We all know that some skin conditions have a psychological dimension. And we aren’t referring to going red when we feel ashamed or breaking out in a sweat from fear. Acne, psoriasis and even certain kinds of warts may be psychological in origin and, according to psychodermatologists, can be treated with hypnosis, relaxation, meditation or psychotherapy.
Some 10 years ago, a Harvard Medical School article launched a debate about the effectiveness of what is called psychodermatology. Can psychological therapy cure a skin problem? North American and European psychodermatologists think so, and, for many years, have defended the validity of their theories and therapies based on linking the psyche with the skin. Just to make it clear, we are referring to dermatologists and psychiatrists who use relaxation, meditation and hypnosis, that is, people with medical degrees. A doctor’s diagnosis is essential before any therapy. Read More
The study of stem cells and their therapeutic potential is also a line of research in dermatology. For the first time, scientists from the University of Granada (Spain), using umbilical cord stem cells, have managed to create artificial skin that could help heal major burns and avoid animal testing.
The researchers call for caution, however. Further testing of this artificial skin technique in humans needs to be done throughout 2014. There may be problems of rejection since, unlike in current clinical procedures, the skin is not part of the patient's own tissue. Even so, scientists are optimistic because to date it has not been possible to generate epidermal tissue using umbilical cord stem cells. The scientists have engineered a biomaterial made with fibrin, a protein derived from human plasma, and agarose, a biocompatible polysaccharide extracted from seaweed. Other research groups are working on the engineering of skin tissue similar to natural skin with its dermis and epidermis. They concede, however, that further work is necessary to improve artificial skin in terms of appearance and hair and sweat glands.
Enzymology is a new research area in dermatology and cosmetics that tries to discover how enzymes can improve skin appearance and prevent skin problems. Pharmaceutical companies study enzymes associated with skin disorders, whereas the cosmetics sector is interested in enzymes that enhance the beauty of the skin. However, including suitable enzymes in the diet is currently the most natural and effective way to achieve a healthy and beautiful skin.
To remain healthy and vibrant the skin needs to be nourished with fats, proteins and carbohydrates. For these substances to act optimally on skin tissues, they need certain small molecules, called enzymes, to accelerate chemical reactions. Enzymes help food pass from the blood to the skin, develop beneficial fats and repair collagen damaged by ultraviolet rays, just to name a few of their many functions. There are many kinds of enzymes. Those most frequently used in cosmetics, called proteolytic enzymes, break down proteins so that the skin can better absorb their components and so promote cell growth and renewal. Read More
Cryotherapy is a dermatological technique that uses extreme cold to treat superficial skin lesions, usually through the application of liquid nitrogen. This freezes and removes affected tissue, fully respecting the surrounding healthy tissue. The medical and cosmetic outcomes are much better than for other techniques.
Although the use of cold in medicine may seem to be relatively recent, the Egyptians, aware of its analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect, used cold as far back as 2500 BCE. The technique became popular in the nineteenth century, especially given its analgesic properties, particularly useful for amputations. But the key to the further development of this technique was always the ability to cool, store and handle gases at low temperatures. Read More