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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Scar Therapy - What's Safe and What to Avoid(Skin Scars)

Skin Scars
Many skin care experts think some scar therapy ingredients are unsafe. Potentially harmful ingredients include preservatives, fragrances, some silicones, hydroquinone and even vitamin E. Because of this, more and more people are worried about what they are putting on their skin.
Many cosmetic products, such as creams, lipsticks, shampoo, soaps, antiperspirants and topical scar therapies use D4 and D5 silicones. D4 and D5 are 2 of about 200 silicones that recent studies suggest may be harmful for humans and wildlife.
D4 and D5 silicones are on the toxic chemicals list of the Canadian government. Reportedly, the European Union will also require registration of D4 and D5 as potentially harmful. Tests showed that they may pose significant danger.
Environmental Defence, a Canadian environmental group, says that D4 is linked to fertility problems and liver damage, while both D4 and D5 have been linked to cancer.
Fe de Leon, a researcher with the Canadian Environmental Law Association, warns people that D4 and D5 are included in hundreds of personal-care products. "These chemicals are found to be persistent, biocumulative and inherently toxic. The chemicals have the ability to travel very long distances and have been found in sewage treatment plant effluents, landfills as well as the Great Lakes." she said.
The Canadian government is planning to propose D4 and D5 limits in products and for release into the environment during manufacturing.
"This is the first step toward regulating these harmful chemicals," Aaron Freeman, policy director of Environmental Defence, said. "We urge the government to go the distance by getting these chemicals off the market."
Dimethicone silicone is not a D4 or D5 silicone and has been certified as safe.
Synthetic preservatives like parabens are commonly used in all kinds of personal and scar therapy products. Preservatives prevent the growth of bacteria in products with high water content. They discourage bacterial growth and reduce the risk of infection. However, they also have a serious downside:
"Allergy to preservatives is one of the main reasons for contact eczema caused by cosmetics. As development and elicitation of contact allergy is dose dependent, the over preservation of cosmetics potentially leads to increased incidences of contact allergy," says Dr. Lundov, a prominent researcher.
There are about 50 approved preservatives to keep cosmetic products "bacteria-free", but the market is dominated by a just a handful: parabens, formaldehyde, formaldehyde releasers, metylchloroisothiazolinone, and methylisothiazolinone. That is bad news, since these chemicals may be among the most irritating preservatives.
"Approximately 6% of the general population has a cosmetic-related contact allergy mainly caused by preservatives and fragrances," says Dr. Lundov, and allergies to formaldehyde are as high as 9%.
Most people know that parabens cause allergic skin reactions. Recent research also shows a possible association with breast cancer after finding high paraben content in breast cancer cells. Many people are now calling for the re-evaluation of their use in cosmetic products.
Non-aqueous (non-water based) scar therapies do not include water and so do not need preservatives. Scar therapies without fragrances are also less likely to cause allergic skin reactions like dermatitis.
Though hydroquinone is an effective agent to lighten scars, it is not sold in some countries because of the longterm use dangers. Hydroquinone can lead to a condition called ochronosis, even at its over-the-counter strength (2%). This is permanent hyperpigmentation with sooty darkening of the skin. Ochronosis may also cause loss of skin elasticity and impaired wound healing. Other side effects include contact dermatitis (rash, redness, itching and flaking) and nail discoloration, Some researchers have questioned whether hydroquinone and related compounds may cause cancer. As a result of these fears, hydroquinone is only available by prescription in Europe and it is highly regulated in Asia. The skin-lightening effects of hydroquinone decrease with prolonged use and with sun exposure.
Alternative skin-lightening ingredients include L-ascorbic acid, other vitamin c esters and licorice extract.
Vitamin E is a popular supplement. However, support has wavered. Studies show it does not lower the risk of cancer as previously thought and, more importantly, it actually increases the risk of heart failure. It is also popular as an antioxidant in personal care and scar therapy products. But, here too, vitamin E is being questioned because it causes contact dermatitis in up to 33% of users. For this reason, American dermatologists and Canadian pediatricians recommend not using vitamin E as a scar therapy.

Skin Scars