News from the 2014 American Academy of Dermatology Meeting

little boy applying sunscreen

I’m pleased to report from the American Academy of Dermatology annual meeting that took place from March 21 through March 25, in Denver, Colo. The annual “AAD” meeting is the largest dermatology meeting of the year with close to 10,000 dermatologists, skin care professionals and industry leaders in attendance to discuss and debate the latest in skin, hair and nail health. There were many new and exciting tools and products introduced to either maintain beautiful skin or help dermatologists return the skin to a healthy state. However, I was most excited about the following developments:

Stick it to the sun!
My favorite new sunscreen formulations are stick sunscreens. In a shape that looks like deodorant, these advanced stick sunscreens are incredibly convenient and effective. There is no sticky feeling left on the skin and they provide excellent, broad-spectrum coverage, which can be water-resistant for 40 to 80 minutes. Stick sunscreens are a good choice for the entire family because they are easy to apply to kids, non-greasy for dads, and feel silky enough for mom. Plus, they are ideal travel products because there is no risk of making a mess in a beach bag and are under the 3-ounce carry-on travel restriction. I’m predicting these sunscreen sticks are going to be very popular. They are now widely available at local pharmacies, just in time for spring break and summer travel.

Pay attention to pollution
During the meeting, there were several presentations on the skin damage caused by pollution. Although for many years physicians have been aware of the damage caused by pollution to the heart and lungs, recent research suggests pollution also causes a significant amount of damage to the skin. Harmful ozone caused by a mixture of car and factory emissions and heat near the earth’s surface leads to oxidative stress on the skin from free radicals. Free radicals have been shown to damage proteins and lipids in the skin which triggers increased inflammation leading to an acceleration of skin aging.

Fortunately, we can help counteract the damaging effects of these free radicals on the skin with the regular use of topical anti-oxidant products. My favorites are those with vitamin C, E and Ferrulic acid; however, it’s important to seek out those products with pure vitamin C in a stable formulation in order to get maximum potency.

Another aspect of pollution in addition to ozone is particulate matter. Tiny particles (much smaller than a human hair and invisible to the eye) circulating in the air can settle on the skin. Similar to ozone, these particles can be highly irritating to the skin, which can lead to chronic inflammation and the acceleration of skin aging. It is necessary to remove the particles and debris due to pollution from the skin regularly to avoid excessive inflammation. The best way to thoroughly remove the debris is through the use of a cleansing brush. I recommend daily cleansing with this device or if the skin is very sensitive, every other day to thoroughly cleanse the skin of these damaging particles.

Devices plus skin care bring better results
Dermatologists are excited about the possibility of using lasers to help deliver topical skin care or other therapeutic solutions down deep into the skin for enhanced results. There is ongoing research on treating scars, photodamage, skin cancer, psoriasis and a variety of other skin issues with these advanced combination treatments. Also in the future, we may see at-home combination kits that include a device to be used in conjunction with a topical product to increase penetration of the ingredients to improve results.