Articles on Hygiene Matters:

Acne - Top Seven Myths About Pimples

We all know how annoying and embarrassing acne can be, not to mention how hard it is to get rid of for most people. It affects millions of folks worldwide, especially those under the age of thirty, but even adults are affected. But, why does it keep coming back? Well, do not believe everything you read or hear.

Here are the top seven Acne Myths :

1. Popping pimples gets rid of them - no, sorry, that just does not work. When you pop a zit the germs and bacteria that cause it go under your skin. This can
cause pain, redness, swelling and even infection. If you keep doing it, another possible problem that can develop is scaring which can be permanent.

2. Chocolate and fried foods cause pimples - although this sounds logical, it is also not true, which is a good thing if you love eating chocolate and the occassional hamburger or fried chicken. No studies have proven this and it may be only a psychological belief that this is true. Of course, it sure will not help if you have greasy hands and wipe them on your face while eating - that will not help.

3. Stress causes blemishes - not true either. Stress is a part of life, more now than likely anytime in history, and certainly a growing up and for that matter, all your life. Do you worry about tests at school, or your performance in sports events, or problems at home ? Will these things cause your body to explode with skin flare-ups ? No, fortunately, this is a falsehood - a good thing too, or we would all be visiting a dermatologist on a regular basis.

4. Exposure to the Sun will eliminate acne - I have to tell you that I too believed this one. The sun will damage your skin and cause it to become dry, burned
and irritated and can even put you at risk for skin cancer later in life. This myth came about mostly because as your skin gets a tan, it becomes darker and
pimples and zits are less noticeable.

If you need to be out in the sun, use sunscreen with an SPF factor of at least 30 and do not forget to wear sunglasses and a hat.

5. Washing your face as much as possible will clear your skin - not a bad idea to wash your face and the rest of your body on a regular basis too (your family,
friends and co-workers will be happy you did - just kidding of course) too, but, this will not by itself do the trick.

Washing your face will remove excess oil, dirt and even dead skin cells, but over-doing it or rough scrubbing will irritate the skin and dry it out, which makes things worse. Wash your face once or twice a day using a mild cleanser and dry your skin with a soft towel.

6. Do not wear makeup - using noncomedogenic (will not clog pores and does not contain perfumes) makeup products in moderation should not be a problem.

These products will not clog pores and some even contain contain acne fighting ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.

7. Using more medicine is better - too much acne medicine can irritate and cause your skin to turn red, and may dry it out. Using more over the counter or
prescription medication than is recommended will cause more harm than taking none at all. Also, drugs do have side effects like nausea, headaches, and other
unpleasant reactions if you overdo it. Best to stick with the directions provided.

As these seven myths have indicated, many things you might have imagined causing acne, actually do not. To get clearer skin, eat a well balanced diet and exercise. If you need to take something to help you clear your skin faster, talk to your physician or try one of the safer over the counter products first.

Ken Black
12 Jan 2007

Ken Black is the owner of, a site about how to make your skin more beautiful. To clear your skin, click here for an
Acne Remedy.

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3 Natural Acne Blemish Treatments That Work

Perhaps the best acne treatment on this planet is water. Acne begins when your skin cells are abused and begin to react abnormally, and water is crucial to your skin's health. In fact, experts say water is crucial to having soft, youthful skin.

When skin cells are deprived of water (dehydration) this leaves them struggling until replenishment arrives. If you add this to the harsh effects of sun exposure, cold or hot weather, pollution, and air-conditioning, your skin cells can react in several ways, including excess oil (sebum) production, dryness, and acne breakouts.

A typical person loses around 1.5 liters of water a day...not counting the water loss from exercise or sweating on a hot day. Therefore, the admonishment about drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water a day is really good advice.

When skin cells (and the rest of the cells in your body, for that matter) are given sufficient water, they are able to maintain healthy membranes that keep your skin hydrated. If not given sufficient water, however, your cells will not rebuild and will not be able to get rid of the waste products and toxins that accumulate in them.

This further deprives the already dehydrated cell of the oxygen and nutrients it needs to work and cleanse itself properly.

Vitamin B3
Did you know that as low as 9% of Americans eat the recommended 3 to 5 servings of vegetables each day? At best, 3 out of 10 Americans are able to consume enough vitamins to deal with the stresses and conditions that afflict people today, acne being one of the most common.

Your skin is your body's largest organ, and when you do not consume enough nourishment it will show the first signs of this deprivation.

Experts agree that Vitamin B3 or Niacin is crucial to healthy skin. It improves circulation and helps your body metabolize fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Acne is a symptom of Niacin deficiency. The recommended dosage for acne sufferers is 200 mg, taken three times a day.

Topical Niacinamide, a Vitamin B3 derivative, has been proven to be more effective against acne than even the popular antibiotic clindamycin. Present in the over the counter acne product, Acnessential (a 4% Niacinamide cream), the B3 derivative was used in studies at the State university of New York against mild to moderately inflammatory and comedonal acne, and found to be effective.

Natural Green Tea
Natural green tea is unfermented, unlike other types of tea. This means it is not oxidized and, therefore, it retains active substances that make it one of the best acne treatments

Green tea contains a high amount of potent antioxidants that make it beneficial in acne prevention. Antioxidants counteract the effects of free radicals in the atmosphere that threaten to damage your cells and tissues.

In studies, green tea was successfully used to:
- fight bacteria;
- reduce inflammation;
- decrease hormone activity; and
- kill staphylococcus aureus, the bacteria that causes bacterium acne.

Richard Hargreaves
14 Jan 2007

Richard Hargreaves is a former MR AUSTRALIA and publisher of He provides a FREE 70 page
Acne Blemish TreatmenteBook and information on the best acne skincare treatment products and best acne medication on his website.

Toenail Fungus - Tips For Treatment

The medical term for toenail fungus is "onychomycosis," pronounced on * EE * ko * my * ko * sis. Despite the commonly used term "fungal toenails", onychomycosis describes both fungus and yeast infections in the nail. The prevalence in America is about 2-3%, but some have reported it as high as 13%. Even at a low estimate of 2%, this accounts for 6 million Americans with toenail fungus. Toenail fungus affects men twice as often as it affects women.

The prevalence among elderly individuals and diabetics is 25%. In the 1800s, fungal toenails were very rare. The increased prevalence is linked to the increased exposure to fungus through the use of showering facilities in gyms, the use of hot tubs, saunas and public pool areas. There is an increase in occlusive footwear, an increase in sporting activities, an increase in diabetes and increase in age of the general population.

The risk factors for developing toenail fungus are increasing age, male gender, nail trauma, sweaty feet, poor circulation, poor hygeine, foot fungus and a compromised immune system.

Athlete's tend to have a higher rate of fungus infection than non-athletes. The moisture in the shoe combined with repeated nail trauma increases the chance of infection. Hikers, runners, backpackers, soccer, basketball and tennis players, athletes wearing loose fitting shoes that allow jamming of the nails against the shoe and any individual wearing shoes that toe tight are at risk for developing toenail fungus.

There are a number of treatments for onychomycosis. The most aggressive and effective way to treat the fungus is with oral anti-fungal medications. The most common oral anti-fungal medications are Itraconazole (Sporonox ®) and Terbinafine (Lamisil ®). Both medications can be quite expensive as they need to be taken once daily for 3 months. The effectiveness of the medications ranges from 60 to 80%, with a recurrence rate of 15%. Lamisil® appears to be more effective and has fewer drug interactions than Sporonox®.

With both medications there is a long list of benign side effects including nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, rash, headache, taste disturbances and dizziness. Serious adverse events are very rare, less than 0.5%, but do include hepatitis and acute hepatic necrosis.

There are many other options besides oral anti-fungal medications. Unfortunately, they are not very effective. The most effective topical medication is Ciclopirox (Penlac ®) lacquer. Some studies have shown cure rates up to 60%, but in my experience the effectiveness is about 10-15%. Side effects occur in less than 2% of patients and include burning and redness around the nail.

This medication is only available by prescription and is also quite expensive. A few other prescription medications that help decrease the thickness of the fungal nails are Carmol® 40 and Keralac® Nail Gel. I would not expect to see complete cures with these products, but they can decrease the thickness and discoloration of the nail in some cases.

There are many home remedies and over the counter products that you can purchase. Some home remedies that can be used include bleach, tea tree oil, grapeseed extract, and Vics VapoRub®. With any home remedy or non-prescription topical, you must understand that the effectiveness of the treatment is fairly low, less than 10%. If you do try one of these therapies make sure to use it every day. Roughen up the nail surface with a file and apply the medication with a q-tip. Bleach can cause skin irritation and some individuals have had skin reactions to the Vics VapoRub®. In general these treatments are considered very safe.

Combination therapy can help increase the effectiveness of the treatment. If you choose to take an oral medication, make sure you use a topical anti-fungal agent as well. Nail removal is also an option. Once the nail is removed, the topicals can reach the nail bed and they become more effective. The nail will grow back in over a period of 8-10 months. Permanent nail removal is reserved for those with chronic ingrown nails, ulceration under the nails or pain from the fungal nails.

The best form of treatment is prevention and preventing the fungus from spreading to other toenails may be the best treatment option. I recommend choosing a topical that you feel comfortable with and use it once a week. No matter which treatment option you choose, you should take the following steps to avoid re-infection.

1. Make sure you rotate your shoes often and keep them in a cool dry place.
2. Change your insoles frequently, and make sure they dry out between use.
3. Place an anti-fungal powder or spray in the shoes to help fight off the fungus.
4. Bleach out the shower on a weekly basis and wash your shower mat regularly in hot water.
5. Make sure your athletic shoes fit well to prevent jamming at the toes. Jamming at the toes leads to microtrauma at the nails and increases the chance for fungal infection.
6. If you belong to a gym or health club, wear sandals in the locker room and don't walk around barefoot.
7. Don't keep your shoes in the gym locker where they cannot dry out.
8. If your feet sweat excessively, try using an antiperspirant spray on your feet before your workout.
9. Cut your toenails straight across. Don't cut too short and cause breaks in the skin. This will increase the chance for fungal infection. Don't let the toenails grow too long or they will jam against the shoe and cause bleeding under the nail, again increasing the chance for fungal infection.

The bottom line is that treating onychomycosis is very difficult. If you have fungal toenails that cause pressure, pain or infection, consider talking to your doctor about prescription medications or nail removal. Make sure you take precautions to prevent re-infection and take multiple approaches to eradicate the problem. If your fungal toenails are only unsightly and don't cause any discomfort, try a weekly application of an over the counter topical along with methods to prevent re-infection.

Christine Dobrowolski
12 Apr 2007

Christine Dobrowolski is a podiatrist and the author of Those Aching Feet: Your Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment of Common Foot Problems. To learn more about toenail fungus, visit To learn more about Dr. Dobrowolski and her book visit