The Inside Edge

Many people believe saunas are healthy, but no published studies have examined their effects on the skin. Researchers in Germany recruited 41 volunteers aged 20-49 years and compared skin physiology among a group who underwent a regular sauna with that of controls. Those taking a regular sauna had more stable epidermal barrier function, increased stratum corneum hydration and faster recovery of elevated water loss and skin pH after two 15-minute sessions at 80 degrees C. The researchers conclude that a regular sauna confers a protective effect on skin, especially in terms of surface pH and stratum corneum water-holding capacity.
Kowatzkia D, Macholdta C, Krulla K et al. Dermatology 2008; 217: 173-80

Patients with dark skin are thought to respond poorly to ultraviolet (UV) A1 phototherapy, owing to increased pigmentation.US researchers performed a retrospective analysis of 101 patients receiving UVA1 treatment at a medical centre in Dallas, noting Fitzpatrick skin type and cumulative UVA1 dose used in each case. Morphoea and scleroderma were the most frequent diagnoses. Improvement scores from UVA1 phototherapy and mean cumulative UVA1 doses did not differ significantly among Fitzpatrick skin types and little or no correlation was found between improvement score and skin type.
Jacobe HT, Cayce R, Nguyen J. Br J Dermatol 2008; doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2008.08672.x

Atopic dermatitis is common and severe disease is difficult to treat. Researchers in Ireland have investigated the efficacy and safety of azathioprine for this condition and report results from 37 patients treated over 18 years. Fifteen patients (40.5 per cent) achieved remission in a median five months. Nine had an initial good response, but had insufficient clearance to stop treatment or deteriorated while on it. One patient did not respond and five others withdrew owing to adverse reactions.
Hughes R, Collins P, Rogers S. Clin Exp Dermatol 2008; doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2230.2008.02832.x

A biocompatible dressing made of silica gel fibres may soon be available for difficult to heal wounds caused by burns or diabetes. The dressing forms a supporting matrix for newly growing skin cells, increasing the likelihood of a scar-free natural closure, and is fully absorbed by the body during healing. It is also shape-stable and pH-neutral. The team in Germany that has developed the dressing says the risk of wound contamination during healing is low, because only the outer bandage needs to be changed. Support for development and marketing has been found and the research team plans to integrate active substances, such as antibiotics or analgesics, in the dressing to aid healing further.
www.fraunhofer.de/EN/press/pi/2008/05/ResearchNews5s2008Topic3.jsp

Quality of life (QOL) is impaired in children with atopic dermatitis (AD), but some aspects may be more affected than others. In China, researchers measured QOL in 133 children (70 male and 63 female; age five to 16 years) with AD, using the Children's Dermatology Life Quality Index. Itch, sleep disturbance, treatment and sports were most commonly affected, among 50, 47, 38 and 29 per cent of patients, respectively. Although significant itch and sleep disturbance affected both genders similarly, they were more common in those aged 10 years or younger.
Hon KL, Leung TF, Wong KY et al. Clin Exp Dermatol 2008; doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2230.2008. 02853.x

Adequate sun protection can be difficult for patients with idiopathic solar urticaria. In a small non-randomised controlled trial, three patients with the condition underwent phototesting with UVB and UVA radiation before and after treatment with a high-protection, broad-spectrum sunscreen and a non-sedating antihistamine alone and in combination. Sunscreen alone allowed patients to tolerate much higher doses of UV radiation; antihistamine alone suppressed wheal formation and itch. A combination of sunscreen and antihistamine acted synergistically, markedly increasing tolerance to UV.
Faurschou A, Wulf HC. Arch Dermatol 2008; 144(6): 765-9

- Email suggestions to The Editor, MIMS Dermatology, at paula.hensler@haymarket.com.

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