Reports From the 64th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology

San Francisco
March 3–7, 2006

Moisturizers Benefit the Skin

Zoe D. Draelos, MD, clinical associate professor in the department of dermatology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC, reported on the benefits of the ingredients in the moisturizers on the market today.

“It’s important to understand your skin type when selecting a moisturizer so that you get the full benefit of the product,” Draelos says. “You can cover flaws, protect yourself from the sun, and keep your skin soft and younger-looking with one step.”

Draelos notes there are four categories of moisturizers: facial moisturizers, lip balms, body lotions, and hand creams. She says that their primary function is to keep the skin moist, minimize wrinkles caused by dryness, smoothen and soften the skin, and provide sunscreen.

Draelos suggests the following when choosing moisturizers: When looking for a facial moisturizer that contains sunscreen, it’s important to choose one that protects against UVA rays, which can cause aging effects. Products to keep the lips moist must be thick, prevent water loss, and add moisture. It is important to use a sunscreen lotion with SPF 15 to protect against UVA and UVB rays. To prevent dry hands, Draelos suggests using moisturizer after each washing to minimize the water loss and retain the natural oils.

Dermatologists Help Minimize Surgical Scars

Thanks to advances, dermatologists are finding ways to prevent surgical scars from leaving marks on patients’ skin.

According to James M. Spencer, MD, MS, clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, both the individual’s age and the location of the scar on the body or face affect the way a scar forms.

“Younger skin makes strong repairs, but can overheal, causing a thicker scar; and scars on tighter skin will seem more visible,” Spencer says. “Whatever the type, thanks to new research, we’re finding improved ways to minimize the appearance of surgical scars.”

Two new treatment methods that are beneficial in minimizing the appearance of surgical scars are the use of a pulsed-dye laser and the topical application of the im­mune response modifier (IRM) imiquimod.

The pulsed-dye laser uses high-energy yellow light to remove scar redness and flatten hypertrophic scars and keloids. It also improves the itching and burning sensations that accompany some scars.

IRMs enhance the skin’s ability to identify and control or destroy certain viral infections in the skin by stimulating cytokine production in the skin. Cytokines are naturally occurring proteins used by immune-system cells to communicate with one another. When IRMs stimulate the cytokines, cell immunity is enhanced and the body is able to more efficiently control or eliminate virus-infected cells.

“Scars can be disfiguring and emotionally disturbing,” Spencer says. “With so many treatment options available, it is important that patients work closely with a dermatologist to identify the treatment that will be beneficial for their scars.”

Refer to “Lasers to the Rescue” in  the March 2006 issue of Plastic Surgery Pro­ducts to learn about modern methods of tattoo removal that reduce scarring concerns.

PDT Expands to Aesthetic Treatments

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) can now provide patients with a safe, noninvasive treatment for acne, sun damage, and potentially basal and squamous cell carcinomas.

“Photodynamic therapy has come a long way in the treatment of various skin conditions,” says Arielle N. B. Kauvar, MD, clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine in New York City. “Topical ALA [aminolev­ulinic acid]–PDT is able to effectively treat affected areas of the skin without damaging the surrounding skin and without the side effects of other treatments for precancerous growths and sun damage. It also leaves the patient with little recovery time.”

PDT uses light energy to activate the photosensitizing agent ALA, which is topically applied to the skin  to be treated. A light source is then used to activate the ALA. This procedure allows specific areas of the skin to be treated while causing little or no damage to the surrounding skin and requiring minimal downtime.

Because ALA concentrates in rapidly growing and malignant cells, ALA–PDT is being studied for the treatment of superficial basal and squamous cell carcinomas. The treatment is currently being used on superficial skin cancers on an experimental basis, and results are very positive with tumors healing in one to two sessions.

As PDT research advanced, it became apparent that ALA–PDT also produced aesthetic benefits, including a decrease in redness, a reduction in sun spots and freckles, and an overall improvement in the appearance of skin, including fine lines and roughness.

The treatment has also shown benefits in attacking the three main factors that cause acne, including the overproduction of oil by enlarged oil glands in the skin, the blockage of hair follicles that release the oil, and a growth of bacteria within the hair follicles.

According to Kauvar, the advancement of PDT to target acne has alleviated the treatment time and side effects for patients who relied on the long-term use of antibiotics.