Although many dermatologists believe that diet and acne are unrelated, recent evidence suggests that diet-induced hyperinsulinemia (an excess amount of insulin is released in the bloodstream in response to a high carbohydrate meal) triggers an endocrine response that simultaneously triggers unregulated epithelial growth and keratinization as well as androgen-mediated sebum secretion.  

Source: Rouhani P, et al “Acne improves with a popular, low glycemic diet from South Beach” J Am Acad Dermatol 2009; 60(suppl): Abstract P706.

Source: “AAD: Low-Carb Diet Touted as Possible Acne Aid”, MedPage Today, March 13, 2009

Topical Drug Found to Restore Sun-Damaged Skin

5FU creamOnce daily application of the prescription drug, 5FU, can significantly restore sun-damaged skin, according to researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor.

In their recent study, significant improvement was found in coarse wrinkling on the skin of participants using 5FU cream. Fine wrinkling, tactile roughness,  mottled hyperpigmentation was also improved from baseline.  Lentigines, or liver spots, were significantly decreased,  and sallowness was improved from baseline.  As expected, the average number of actinic keratoses fell significantly.  

Fluorouracil, or 5FU, is a prescription chemotherapy drug that has long been used to treat the precancerous lesions known as actinic keratoses, regarded as precursors of squamous cell carcinoma. During such treatment, physicians have noticed improvements in wrinkles, texture, and pigmentation but such changes haven’t been systematically studied. 

Topical application of 5-FU frequently results in a mild to severe stinging or burning sensation, depending on the sensitivity of the skin, the severity of the sun damage and how long it has been used.  After five to ten days of treatment, the sun-damaged parts of treated skin become red and irritated. As treatment is continued, sores and crusts may appear. These raw areas result from the destruction of defective skin cells and can be covered with a dressing.  They are only temporary, but a necessary part of 5-FU treatment.

Source: Sachs DL, et al “Topical fluorouracil for actinic keratoses and photoaging: a clinical and molecular analysis” Arch Dermatol 2009; 145(6): 659-666. 
Source: MedPage Today, June 15, 2009

Glaucoma Drug Improves Eyelash Growth and Thickening

Glaucoma Eye DropsEyelash growth and thickening was signficantly improved with one drop per day of a glaucoma drug in almost 80%  of participants in a recent study.   The FDA approved the prescription drug, bimatoprost, for eyelash growth late last year.

During this study by Therapeutics Clinical Research in San Diego, patients applied a single drop of glaucoma eye medication to each upper eyelid at the junction with the hair follicle. Lower eyelids were not treated. After only one week of treatment, many experienced significant improvement, although for some it took as long as eight weeks.

Investigators have found no safety issues with bimatoprost.  Fewer than 4% of patients encountered adverse events during the trial. The most common adverse events in the bimatoprost group were conjunctival hyperemia (3.6%), skin hyperpigmentation (2.9%), and ocular irritation, dry eye, and eyelid erythema (2% each).

 Source: Smith S, et al “Eyelash growth in subjects treated with bimatoprost ophthalmic solution 0.03%; a multicenter, randomized, double-masked, vehicle-controlled parallel study” J Am Acad Dermatol 2009; 60(suppl): Abstract P406.

Source: MedPage Today, March 12, 2009

New Vitamin D Ointment Effective for Psoriasis

OintmentCalcitriol is a new prescription vitamin D ointment that was approved by the FDA earlier this month.   In clinical trials of patients with mild-to-moderate plaque psoriasis treated twice daily for eight weeks, calcitriol yielded significant improvement after two weeks of use.  Adverse events were minimal and generally mild. Calcitrol is not yet in pharmacies but is expected to be available by early spring.

Source: Koo, J “New Developments in Topical Therapy” SDEF 2009.
Source: “Newly Approved Vitamin D Ointment Appears Effective for Treatment of Plaque Psoriasis”, MedPage Today, February 13, 2009

Shingles appears to have a hereditary link

If you have a blood relative who has had shingles, you may be a greater risk of developing the disease. 

Shingles is a very painful rash that can last from one to three months.  In May of 2006, the FDA licensed a new vaccine to reduce the risk of shingles in older Americans. Zostavax, a live virus vaccine, is given as a single injection and is recommended for use in people 60 years of age and older.

View photos and read more about Shingles from Bay Area Medical Information,

via Archives of Dermatology, May 2008
via FDA, “Shingles Vaccine”, 2008


Cocoa butter lotion doesn’t prevent stretch marks

Cocoa butterThe actual cause of stretch marks during pregnancy is still not known, but apparently applying cocoa butter lotion does not lessen their severity or help in preventing them, according to a new study from the American University of Beirut Medical Center in Lebanon.

Although there has been no scientific evidence supporting the use of cocoa butter, many physicians and midwives continue to recommend it. The authors concluded that their findings do not support the use of cocoa butter lotion for the prevention of stretch marks, but further studies are needed to confirm their findings and to evaluate the effectiveness of other commonly used products in preventing stretch marks.

via BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, August 2008