Dr Mohammed B. Danmallam is a dermatologist and venereologist. He is the chief executive officer of Prima Derma Lounge (Skin and Laser Centre) Abuja. He is also the vice president of the Nigerian Association of Dermatologists. In this interview, Danmallam speaks on skin problems and treatment, and tips on maintaining a healthy skin.
Acne is a multi-factorial disorder of the pilosebaceous (hair and sebum outlet) unit. It is one of the most common disorders that individuals seek dermatological treatment for and affects over 50% of persons 12 to 24 years old that visit dermatological clinics.
Although it starts during adolescence many adults are affected by acne even in the fourth decade of life. Acne affects all races and is mostly hereditary. A combination of factors (inflammation and subsequent infection by a bacteria called Propionibacterium acne) lead to the formation of a typical acne eruption.
The typical impulsive response of squeezing the pimple leads to rupture and a cascade of inflammatory response which leads to more inflammation, and eventual sequelae like scarring and dark spots. So squeezing or pressing a pimple is generally discouraged by dermatologists.
What is your take on skin bleaching?
You know it is a funny paradox that just as we want to turn our skin white, the white people are eager to tan their skin. Several harsh and caustic concoctions are mixed in a compound with strong steroid creams to get the desired effect of turning the skin from black to white, and along the way the skin is mostly damaged beyond repair.
To bleach the skin, these creams when applied on the skin, initially destroy the normal architecture of the skin, destroy and kill the normal pigment, thin down the thick layers of the skin, strongly diminish its physiological functions, and in the long run lead to skin aging and darkening. Others include; easy bruising, stretch marks, susceptibility to inflammation, and infections among others.
So there is a very strong probability that the bleached skin will reach a limit and then start getting dark again leading to a more serious and frustrating condition called ochronosis.
What are the basic things to do to have a good or healthy skin?
Skin like any other part of the body needs to be looked after properly. The fact that it is the mirror of the inner body makes it more imperative for us to make sure we look after it properly.
Healthy eating is essential and for those that have allergies, certain foods should be avoided. Fluids intake, sun protection, avoiding skin irritants like soaps, chemicals, perfumes and excessive scrubbing, moisturising your skin adequately and avoiding excessive sweating where possible are ways to have a healthy skin.
What are the basic steps in reducing the effect of aging on the skin?
Avoid bleaching agents, irritants and corrosives. Use sunscreens and avoid intense sun exposure as much as possible. Moisturise where necessary, exercise, eat healthy and drink lots of fluids.
What is the treatment for dry, itchy skin?
A dry skin is an itchy skin, so we treat dry skin by avoiding things that can dry it more, like disinfectants, chlorinated pools, very hot water baths, and soaps to mention a few. We use emollients or moisturisers as cleansers and as creams.
Dry skin could be sub divided into normal dry skin that is people who by their nature have dry skin based on hereditary factors, or dry skin secondary to what we have done on the skin either by treatment, right or wrong .
The first one is natural dry skin, that is people who have dry skin by virtue of their skin type. Anatomically, God has created a barrier on the skin called hydrolipid barrier, and in these patients, this barrier is a little bit impaired. This means their skin does not retain water and oil as much as it should, so they have dry skin, and this dry skin gets worse during the harmattan or when they use certain things like disinfectant.
So the way to improve it is to moisturise it. We have groups of creams and cleansing bars that are moisturizers. You use them to moisturise and they help to redress the dryness by imitating the natural hydrolipid barriers that God has created. So, by hydrating the skin, the itching reduces but in some patients, we still need to give certain drugs that will help reduce the itching.
Do people need to exfoliate?
God has created the skin in such a way that it takes care of itself. That is why whenever we bath, we see some black things in the bathtub, which may not necessarily be dirt but dead skin cells.
God created the skin in such a way that it exfoliates so that a new one will come to the top. However, there are certain conditions in the skin will not allow this old skin to go off and the new one meets it thereby causing an increased thickness or roughness of the skin. So when such a thing happens, we as doctors give exfoliating agents that gently remove the unwanted skin to help normalize the normal skin structure. People try to exfoliate by using scrubs which may be detrimental and eventually worsen the condition of those that have some skin conditions like eczema and allergy. The bottom line is to have your skin status ascertained by an expert before you embark on such procedures.
This article appeared first on Daily Trust Online Newspaper