Dermatology and skincare have, along with the other areas of medical science, advanced in leaps and bounds in the last several decades. With these advancements, there has been some major shifts in perspectives. Let’s take a 10,000 foot look at skincare and dermatology.
Drugs have become better; patients should seek doctors early and often
The safety, efficacy, and convenience of drugs that are used in dermatology have improved significantly in the last 30 years. While this shouldn’t come as a surprise, medical advancements in dermatology are often underappreciated by patients, and even by dermatologists themselves, as skin conditions are rarely fatal. Acne treatment, for example, is far more effective for today’s teens than it was for their parent’s or their grandparent’s generation. While this is terrific news, it also creates a generational gap in expectation.1 That is, in a world where treatment is less effective, and side-effects more unpredictable, the option to not treat or ignore conditions like acne is rational. Now that drugs have become more effective and safer not treating acne is objectively a worse choice than it was 30 years ago. This is true of eczema, rosacea, and many other skin conditions that were considered challenging to treat in the past. If you have kids or grandkids, it’s important to do your research and question your assumptions.
Skincare products are more diverse; consumers need to research their products
Similar to other markets, skincare products have also diversified and expanded to address various skin types, and skin concerns in an individualized manner. The quality of various moisturizers, cleansers, sunscreens, and other cosmetics has also improved significantly over the years. Unfortunately, with more choices, consumers also have more decisions to make. Consumers need to do research, sometimes through trial and error, to find the products that work best for their skin.
We’ve explained in the past that the price of skincare products don’t necessarily correlate with quality. This doesn’t mean that the luxury brands are all inferior products, but it does mean that consumers need to be more discerning to separate the science from the marketing. Whether it’s consumer reviews, or expert reviews, or doing personal research online, or simply asking your dermatologist’s opinion, users need to take the extra step to independently research products on their own.
Lifestyle matters; think about holistic wellness as a part of skincare
Dermatology has traditionally focused just on the skin. To take an example, the correlation between diet and skin conditions like acne has historically been regarded with skepticism, and only in recent years has this been looked at more closely among the dermatologic community. There have been many anecdotal accounts among patients who noticed that eating certain foods makes their acne worse, but clinical studies have often failed to find a significant correlation between the two, and it has long been considered a kind of myth. With better tools as well as models to study these types of connections, and a switch to patient-centric paradigms, diet, exercise, and holistic wellness are being looked at more closely now.
The effect of high glycemic foods on skin aging is gathering more and more supporting evidence in the last decade. The skin, due to its visibility, is often used as a way to quantify and study various effects. By comparing sun-exposed areas of the skin (like the face and outer arms) against non-exposed areas (like the buttocks) we can differentiate between various causes of aging. Science is understanding and making connections between different specialties of medicine more. We may not know all the complexities and mechanisms of how these areas are interrelated, but it’s a safe bet that what’s good for your body is also good for your skin.
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1Parents who are concerned about their child’s acne should visit a dermatologist. Treatment may not have been effective for you in your day, but the efficacy and expected outcomes for your child today is very different.