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Can meditation assist healing?

Can meditation assist healing?

When meditation comes to mind, do you associate it with improved healing? In an interview on how mindfulness practices support healing, we interviewed life coach and meditation teacher Peter Radcliffe of Skillful MIND. After debunking what he believes to be the biggest misconception surrounding meditation, Peter reveals how meditation affects healing and explains 3 sure ways to meditate effectively, which may even assist with better healing outcomes. 

What is meditation and how does it support healing?

Peter summarizes the definition of Meditation as “Practicing being here in the here and now, in that awareness mind”. Stress is one of the major adversaries of healing. If you’re able to bring your mind to a state of calmness despite your condition, you’ll fast track your healing. 

Not only can reducing stress with meditation and mindfulness have a positive effect on healing outcomes, it can also improve state of mind.

Meditation is about “changing the way you look at the world” says Peter. And depending on your condition, if you can reorientate your mind to see whatever condition you have as neither good nor bad, you’ll start to heal emotionally too.

One big misconception that people have about meditation is that it is synonymous to relaxation. However, contrary to popular belief, one thing meditation is not, is a long, boring exercise that people perform whenever they wish to relax. 

“Because people associate meditation with relaxation, they tend to consider meditation as sort of going into this semi-sleep kind of relaxed state when, in fact, what it is is you are completely alert,” says Peter. He adds that “The aim of meditation is not so much relaxation but calmness”. Meditation will help your mind remain calm even in stressful situations.

Meditation and mindfulness: what’s the difference?

The terms meditation and mindfulness are often used interchangeably. Are they really the same? These two activities do have many things in common and are used in similar contexts. Notwithstanding, the two terms do not exactly mean the same thing. So, what sets them apart?

Let’s hear it from the expert himself; “mindfulness is a quality of mind, and in particular, it’s an introspective awareness of what’s going on— I guess in the five senses around you— but in particular, in your thoughts…meditation is the act or the practice of empowering that mindfulness…So, mindfulness is a quality whereas meditation is the practice to get that quality” 

3 Tips for effective meditation

  1. Soft approach

Especially for people just starting out, meditation can feel boring. When this happens, you start seeing the practice more as a chore and less of an experience, which may mean you do not continue the practice. This is why you don’t have to go all-in right away. Start with the basics. Peter suggests 15 minutes every day, preferable every morning. This is because once you introduce a routine, you’re more likely to stick to it.

  1. Make it fun

According to Peter “If you force yourself to meditate, you’ll develop an aversion for it”. So how do you avoid forcing yourself to meditate but still mediate? Simple. You make yourself love and enjoy it! You can achieve this by using sounds, such as nature music, or meditation in different scenarios such as a soft lawn. 

  1. Join a meditation group

Irrespective of where you are at on your meditation journey, joining a meditation group can benefit you immensely. It allows you to become accountable since there’ll be others there to help track your progress. Also, making meditation a social practice may even lead to new friends.

For all the benefits meditation has to offer everyone should be giving it a go. If you’re not exactly sure how to begin, follow the tips here and start small or join a group. You’ll get the hang of it eventually and in no time, experience the healing power of meditation.

Ready to get started on meditation? Here’s a bonus Meditation Audio Course from SkillfulMind to help kick things off. (you’re welcome!)

Causes and management of eczema in children

Causes and management of eczema in children

Red, itchy skin due to eczema can be distressing for both a child and the parent. No parent want their children to be in such discomfort. While eczema may feel out of your control, there are actions you can take to manage and minimise its effects. 

We asked expert pediatrician Dr Nelu Simonsz in an interview to share a list of management strategies for eczema in children.

What causes eczema in children?

Medical practitioners are yet to pinpoint the exact cause of eczema. They have, however, found out that this skin condition is often hereditary— many children with eczema have family members who have it. In addition, medical experts have identified a number of factors that can trigger or make it worsen the condition in children. Here are four of those factors;

  1. Food triggers

Food allergies and sensitivities can lead to an eczema flare up in children. Nelu says ” a food allergy itself does not cause eczema, but it can worsen eczema. So a child who has eczema can be triggered by the food they ate…but the food in itself is not going to cause a child to have eczema if they weren’t going to get it anyway” 

That said, unless a child becomes affected in other ways, or an allergy test has been performed it is not advisable to cease specific foods altogether. 

  1. Clothing triggers

Wearing layers and layers of clothes may trigger eczema too. Excessive heat and the harshness of wool and polyester clothing can irritate the skin. It is common for parents to overdress their children to avoid them becoming cold, however monitor this closely. Clothing made from cotton and bamboo – ‘breathable’ fabrics are recommended.

  1. Washing detergent

Some detergents and fabric softeners also tend to increase eczema. Pay attention to where and when an eczema flare up occurs, eliminate these detergents once you’ve discovered them.

  1. Fragrance lotions and creams

Using soaps, creams and lotions  with fragrance can worsen the eczema. Dr Nelu recommends that you avoid fragrances wherever possible. Instead, go for simple, benign moisturising lotions and body products.

Managing eczema in children

  1. Moisturising

When it comes to preventing or managing eczema, Dr Nelu believes that “the absolute key is moisturising”. Eczema worsens when the skin is dry as it impairs the barrier function. Dr Nelu suggests moisturising at least twice a day, preferably immediately after a bath—while the body is still wet. Use creams over lotions because creams are thicker and as such, provide a thicker layer of moisture.

  1. Avoid triggers

Triggers while sometimes difficult to avoid worsen eczema. Avoid trigger foods, wear light clothing, and keep away from fragrance lotions, if you’re unsure of the trigger it may help to keep a skin journal until patterns emerge.

  1. Keep nails short

Children are often tempted to scratch as eczema is known to become very itchy. Scratching can break the skin barrier which leads to an increased risk of infection. Trimming nails regularly and even using mittens in very young children will prevent breakages to the skin due to scratching.

  1. Get your child involved 

While getting your child to cooperate with you to manage eczema can be challenging. Kids generally try to avoid things that’ll inconvenience them, are not fun or uncomfortable to them.

To overcome this hurdle, Dr Nelu suggests incorporating measures to actively engage a child in their regime. One way to do this is to create a reward system, or encouraging ownership and a sense of responsibility. Setting a regular routine around other frequent tasks also help a child to become used to it.

  1. Wet wrap therapy

If you’re dealing with an intense eczema case, consider wet wrap therapy. This therapy is very rehydrating and it simply involves wrapping the trouble area with a water-soaked fabric to cool and calm the skin.

  1. Bleach Bath

According to Nelu, a bleach bath “helps to eradicate some of that bacteria overgrowth on the skin. And that’s for kids who get the really consistently infected eczemas”. This method should only be performed under the recommendations of the child’s health care practitioner, however has been shown to be an effective and simple treatment. Pour ¼ – ½ cup of household bleach into a bathtub full of water, and your bleach bath is ready. 

  1. Steroid Creams

Steroid creams can help as well. They should, however, be used with care. Many parents will cease use of steroid creams as the skin becomes fragile, this typically indicates overuse. Using correctly and as recommended is a viable option for the management of acute eczema outbreaks.

  1. Manage emotions too

Children that have eczema, especially if in visible areas may experience bullying and teasing from their peers. It is needless to say that this can affect their self-esteem negatively. Dr Nelu tells us that in such a situation as this “asking them directly how things are going at school and advocating for them through school” can help tremendously. It is also advised to discuss concerns with the teacher of your child.

While we’ve included standard treatments that can help to manage atopic eczema they may not work for all cases. We advise that you seek professional advice to determine an effective treatment plan for your child. If you wish to learn more about management strategies for eczema sign up to the eczema and psoriasis skin summit where you can watch presentations by industry leaders and hear stories of those with lived experience.

Chemical Peels

Chemical Peels

Topical therapies pertain to chemical peeling agents and/or cosmeceutical skin care that may be performed as a course of treatments in clinic or used at home by the patient. Topical ingredients may have a metabolic (has an effect on cellular metabolism), caustic (causes destruction and coagulation of tissue to initiate repair) or protective effects on the skin. The treatment methods may alter as the skin undergoes changes.


INDICATIONS FOR TOPICAL THERAPIES:

AcneRhytides (wrinkles)

Hyper-pigmentation

Melasma

Wound Healing

UV damage

Dehydrated skin

Keratosis pilaris

Pseudofolliculitis barbae

Hyperkaratotic conditions

Post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation

Sebaceous congestion


CONSIDERATIONS FOR TOPICAL THERAPIES:

Some topical treatments may make you more photosensitive and require you to refrain from sun exposure or heat for a duration of time.

Medical Tattoo

Medical Tattoo

Paramedical tattoo, also known as micropigmentation is a specialised procedure that implants pigment just below the epidermis of the skin similar to an artistic tattoo.

However, micropigmentation differs from an artistic tattoo due to:

  • The specialist training of the practitioner.
  • Pharmaceutical grade pigments are used as compared to unregulated tattoo pigment.
  • The techniques used are less aggressive than traditional tattoos and cause less trauma to the skin.

What can be treated?

Paramedical tattoo can recreate, camouflage or disguise body markers such as:

  • 3D areola and nipple complex post mastectomy
  • Scarring from breast augmentation
  • Hypopigmentation
  • Vitiligo
  • Self harm scars
  • Trauma scars 
  • Surgical scars
  • Hair simulation on the scalp
  • Alopecia

Vitiligo

Vitiligo

Vitiligo is a disorder of the skin that mainly involves the loss of its pigment. This then manifests as light macules that stretching out over different areas of the skin and hair. Usually beginning around the face and the areas between the fingers, the destruction of the melanocytes causes white patches on the skin, resulting in destruction of the cosmetic aesthetic.

There is no single definite cause for the disorder, with the etiology being strewn across different disciplines. 

These include:

  • Genetic origins
  • Autoimmune
  • Faulty biochemical processes
  • Auto-cytotoxic
  • Neural

With all these theories floating around, it is no wonder, therefore, that some believe that vitiligo is the phenotypic expression of a number of different conditions with various origins.

Types of Vitiligo

Though vitiligo patients may present with a similar appearance, there are various differences. This means there are different kinds of vitiligo, including:

  • Non segmental vitiligo offers the common vitiligo where the white macules with clear boundaries are symmetrically distributed around the various parts.
  • Segmental vitiligo is the kind that where the light macules do not span across the midline of the body.

Each of these kinds of vitiligo have different other vitiligoid conditions beneath them, adhering to the characteristics of each group.

Vitiligo treatment

  • Topicals: The first line treatment for this skin disorder is usually a topical cream. These creams are applied on the affected areas so that there can be repigmentation of the skin. Apart from the creams, systemic medication can be administered in a bid to get to the underlying cause.
  • Systemic: These systemic medications are especially useful in rapidly progressing conditions where stabilization is paramount. These corticosteroids are aimed at halting the development of the macules. Sometimes the systemic corticosteroids are used in combination with the topical creams to achieve a much better effect.
  • UV Therapy: One of the most used treatments is ultraviolet light therapy. This is because UV light possesses cellular immunosuppressive properties that can halt destruction of melanocytes. The UV light also has the power to promote melanogenesis; the proliferation of the melanocytes, returning pigment to the skin. This therapy can also be combined with the topical creams to have a more effective outcome.
  • LASER: The use of lasers has also taken a foothold in the treatment of vitiligo. Erbium laser assisted dermabrasion has been used in conjunction with topical steroids to some great results. Carbon dioxide fractional lasers have also been used following their success in tissue rejuvenation and scar remodelling.
  • Micropigmentation: Specialised pigment is matched to the patients skin tone and implanted at the epi-dermal junction forming a tattoo of camouflage for hypopigmented lesions to blend with the surrounding skin. Care must be made to work within the margins of the hypopigmented area as increasing trauma to normal tissue may initiate depigmentation.
  • Camouflage: For the daily camouflage of vitiligo, MicroskinTM offers a lightweight and long lasting coverage that is matched exactly to the skin tone and can be applied by the individual daily or for special occasions.

And for a beautiful celebration of those living with vitiligo check out Living Dappled on Instagram.

References

Vitiligo. (2018). [image] Available at: http://imgarcade.com/vitiligo-full-body.html [Accessed 14 Mar. 2018].

YAGHOOBI, R., OMIDIAN, M. and BAGHERANI, N. (2011), Vitiligo: A review of the published work. The Journal of Dermatology, 38: 419–431.

Ezzedine, K., Lim, H. W., Suzuki, T., Katayama, I., Hamzavi, I., Lan, C. C. E., … Taieb, A. (2012). Revised classification/nomenclature of vitiligo and related issues: the Vitiligo Global Issues Consensus Conference. Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research, 25(3), E1–13. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1755-148X.2012.00997.x

Allam, M., & Riad, H. (2013). Concise review of recent studies in vitiligo. Qatar Medical Journal, 2013(2), 1–19. http://doi.org/10.5339/qmj.2013.10

Dillon, A. B., Sideris, A., Hadi, A., & Elbuluk, N. (2017). Advances in Vitiligo: An Update on Medical and Surgical Treatments. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 10(1), 15–28.


Why You Need a Little Rest

Why You Need a Little Rest

Once the structure of the skin has been thrown into disarray through injury or elective surgery, there are mechanisms with that are set in motion to put the structure back into place. Apart from the blood corpuscles that are tasked with forming a clot, there are other that are linked to the immune system. The immune system functions best when the body has a chance to rest.


The immune system is very sensitive and any changes in the surrounding are bound to throw it off and affect everything that it is handling. In the wound healing process, there are a number of cells, enzymes and growth factors that rely on the stability that rest provides. In this way, the process carries on without a hitch.

DOES REST REALLY HAVE AN EFFECT ON THE WOUND HEALING PROCESS?

The stages of wound healing do not occur in discrete sequential steps, often overlapping depending on the prevailing conditions. Maintaining these conditions in a constant state is vital in helping the healing process to move along unencumbered.


Adequate rest, in the form of sleep, has been demonstrated to have a positive impact on the wound recovery process. Even without the nutritive supplements aiding the local immune response, adequate rest stimulates the immune system to handle efficiently seal the puncture in the skin.

WHAT EXACTLY DOES REST DO?

It is vital to acknowledge that rest – in not so many words – is the elimination of stress. Having established that, we can zero in on stress and the effects it has on wound healing. Stress comes hand in hand with anxiety, upsetting the balance of the immune system responsible for healing.


Anxiety and stress lead to abnormal amounts of enzymes and cytokines due to the stimulation of the pituitary and the cascade that follows. This upset of the amounts of immunological compounds interferes greatly with the wound healing process, resulting in longer healing times.


Rest is, therefore, something that is so vital to the proper healing of wounds. This proper healing will also ensure that scarring occurs normally.


-References:

Rest. (2018). [image] Available at: https://www.marksdailyapple.com/why-you-still-probably-need-more-rest-and-23-ways-to-get-it/ [Accessed 14 Mar. 2018].Smith, T. J., Wilson, M. A., Karl, J. P., Orr, J., Smith, C. D., Cooper, A. D., … & Montain, S. J. (2017). Impact of sleep restriction on local immune response and skin barrier restoration with and without’multi-nutrient’nutrition intervention. Journal of Applied Physiology, jap-00547.Egydio, F., Pires, G. N., Tufik, S., & Andersen, M. L. (2012). Wound-healing and benzodiazepines: does sleep play a role in this relationship?. Clinics, 67(7), 827-830.