Blog posts of '2021' 'September'

What is the difference between UVA and UVB rays?
What is the difference between UVA and UVB rays?

We all know that the sun is harmful for our skin but understanding the difference between UVA and UVB rays is vital when choosing your sun protection. Read on to discover all you need to know about ultraviolet rays and your skin.

You’re probably aware that the ultraviolet (UV) radiation emitted by the sun can be divided into two main types, ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). Both types damage unprotected skin - but did you know that they don’t affect skin in the same way? Understanding the difference is important when choosing your sun protection and the need for broad spectrum protection.


What are UVA rays?

UVA light, also known as long-wave light, is responsible for about 95% of the UV light that reaches our skin, with a wavelength of 320 nm to 400 nm. UVA rays are present all year round - as long as there’s daylight, there’s UVA. As the longest wave on the UV spectrum, they’re able to penetrate deep into the skin, 80% of UVA rays reach the outer layer of the dermis, the layer of skin beneath the epidermis. This makes them responsible for most preventable photo-ageing, as well as 35% of skin cancers.

Although both UVA and UVB are bad for skin, UVA rays are more of a worry because a much larger percentage of them reach earth’s surface and they are present all day long and all year-round, even when it’s cloudy. So if it’s daylight at any hour, UVA rays are present.

Unlike with UVB rays, you do not feel UVA rays damaging your skin. UVA rays are responsible for getting a suntan, and unless you burn first, getting a tan is not painful. However those stealthy UVA rays are reaching deep into skin, destroying many of the important substances that help give skin its elasticity and firmness. As a result of this, UVA rays are a major contributor to wrinkles and skin ageing as well as every type of skin cancer.

Another thing to remember is that UVA rays penetrate glass, which UVB rays can’t do. Unless windows are specially treated to filter UVA radiation, you could be under attack when simply sitting in your car or sitting by the window at work.


What are UVB rays?

UVB rays, meanwhile - the rays we most commonly associate with tanning - are at their greatest in the summer months and are responsible for 96% of sunburn cases. The intensity of UVB rays varies according to factors such as geographical location, time of day and the season. So in the Northern hemisphere you can expect them to be strongest in the summer months, in places with sunny climates, though like UVA rays they are present all year round.

UVB light has a much smaller range than UVA with a wavelength of 290 nm to 320 nm. Although it’s not as deeply skin-penetrating or omnipotent as UVA rays, UVB light is very powerful, that’s why it’s directly responsible for sunburn and other visible discolorations to skin’s surface.  UVB radiation also plays a part in skin cancers.

So, while both UVA and UVB rays can result in instant - and temporary - light tanning, their secondary effects vary, with UVB rays being mostly responsible for sunburn and UVA rays being major contributors to cutaneous photo-ageing. UVB and UVA radiation is reflected from sand, water, and snow, [In fact an astonishing 80% of UVB rays reflect from snow with higher altitudes being more damaging.] Together they lead to skin darkening and greying, wrinkles, loss of firmness, redness and collapse of immune defences. Scary stuff!  So wherever it is you’re going, you’ll want to pack a protection with broad-spectrum filters against UVA and UVB radiation, [the SPF rating only applies to protection against UVB rays].  If the sun protection is labelled “broad spectrum” it has been tested and proven to protect against the full range of UVA and UVB radiation.

The 6 nutrients expectant and breastfeeding mums need
The 6 nutrients expectant and breastfeeding mums need

If you are a breastfeeding mother, you know that breast milk is the best source of nutrition for your newborn baby. Improving the health and wellbeing of both mum and baby it has been estimated that breastfeeding reduces the risk of obesity compared to feeding formula.

With authorities worldwide recommending that infants are breastfed for at least the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health we are looking at the top six nutrients to boost health, for mum and baby, during lactation.

  • Vitamin D

Also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, vitamin D is crucial in the body’s absorption of calcium which helps to build baby’s bones and teeth. Some good sources of vitamin D include fortified or fat-free milk, fortified orange juice, egg yolks and salmon.

The NHS suggest that everyone, including pregnant women and women who breastfeed, should consider taking a daily supplement to counteract not only the lack of sunshine in the UK but also our increasingly indoor lifestyles and processed diets. As human breastmilk is known to be a very poor source of vitamin D it is recommended that all breastfed infants receive a supplement.

  • Calcium

Not only does calcium contribute to the formation of healthy bones and teeth it is also responsible for the healthy functioning of the circulatory, muscular and nervous systems. Good food sources of calcium include low-fat dairy, spinach, calcium fortified orange juice and cereals.

Calcium is important during breastfeeding as it can affect the mothers bone mass. During lactation the growing baby’s increased need for calcium is drawn from the mother’s bones meaning women lose a small percentage of their bone mass, ultimately putting them at greater risk of fractures and osteoporosis in later life.

  • Vitamin B12

During foetal development the foundations for the brain, nervous system and general health are laid. Vitamin B12 plays an important role in all these functions as well as in the formation of baby’s red blood cells, therefore a deficiency at this time can have long term consequences. For mum, sources of this vitamin include lean meats, poultry, fish and fat-free or low-fat milk.

Human breast milk contains almost exactly the same amount of vitamin B12 as the mother’s blood, so it is important for mum to ensure she not only gets enough of this vital vitamin for herself, but enough for baby too. There is significance placed on vegan and vegetarian breastfeeding mothers as plant-based sources of vitamin B12 are poorly absorbed by the body, increasing the likelihood of deficiency.

  • Iron

Many women are known to become anaemic during pregnancy and after childbirth due to the blood loss experienced and their increased nutrient needs. Iron deficiency anaemia can produce feelings of tiredness and heightens the risk of infection. To prevent this, increase intakes of meat, green leafy vegetables and lentils or consider taking an iron supplement.

A baby’s body typically absorbs iron better through breastmilk than from other sources because it also contains vitamin C to help with absorption through the digestive system. When healthy and carried to full term, newborn babies have enough iron stores to last for at least their first six months of life with many pediatricians recommending that babies need an iron supplement after six months of age.

  • Magnesium

Due to modern diets and lifestyles many nutrients are increasingly under represented or omitted, magnesium is one of these nutrients with seven in ten of us suffering from low levels. Increase your magnesium intake with foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, grains, meat and fish.

Magnesium plays an important role in the deactivation of adrenaline, which is a stress hormone that interferes with the production of breast milk. For this reason, it is important to keep stress levels low while breastfeeding.

  • Zinc

Essential for skin health, immune function and optimal reproductive health as well as growth and proper development there is an increased need for zinc during lactation to meet baby’s needs. Sources of zinc include meat, avocado, pomegranate, nuts and seeds. During breastfeeding nutrients are derived from maternal stores, therefore risk of deficiency is increased if mum has poor zinc levels going into pregnancy or breastfeeding. If appropriate levels are maintained breast milk should provide enough zinc for the first four to six months of baby’s life.

Remember breastfeeding is the foundation to lifelong health for babies and mothers so please consult your GP if you are concerned about nutrient deficiency.

What is eczema?
What is eczema?

Eczema is a dry skin condition that is associated with itchiness and irritation. Eczema symptoms can include very dry skin, rough patches, and scaling. Eczema generally starts in childhood and affects up to 1 in 4 children. No matter your age, eczema requires treatment during flare-ups and a suitable maintenance routine to manage symptoms.


What is eczema? 

Eczema is a common, non-contagious skin condition that is characterized by dry, red, scaly, or itchy skin. In more severe cases, the skin can crack, bleed, and/or crust. Eczema can affect people of all ages.

There are many different types of eczema, or dermatitis. These include:

  • Atopic dermatitis, the most common type of eczema, refers to the classic scaly patches that usually begin in childhood and can affect the extensor surfaces of the arms and backs of the knees.
  • Irritant or allergic contact dermatitis is a result of a reaction to a known irritant and/or allergen that comes in contact with the skin.
  • Nummular eczema refers to coin-shaped, scaly patches occurring usually on the extremities. It is caused by allergens or very dry skin.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis occurs in common oil-producing (sebaceous) glands like the upper back, nose and scalp.
  • Dyshidrotic eczema are small, itchy blisters on the edges of the fingers, toes, palms, and soles of the feet.
  • Stasis dermatitis occurs when there is inadequate blood flow in the veins causing swelling, skin redness and itchiness, often occurring in the legs.


What causes eczema? 

While what causes eczema is still unknown, it has been linked to both genetic and environmental factors. Those who develop eczema symptoms are thought to have an immune system that is reactive to certain irritants. Eczema patient’s skin is unable to properly retain moisture, which may be caused by a deficiency in naturally occurring moisturizing factors found in normal skin. To understand this, it is important to understand the function of the skin barrier, the protective, outermost layer of our skin. One of its primary functions is to regulate moisture and to keep harmful substances from entering the skin. It helps keep the good things in and the bad things out.

Eczema-prone skin suffers from dysfunctional skin barrier function. This means that it retains less moisture than healthy skin, resulting in dryness. When moisture loss occurs, irritants or other substances penetrate more easily into the skin. They then stimulate the immune system, which overreacts. This triggers clinical signs of eczema to appear: itchiness, inflammation, and redness. There is increasing research that the skin surface bacteria – collectively known as the skin microbiome – may play a role in the pathology of certain skin conditions, including what causes eczema. A disruption in the natural harmony of skin microbiome is often associated with the symptoms of atopic skin. Certain topical skincare products, particularly those containing “prebiotic” ingredients, may help to promote a balanced skin microbiome. 

Certain external factors can also trigger eczema. The most common are:


Irritating products:

  • Fragrances, soaps, laundry detergents
  • Home cleaning products
  • Irritating clothing: wool, synthetic fabrics, etc.

Environmental factors:

  • Dust, dust mites and pollens, which are naturally present in the air
  • Tobacco and pollution
  • Changes in temperature
  • Heat and sweat
  • Very dry air

Lifestyle factors:

  • Pets
  • Emotional stress
  • Food allergies
  • Teething
  • Changes in hormone levels

It is important to note that eczema is a highly individual condition. It affects everyone differently; what causes your eczema or triggers might be something completely different then someone else’s eczema.


What are the symptoms of eczema? 

The most common eczema symptoms include:

  • Dry, sensitive skin
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Dark colored patches
  • Itchy rash - difficult to detect in infants, but sleeping disorders are an indication
  • Rough, scaly and thickened skin
  • Oozing eczema patches
  • Scabs form on the patches

Eczema symptoms can appear on the face, body, or both as a child or adult. Facial eczema is most common type of eczema in babies and children. As children get older, eczema may manifest mainly on the neck and in the skin folds around the elbows, wrist, and behind the knees. The good news is that eczema symptoms subsides in 40-80% of children before they reach the age of 5. However, even if you did not experience eczema as a child, you may still develop it as an adult.

It is highly encouraged to visit a dermatologist as soon as signs of eczema start to appear. You can also visit your pharmacist for information of how to treat early signs of eczema.

Can sleep affect your immune system?
Can sleep affect your immune system?

If you have ever spent a night tossing and turning, you already know how a lack of sleep can leave you feeling the next day. We all experience a bad night’s sleep every now and again. But if you are regularly not getting enough, it could do more than leave you feeling grumpy and in desperate need of coffee the next morning. Ever notice that you are prone to sniffling and sneezing when you do not get enough sleep? Turns out it is not in your head. Sleep and a healthy immune system go hand in hand and a lack of good-quality shut-eye can affect our health in many ways.


What is the immune system?

The immune system is an army of different cells, tissues, and organs that all work together to protect the body against disease and infection. It works by recognising the difference between your own body cells and foreign cells, destroying anything in your body that could be harmful and make you sick.


What happens to the body when we sleep?

We spend around a third of our lives asleep. Although you might not be ticking things off your to-do list whilst you are dreaming away, your body is still working. Even after you have clocked off for the day, it works hard to get important jobs done to keep you performing at your best while you are awake. Your brain sorts and processes everything you have learnt and experienced that day to form new memories. The pituitary gland in the brain releases growth hormones, which help the body to grow and repair itself. The immune system releases cytokines which are small proteins that help the body fight inflammation and infection. Pretty incredible right? Without enough sleep, your immune system might not be able to work at its best.


Will a lack of sleep affect my health?

The odd bad night's sleep may make you feel tired and irritable the next day, but it will not harm your long-term health. However, regular sleepless nights can. A lack of good quality sleep can put you at risk of serious medical conditions including heart disease, diabetes and can even shorten your life expectancy. Studies have shown that people who get less than seven hours of sleep every night tend to gain more weight and are at a greater risk of obesity compared to those who get at least seven hours of slumber. The immune system is also affected if you skimp on the shut-eye, as less of the useful cytokine proteins are produced if you’re not sleeping well. To add to the list, it is not just your physical health that is impacted by poor sleep. It can also affect your mental health, increasing the risk of developing long-term mood disorders like depression and anxiety.

Most of us need around eight hours of good-quality sleep a night to function properly – but some need more and some less. If you wake up tired and spend the daydreaming about taking a nap, you're probably not getting enough sleep. Sound familiar? The only way to compensate is by getting more sleep. We know sometimes this is way easier said than done, so to hit the hay happy we have lots of slumber secrets and saviours to help you drift off. If you are having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or you’re not feeling rested when you wake up, chat to your GP.


Is there anything else I can do to keep my immune system healthy?

When your immune system is on top form, you probably forget about it working away around the clock to protect you. But to help keep yourself fighting fit, as well as nailing your sleep routine, there are other things you can do to help take care of your immune system.

  • Wash your hands

Washing your hands regularly with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, is a simple yet effective way to protect yourself from catching and spreading germs.

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet

Create a rainbow on your plate to help keep your immune system healthy. The more colour on your plate from fruit and vegetables, the more variety of important vitamins and minerals you are likely to get.

  • Exercise regularly

Regular exercise has so many health benefits, including supporting a healthy immune system. Walking, cycling, yoga or dance classes, do whatever works for you.

  • Reduce everyday stress

Stress is annoyingly something we all have to deal with sometimes. What is important is finding ways to manage your everyday stress to keep you healthy and happy.

Choosing the appropriate sunscreen
Choosing the appropriate sunscreen

Sunscreen may not be the flashiest part of your skincare routine, but it is a high performer, delaying the formation of wrinkles, dark spots and other signs of aging while also protecting you from developing skin cancer. With all the good that sun care does, it should be a no-brainer to wear sunscreen every day. Except many of us do not.

If greasy skin or stinging eyes are causing you to skip your SPF, you are not using the right formula. Read on to discover how to choose the best sport sunscreen for you, the difference between sport and regular sunscreen and how much sunscreen to apply when you have got a good sweat going on.


How does sunscreen work?

Before you understand how sunscreen works and what SPF is, you need to understand why you need to protect your skin. Ultraviolet radiation (UV rays) from the sun hits skin at wavelengths ranging from 290 to 400 nanometres. These rays expose skin to both UVA, which causes damage like collagen breakdown, skin cancer, and UVB, which causes sunburns. Without a broad-spectrum sunscreen lotion (which protects from both UVA and UVB rays), the energy from the radiation goes into the fat and proteins in your skin. This generates free radicals that attack your cellular machinery. In the short term, this damage triggers an inflammatory response such as sunburn. In the long term, the radiation can introduce mutations in your skin cells’ DNA. If these mutations get passed along, they create cancer cells.

The simple fix is to wear sunscreen. There are many ingredients in sunscreens, but the active ingredients mainly fit into two groups: mineral and chemical:

  • Mineral sunscreens that contain physical filters (such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) achieve their sun protection factor (SPF) by physically blocking the UV rays from penetrating the skin. To put it simply, they act as a mirror to create a barrier between the skin and the UV rays that directly reflects them from the skin.
  • Chemical filters (such as octocrylene or avobenzone) protect skin by absorbing UV rays. Instead of deflecting the UV rays, chemical filters work like a sponge and absorb them and transform the energy into heat.


How to apply sunscreen?

Dermatologists recommend the use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen (protects from UVA and UVB rays) with an SPF of 30 or higher. The best practice is to apply your sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes prior to venturing outside to allow the sunscreen to bind to your skin. If you are planning on exposing a lot of skin (if you’re going to wear a swimsuit or running shorts and a tank, for example), apply the sunscreen while you’re naked. This will help ensure you get complete coverage.


How long does sunscreen last?

If you are outside and wondering how often to reapply sunscreen, the benchmark is every two hours—which means if you’re marathon training or planning on running or biking for longer than two hours, bring some sunscreen along. It is two hours because that’s when the sunscreen’s SPF value is fully effective. In other words, after two hours, your sunscreen is not entirely doing its job anymore.


How to choose the best sunscreen when practising sports?

The whole point of working out is to get a good sweat going, but perspiration and sunscreen do not always mix. Formulas that are not designed for sports can ball up, sting your eyes and leave your skin covered in white streaks once they are combined with sweat. The best sunscreen for sports features an oil-free, water-resistant, and fragrance-free formula to prevent stinging. Apply your sport sunscreen at least 30 minutes before heading outside to allow it to fully absorb and to be sure you do not skip any areas.


What is the difference between sport sunscreen and regular sunscreen?

There is no standardized test that verifies whether a certain type of sunscreen is better for certain activities; however, sunscreen that’s qualified as water-resistant for 80 minutes is the best for outdoor workouts. Unlike regular sunscreen, water-resistant sunscreens continue to protect the skin when wet. Water resistance testing involves having subjects apply sunscreen to the skin and immerse the area in water. After, their skin is tested to be sure the sunscreen is still effective. Water resistance of 80 minutes means that the sunscreen will continue to provide the labelled SPF for 80 minutes of continuous water immersion like swimming or sweating.


All you need to know on Vitamin B12
All you need to know on Vitamin B12

Feeling tired all the time? Memory not what it used to be? Struggling to complete physical tasks that you used to normally take in your stride? All these are common complaints that can result from a myriad of different medical problems… but there is often just one cause that links them all – Vitamin B12 deficiency.

We get B12 from animal products such as meat, fish, milk and eggs. It is one of the water-soluble B vitamins which is bound to protein within food. However, you may be struggling to get enough through a healthy diet as it is notoriously hard to absorb through the gut.


What does vitamin B12 do?

Vitamin B12 helps the body’s ability to reduce the onset of fatigue and increase concentration levels by contributing to a normal energy metabolism.

Vitamin B12 is essential for the formation of red blood cells and the development and normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, particularly those aspects which determine concentration, learning, memory and reasoning.


Sources of vitamin B12

We get B12 from animal products such as:

  • Red meat
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • It can also be found in fortified foods

However, you may be struggling to get enough through a healthy diet as it is notoriously hard to absorb through the gut due to its large molecular size.


Vitamin B12 Deficiency

B12 is a notoriously difficult nutrient to absorb in the gut. At most only 1% of our dietary intake will be absorbed by the body, and that relies on digestive efficiency and the presence of a chemical called intrinsic factor.

Deficiency can occur at any age and in the past, we have associated deficiency with growing older and our inability to extract the large molecule from our diet. However, more and more children and teenagers are being diagnosed with a deficiency. In extreme cases deficiency (known as pernicious anaemia) can cause severe nerve damage.

Our livers hold large stores of B12 and deficiency tends to develop over many years and because symptoms can easily be mistaken, diagnosis is often missed. Symptoms vary but include one or more of the following: fatigue, vague mental fogging and memory problems, depression, weakness, pins and needles in the hands and feet, and an unsteady walk.


How do I raise my vitamin B12 levels?

A B12 supplement can be the easiest way to raise your B12 levels. As a water-soluble vitamin there is no upper daily limit to how much you can take. However, because of the difficulty in absorbing such a large molecule, tablets and capsules are notoriously difficult for the gut to break down and digest.

A daily B12 oral spray, applied directly onto the inner cheek of the mouth, it avoids over-reliance on our digestive system. Absorption commences immediately. It’s fast, it’s convenient and it tastes great. Click here to see what we recommend.

Simple home remedies for fairer, glowing skin
Simple home remedies for fairer, glowing skin

Wondering how to get glowing skin overnight? Is your Google search history overflowing with different variations of the same query – how to get fair skin? We understand your obsession with glowing skin and with numerous sources talking on beauty tips for glowing skin it can be overwhelming.

It's time to concoct your very own skin brightening potions that will reveal your natural lustre. Essentially skin darkening is caused by over exposure to sunlight and the over-production of the pigment melanin in skin. The home remedies for glowing skin will help remove surface dullness and reduce melanin production.

Before we rush on how to get glowing skin at home, let’s talk about the natural ingredients that are known for their skin-lightening benefits:



  • Raw milk is one of the most easily available fairness tips, you’ll find it in every kitchen.
  • Tyrosine is the melanin controlling hormone that can lead to skin darkening. It keeps a check on the secretion of Tyrosine, hence proving to be an unbeaten fairness agent.



  • An excellent antibacterial agent, honey prevents the occurrence of zits and pimples in the purest form, hence ensuring a spotless complexion in the long run.



  • Gram flour is a natural exfoliator and removes dead skin cells. As a result, a new layer of skin is brought to the surface which is healthier leading to a naturally glowing complexion.



  • This is due to the powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent called curcumin that is present in turmeric.  Its skin benefits include brightening, improved skin complexion, and overall rejuvenation for dull skin. 



  • An important part of how to get glowing skin is all about preventing hyperpigmentation, which is why lemon gets one of the prime spots on our glowing skin checklist.
  • Lemon is rich in Vitamin C in its Ascorbyl form, which has been clinically proven to interrupt the action of the enzyme Tyrosinase, which in turn stimulates the melanin production of our skin.



  • Yoghurt is rich with a high amount of lactic acid which has natural bleaching properties. It helps remove dark, dead skin cells and exposes a fresh layer of skin.



  • Apart from its well-known soothing properties, cucumber contains the same pH level as your skin. This aids in replenishing your skin’s protective and natural acid mantle, promoting glowing skin.



  • The juice from a raw potato is rich in Vitamin C and has mild bleaching properties.
  • Also, the starch it contains is ideal for removing dark spots on the skin, whether they are due to age or exposure to the sun.



  • One of the compounds, Anthraquinone, present in raw Aloe extracts are said to increase cell turnover and remove dead cells, which helps reduce hyperpigmentation, leading to glowing skin.



  • The secret beauty nutrient in papaya is papain, an enzyme that has skin-lightening properties and can reduce the visibility of blemishes and acne scars.
  • Together with alpha hydroxy acids, papain also acts as a gentle exfoliator that dissolves inactive protein and dead skin cells.


Now that we’re done most effective ingredient-based glowing skin secrets, let’s talk about DIY masks that will put an end to all your worries about how to become fair naturally.  



  • One of the best fairness tips for dry skin, since honey adds a wallop of moisture. You can substitute milk with malai (fresh cream).
  • Mix together one tablespoon each of milk and honey and apply on clean face.
  • Rub into skin with gentle circular motions.
  • Leave to dry and rinse off with tepid water after 15 minutes.
  • This is one of the best home remedies for glowing face. Repeat daily for best results.



  • Mix together two tablespoon each of besan (gram flour) and rose water to make a thick paste.
  • Apply all over your face and rub into skin in a gentle circular motion.
  • Leave to dry and rinse off with warm water after 15 minutes.
  • The perfect DIY mask for how to get fair skin for oily skin. Use this once week for best results.



  • The answer to how to get fair skin naturally lies in your favorite fruits.
  • Mash together a piece of ripe banana, papaya and mix with two teaspoons of cream.
  • Add a few drops of lemon juice to the mix and apply all over face for 20 minutes.
  • Rinse with warm water. Repeat this once week for best results.



  • The perfect remedy about how to make face glow and fair at home for oily skins.  
  • Mix together one teaspoon of turmeric powder, two teaspoon of lemon juice and one teaspoon of yoghurt. Apply all over face for 15 minutes.  
  • Apply a little water on your face and gently massage into skin before rinsing with cool water.
  • This is the most effective natural remedies for glowing skin. Do this twice a week for best results.



  • Mix together one tablespoon each of sandalwood powder, grated cucumber and rose water.
  • Apply on your face and leave to dry for 15 minutes a paste.
  • Sandalwood powder lightens age spots, blemishes, and pigmentation.
  • This is an excellent cooling face pack and works wonders on oily, sensitive skins as well. Repeat twice a week.



  • Grate a small raw potato and mix with one teaspoon of honey and a few drops of rose water.
  • Apply all over face and neck and leave on for 20 minutes before rinsing off with cool water.
  • You can safely use this potato pack on alternate days as a part of home remedies for fair skin. How to become fair naturally finally has an answer.
What is heartburn?
What is heartburn?

Heartburn is a common digestive symptom, which occurs when stomach acid backs up, or refluxes, into the oesophagus, the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. It causes a painful burning feeling in your chest or upper abdomen, and may spread to your neck or throat, or even arms. Early pregnancy, certain foods (especially large meals), a hiatal hernia, alcohol and side effects of some medication can trigger heartburn. It is also a symptom of indigestion, which can be brought on by stress or anxiety.

If you have symptoms more than twice a week, you may have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD), chronic acid reflux that can lead to complications, such as oesophagitis (inflammation of the oesophagus), bleeding and narrowing of the oesophagus, and rarely oesophageal cancer.  


What are its symptoms?

Heartburn symptoms include:

  • A sour taste in your mouth that creeps up the throat
  • A burning sensation in the chest after eating
  • Pain that worsens when lying down or bending over.

If symptoms are more severe, you will need to see your doctor. These include:

  • Heartburn occurs more than twice a week
  • Heartburn persists despite use of over-the-counter medications
  • You have difficulty swallowing
  • You have persistent nausea or vomiting
  • You experience weight loss because of poor appetite or difficulty swallowing.


How is it diagnosed?

A doctor will start a heartburn diagnosis with a detailed health history, questioning you about your symptoms, as well as other factors, such as whether or not you smoke. Then they will conduct a routine physical examination. If the symptoms are very troublesome, and the doctor suspects something more serious than mild heartburn, he or she might recommend a gastroscopy or upper endoscopy (commonly known as “swallowing the camera”).


What are your treatment options?

Occasional heartburn is very common. Most people can manage the discomfort with simple remedies, these include certain lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medication, like antacids.


Lifestyle changes include:

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals
  • Avoid eating before bedtime
  • Avoid alcohol, aspirin, ibuprofen and caffeine
  • Stop smoking
  • Elevate the head of your bed (or use two or three pillows) to allow gravity to keep acid in the stomach and avoid reflux.

There is a wide variety of over-the-counter medication to choose from. Antacids can be taken after meals, at bedtime, or when needed, to bind excess acid in the stomach and to coat the oesophagus. Visit your pharmacy for an advice.


Can it be prevented?

Adjusting your diet is effective when it comes to prevention as certain foods and drink can aggravate heartburn. These include:

  • Alcohol, which relaxes the lower oesophageal sphincter
  • Coffee and orange juice, plus other acidic juices, which can worsen or trigger heartburn
  • Fatty foods, fried foods, and some acidic foods (oranges, grapefruits, tomatoes) as well as spicy foods.

You can also take some over-the-counter medications before you eat to prevent heartburn. Leading a healthy lifestyle and avoiding alcohol and tobacco can also help to prevent heartburn symptoms.

How to care for eczema-prone skin when you are constantly washing your hands?
How to care for eczema-prone skin when you are constantly washing your hands?

If you have sensitive or eczema-prone skin, constantly washing your hands can easily irritate your skin's sensitive barrier. Never before has washing our hands and face been so vitally important. However, for those living with inflammatory skin conditions like eczema - or even just very sensitive skin - the constant cleansing can cause irritation and flare-ups.


It's all about your skin's barrier

The skin acts as a barrier between the outside environment and the underlying soft tissue. Its role is to prevent moisture from escaping while preventing irritants from getting in. Excessive cleansing and exfoliating can rid the skin of its natural oils and can cause an overly dry, inflamed and sensitive skin.


Bring back the balance

You can look out for cleansers specially formulated for sensitive skin. Keep an eye out for those that contain soothing, hydrating ingredients, like glycerin, ceramides, vitamin E and panthenol. Also, if you’re in the middle of a flare-up, now is not the time to use exfoliants. Only once your skin has recovered can you gradually introduce them back into your routine.


Pat your hands dry – don’t rub

After washing your hands, pat it dry with a disposable paper towel or tissue rather than rubbing it with a towel, etc. Rubbing can be traumatic to the skin, especially if it is tender and inflamed to begin with.


Re-hydrate cleverly

After cleansing, it’s important that you restore your skin’s moisture levels, but you have to be careful about what you use. Hydrating, soothing ingredients are great, but if they’re mixed with potentially harsh ingredients like high strength retinol or alpha hydroxy acids, they might re-ignite a flare-up. Pay attention to what’s on your moisturisers ingredients list. Ideally, you want to ensure your products are free of potential irritants like sulphates, parabens and synthetic fragrances.

Following these guidelines will allow you to lessen the impact of regular hand washing on your delicate skin barrier. If your skin condition is very serious and you find that these measures are not effective enough, it is recommended that you get in touch with your treating dermatologist to seek expert advice.