Some skin conditions come and go, some itch, some sting and others simply change the way the skin looks.
Our skin is perhaps the most noticeable organ of our body. Vitiligo is a skin condition whereby the pigment cells attack themselves, leading to the destruction of melanocyte and depigmentation of the skin and hair. While those with vitiligo may experience challenges to feel confident within their skin, the difficulty does not mean impossible.
We interviewed actor and singer Lauren Jimmieson of the Jimmie Journal and asked her to share her story about living with vitiligo, embracing her skin and 5 things about vitiligo that may not be commonly known.
- Vitiligo requires a medical diagnosis
Vitiligo is a disorder that causes the skin to become depigmented. Signs of this condition include white macules and patches on various parts of the body. Thankfully, it doesn’t come with any pain or itchiness.
That said, assuming that you have Vitiligo just because you have white patches on your body can be dangerous. There are a number of other skin conditions like chemical leukoderma, tinea versicolor, and pityriasis alba, that are similar to Vitiligo. It is important to have a conclusive diagnosis of Vitiligo, after which you can undergo appropriate treatment and management strategies.
- Vitiligo is not contagious
If someone is not familiar with Vitiligo they may misconceive that Vitiligo can spread by contact. No, Vitiligo is not contagious at all.
- Vitiligo treatments vary depending on the stage
Vitiligo has no known cure. Notwithstanding, being diagnosed very early and commencing treatment may help your skin repigment. How you will be treated will depend on factors such as age, how much of your skin is affected, how quickly it is spreading, and various other things. Lauren advises that by sticking with the treatment procedures, just like she did, will give your skin the best chance of repigmenting.
- There are lots of camouflage products on the market
If you wish to cover your Vitiligo, there are a number of products out there that you can use. These products range from camouflage creams applied like makeup to products that are sprayed on affected areas with an airbrush.
“In my early days of developing Vitiligo I used Dermablend, which is brand that still exists till today…it is incredibly long-lasting and incredibly thick compared to your typical liquid foundation…my preference was the liquid because it gave me the flexibility to kind of give thicker layers to the areas that were whiter and thinner layers to the areas that still have my original pigment,” Says Lauren.
- Accepting your Vitiligo can go a long way
When asked what advice Lauren shares with others with Vitiligo she says “to find peace with it and to not fight it; to just embrace it…otherwise you put yourself through a lot”in addition to this, Lauren believes that finding a support group, usually people who can relate with your condition, will go a long way.
The next time you look in the mirror, embrace your Vitiligo, and live life with your head held high.
For many cancers the exact cause remains a mystery.. But not skin cancer. We know that UV rays are the primary causative agents behind skin cancers, wrinkles, sunburn, premature ageing, and a host of other skin-health related conditions.
Statistically, about 95% of skin cancers are totally preventable. Nonetheless, there’s an increasing prevalence of skin cancer in Australia (and even globally) today.
When we know better we do better, that’s exactly why we asked Sam Sheehan of Suncayr about UV rays and how we can better protect our skin.
Sam Sheehan is the Managing Director of Suncayr Australia– a company dedicated to giving “you the UV awareness that you need to safely enjoy every day you spend outside.” Here, are snippets of wisdom he shared in his interview with us… including how Suncayr is helping to simplify sun safety.
- What is UV
UV rays or Ultraviolet rays are the radiation from the sun. Sam said, “exposure or overexposure to UV radiation is a major risk factor for nearly all skin cancers”. Unfortunately, UV rays are inescapable. Since they penetrate windows, you’d have to be indoors, in a windowless room, 24/7 to completely avoid them. This, of course, isn’t feasible.
There are three types of UV;
- UVA rays. Termed “ageing rays” these are the rays that cause long-term skin damage by breaking down collagen fibres and lead to premature ageing.
- UVB rays. Also known as “burning rays”, these rays are the culprit of sunburn and are the main cause of most forms of skin cancer. The strength of UVB rays varies at different times throughout the year.
- UVC rays. These are the most harmful of all 3 forms of UV rays. Thanks to Earth’s ozone layer, they don’t reach us. And that, dear earthling, is why we need to protect our ozone!
- How sunscreens work
Sunscreens protect us from the damaging effects of the sun. Although they’ve been so-called a second line of defence, they remain a critically important line of defence. Sunscreens are chemically composed of organic compounds and inorganic compounds as two of its main base ingredients.
The inorganic compounds— typically Zinc oxide or Titanium oxide, reflect UV rays away from the body. On the other hand, the organic compounds— usually avobenzone or oxybenzone— absorbs the UV rays by bonding chemically with UV rays. Consequently, the intermolecular attraction in the sunscreen is broken down. This is why skin specialists advise that you reapply sunscreen frequently—depending upon the activity being carried out and the length of your exposure to the sun.
- No sunscreen can protect from 100% of UV rays
It’s important to keep in mind that sunscreens aren’t foolproof. According to the Mayo Clinic, there isn’t one sunscreen that blocks 100% of UV rays. So our concept of UV protection must go beyond applying sunscreen. Staying in the shade, wearing hats, sunglasses, and clothing that fully cover our skin—all of these acts make us less vulnerable.
- The right amount of sunscreen, not just sunscreen, is essential for adequate protection.
Have you ever used sunscreen and still become sunburnt? It has happened to many of us and it’s likely that our sun protection was not adequate and that sunscreen was not used properly. “…there’s a lot of clinical data out there in studies that show an average consumers use an average of 25% of what they should actually be using to attain the SPF cover that’s advertised on the bottle”, says Sam.
Sunscreen does work! You’ve just got to apply (and reapply, when necessary) sufficient amounts of it. So how much do we need? Approximately 6 teaspoons for adequate coverage! In all, keep this in mind; “you’re better off using an SPF 15 properly, than using a quarter of what you would with an SPF 50”, Sam said.
- SPOTMYUVTM is helping eliminate guesswork of applying & reapplying sunscreen
SPOTMYUVTM is a novel UV detection sticker by Suncayr. Upon absorbing UV, sunscreen wears away until it’s no longer effective at protecting your skin against harmful UVs, which is why reapplication is so important. The challenge is you’ll never really know when your sunscreen is still working due to the many variables such as sweat, friction of clothes and degradation of active ingredients.
Thanks to SPOTMYUVTM, you can know just the time to reapply sunscreen! SPOTMYUVTM is an indicating sticker that reminds you when it’s time to reapply UV protection.
The small round sticker starts purple coloured. After you’ve stuck it to an area of your body that is exposed to the sun and you’ve applied sunscreen, it turns clear, indicating that you’re protected. As the sunscreen wears, it shows varying shades of purple again, telling you “it’s sunscreen reapplication time!” They’re perfect for kids and they are even water-resistant. You can learn more about how it works here.With deliberateness and helpful innovative products like SPOTMYUVTM, we can get the sun protection that we really need, bring skin cancer cases to the barest minimum and liver healthier, fuller, and richer lives. Let’s do that! (winks)
With the evolution of the medical world, the bar is being raised higher and at a faster rate than ever before. One of the catalysts for this constant positive flux in the industry is the advent of technology. Many industries have not been left standing, with the long tentacle of technology sneaking in to have a serious impact on things.
In the medical world alone, technology – in all its various forms – is being used across a multitude of disciplines, not just one. Our focus here, though, is virtual reality. VR is mainly associated with gamers but your ordinary couch potato could never have imagined that the same technology that was blowing up three headed, thickly muscled monsters is being used to relieve pain and transform the medical experience of countless patients.
Sounds infeasible, right? Well, not so much. And here is how.
MEDICAL TRAINING IN THE VIRTUAL WORLD
Life is as precious a thing as we can find in this world. It, therefore, stands to reason that the people into whose hands we commit our lives more than stand up to the challenge of saving it. Reading information from a book can only go so far in terms of educating soon-to-be medical professionals in the arena of saving lives. The same holds true for practising techniques on cadavers. I mean; there can only be so many unclaimed bodies in the morgue or those donated to science.
With virtual reality, the said techniques can be perfected through practice and total immersion into a horde of possible medical scenarios. Further progress in the field of VR ensures that not only are simple techniques learnt by first- and second-year students but also complex ones by those in advanced phases of their medical education.
VIRTUAL REALITY SOOTHING REAL WORLD BURNS
The technological inroads in the medical arena are so pronounced that virtual reality is making considerable impact as an adjunctive analgesic therapy for burn victims. This might sound quite ethereal but there have been studies following actual burn victims into whose therapy regimen VR has been incorporated.
Burn victims feel a lot of pain when they are resting and plenty more when their bandages and dressings are being changed. Physiotherapy to increase motion in damaged areas also induces pain. What virtual reality does is that it immerses the patient into another dimension – a digital one – during the procedure they are undergoing. This drags the attention of the mind away from the pain and into the interaction with the virtual world before it.
According to researchers, this kind of distracting and immersive virtual reality can reduce the procedural pain in patients by as much as 50 per cent.
A HELPFUL TOOL IN TACKLING PTSD AND ANXIETY
Post-traumatic stress disorder has been running behind in the shadows for a while now, with many of the concerned authorities not willing to admit to its existence. Those who have faced the truth have tried to help survivors of traumatic experiences through cognitive behavioural therapy with imaginal exposure. This, however, does not entice the patient to call up some of the more traumatic memories so as to relive them.The patients might not want to get in touch with the stimulus that traumatised them but the VR evokes these without the actual risk being present. According to Difede et al. 2007, virtual reality can bridge this gap to emotional engagement. This study was conducted on first responders to and survivors of the World Trade Centre attacks.
In the aforementioned study, the patients donned the VR headset and witnessed various stimuli including planes flying past the towers, normal New York sounds as well as the crashes and the sounds accompanying them. All this was in a bid to get them to confront the feelings they had that day. At the end of it all, the group that used VR therapy showed significant improvement in PTSD severity in comparison to the control group.
MINDFULNESS IN HEALING
A person goes through a lot of things when they are sick. Apart from the physical faults brought on by the disease or injury, there are emotional aspects related to the experience of being sick and being in hospital. So inasmuch as the doctor might cure the disease, the patient might not be healed. This is because curing is the elimination of the disease whereas healing is the restoration of the person to their better self both physically and mentally.
Mindfulness, on one part, is the ability of the medical professional to get in touch with their compassionate and empathetic side; in a sense feeling what the patient is feeling. This connection between patient and healer goes a long way in ensuring that the patient emerges from the ordeal happy and satisfied. It is this understanding between both parties that elicits self-healing qualities within the patient, augmenting the other therapies being administered.
Patients who are in hospital for a long time can start to get detrimental thoughts swirling around their minds.
Mindfulness comes in handy in such a situation, allowing the patients to get a better outlook on life, fostering healing. Techniques like meditation focusing on breathing and specific objects can make mindfulness take hold faster.
Guess what, though? Virtual reality ties back into this aspect of healthcare as well. In some patients it is difficult to get the practices of mindfulness down. VR can be used to make this process simpler. A study by Nararro-Haro et al. 2016 showed that a patient in a bad mental state could be taught mindfulness to prevent self-hurt.
In this instance, both visual and audio stimuli were included in the virtual experience. The sounds and video encouraged the patient to observe and not focus on anything particular. In a sense, this urged the patient to be mindful of this virtual world, a practice that is transferrable into the real world.
SO, WHAT LIES AHEAD FOR VIRTUAL REALITY IN HEALTHCARE?
In the tech world, the ones and zeros can rearrange into any format to solve many a problem. Virtual reality is so adaptable that the medical realm has not even seen the entirety of just the tip of this iceberg.
Stress is a known factor that impedes the healing process. It takes a decent amount of effort to keep the stress at bay and virtual reality can help in a substantial way. Immersing patients into environments with soothing and relaxing sounds and images via VR eases the stress out of them. If and when virtual reality harnesses the power of relaxation, healing will have gained another technologically advanced comrade.
The adage goes, “Seeing is believing.” Virtual reality will further reinforce this when healthcare professionals take it on for making diagnoses of hard to reach areas in the human body. Some areas in the body are so minute that there is limited understanding of their mechanisms of function. VR can provide a front row seat to the simulated action of never before seen activities in the body.
In the plastic surgery niche, virtual reality can be used to show clients what they will look like before any invasive procedures can go forward. In an interactive form of the technology, one wears the headset and steps into a virtual world with a vanity mirror that shows them what their desired appearance will be. They can then be able to prance around, pout, and tilt angles to see if the look fits or even suggest alterations which are instantly in put into the VR software by the plastic surgeon.
With technology, nothing seems to be out of the bounds of possibility.
References:Malloy, K. M., & Milling, L. S. (2010). The effectiveness of virtual reality distraction for pain reduction: a systematic review. Clinical psychology review, 30(8), 1011-1018.
Hunter G. Hoffman, Gloria T. Chambers, Walter J. Meyer, Lisa L. Arceneaux, William J. Russell, Eric J. Seibel, Todd L. Richards, Sam R. Sharar, David R. Patterson; Virtual Reality as an Adjunctive Non-pharmacologic Analgesic for Acute Burn Pain During Medical Procedures, Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Volume 41, Issue 2, 1 April 2011, Pages 183–191
Stefan Schmidt. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. October 2004, 10(supplement 1): S-7-S-14.
Nararro-Haro, M. V., Hoffman, H. G., Garcia-Palacios, A., Sampaio, M., Alhalabi, W., Hall, K., & Linehan, M. (2016). The use of virtual reality to facilitate mindfulness skills training in dialectical behavioral therapy for borderline personality disorder: a case study. Frontiers in psychology, 7, 1573.
Difede, J., Cukor, J., Jayasinghe, N., Patt, I., Jedel, S., Spielman, L., … & Hoffman, H. G. (2007). Virtual reality exposure therapy for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder following September 11, 2001. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 68(11), 1639.
Virtual Reality in Healthcare. (2018). [image] Available at: http://hitconsultant.net/2016/06/30/virtual-reality-patient-experience/ [Accessed 14 Mar. 2018].