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Abstract

Psoriasis is a global health problem prevalent among people of all ages, affecting 100 million individuals worldwide. Previous studies have suggested that a high-fat and high-sugar diet can lead to disruption in the gut's microbial community, contributing to inflammatory skin diseases such as psoriasis. Recent research shows that switching to a balanced diet can restore gut health and reduce inflammatory symptoms.

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease that causes the skin cells to multiply faster than normal. This leads to an overgrowth of skin cells that leads to scaling on the skin's surface. The red, itchy, scaly patches are usually found on the elbows, scalp, knees, and lower back. Abnormalities in the immune system, emotional stress, blood pressure medications, hydroxychloroquine, and strep infections may trigger psoriasis.

Over time, 10-20 percent of affected individuals develop psoriatic arthritis, an inflammatory type of arthritis. It is associated with symptoms similar to arthritis-like joint pain, stiffness, swelling, etc.

The Link Between Food, Gut Microbiome, And Inflammation

Western diets include high intakes of red meats, processed foods, fatty foods, refined grains, potatoes, high sugar drinks, and low intakes of vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish, and whole grains. On the other hand, a balanced diet is a healthier option. It includes fresh vegetables and fruits, legumes, whole grains, lean proteins, and nuts. 

Western balanced diet and psoriasis

Previous studies show that a western diet characterized by high sugar and fat content leads to significant skin inflammation and psoriasis. 

Food is a major regulating factor of the microorganisms living in our intestines. Consuming a western diet can cause rapid change to this microbial community and its functions. This disruption in microbial balance contributes to gut inflammation. It also affects skin immunity, leading to skin inflammation. 

Influence of a diet switch on gut microbiota

A study led by Dr. Hwang and his team of researchers at UC Davis Health examined if switching to a balanced diet can restore the gut microflora and help reduce skin and joint inflammation. 

The team used mouse models to study the effect of diet on psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. The researchers subjected the mice to the following:

The researchers then randomly divided the mice into two groups; one group continued the western diet for another four weeks, and the other group switched to a balanced diet for the same period.

The following were observed at the end of 10 weeks:

The study also reported some additional findings

Recommendations to improve gut health

Video

Summary

References

Stretch marks: An Introduction

Striae distensae or stretch marks are scars that develop in the skin when it expands or shrinks. This puts excess pressure on the collagen and elastin that support the skin, ultimately causing breakage in them. This leads to the appearance of scars.

While stretch marks are not medically serious, they can bring down a person’s physical appearance. Women are at a higher risk of developing stretch marks than men.

Stretch marks commonly appear in the abdomen, breasts, shoulders, and thighs. In children experiencing growth spurts, you can see stretch marks in the thighs and buttocks, too.

What Do Stretch Marks Look Like?

Stretch marks start out as thin pink or pale-colored lines on the skin. As they develop, lines perpendicular to the skin tension start developing. These lines look slightly swollen and can turn pink or purple in color. Mature stretch marks are pale-white in color.

Are Stretch Marks Genetic?

ELN Gene and Stretch Marks

The ELN gene helps produce a type of protein called tropoelastin. Multiple copies of this protein join together to become elastin fibers. Certain variations in the ELN gene can affect the development of stretch marks.

The T allele of the rs7787362 SNP is associated with an increased risk for stretch marks.

FN1 Gene and Stretch Marks

The FN1 gene produces two types of proteins - cellular fibronectin-1 and plasma fibronectin-1. Plasma fibronectin-1 attaches itself to other proteins in the skin. This helps in strengthening the tissues and helps in tissue repair too. The A allele of the rs3910516 SNP is associated with an increased risk for stretch marks.

Non-genetic Influences on Stretch Marks

Pregnancy

Pregnancy is the biggest non-genetic influence for stretch marks. About 90% of women develop stretch marks during pregnancy and continue handling it for the rest of their lives.
Women with larger abdominal areas and more weight gain during the pregnancy period develop severe striae distensae.

Overweight and Obesity

Up to 43% of people who are overweight and obese develop striae distensae in their lifetimes. The increase in weight puts more stress on the skin. As a result, it stretches it beyond its usual capacity, leading to stretch marks.

Cushing Syndrome

Cushing syndrome is a result of excess cortisol hormone in the body. Cortisol is an important hormone that reduces inflammation, regulates blood pressure, and helps the body handle stress.

Cortisol-based drugs are prescribed to handle inflammatory diseases and chronic pain. Sometimes, the body overproduces this hormone. This results in Cushing syndrome.

The main symptom of Cushing syndrome is the development of stretch marks (pink and purple lines) all over the breast, buttocks, abdomen, thighs, and shoulders.

Diseases

Diseases like anorexia nervosa, Marfan syndrome, and chronic liver diseases all lead to the development of stretch marks.

Corticosteroid Creams

Corticosteroid creams, lotions, and gels are prescribed to treat conditions like eczema, itching, dermatitis, and psoriasis. Corticosteroids can decrease the skin’s ability to stretch and cause stretch marks.

Breast Enlargement Surgery

Women opting for breast enlargement surgeries are at higher risk for developing stretch marks. Placing an implant under the breast skin causes it to stretch and cover the larger area. This can lead to the development of striae distensae.

Recommendations To Prevent and Manage Stretch Marks

Avoid Rapid Weight Gain and Weight Loss

Losing and gaining weight gradually will give your skin time to adjust to the new change and prevent the appearance of stretch marks.

Natural Remedies

Natural remedies work only in the initial stages of stretch marks and not on mature marks. Here are a few options you can try out.

Dermatological and Cosmeceutical Creams, Lotions, and Gels

There are two ingredients in topical creams that seem to be effective.
Tretinoin
Hyaluronic acid
They are available as over-the-counter medications. These are also only most effective when applied as soon as you spot signs of stretch marks. As the marks get more mature, treating them is going to be difficult.

Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion is performed by an expert in a clinic setting. This involves removing the top layers of the skin to help finer and better skin grow back. Microdermabrasion can help bring down the intensity of striae distensae scars.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are being used widely to bring down the prominence of stretch marks. These peels remove the topmost or the subsequent layers of the skin and give a faded appearance to stretch marks. They cannot completely remove the marks, though. Regular chemical peel treatments can harm the skin.

As of now, there is no recommended treatment or lifestyle change that can completely remove stretch marks or prevent them from appearing.

Maintaining a healthy weight, keeping the skin moisturized and hydrated, and treating the early signs of stretch mark help.

Summary

  1. Stretch marks or Striae distensae are scars that develop in the skin when skin rapidly stretches or shrinks. Stretching and shrinking cause breakage in the collagen and elastin in the skin, leading to the appearance of scars.
  2. Fibronectin protein attaches to other proteins in the skin to maintain its rigidity. Changes in the FN1 gene (that produces fibronectin) can increase your risk for stretch marks.
  3. Pregnancy, excessive weight gain or weight loss in minimal time, and conditions like Cushing syndrome, Marfan syndrome, and anorexia nervosa all result in the appearance of stretch marks.
  4. The use of cortisol-based drugs and topical corticosteroid drugs also contribute to the risk of developing Striae distensae.
  5. Women who have had breast enlargement surgeries also tend to develop stretch marks on and around the breasts.
  6. Most natural remedies can prevent the maturing of stretch marks when caught early. Dermatological creams that contain hyaluronic acid and Tretinoin also work on only early marks.
  7. As of now, no treatment has been able to completely remove the signs of stretch marks in the skin.

References

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cushing-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20351310
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5181654/
https://www.aad.org/public/cosmetic/scars-stretch-marks/stretch-marks-why-appear
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6615396/
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stretch-marks/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351144
https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1074868-treatment#d9
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK436005/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23579949/

Xcode Life’s Gene Skin report targets genes associated with the risk of skin conditions and skin damage. This reports can help you understand your skin. The report also includes tips to modify your skincare routine according to your genetic type for healthier-looking skin.

Skin Genetics

Have you ever wondered about what controls the differences in human skin color; why your friend tans under the sun much faster than you do? The answer to these questions, in part, is due to genetics. Since each individual has a unique genetic makeup, following a generic skincare routine may not benefit you. Understanding your skin better means to develop a personalized skincare routine.

Gene Skin Report

The Gene Skin report profiles genes that have been shown to influence the risk for glycation, atopic dermatitis, UV sensitivity, stretch marks, and other skin-related traits.

The Summary Table in the report indicates your outcome for each trait.

Skin Genetics report

Along with your outcome, the details of the genes analyzed for each trait are also provided. The report comes with personalized recommendations based on your results. These recommendations are to be followed only after consulting with your medical practitioner. You can click on “Learn More” for more information on each trait.

Skin Genetics report

What are the traits covered in this report?

The report analyzes genes associated with 23 skin-related traits, including glycation, atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, psoriasis, wrinkle and collagen degradation, stretch marks, acne, vitamin needs, and others. For a comprehensive list of the traits covered, click here. 

What is Acne?

Acne is a skin condition that causes whiteheads, blackheads, cysts, nodules, or pimples on the face, shoulders, neck, back, chest, and upper arms. Tiny holes in your skin called pores blocked by oil, dead skin cells, bacteria, and dirt result in acne. The most severe type of acne is a pimple. A pimple is a swollen, red, and painful bump on your skin.

Acne can occur at any age but is commonly found in teenagers during puberty. Around this age, the sebaceous glands, also called oil glands, are activated. These glands, present at the base of the hair follicles, produce oil and are stimulated by hormones produced by the adrenal glands in both males and females. Each hair follicle is at the base of an opening or pore. The oil secreted along with dead skills and bacteria block the pore and cause acne.

The most common skin condition in the U.S. is acne, which affects almost 50 million Americans every year, as reported by the American Academy of Dermatology.

Acne is not a life-threatening condition. It can be extremely painful, depending on how severe the condition is. Pimples can leave scars on the skin over time. Acne on your face can cause emotional distress if persistent for a long time. The earlier acne is treated, the better. Treatment can help reduce permanent scarring and reduce the amount of acne.

Signs of Acne

Signs and symptoms of acne vary depending on how severe the condition is.
- Blackheads that open on the surface of the skin
- Whiteheads that are just below the skin
- Papules - small red bump caused by inflamed hair follicles
- Pustules - small red bumps with pus at their tips
- Nodules - solid, red bumps beneath the skin surface
- Cysts that are solid, painful, pus-filled lesions below the skin

The Genetics Behind Acne

If both your parents have acne, you are at a higher risk of developing acne. Genetics determines how effectively your immune system can fight a bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes that is responsible for causing acne.

The FST Gene

The FST gene contains instructions for the production of a protein called follistatin. This protein inhibits the release of follicle-stimulating hormones.
Follistatin also inhibits a protein called TGFB2, which is involved in controlling acne. If more follistatin is produced, TGFB2 activity will be inhibited, and this, in turn, increases the development of acne and acne-causing bacteria.

rs38055
rs38055 is an SNP found in the FST gene. The A allele is the risk allele and can increase your risk of developing acne.

The TGFB2 Gene

The TGFB2 gene contains instructions for the production of a protein called transforming growth factor beta-2. This protein is important in all stages of life, from early development throughout life. It is involved in various cellular mechanisms for the proper growth and development of cells.

TGFB2 is also found to be involved in the growth and healing of skin by slowing down the production of keratinocytes, a type of skin cells. This clogs the skin and promotes the growth of acne-causing bacteria](https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3857353/).

rs1159268
rs1159268 is an SNP found in the TGFB2 gene. The A allele causes a decrease in the production of TGFB2 protein, which increases the risk of acne.

Non-Genetic Factors that Influence Acne

Hormonal changes: These changes are common during puberty and pregnancy and lead to breakouts. Androgens, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in boys and girls, trigger the sebaceous glands to secrete more oil-containing fluid called sebum. This usually happens at puberty.

Age: Acne is most common in teenagers but occurs in people of all ages.

Diet: Certain food items like chips, carbohydrate-rich foods, refined sugars are found to worsen acne. Studies are being done to find the impact of a certain diet on acne.

Grease or oil: Acne can also develop when the skin comes into contact with lotions or cream that contain a lot of oil.

Stress: Stress is not a causative agent but can worsen acne.

Skin damage: Friction or pressure on the skin can also cause acne. Tight collars, helmets, backpacks can exert more pressure on your skin.

Medication:* Drugs that contain testosterone, lithium, or corticosteroids can cause acne.

How to Manage Acne?

Home remedies:
These can help treat mild acne at home and prevent more pimples.
- Use a mild soap to clean oil and dirt from the skin daily.
- Use oil-free makeup and remove it before going to bed. Makeup that’s water-based and labeled non-comedogenic ( not pore-clogging) can be used.
- Avoid touching your face frequently.
- Do not try to burst the pimple or poke it. This leads to scarring and more acne as it spreads the bacteria and excess oil.
- Shampoo your hair regularly, especially if you have oily hair.
- Reduce your stress to prevent worsening of acne.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing to manage acne present on the back and arms.
- Avoid sun exposure as it can lead to excess sebum secretion and sunburns.
- Avoid tanning under the sun and tanning beds.

Over-the-counter medication:
If self-care doesn’t help with your acne, certain OTC medications can be used. These include creams and gels that contain sulfur, benzoyl peroxide, or resorcinol. Washes or soaps that contain salicylic acid are also used. There are many acne creams, washes, soaps, masks, and serums available in the market.

Severe cases:
In severe cases of acne, where over-the-counter medications also don’t help, a doctor should be consulted. A doctor will prescribe certain medications or treatments to help manage your acne.

Medication: Oral or topical antibiotics are prescribed to reduce inflammation caused by bacteria. Certain topical creams that are stronger than OTC medication are also prescribed.

Treatment:
- Photodynamic therapy: Special light or laser along with medication is used to reduce oil production, kill bacteria, and improve scarring.
- Dermabrasion: Top layers of skin are removed with a rotating brush, and acne scarring is treated.
- Chemical peels: Can improve mild acne scarring and removes the damaged top layers of skin.
- Cortisone injections: Used for acne that consists of large cysts. It helps reduce inflammation and speeds the healing process.

Summary

  1. Acne is caused by excess oil, bacteria, dirt, and dead skin cells blocking the pores present on the skin. Pimples, whiteheads, blackheads, cysts, nodules, pustules, and papules are different types of acne found on the skin or beneath the surface.
  2. The severity of the condition determines how painful it can get. Acne can cause emotional distress if persistent.
  3. The FST and TGFB2 genes are known to increase your risk for acne. Both these genes influence oil production in the body.
  4. Certain factors like age, hormonal changes, stress, diest, and medication can worsen acne.
  5. Depending on the severity of acne, home remedies or over-the-counter medications can be used to treat it. For severe cases, a consult with a dermatologist is advised.

References

https://www.healthline.com/health/skin/acne
https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/skin-care/tips
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/107146
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3080563/
https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms5020
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16484821/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16484821/

What is the Relationship Between Vitamin B2 and Skin?

Vitamin B2, also called riboflavin, is an essential nutrient needed for human health. It is one of the eight B vitamins. All the B vitamins are important for maintaining healthy skin. Vitamin B2 is a water-soluble vitamin. Being a water-soluble vitamin, it can be excreted out of the body easily. Your body only stores a small amount of riboflavin, and hence, you need to include riboflavin in your diet every day.

Vitamin B2 and Health

Vitamin B2 plays a role in
- Maintaining tissues
- Energy metabolism
- Secretion of mucus that prevents dryness induced oil secretion that leads to acne
- Absorption of zinc, which is essential for the skin
- Maintaining the structural integrity of the skin
- Protects cells from oxidative damage
- Maintenance of red blood cells
- Keeping the skin healthy

Recommended Daily Intake of Vitamin B2

The recommended daily intake of vitamin B2 is as follows:
For adults
1.3 mg for healthy men
1.1 mg for healthy women
1.4 mg for pregnant women
1.6 mg for lactating women

For children
0.3 mg for infants up to 6 months
0.4 mg for infants between 6-12 months
0.5 mg for 1-3-year-old children
0.6 mg for 4-8-year-old children
0.9 mg for 9-13-year-old children
1.3 mg for 14-18-year-old males
1.0 mg for 14-18-year-old females

Vitamin B2 deficiency is not very common in the US as most of the food items like milk and whole-grain cereals, which are widely consumed, contain good levels of vitamin B2.

The Genetics Behind Vitamin B2 and Skin

People with certain genetic types may need more vitamin B2 due to the inefficient transport in their bodies. Certain genes can help determine your risk for vitamin deficiency.

The MTHFR Gene

The MTHFR gene produces an enzyme called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. This enzyme is involved in the methylation cycle. MTHFR activates 5, 10-methylene TetraHydroFolate(THF) to 5-methyl THF, and this is needed for the conversion of homocysteine to methionine.

This protein is also involved in the conversion of folate to SAMe, which is involved in the methylation of DNA as it is the universal methylation donor. The methylation cycle is essential for various functions in the body.

Vitamin B2 is involved in the metabolism of homocysteine along with Vitamin B1. Vitamin B2 deficiency can lead to high levels of homocysteine, which is a harmful amino acid.

rs1801133
rs1801133 is an SNP found in the MTFHR gene.It is also referred to as C677T. The T allele decreases enzyme activity, with only a 10-20% efficiency in folate processing and leads to high levels of 0f homocysteine in the body.

Non-Genetic Factors that Influence Vitamin B2 levels

Impact of Vitamin B2 Deficiency on Skin

Vitamin B2 deficiency can lead to
- Cracked lips
- Itching of skin
- Scrotal Dermatitis
- Inflammation of mouth lining
- Inflammation of the tongue
- Scaly skin

How to Manage Your Vitamin B2 Intake?

Certain food items contain vitamin B2. These include:
- Eggs
- Kidney and liver meat, lean meats
- Green vegetables like broccoli and spinach
- Cereals, grains, and bread
- Milk and yogurt
- Lima beans and peas
- Avocados
- Artichokes
- Nuts

Riboflavin is water-soluble. While cooking food, especially boiling, vitamin content may reduce. Make sure to include a daily supply of vitamin B2-rich foods to keep your skin healthy. A balanced diet is always important to keep your skin and other parts of the body healthy.

Your doctor may prescribe certain vitamin B2 supplements to overcome your deficiency apart from your diet.

Summary

  1. Vitamin B2 is an essential nutrient needed for the body. As it is a water-soluble vitamin, it cannot be easily stored in the body. It needs to be supplemented through diet.
  2. Vitamin B2 plays a major role in keeping the skin healthy, maintaining its structural integrity, secretion of mucus to prevent acne due to dryness, and other functions in the body also.
  3. Vitamin B2 deficiency is linked to higher levels of homocysteine in the blood.
  4. The T allele of rs1801133, an SNP found in the MTHFR gene, leads to higher homocysteine and folate levels because of decreased enzyme activity.
  5. Pregnant women, older adults, and people with certain conditions are at a higher risk of Vitamin B2 deficiency. A poor diet can also lead to deficiency.
  6. A balanced diet with a rich source of vitamins can help reduce the risk of deficiency and keep your skin healthy.

References

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/219561
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470460/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25322900
https://www.healthline.com/health/symptoms-of-vitamin-b-deficiency
https://www.bebeautiful.in/all-things-skin/everyday/benefits-of-vitamin-b-complex
https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Riboflavin-HealthProfessional/

Collagen Degradation and Wrinkles: An Introduction

The skin is the largest visible organ of the body affected by internal changes (genetics and metabolism) and external factors (UV radiation, pollution).

Collagen is a protein that is a part of all the connective tissues in the human body. Collagen is found in the skin, muscles, ligaments, and even bones.

About 35% of the entire protein content in an adult’s body is made up of collagen.

The three main functions of collagen include:
- Giving structure to tissues
- Repairing damaged tissues (skin renewal)
- Keeping skin supple and strong

What is Collagen Degradation?

Collagen degradation or collagen loss is a condition where a person loses essential collagen components in the body. There can be many reasons for collagen degradation. Some of them include:

When the collagen in the body decreases, it results in the skin losing its elasticity and suppleness. The thickness of the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin) reduces too. The skin sags and gets easily damaged. One of the major signs of collagen degradation is the formation of wrinkles.

Wrinkle Formation

Wrinkles are creases, folds, and lines that form on the skin, making smooth skin look saggy and wrinkled. Wrinkles are also called rhytide. Wrinkles are very common in the elderly. Thanks to unhealthy lifestyles and environmental factors like UV exposure and pollution, people lose the collagen content in their skin early on and develop wrinkles.

With the right amount of collagen in the skin, broken or injured collagen and elastic fibers are regenerated quickly, and the skin maintains the same smooth and supple texture. Because of collagen degradation, such broken and injured fibers are replaced by altered fibers that are not the right fit. This is termed misrepair.

Generally, the original fiber gets regenerated in its place. For people with collagen degradation, a long collagen fiber is replaced in that position. Long fibers do not shrink back into their original state, and hence your skin loses its ability to stretch and shrink smoothly and forms wrinkles.

Importance of Collagen

Genetics and Wrinkle & Collagen Degradation

STXBP5L Gene

The STXBP5L gene helps produce the binding protein called Syntaxin-binding protein 5. This is also called Tomosyn, which is the Japanese word for ‘friend.’ This protein plays an important role in photoaging.

A genome-wide study that analyzed the signs of skin aging in 502 caucasian women identified that the severity of wrinkles and other signs of aging increase as the women grow older.

The study also concluded that the T allele of the rs322458 SNP in the STXBP5L gene is beneficial in bringing down the risks of aging signs, including collagen degeneration and formation of wrinkles

MMP1 Gene

The MMP1 gene produces a protein that helps in breaking down collagen for everyday development. The 2G/2G genotype of the rs1799750 SNP of this gene results in a higher breakdown of collagen, leading to collagen degradation. This results in the formation of wrinkles and other signs of aging

Non-genetic Influences Causing Collagen Degradation And Wrinkles

UV Exposure

UV rays are of three types - UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C rays. The UV-C rays have short wavelengths and do not reach the skin’s surface. Both UV-A and UV-B rays can reach all the layers of the skin.

UV exposure is the cause of 80% of aging signs.

UV rays promote the development of free radicals in the skin. These free radicals can damage collagen and elastin fibers. Continuous damage to the collagen fibers results in the skin becoming loose, saggy, and wrinkled.

Skin Color

People with fair skin are more affected by UV rays than those with darker skin. This also increases the risk of collagen degradation and the formation of wrinkles.

Age

As you age, your body produces lesser amounts of collagen and elastin fibers. This naturally leads to collagen degradation and wrinkles.

Smoking

A study analyzed the effects of smoking on the formation of wrinkles. 160 smokers, 67 individuals who had smoked in the past, and 123 non-smokers were chosen for the study. The study showed that people who smoked had a higher degree of facial wrinkling than those who did not smoke. Nicotine in cigarettes damage collagen and elastin and leads to the formation of wrinkles.

Collagen Glycation

The accumulation of Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) in the skin results from excess sugar consumption, natural aging, and diabetes. More AGEs in the skin increase the chances of degradation of collagen.

Vitamin C Deficiency

Vitamin C deficiency is known to bring down collagen production in the body.

Recommendations To Improve Collagen Production And Prevent Wrinkling

Nutritious Diet

Make sure you include fresh vegetables, fruits, and greens in plenty in your diet. All these are antioxidant-rich and prevent free radicals from affecting collagen fibers. Fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C also help fight collagen degradation.

Below is a list of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.
- Onions, garlic, leeks
- Berries
- Grapes
- Pumpkin
- Mangoes
- Apricots
- Spinach
- Parsley
- Eggplants

Some vitamin C-rich foods include:
- Red pepper
- Oranges
- Lemon
- Lime
- Grapefruit
- Kiwi
- Brussels sprouts
- Broccoli
- Cantaloupe

Quit Smoking

Stay away from both active and passive smoking to make sure your skin stays taut and smooth for a longer time.

Sunscreens and Protective Aids

Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that has a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. If you are staying out in the sun, reapply every 3-4 hours. Use protective gear like hats, gloves, and umbrellas to keep away harmful UV rays from falling directly on your skin.

Consider Collagen Supplements

If your skin has already started showing signs of wrinkles and collagen loss, consider collagen supplements. Collagen supplements can be had orally or applied on the skin as topical solutions.

Retinol OTC Products

Retinol is also called Vitamin A. Retinol Over-the-Counter skincare products can be used to boost collagen production in the skin. Retinols, along with vitamin C, are very effective in preventing wrinkles and collagen degradation.

Dermatological Treatments

Dermatological treatments like micro-needling, laser therapy, chemical peels, and radiofrequency are all created to improve collagen production in the skin. Each of these treatments comes with its own benefits and side effects. It’s important to be wary of the side effects and costs of the treatment before opting for it.

Summary

  1. Collagen degradation is the loss of collagen proteins in the body. Collagen loss affects all parts of the body, including the skin.
  2. Collagen degradation can cause skin problems like sagging of skin, loss of skin thickness, and wrinkles.
  3. Wrinkles are creases and lines that form in the skin because of the loss of collagen. Wrinkles are one of the first signs of skin aging.
  4. Aging causes collagen degradation and wrinkles. Factors like free radical damage, tobacco use, exposure to UV rays, and glycation can all accelerate collagen loss.
  5. Certain genetic variations in the STXBP5L and MMP1 genes have been associated with collagen degradation
  6. Including antioxidant-rich foods, staying away from all kinds of tobacco, using sunscreens regularly, and trying out vitamin C and retinol-based skincare products can all help improve collagen production naturally.
  7. Dermatological processes like micro-needling, chemical peeling, and laser therapies aim to improve collagen production and bring down signs of wrinkles.

References

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/collagen-degradation
https://www.intechopen.com/books/molecular-mechanisms-of-the-aging-process-and-rejuvenation/molecular-mechanisms-of-skin-aging-and-rejuvenation
https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/skin-elasticity#takeaway
https://www.news-medical.net/life-sciences/Collagen-Degradation-Pathways-in-Humans.aspx
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11340-007-9105-1

What is Atopic Dermatitis?

Atopic Dermatitis (AD) is a chronic inflammatory condition that makes skin itchy, swollen, and red. In the US, about 16.5 million adults and 9.6 million children have AD.

AD is also called atopic eczema. In children, it usually first appears between ages 3 to 6 months. About 90% of people with AD start showing the symptoms before five years of age.

In people with AD, the immune system starts attacking the healthy skin cells, causing excessive dryness and itching. There are many contributors to AD - genetic, environmental, and stress-related.

For infants and young children, the whole body gets affected by AD. As children get older, dryness and itch are noticed on the elbows and the insides of the knees. For adults, the signs are mostly seen in the hands and feet.

What Causes AD?

AD is not a contagious disease, and thus it does not spread on contact. Doctors believe that there are more numbers of inflammatory cells in the skin of people with AD. AD individuals have a weaker skin barrier than normal people, and this makes their skin very sensitive.

Excessive dryness in the skin allows the entry of allergens and irritants into the skin’s surface, and this can also cause AD.

Here are some of the common triggers that make atopic dermatitis worse in those already living with the condition.
- Hot showers
- Long showers
- Living in dry and cold climates
- Using harsh chemical products on the skin
- Exposure to fabrics like wool and cheap synthetics
- Excessive workouts
- Stress

Commonly Observed Signs Of AD

Is Atopic Dermatitis Genetic?

FLG Gene and AD Risk

Filaggrin is important for the structure of the skin’s outermost layer, the epidermis. It also helps improve the skin’s barrier. Filaggrin is important in locking moisture in the skin and keeping it hydrated.

About 30% of people with atopic dermatitis have a lowered production of filaggrin.

The FLG gene produces profilaggrin, which in turn produces filaggrin. Changes in the FLG gene can cause lowered filaggrin production, which increases the risk of AD.

Abnormal changes or mutations in the FLG gene cause an increased risk for AD.

The T allele of the rs150597413 SNP and the rs558269137 SNP of the FLG gene causes an increased risk of developing Ichthyosis Vulgaris. This condition causes dry and scaly skin and is associated with AD too.

CARD11 Gene and AD Risk

The CARD11 gene helps make proteins involved in the healthy functioning of the immune system, especially in the functioning of the T and B cells. The G allele of rs4722404 increases the chances of developing atopic dermatitis.

Non-genetic Influences On AD Risk

  1. Location: People living in places with low humidity and extremely cold winters are more prone to developing atopic dermatitis.
  2. Asthma and allergic rhinitis (hay fever): People with conditions like asthma are hay fever seem to be at a higher risk for developing atopic dermatitis. The reverse relationship also appears to be true.
  3. Limited exposure to microorganisms in childhood: Modern-day infants and children are more protected from all kinds of microorganisms. This also includes limited exposure to microorganisms like helminth and gut flora that are actually important in developing a stronger immune system. This condition is called the hygiene hypothesis and could be a possible reason for increasing AD in children.
  4. Stress: While stress does not cause AD, it certainly aggravates the symptoms and makes it difficult to manage the itch and inflammation.

The Effects of AD

Moderate cases of AD may not lead to any obvious effects on health. Severe cases may result in the following:
- Extreme itching leading to skin breakouts that lead to sores and cracks
- Pus formation on the skin’s surface
- Increased risk of skin infections
- Inability to sleep because of constant itching
- Development of skin cysts/knots
- Liquid oozing from the skin’s surface
- Psychological issues including depression, anxiety, and feeling of isolation.

Recommendations To Manage/Prevent AD

Summary

  1. Atopic dermatitis (AD) is an inflammatory condition that affects the skin.
  2. AD causes itching, redness in the skin, skin breakouts, excessive dryness, and pain. In the United States, one in every ten adults has atopic dermatitis.
  3. 90% of the cases of atopic dermatitis are diagnosed within five years of age. AD is a result of more inflammatory cells in the skin and a lowered skin barrier.
  4. The FLG and CARD11 genes are amongst the biggest genetic contributors to AD. Certain SNPs in these genes have been associated with the increased risk of developing AD.
  5. Other causes of atopic dermatitis are low humid climates, obesity, conditions like hay fever and asthma, and lowered exposure to good microorganisms in childhood.
  6. Keeping the skin moisturized, preventing hot water showers, using mild laundry detergents, eating healthy and fresh food, and maintaining healthy BMI levels all help keep the condition manageable.

References

https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/eczema/types/atopic-dermatitis/symptoms
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/all.12270
https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/eczema/types/atopic-dermatitis/self-care
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/atopic-dermatitis-eczema/symptoms-causes/syc-20353273
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/all.12270
https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/types-of-eczema/atopic-dermatitis/
https://www.healthline.com/health/atopic-dermatitis/what-is-atopic-dermatitis#Outlook
https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/gene/flg/#conditions

Freckles/Ephelides: An Introduction

Freckles are small brownish marks that are present on the face of some people. They usually appear in sun-exposed areas.
They are mostly harmless and occur due to the overproduction of melanin (the skin pigment) in response to UV stimulation.
There are two categories of freckles, namely ephelides and solar lentigines.
1. Ephelides is the common or characteristic type of freckles. This type of freckles is common in people with light skin and is generally seen in people of Caucasian and Asian descent.
2. On the other hand, solar lentigines are dark patches of skin that include aging spots and sunspots. It tends to appear in older Caucasians (above the age of 40yrs).

Evolutionary Relevance of Freckles

There appears to be an evolutionary purpose of freckles in humans. People who lived in places with higher sun exposure had a darker skin color. This is due to the excess production of melanin, which protects the skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation (UVR). Lighter-skinned people often have ancestry that evolved with less exposure to sunlight. When they are exposed to greater amounts than usual, excess pigmentation occurs. The geographical location is a major factor in evolution that is linked to the development of freckles.

How Genes Influence The Development of Freckles?

MC1R and Skin Pigmentation

MC1R or melanocortin-1 receptor gene contains instructions for the production of the receptor for Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone (MSH), one of the two hormones that regulate pigmentation. This gene plays an important role in the normal pigmentation process in the body.
Certain changes in the MC1R gene reduce the ability of the MC1R receptor to stimulate eumelanin (pigment responsible for lighter skin) production. This leads to melanocytes making more pheomelanin (pigment for darker skin).
The MC1R receptor is active in cells other than melanocytes as well. These include cells involved in the body’s immune and anti-inflammatory responses.
Several SNPs associated with the MC1R gene are primarily linked to fair skin, red or light hair, and freckles.
They also show a varying risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.

rs1805008 and the Tendency To Develop Freckles
rs1805008 is also known as Arg160Trp or R160W. It is one of the many SNPs found in the MC1R gene and is associated with red hair color, especially in the Irish population.
The T allele is associated with increased risk of freckles as well as melanoma. Individuals with TT alleles have an increased probability of developing freckles, 7-10 times more chance of having red hair, and a greater risk of developing melanoma.

TYR Gene and Melanin Production

The TYR gene contains instructions for the production of an enzyme called tyrosinase. This enzyme is involved in the production of the skin pigment melanin. Variations in this interfere with melanin production and, as a result, can cause differences in skin pigmentation.

rs1042602 and the Tendency To Develop Freckles
The rs1042602 SNP on the TYR gene is polymorphic (occurs in different forms) in Europeans. The A allele is associated with [light/fair skin, eye color, and the absence of freckles]

rs1540771 and the Tendency To Develop Freckles
This SNP is found in LOC105374875, which is an uncharacterized RNA gene. The A allele of SNP rs1540771 is said to be associated with a 1.26x risk of freckles, and UV sensitivity, and brown hair.

Non-genetic Influences on Freckles

There are a few non-genetic factors that increase your risk of having freckles.

Increased exposure to UV light
Exposure to ultraviolet light causes the skin cells to produce more melanin. This causes a dark pigmentation on the skin, including darker freckles.

Hormonal treatment
Hormonal treatment like oral birth control can increase the pigmentation by melanin on the skin. The cells that produce melanin, melanocytes, are also stimulated by female sex hormones, estrogen, and progesterone. When these hormone levels change because of treatment, hyperpigmentation occurs.

Recommendations to Remove Freckles

Despite the genetic component, people are not usually born with freckles. So, it is possible to avoid or manage it with a few tips and tricks.
- Use of sunscreen: Sunscreen protects your skin from the harmful effects of the sun and its UV rays. Those who are prone to freckles must apply sunscreen every time they step out. Using a sunscreen of SPF 30 or above can help avoid new freckles but may not help you get rid of the existing ones.
- Laser treatment: There are different types of lasers that target specific areas in the skin.
It can take about 2-3 weeks to recover from the treatment, and more than one session may be required to achieve the desired results. It is important to consult a qualified dermatologist before doing a laser treatment.
- Retinoid cream: Retinoid cream consists of vitamin A which can help lighten the freckles.
The retinoids in the cream help absorb UV-B radiation and prevent the formation of new lesions.
- Cryosurgery: This surgical technique uses extreme cold to destroy abnormal skin cells.
This method can treat or eliminate freckles, but it can have some side effects such as hypopigmentation or blistering.
- Fading Cream: Fading creams are available as OTC products that contain hydroquinone.
The hydroquinone present in these creams suppresses the production of melanin and helps lighten the darkened areas of the skin.
- Using a chemical peel exfoliates the damaged areas of your skin. When the damaged skin heals after a chemical peel, new skin appears without the freckles.

There are also many natural or homemade remedies to lighten or get rid of freckles.
1. Application of lemon juice on the required areas thrice a week can lighten the spots.
2. Homemade scrubs using milk, honey, and oats is another effective method to reduce freckles.
3. Milk products like buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream have skin light

Summary

  1. Freckles are mostly harmless, small brownish marks that are present on the face of some people. They usually appear in sun-exposed areas due to the overproduction of melanin under the influence of UV rays.
  2. The geographical location is a major factor in evolution that is linked to the development of freckles. People who lived in places with higher sun exposure usually have darkly pigmented skin.
  3. Genes like MCR1 and TYR influence the risk for the development of freckles. Both these genes are studied to influence the pigment distribution in the body.
  4. Increased exposure to UV light and hormonal treatment are non-genetic influences of developing freckles.
  5. Creams like sunscreen, retinoid cream, or fading cream can be used to remove freckles. Laser treatment or cryosurgery can also be done to remove freckles.
  6. Homemade remedies like scrubs using milk, honey, and oats, onions, milk products, and lemon juice can also be used to remove freckles.

References

https://www.wrvo.org/post/what-are-freckles-and-why-do-some-have-more-others#stream/0
https://www.bustle.com/articles/153916-the-science-behind-freckles-is-a-lot-cooler-than-you-thought-video
https://www.healthline.com/health/what-are-freckles#sunburn
https://www.healthline.com/health/melasma#risk-factors-and-causes

What Is Cellulite?

The dimpled and lumpy appearance on the skin, called cellulite, affects more than 85% of postpubertal women. It is also called orange-peel skin due to its texture. Cellulite occurs when the subcutaneous (under the skin) fat pushes through the layers of connective tissue. Due to the difference in fat distribution, muscles, and connective tissue, cellulite is more common in women than men.
Fat tissue, also called adipose tissue, is found just beneath the skin. It is also found around the internal organs, where it has a protective role to play. In cellulite, the adipocytes (fat cells) present in the adipose tissue increase in size, making the skin look lumpier.

Based on the cellulite severity scale, there are three grades of cellulite:
Grade 1 is scored from 1-4, and the skin has an orange-peel-like appearance.
Grade 2 is scored from 5-9, and the skin has medium-depth depressions with a cottage cheese-like appearance.
Grade 3 is when the score is ten and higher. The skin has deep depressions with a mattress-like appearance.

Genetics and Cellulite Risk

Understanding the genetic basis of cellulite formation can give useful insights into its pathophysiology. A study revealed that HIF1A and ACE genes are associated with cellulite risk.

How Does the HIF1A Gene Influence Cellulite Risk?

The HIF1A gene contains instructions for the production of hypoxia-inducing factor 1 protein. Hypoxia is a condition where the body or a particular region of the body is deprived of oxygen. The expression of this gene is stimulated by the expansion of fat tissues following a high-calorie intake. Under normal conditions, HIF1A rapidly degrades, which allows an adequate flow of oxygen to fatty (adipose) tissues. However, during hypoxic conditions, there is an increase in this molecule, which results in reduced oxygen flow to fatty tissues. This leads to an increased risk of cellulite. It has also been found that HIF1A is increased in obese people and is positively correlated with BMI.

*rs11549465 and Cellulite Risk *
rs11549465 is an SNP in the HIF1A gene. The T allele acts as a ‘protective factor’ and reduces the risk of cellulite formation.

This study also identified an ‘indel’ polymorphism (rs1799752)in the ACE gene associated with cellulite risk.

Indel polymorphisms are the insertion or deletion of a portion of a particular gene. Indel polymorphisms are not as common as SNPs but are nevertheless present across the genome. It is annotated as I/D for insertion or deletion, respectively.

Non-genetic Factors That Influence Cellulite Risk

Recommendations For Cellulite Management

Exercises For Cellulite Prevention

Exercises that target the thighs, buttocks, and hip areas can also help your battle against cellulite. Some effective workouts include:
- Squats
- Step-ups
- Glute-kickbacks
- Curtsy lunges
- Deadlift

Nutritional Tips To Reduce Cellulite

The bigger fat cells, aside from contributing to cellulite, also slow down your metabolism and hamper your whole body by constricting the blood vessels. Excluding certain foods from your diet and including certain others may just help you peel that orange skin off!

Foods to avoid
-Being high in sodium, cheese is so not your best friend when it comes to cellulite. Its water retention property can make cellulite more visible.
-Cereals containing white flour are processed as sugar in the body. Moreover, when you consume cereal along with milk, the extra estrogen can worsen your cellulite.
- Alcohol’s dehydrating property can deteriorate the collagen in your skin.
-Processed food has products like sugar and fat added to them for storage purposes. These additives often have inflammatory properties.
- The sugar in soda and other canned drinks can slow down the production of collagen.

The anti-cellulite diet
- Diuretic foods like cranberries, fennel, and asparagus reduce water retention.
- Fruits like kiwis and oranges can take care of your daily dosage of vitamin C boosts collagen production.
- Flax seeds, broccoli, cauliflowers are all hormone modulators that will prevent the excess secretion of estrogen.
- The Omega 3 acids in walnuts help moisturize your skin.
- The antioxidants in whole grain shoo away the cellulite-causing toxins.
- Green tea has a lot of fat-busting ingredients that can help with weight loss.
- Vitamin E, potassium, zinc, and vitamin B6 in sunflower seeds dehydrate the fatty deposits and also help repair the connective tissues.
- Cayenne pepper can help improve circulation. It warms up the body internally, thereby boosting the blood flow.
- Eggs are a rich source of protein and lecithin, which helps build collagen and elastin.
- Garlic is a natural antibiotic that improves circulation and flushes the toxins out.

Home-remedies for Cellulite
- Dry brushing of your skin can improve the blood flow to the targeted area, thereby increasing the amount of oxygen delivered. It also enables the release of oxygen, which further aids digestion.
- Foam rolling acts as a lymphatic massage, which again promotes circulation.
- Coffee scrub: The caffeine in the coffee helps in the tightening of the skin. The exfoliation also stimulates good blood flow.
- Seaweed is another powerful detox that can help you treat cellulite. It is rich in iodine, which helps in maintaining your hormonal health.
- Massaging coconut oil on your skin can help loosen the fatty deposits.
- Hydration Continuously hydrating yourself with water or other unsweetened liquids can fight inflammation and reduce the appearance of cellulite.

Summary

Reference

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HIF1A
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20059631/
https://www.snpedia.com/index.php/Rs1799752

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