• Núria Estapé, science journalist

    Microbiota – the skin’s “flora”

    31 Aug Microbiota - the skin’s "flora"

     

    Sources:

    The New York Times

    Our skin is a balanced ecosystem. Since it was colonized by billions of bacteria, viruses, fungi and mites at the dawn of the evolution of hominids, many species of microorganisms have lived in symbiosis with our skin mantle cells. Science’s efforts to identify our colonizers have revealed how essential these microorganisms are for the health of our skin. The most natural way to healthy skin is to help maintain the balance between all these microorganisms.

     

    Although it may be difficult to credit, only 10% of the cells of the body’s skin, intestines and mucous membranes are human. Most of them are of microscopic organisms that belong to the microbiota, the set of all foreign microbes that live in our body, especially in the digestive organs and the skin. For example, each square centimetre of human skin contains approximately one million microorganisms from a hundred different species. Together these form the skin’s microbiota (traditionally called the skin’s "flora”). This ecosystem is comparable in complexity to any other system in the Earth’s mantle. Today we know that our skin has hosted these microorganisms over thousands of years of evolution and that it is the symbiosis between our own cells and these tiny guests which helps the skin to perform its primary function of acting as a protective physical barrier. Read More

  • Anna Solana, science journalist

    When smelling bad is not a matter of hygiene

    28 Aug When smelling bad is not a matter of hygiene

     

    Sources:

    EFE Salud

    An offensive body odour may not be the result of a lack of hygiene. Bromhidrosis is a disorder affecting both men and women and usually associated with secretions by the apocrine sweat glands located in the armpits, pubis, perineum and navel, behind the ears and in the folds under the breast. It is a chronic but treatable disorder.

     

    Persons affected by bromhidrosis do not perspire more; rather, their apocrine glands produce sweat containing ceramides that are different to those of the rest of the population. When broken down by the skin’s bacteria, a strong odour is the result. This odour, which is often described as pungent, musty or sour, cannot be dissumulated. The condition is believed to be genetic in origin, but may also be caused by a metabolic disorder such as diabetes, by thyroid or adrenal gland alterations or by certain drugs. In addition, certain foods, such as onions, garlic and spices, and also tobacco use and alcohol consumption, can aggravate the condition. Read More

  • Violeta Camarasa, science journalist

    Seven reflections before deciding on laser hair removal

    21 Aug Seven reflections before deciding on laser hair removal

     

    Sources:

    Skin Care Guide

    The use of laser as a hair removal technique has become very popular in recent years. What are the risks for the skin? For which parts of the body is it not recommended? How should you choose a centre? Before making a decision, you need to be well informed and to consider the possible implications.

     

    How is the hair removed? Laser is a technique, used since about ten years ago, that destroys the hair root using beams of light of a specific wavelength and intensity. Melanin, which is responsible for hair colour, absorbs the light’s energy and converts it into heat that destroys the root without damaging the surrounding areas (selective photothermolysis).

     

    What kind of laser? Different types of laser, which are effective in different ways depending on the hair type, can be combined during treatment. For example, alexandrite laser is good for removing medium to thick hair, while diode laser is more appropriate for male hair. Other widely used lasers are Nd:YAG and intense pulsed light (IPL). Read More

  • Fede Montagud, editor

    Mediterranean fair skin: a question of natural selection

    16 Aug Mediterranean fair skin: a question of natural selection

     

    Sources:

    Madri+d

    The MC1R gene is one of the genes that regulate melanin synthesis. It is, therefore, responsible for lighter or darker skin and specific hair colour. A mutation in this gene, common in the Mediterranean region, explains why Mediterranean people have a skin that tans easily in summer despite being fair.

     

    According to a study of over 1,000 individuals from different regions undertaken by the Spanish universities, Universitat Jaume I de Castelló and the University of the Basque Country, and published in Molecular Biology and Evolution, the V60L mutation in the MC1R gene is present in 10% to 20% of the population and is estimated by these researchers to have developed around 30,000 to 50,000 years ago. Directly associated with fair skin and fair and red hair, presence of the mutation has both an upside and a downside. On the one hand, it is positive, because being whiter aids vitamin D synthesis (necessary for growth) during winter and also provides some protection in summer given its ability to darken pigmentation; on the other hand, however, individuals with this mutation are also more likely to develop skin cancer. For researchers, this discovery may prove very useful from a medical prevention perspective.

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