I want to recognize a dermatologist who is making a difference in the lives of others with a story I am inspired to share with readers. Dr. Bryna Kane is a dermatologist and assistant clinical professor at the University of California. Raised by parents who survived the Holocaust, Dr. Kane witnessed firsthand the negative effect that tattoos could have on a person’s life. The tattoos used for identification in concentration camps would often cause hepatitis infections and other diseases. But the psychological effects were just as negative, serving as a constant reminder of a horrific and traumatizing experience. Holocaust survivors inspired Dr. Kane to help others manage unwanted tattoos.
Genentech, Inc. has voluntarily withdrawn the psoriasis drug Raptiva® (efalizumab) from the US market. Raptiva is associated with an increased risk of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). PML is a rare and usually fatal disease of the central nervous system. There are no known interventions that can adequately treat PML. The chief medical officer of Genentech, Hal Barron, MD, believes that Raptiva has helped many psoriasis sufferers, but the risk of PML outweighs the drug’s benefits. Approximately 46,000 patients worldwide have taken Raptiva for chronic plaque psoriasis. There have been 3 cases of diagnosed PML in patients receiving Raptiva. It is not known whether other unreported cases have occurred.
While the ideal scenario is to avoid getting mosquito bites in the first place, that’s certainly easier said than done. But here’s a helpful preventive tip: about 30 minutes before you go outside, take Claritin® or Zyrtec® to get antihistamine into your system before your first encounter with a mosquito. I find I have a very mild reaction if I’m bitten, with little swelling, redness, or itching.
Greetings! Long summer days call us outdoors, and that means skin is more vulnerable than ever. From mosquito bites and bee stings to sunburn and scraped knees, our skin is subject to much more potential harm during the summer. We all know that we must wear sunscreen to help protect us from the sun’s radiation. Is sunlight itself a bad thing? Of course not. The issue, many believe, is the shrinking of the ozone layer, earth’s natural sunscreen, which filters the most harmful radiation. When the ozone layer is healthy, we’re better protected from and in balance with the sun. We need its healing rays to not only nourish plants and animals but to activate vitamin D in our bodies. When we protect ourselves from the sun, we’re also potentially robbing ourselves of vital vitamin D. So what are we to do?
Skateboard pioneer Andy Kessler died earlier this week from an allergic reaction to an insect sting. His death is a dark reminder of the dangers that insect stings carry. Severe allergy (considered potentially life threatening) to insect stings are quite rare and occur in less than 5% of the US population. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, at least 40 people in the US die each year from insect stings.
Cosmetics is a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry with limited regulations. The FDA lacks the power to approve products or an ingredient used in cosmetics and has not specifically determined what is “safe.” Because compounds placed on the skin can readily be absorbed into the body, is this something to be concerned about?
Fall is a wonderful time for self-nurturing and introspection. As the weather cools and leaves change colors, many of my patients feel the need to look at areas of their lives they’ve let fall by the wayside. After the summer sun (and tan!) fades, we have a wonderful opportunity to take stock of the health of our skin and overall lifestyle and habits to prepare for the winter.
November is healthy skin month. This is a good reminder that, even though we’re exposed to less sun now, it is still a great time to protect the appearance of and marvel at the uniqueness of our body’s largest organ. I’ve always admired the visual beauty of different skin tones. But understanding the science and purpose behind the various shades of our human tapestry expands my appreciation even more. This month, in a blog called Skin Tones, I share some insights on why we all have ”skin of color.”