Skin Care: An Introduction To A Healthy Complexion

Disturbances of the skin, scalp, and hair are a dermatologist's concern, and this automatically puts him into the beauty business. People fear even the most minor ailments because they are disfiguring: thinning hair is more disturbing than a health-threatening infection; a woman's monthly bout of "periodical acne" is more troubling than an ovarian cyst. Dermatology welds people's interest in their health with their even stronger interest in looking good. Because of this unique combination, it is, of all medical specialties, the most interesting to the lay public.

Skincarehubs addresses readers who have probably read widely but misleadingly in the plethora of popular, but often medically unsound, books and magazine articles on skin maintenance. It's intended for normal people with normal problems and tells how to avoid or treat the most common skin disturbances (acne, hives, dry or oily skin), how to restore skin if it has been damaged by the sun, age, or scarring, and how to protect it from the disease. The format may sound familiar, but the content is not. Millions of words have been printed about skin, but precious few of these have been based on genuine medical expertise.

Skincarehubs will address itself not to obscure or crippling skin conditions but to those that trouble nearly everyone from time to time, or those that everybody fears. Acne, for example, isn't limited to teenagers - probably the majority of women between twenty-five and forty who visit dermatologists are trying to get rid of pimples. Thinning hair, wrinkles, hives, eruptions, dry or oily skin - these are the most common problems that prompt visits to dermatologists. Explaining to the reader how to prevent or deal with such conditions effectively is a recurrent theme throughout this site.

There's also articles on the benefits of hair transplants for both men and women. It's commonly thought that men lose more hair than women, but this isn't true—nor is it true that transplants work only for men. Actually, the technique is equally effective for women.

In the discussion about skin diseases, the emphasis is on common diseases or on those that are universally feared. There is an article on skin cancer, for example - it's on everybody's mind - but a full treatment of crippling psoriasis isn't offered since it has only a narrow application. Venereal diseases get close attention since they are widespread and, surprisingly, treated by a dermatologist rather than a gynecologist. Dermatology had its historical origins in syphilology. And so it's the skin doctor who knows that three different laboratory procedures are needed before a "positive" response to a syphilis test indicates the presence of the disease, or that venereal herpes simplex, which is currently thought of as dangerously serious, is, in fact, rarely so.

Here are a few of the many reasons why popular literature on skin is so often erroneous and misleading: 

1. dermatology is too closely linked with cosmetology and cosmetics companies; 
2. popular writers who cover the subject don't believe it's necessary to be medically informed; 
3. dermatology is of special interest to youth-seekers, who are an especially credulous group; and 
4. the recent high degree of interest in "inner ecology" has caused an explosion of fads, fallacies, myths, and misinformation. 

Vitamin and health-food freaks, and those who promote the products these people buy, either don't know or don't care, about the damage fad diets can do to skin.

From the beginning, I've wanted this blog to be like a visit to the dermatologist. Any clear-thinking layman will be able to read these articles and hopefully learn something that will improve the quality of his or her life. It's amazing how many important questions there are about skin. Birth-control pills, sun exposure, health foods, skin cancers, cosmetics, not to mention the newly glamorous vitamin E - these sorts of things touch on nearly all our lives, and most people haven't got the slightest idea to what ultimate effect. What's worse, the public is so generally misinformed that many of us are unwittingly aggravating skin conditions at the same time we think we're improving them. This is the unfortunate legacy of our culture's "skin mythology," derived and compiled from generations of food fads and corporate cosmetic promotions.

But debunking current myths is only a part of what this book offers.

In general, my bias is candidly positive; I'm bringing the "good news" about skin—and there's plenty of it. These are bonafide glad tidings rather than PR puffery for fad diets or worthless and overpriced cosmetics. Almost every skin ailment is treatable right now, but the reader should be aware of the difference between what is truly helpful and what is a bogus consolation. The appearance of youth in anybody's skin can be greatly prolonged. But here again, valid dermatological advances are far more relevant than hormone creams, vitamin E oil, diets of kelp, and other faddish flimflam, which at the very best have only a placebo effect.

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