-- BY TAMISH GIRI
Last year, 23 year old Akriti Shrestha began to suffer from skin inflammation and visible strained blood vessels on her face. She would usually have mild and tolerable symptoms most of the time. However, last winter, small, red, pus-filled bumps started to appear all over her skin and she had swollen and red eyelids. Like every youth worried about their appearance, Shrestha was scared and avoided going out in public, except for classes. However, after tolerating it for a while, she visited a derma consultant. After a few tests, her dermatologist discovered that she had Rosacea, a derma disorder.
According to derma science, Rosacea is a skin condition that causes redness and small red bumps to appear on the face. Its signs and symptoms last for months and disappear at times, and can be confused with acne and other dermatology skin conditions.
Dr. Sanju Babu Shrestha, a dermatologist, shares that Rosacea is one of the many common derma diseases people suffer from during the winter.
Similarly, Dr. Rupak Ghimire, a dermatologist, also says that people in Nepal commonly face fungal infections of the skin (tinea), scabies, acne, melasma, psoriasis, urticaria. He adds that during winter, people have issues like dry skin (xerosis), chilblains, psoriasis, while children have atopic dermatitis.
However, Shrestha adds that people in Nepal generally suffer more from acne, Rosacea, eczema, sunburns, allergies, and infections caused by bacterial, fungal, viral, or parasitic infestation.
Likewise, cosmetic related pigmented disorders like melasma, hyperpigmentation, vitiligo, and freckles are also common in Nepal.
Dr. Ghimire shares that acne and psoriasis are common everywhere, while bacterial and fungal infections, scabies, leprosy, tuberculosis are more common in Nepal and the South Asian region in general. He also adds that acne issues are higher in teenagers, atopic dermatitis in children, melasma in women of reproductive age and hairloss in men above 25, in Nepal, while Shrestha mentions that our skin reacts according to seasonal changes and temperature.
Individuals during the cold seasons mostly have dry skin. The dryness is usually due to a reduction in the humidity level in the environment or due to exposure to heaters, ACs, fires and prolong hot water baths. However, inadequate water intake, improper use of clothing, and a skincare routine generally often lead to skin issues.
According to doctors, the cause of these skin diseases are the same all around the world and can vary due to certain topography and climatic conditions.
According to Shrestha, bacteria, follicles, fungus, viruses, and other microorganisms trapped in the skin pores and hair, as well as the immunity system, genetic issues, and internal organs, lead to skin diseases and sometimes we tend to suffer from such skin disorders due to changes in our lifestyle as well.
Likewise, Dr. Ghimire adds that bacterial and fungal infections, scabies are due to poor hygienic conditions. Psoriasis, lichen planus are inflammatory conditions with a genetic predisposition. So different diseases have different etiopathogenesis of their own.
According to doctors preventing skin diseases is better than curing them. However, some of the skin conditions are not preventable. There is no way to change skin diseases caused by genetics. Also, one cannot prevent the optimum diseases.
However, individuals can avoid contagious and infectious diseases by not sharing personal and cosmetic items with other individuals.
Likewise, rehydrating ourselves by increasing water intake is highly effective for skin disease treatment. Also, a proper and balanced diet plan is essential for our healthy skin.
We can also prevent or reduce skin diseases by limiting contact with chemicals. By doing so, individuals can reduce the allergic reaction to their skin. Likewise, Shrestha says, a recommended sleep of 6-8 hours is crucial for having healthy and glowing skin.
According to doctors, we need to focus more on skincare during winter by using the right skin products. Using lotion on the skin is a necessity. Oily skin with oily lotion will only clog up the pores and lead to breakouts. We should choose our products wisely according to skin type. Our skincare products should be able to retain natural oils and moisture. We should stay away from peels, masks, and any alcohol-based products.
Many people make the mistake of exfoliating too much to remove dead skin, but that is not a good idea. People should not exfoliate more than once or twice a week and Shrestha mentions that gentle exfoliators containing neem, tulsi, strawberry, papaya, and light AHA or BHAs make a good choice.
Dermatologists also suggest that heaters should not be overused. While it is tempting to sit as close to the heater as possible during the cold months, the hot air just sucks the moisture out of your skin and makes it drier. Doctors suggest using a humidifier or placing a large bowl of water in the room while switching on the heater.
Likewise, individuals should be consistent with their skin care routine. Individuals must religiously follow the routine of cleansing, toning, using serum, moisturizing, and sunscreen. Reading the ingredient list and choosing hydrating products that are not heavy on the skin and which easily absorbed is crucial. By doing this, our skin will stay hydrated, smooth, radiant, and toned all through the day.
Shrestha explains that if a person has any specific skin concerns, then he or she should talk to a dermatologist. He adds that products that have ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin give good results.
Likewise, dermatologists recommend using moisturizers of apple cider vinegar, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, shea butter, argon oil- perfect for combating winter dryness. A good moisturizer will keep the wrinkles and fine lines away.
In the current context of Covid, hand hygiene is also important for having healthy skin and Shrestha emphasises that washing hands with mild soap or cleansers is mandatory.
Likewise, Dr. Ghimire shares that proper education and awareness (most people think skin problems are minor and ignore the need to visit a doctor until the condition becomes worse) and correct hygiene can reduce the burden of winter-related derma issues.
Dermatologists suggest that Nepal has gradually improved its health infrastructure. Most multispecialty hospitals in Nepal have well-equipped dermatology departments for general skin problems. They lack equipped labs for aesthetic services. But a good laboratory with pathology, microbiology is essential for better diagnosis.
However, skin care experts say that the government and health care sector should focus on dermatology-autoimmune diseases and tropical dermatology. Likewise, over-the-counter sales of medicines and their misuse should be curbed and that more public awareness should be generated.